January 29, 2013

Spanked by the Bible Belt

This is our 7th year of homeschooling.  It's also our 7th year as members of a non-denominational Christian homeschool support group.  And by Christian, I mean Protestant.  And by Protestant, I mean evangelical.

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!" 


  1. We went through the exact same thing, without the Catholicism. I think that with all groups that have a wide array of people, there is bound to be shifting and... I don't know, changing within the group dynamics and it just became WAY too uncomfortable for us to stay. There was too many bothersome things that I couldn't stomach anymore, and most everyone didn't want to hear it. Leaving that group was the best thing we've done and I regret not doing it earlier, after I saw the TREMENDOUSLY positive effect it had on my kids once we left. The stress, depression and weekly anxiety was gone!

  2. Been on the receiving end of that prejudice. Only it was from people I wasn't close to, and it didn't involve my kid. I think you've shown much grace.

  3. Have you found / chosen a new group to fill the gap?

  4. I've experienced more prejudice in Christian organizations than secular ones. If I left every group that judged me I would be completely and utterly alone. I'm not saying you should not have left. What I am saying is, don't let a few Pharasees steal your joy. There will always be those who find us lacking. The question has to be 'Does Christ find me lacking?' If He does not, who the heck are they? Who died and made them king? I find the best people in a group and leave the judgers to their own fate. In time you will find them somewhat amusing. There are (or were!) some very fine people in that group. All I'm saying is don't let a few losers keep you from the winners. Find another group. Don't letting their brand of 'queen bees' shake your calm. : )

  5. That's wisdom right there. ^^^

    Leaving the group IS how I'm keeping the bees from shaking my calm. It's also how I'm protecting my son from the haters. I don't want our experience to harden our hearts to certain groups of Christians, but I'm seeing a bit of that starting. That's why it's time to cut our losses and move on.

    Hopefully, I can still keep the real friends I've made from the group. (You know, the cool people. :P)

  6. I think the shifting is what we're experiencing as well. I still don't think it's a bad group. There are a lot of wonderful people there. Unfortunately, there's a very vocal minority that make it not a good fit for us any longer.

    I've been struggling with the idea of leaving for over a year. I really do feel a peace about my decision. I'm glad it worked out so well for you.

  7. Thank you! You've probably heard about all of it along the way.

  8. I don't know that I will look for one, Jorge. I'm not burned out on groups--I just don't know if being a part of one is something we need right now. I'm really grateful for my friends--homeschoolers and otherschoolers. And I have a few friends from the homeschool group that I hope to keep.

    Who knows? Maybe I'll revive my Homeskool Mafia! :P

  9. I'm not Catholic, but this is the first time I've heard this. Good grief. What is wrong with people?
    I'm sorry that you experienced this and that it's affected your son.
    Good for you for moving on. I hope you find a new group with more welcoming members.

  10. Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one who had never heard this before! My mom is in her late 50s, and was raised Catholic (though she's nondenominational now), and she'd never heard it either until we experienced it in this homeschool group.

    I really think some people just get their kicks by feeling holier-than-thou. Pfft on them!