I've learned a lot as a member of this group. A lot of good things, about homeschooling and parenting and praying for others. Several members of the group were a big support while I was taking care of my grandma.
There is another--not so warm and fuzzy--thing I learned as a result of joining my homeschool group. It is that many evangelical Christians don't consider Catholics to be Christians.
You might be thinking, duh! But it was news to me.
I've lived in 5 states. Attended non-denominational Christian churches as a kid. Went to Baptist church as a teen. Attended college away from home. And have lived in the very buckle of the Bible Belt for 15 years. But I never heard that there are fellow Christians who deny the Christianity of Catholics until I joined this homeschool group.
Worse, my 12 year old son has only had to deal with religious intolerance because we are members of this group. He's never come up against it anywhere else.
So we've decided to leave the group.
I probably should have left the first few times I heard other moms make anti-Catholic comments. They did it craftily though ("but I know YOU'RE a Christian!"), and each time, I assumed they were just ignorant and didn't represent the group as a whole.
But the comments kept coming. Little remarks here and there. Totally different moms. And then Nature Boy's homeschool co-op friends said some things to him. It was increasingly getting on my nerves. Then last month I talked to another Catholic member of the group at a party. I found out she had experienced the same thing I had, and that she and two other Catholic members had already left the homeschool group for that reason.
My eyes were opened.
I have always considered my group to be the best one in town, certainly the best Christian homeschool group. I didn't want to leave the group in an angry huff, so I asked a long-time friend and leader in the group for her perspective.
I was shocked to discover that she felt the same way the other moms did.
I'm grateful that she was honest with me, because now I know why I never fit in. Why I always felt like an outsider in the group. Part of it is just that I am more liberal than most of the group members are--but another part of it is that this is a Christian-only group, and several members don't believe Catholics are Christians.
Making the decision to leave the group was a process. I was pissed at first. Especially on my son's behalf. I worked through that anger, forgave the haters, and moved on.
Now I feel a peace about it. It's the right decision.
There are some Christians who seem to have judgment and prejudice as religious doctrines. As if castigating others somehow makes themselves more holy. I choose not to hang out with people like that. It's the opposite of my experience of Christianity. And if I, a Catholic Christian, feel that way, imagine how non-Christians are experiencing these people's attempts to show them Jesus.
As Tobuscus says, "Fail!"