News Item: Salvation Army Declares Home Schooling “Off Limits”
A September 19, 1991 memo to “All Active WMNI Officers” (Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division) re: home schooling indicates that “The Commissioners’ Conference is putting together a policy concerning home schooling by Salvation Army officers. When the new policy appears, it will indicate that Salvation Army officers will not be allowed to do home schooling.”
“The policy in the Central Territory will go into effect in September 1992. This will give officers one year to prepare for this change if they are involved in home schooling. If you have questions concerning this policy I will be happy to discuss them with you.”
HSLDA attorney J. Michael Smith generated an appeal letter to key Salvation Army commissioners on behalf of several member families. Its text makes a powerful case for the fact that outreach ministries, like the Salvation Army, should especially protect the rights of parents to home school since this educational choice lies at the very heart of family discipleship:
By way of introduction, several of our member families have contacted us who are in The Salvation Army indicating that they have received memoranda that their home school program should terminate effective September 1992. Home School Legal Defense Association is a non-profit association established for the purpose of protecting the rights of families who teach their children at home. The purpose of this letter would be to appeal to you to rescind your policy regarding termination of home school for Salvation Army officers.
It has been reported to us that the reason for the new policy is the concern for officers spending too much time with their children to the detriment of the ministry. . . .we had understood the Bible mandate to require parents to train their children and to teach them diligently the ways of God in the morning, when they lie down, and as they go on their way. This appears to be a biblical mandate that is being accomplished by your home schooling officers. It seems that rather than condemning this activity, a ministry should be pleased and encourage parents to educate their children in the ways of the Lord at home.
Not only does the Bible encourage parents to teach their children at home, but the United States Supreme Court has guaranteed to parents the right to do so. Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1922), and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).
An additional factor is the fact that many officers have had to properly come to the conclusion that because of the hostility of the public schools toward their faith they have no choice but to teach their children at home. Private school is not an option because of lack of financial ability. It seems shocking that these God honoring officers should be prevented from serving God in this way.
You might be surprised to know that there are estimates that one million children are now being taught at home and the number is growing by leaps and bounds daily. Many Christians see this as a revival and the fulfillment of the last verse that closes the Old Testament Malachi 4:6 says, “He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse“. . .
On November 19, 1991, HSLDA received a response from the Salvation Army's National Chief Secretary. The letter explained that both the husband and wife graduate from the Salvation Army School for Officers' Training and both are ordained ministers. Both “have dedicated their lives and made vows that involve a full-time commitment to the organization.” The letter concluded by saying “we do regard this as an internal matter and the scope is much broader rather than just the subject of home schooling.”
Pray that God will turn the hearts of the Salvation Army leadership to publicly favor the family ahead of ministry, acknowledging that a man's credential for ministry is his success in rearing godly children.