When the articles How to Keep Your Homeschool Catholic and the Pit List were first shared and discussed, they stirred up interesting and thought-provoking discussions. Some Catholic homeschooling parents did not understand the problems with certain "Christian" materials for homeschoolers. One member of the Keeping It Catholic Online Support Group asked the following question:
Subject: Re: Check Points (the "Pit" List <g>)
I am still unclear on what exactly about (company name deleted) is anti-Catholic as opposed to just being non-Catholic..... I realize their history up to a certain grade leaves out the Catholic material and I have heard not to use their history and science after this grade. I would appreciate some specific examples of how they are ANTI Catholic.
The discussion was off and running! The following reply is the most edifying -- because it comes from a person with firsthand experience as a "Biblical Christian."
Well, have you asked yourself why they leave out the Catholic material in the history? I'm a convert from Fundamentalism. We were very careful neither to give the Catholic answer on anything nor mention anything in the history books that might cause our children to be open to Catholicism down the road.
Our view was that Catholicism was one of the many wide roads straight to perdition. Our school loved to get Catholic kids in so they could gradually wean them from their faith and make sure they learned all about Sola Scriptura (only the Bible) and Sola Fide (only the faith) so well that they would never return to Rome. (At the time I approved, until I saw the truth of Catholicism. It was then that I realized we should never have been so narrow as to tolerate such interference with parental authority-- because that's exactly what we hated about the public schools!)
Abeka, Bob Jones, and Alpha Omega were our favorite resources. When a Catholic parent asked about homeschool materials, we loved sending them to these three companies. Why? We knew that the entire slant of their educational program would range from Protestant to anti-Catholic. Like the public schools, we all knew that the way you train and educate a child will determine his whole outlook on life as an adult. After all, the Scriptures say, "Train up a child in the way he should go...."
That is why, when it comes to history, the Protestant publishers gloss over or omit the Catholic contribution and point of view. The child will never know it and, therefore, can never refer to it. Eventually, it will be easy to convince the child to become a "born-again Christian" (meaning a Protestant one or even a fundamentalist one!).
The Fundamentalist Mindset Toward Catholicism. If the Catholic contribution to history isn't important enough or influential enough to mention, then all the things that happened through the good influences of the Catholic Church can be credited to other cultural elements. So the Catholic Church can be effectively written out of the history books. With this kind of educational approach, the bad things that happened in history can be blamed on the evil influence of the Catholic Church. All the good things can be credited to the "Reformation" or various "enlightened" heretics who held the protestant-type positions long before breaking with the Catholic Church.
We screened our history books very carefully to make sure that no hint of good was written about the Catholic Church. We understood even a morsel might lead our children into slavery to the Catholic church and then to hell!
A Specific Example. When Alpha Omega carried a homeschooling book written by a Catholic, they apologized for it in their catalog's advertising blurb. They explained that they thought the book had some useful material in spite of being tainted. As a fundamentalist, I appreciated the warning and thought it was very conscientious of them.
Reading books were another issue. They could use verses and stories that promoted sola scriptura and sola fide and re-emphasied those ideas until they were totally ingrained. The rules were -
-Never hint of Tradition as being from God; always indicate that Tradition is of man and never of God.
-Talk about ANYONE from the Bible as a good role model--except Mary or Joseph.
-Talk about any good religious leaders - provided they aren't Catholic. A good Jewish leader is better than a Catholic as an example for our children, because a Jewish person doesn't have the whole truth. As for Catholics, the fundamentalisst view is that a Catholic has chosen to ignore the truth in favor of the evil constructs of power hungry men and idolatry.
How truths are worded is important. Mostly, fundamentalists know it is important to use a way of wording upon which almost all Christians agree upon. By not presenting an obvious denominational slant, the loyalty to a single creed is weakened. By organizing words and phrases in a way with which a Catholic can agree or won't "catch on" (to the Protestant definitions, of course), the issue at hand is not offensive and Catholics tend to agree with it. Eventually, Catholics become comfortable with other, similarly worded, comments that are, if analyzed, anti-Catholic.
Why do "Christian" publishers do this? It's not because they have an agenda to hurt Catholics. It is because they want to be absolutely certain that their children are raised to view the Bible and only the Bible as the authority in their lives. Tradition (meaning the Tradition of the Catholic Church as upheld by the Magisterium) has no place in the faith life and neither does the Catholic "faith and good works" doctrine.
The Christian publishers want to ensure that children grow up totally convinced that faith is the only thing they need to be "saved." There is no place for good works; it is only your faith that gets you to heaven. No matter how much good you do, you have to build up a rock solid "faith" feeling inside yourself about God. The strong message is that if you don't accept this view of salvation, you really don't have faith in God and your soul is totally lost. As a fundamentalist, you have to check that "faith-feeling" meter on a regular basis. This, of course, clashes with the fundamentalist once-saved always saved teaching, although the alleged reasoning even behind that is "it's a faith thing."
Catholic parents have to ask themselves: If Christian books are written to permeate Protestant fundamentalism into children, why would a Catholic parent want to use them?
For Catholics making use of these kinds of books or curricula, the end result is serious. The children become accustomed to hearing about faith and other matters from the Protestant view.
There is no mention of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph or the Saints, the need for confession after repentance, etc. Those parts of Catholicism become alien to children because the curriculum is permeated with fundamentalism. For example, when the children do hear about Mary (as taught by the Catholic Church), it is so different from the simplified, watered down religious commentary in their "Christian" curriculum, that they have trouble connecting with the truth about the Virgin.
Language is a very powerful thing. How the faith is presented fits with the entire theological construct. If the book or curriculum presents information as the fundamentalists do (because some Catholic truths cannot be stated in the same way), and a child is exposed to this approach daily and yearly, which will the child understand and choose? Will he choose and believe the one to which he is accustomed, or the one that sounds "odd" to him?
Another example -- if the child finds that the only mention of Mary is "once there was a young Jewish girl named Mary. God chose her to give birth to the Baby Jesus," then the theological understandings of Mary as Mother of God, and the Immaculate Conception, are alien, and the foundations for understanding them are not there. The child needs to hear exactly what the Angel said to Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." The child needs to hear Mary's responses, "How shall this be accomplished, since I know not man?....Let is be done unto me according to thy word."
The child needs to know that the Holy Spirit (God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity) came upon Mary and caused her to conceive God (Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who is both divine and human). This builds the foundations for understanding that Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos). Repetition is needed for mastery of the concepts in the story of the Annunciation.
Parents need to know that if the truths of and about the Church are downplayed in the rest of the curriculum, it weakens the concept that this "religion issue" is important . The fundamentalist language in Christian books and curriculums will never allow anything good about Catholicism to be included; the complete truth and the real answers will never be found in a "Christian" curriculum.
As a convert to the Faith, I have given much thought to all of this. Now I use Catholic religion and history and reading. I want to be sure that my kids learn to be Catholic. I have the same dedication I once had as a Protestant because I understand the underlying premise of nondenominational materials...but it was a long, somewhat painful road to get here.
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