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How to Raise Your Very Own Religious Evangelist

31 August 2009
by digitalsean

by digitalsean

The mother of 10 year-old Amanda Kurowski was recently ordered by a court in New Hampshire to stop homeschooling her daughter and send her to public school.   The story is related in a relatively unbiased manner by OneNewsNow in this article, and in a more biased manner by these two Christian sites: (here and here).

It’s a big brouhaha because the decision was based on Amanda’s rigid religious views, not her academics.  Apparently Amanda was doing excellent academically, and was taking three classes at a public school (gym, art, and Spanish) which provided her with a chance to make friends and meet new people.  (The whole reason that her education was being monitored has to do with the fact that her parents are divorced, and her father wished her to attend public school – he believes that public school is necessary for adequate socialization.)

The court order stated: “According to the guardian ad litem’s further report and testimony, the counselor found Amanda to lack some youthful characteristics. She appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith.” The guardian noted that during a counseling session, Amanda tried to witness to the counselor and appeared “visibly upset” when the counselor purposefully did not pay attention.

The guardian also noted that Amanda’s relationship with her father suffered because she did not think he loved her as much as he said he did due to the fact that he refused to “adopt her religious beliefs.”

According to the court order, the guardian concluded that Amanda’s “interests, and particularly her intellectual and emotional development, would be best served by exposure to a public school setting in which she would be challenged to solve problems presented by a group learning situation and…Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior.”

One of the blogs reporting on this case added that according to the counselor’s statement: “Amanda challenged the counselor to say what the counselor believed, and she prepared some highlighted biblical text for the counselor to read over and discuss, and she was visibly upset when the counselor (purposely) did not complete the assignment.” Now, the blogger goes on to say:

I did find it a little comical that the counselor in this case got rattled by a ten year old girl. This little girl was confident enough to defend her own faith, and had the moral courage to challenge the counselor to state what he or she believed and why. And how many ten-year-olds do you know that could highlight Bible texts (I assume to support her Christian faith) and be prepared to discuss them with an adult who holds a Masters Degree? I doubt that there would have been many adults up to that challenge. From the language of the report, it is obvious that the counselor felt threatened by the moral character and fortitude of this young girl, and allowed his or her anti-Christian prejudice to cloud his/her “independent thought.”

That’s just stupid. The counselor wasn’t there to talk about religion with the girl… the counselor was there to determine whether or not she had a sufficient academic education and social skills.  I don’t see the counselor’s decision to ignore the girl’s “witnessing” as a result of “feeling threatened”.  And as to the question “how many ten-year-olds do you know…” Um. None. And that’s the way it should be.  At ten you should still be learning and questioning everything, not highlighting bible passages and trying to evangelize everyone around you.  That’s just messed up, and frankly, doesn’t sound like the way a socially well-adjusted young girl behaves.

And let’s not forget that the religion her mother has spoon-fed her has also caused her relationship with her father to break down.  She feels like her dad doesn’t love her as much as her mother because he doesn’t agree with her religion?  Does anyone else see a girl being manipulated by her mother to distrust her father?  It’s like some sick power-struggle, with the girl caught in the middle.

So while I don’t know how legal the judge’s ruling was (I haven’t gone to law school yet… I’ll let you know in four years or so), I do know that I can’t help but agree with the judge.  This girl sounds like she’s being brainwashed by her mother.  And really, they’re just making her go to public school, it’s not like they’re taking the girl away and putting her with another family or something.  They require the Amish to allow their children to experience life with modern-day technology and systems, so that they can make an informed decision about what kind of life they wish to lead.  Why not require this girl to experience other types of schooling, religion, etc. so that SHE can make an informed decision?

It’s a complicated and delicate question to be sure, how far do parents’ have the right to control their children?

EDIT

Godless Girl recently posted to her blog about this issue, and she was more successful than I in finding information about the case – she found a PDF of the ruling; apparently the court ruling was also affected by the mother’s giving false testimony, which obviously hurt the rest of her case. Also, it would seem that Amanda wasn’t doing as well academically and socially as initially reported: a later interview with her Spanish teacher indicated that her relationship with the other students was not particularly strong and she had a number of absences which prevented her from completing projects.

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