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Conscientious objections

Veteran Nebraska homeschoolers remember the legal battles of the early 1980's. Although it took long stretches in jail, Nebraska believers finally won the freedom to teach their own children in their own homes, pursuant to a "Rule 13" school exemption.

Although Nebraska permits religious believers to be excused from public school attendance, there are some families with sincere religious objections to the very appearance of state control of their religious homeschool program. When one such family informed HSLDA this fall that their conscience would not permit them to comply with Rule 13, we helped them document their religious beliefs, explaining their objections to Rule 13. They then sent this documentation in instead of the official Nebraska Department of Education forms.

An attorney for the department wrote back to say the family appears to be "misunderstanding the law." The father had expressed that Nebraska's forms "violate my religious belief by establishing that the Department of Education is an authority over my home," but the department attorney answered, "I would certainly hope that you would agree that these minimal filing and informational requirements are quite unobtrusive, and neither overburdensome nor over-reaching."

HSLDA encourages families to use their state's existing paperwork if they can do so with a clear conscience. While most religious homeschoolers in Nebraska are able to use the Rule 13 forms without trouble, some families cannot. We hope to work with the department of education to accommodate these sincere religious objections to Nebraska's paperwork.

Scott W. Somerville