Creationist Brother-in-Law Writes…

If you have read my background story you will know the reason I am having this conversation with my creationist mum is my niece and nephew. My British born sister married an evangelical American and began home schooling their children in the US. They avoid telling me almost anything about it except to say they refuse to teach their children any science that conflicts with their faith. As I’m an atheist, I’m the last person they talk to about home-schooling. Nowadays the only news I get about my niece and nephew is through my mother who flies to the US and stays with them for almost six months of the year.

Then last month I was CCed in a round-robin email from my brother in law, Chris (not his real name). You know, the kind everyone gets from relatives containing a sugar-coated, annual round up of family news no-one usually gives a flying crap about? I don’t know if I was an intended recipient since every sentence mentioned god, Jesus, or the holy spirit. However, the most disturbing parts were where it mentioned my niece and nephew. I thought hard about posting those excerpts here, but in the end decided doing so would help me answer a burning question I have had ever since reading it. So here it is (names  have been changed):

If you haven’t heard we home school our children, so those gifted children would be Jenny and John (hey, they’re my kid’s so I’m supposed to be bios right).  [My wife] Mindy also teaches B.L.A.S.T. (Bible Learning and Spiritual Training) for the children ages 5-8 in our church.  Now, and again I am able to finish up the class that I teach at Church early and if I am able to see Mindy teach just a little bit of her class, I consider that a real treat.

Jenny, who will be 7 in April, is now in her 2nd year of home-schooling, and is doing well in all of her classes; she especially likes writing, which I must say that her writing is very good.  Jenny also loves drawing; her favorite picture to draw is of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Any family pictures that Jenny draws always has Jesus in the center, and many times has God and the Holy Spirit in them as well, which is the way it is supposed to be.

Jenny’s first love truly is God, and she is not shy about talking to anyone about it.  I believe nearly all of the check-out ladies at Wal-Mart know Jenny by name as her favorite conversation starter is, “Hi I’m Jenny, do you believe in God?”  I’ve been amazed at how when the few people who have answered Jenny by saying, “No”, that Jenny is not deterred at all she just tells them the gospel in her very simple honest way.

John, who just turned 5 at the end of November, is now in his 1st year of home-schooling, and like Jenny is doing well in all of his classes, he especially likes reading.  He can not get enough of books and though he is only 5 his reading level is that of a 7 year olds if not higher.  John has also become very good on the computer, and is able to get the mouse to move around and do what it is supposed to better than I can already.  Also, it is hard to believe that John at one time hardly talked, because now if he isn’t talking he is either singing or humming.  What is neat is that John is pretty much always singing or humming about God.  Many times when John finishes his song that he makes up, he’ll say, “Did you like that song?”  To which we say, “Yes” as we want to encourage him, and John will say, “That song was for God.”  So, it seems that in Jenny we have a Pastor/Evangelist, and in John we have a worship leader.

The rest of the letter, which was emailed to over 50 people, continues in a similar vein. Perhaps I’m too close to this to be objective, but to me this seems like terrible parenting, bordering on child abuse. I feel just the same way about muslim parents who send their children to a madrasa or scientologists who sign their children up for Sea Org. Is religious home schooling in America that different?

So my question to any readers is am I overreacting? Or do you find this email deeply disturbing too?  Please leave a comment and let me know.

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8 Responses to Creationist Brother-in-Law Writes…

  1. Andrea says:

    I think you are overreacting. Remember this is a letter written by the evangelical father, not by the kids. So of course, for him, it’s important to highlight their devotion. I’m not saying I agree with how they are being educated, but he’s hardly likely to put in how sometimes the kids roll their eyes when practicing grammar points, is he?

    Interesting blog. I came here via Pinterest and your Tree of Life illustration.

  2. pokeanimal says:

    I aggre with you, and would it be rude of me to ask you if you could email me the whole letter?

    • Thanks for your comment. Unless there is a good reason I would rather respect their privacy and not reveal the rest of the letter. I hope you understand. Thanks again for your interest.

      • pokeanimal says:

        I understand and respect your wish to respect their privacy, on another note, in order to convince your mom, you might want to try telling her that evolution is a scientifically concieved idea with lots of backup and evidence, while creation is a religious belief that looks to science to find evidence, that there probably aren’t any people who belive creation due to evidence, and that in the in the original Bible, written Hebrew, it doesn’t specifically say day, it just uses a word that means age, but it’s translated as day, you could also tell her about the appendix, a vestigial organ, and if she tells you that maybe it has a purpose but maybe we don’t know about it yet, tell her that people without the appendix live just fine, and recently some people are born without the appendix

      • pokeanimal says:

        You can also show her this section from an article on Cracked.com, while they don’t take themselves seriously, they do their research

        “When it comes to dealing with people who believe in creationism, it’s got to be especially tough. Typically, scientists shrug it off as a fact of life, knowing that no matter how much evidence they collect, some people will simply never accept it.

        Creationists tend to be less resigned, and often try to prove the legitimacy of their theory by compiling lists of scientists who doubt evolution. All in all, hundreds of these lists are circulated. When you take a close look at the list of supposedly well-respected members of the scientific community, you notice that they often include television writers and lawyers, and that the people listed as actual scientists either weren’t actual scientists, completely disagreed with that statement they supposedly agreed with, or don’t actually exist.

        Deciding they’d had just about enough of this bullshit, The National Center for Science Education decided to compile a list of their own — one with very, very strict guidelines. Each scientist who signed had to agree that creationism was, in fact, silly and that it should not be taught in schools. They had to be from an area of science where their expertise was actually pertinent and, finally, because this apparently needed to be stipulated, they had to be an actual scientist. Oh, and in order to sign, you had to be named Steve or a variant thereof. As it stands, over 1000 Steves are on the list, including Stephen Hawking.

        Explaining the reasoning behind the stunt, the scientific community noted that they could have easily compiled a contradicting list of tens of thousands of signatures. But focusing on scientists not named Steve would have taken too much time, and they had things to do.”
        Here’s the link to the article: http://www.cracked.com/article_19253_7-legendary-acts-petty-revenge.html

        If you think that she would not belive you if she knew it was from Cracked, you can always not mention it to her (wink, wink)

  3. pokeanimal says:

    You could also tell her about the anglerfish, a fish that has a light on a lure that that it uses to lure other animals into it’s mouth, and that it can only live in the abbyssal zone, I’m pretty sure that this will convince her to change her mind (because young Earth creationist say all animal were created to be herbivores)

  4. Pingback: Summer break is over… back to homeschool | My Creationist Mum

  5. Maxx says:

    Let’s just hope that like their believe in Santa, they will grow out of it.
    In the end, they are not your children and you could do more good teaching people that wish to learn about real science.
    Good luck, I too find it very frustrating some times, but not much we can do about them sticking their fingers in their ears going lah, lah, lah, I can’t hear you…..

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