Wednesday, September 23, 2020

"The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy" by Robert D. Woodberry

 Robert D. Woodberry has written a fascinating research essay entitled "The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy."

Here is the abstract of the paper:

This article demonstrates historically and statistically that conversionary Protestants (CPs) heavily influenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world. It argues that CPs were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely. Statistically, the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries explains about half the variation in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania and removes the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy. The association between Protestant missions and democracy is consistent in different continents and subsamples, and it is robust to more than 50 controls and to instrumental variable analyses.

I put the following notes together for a talk based on Woodberry's paper.  It has a number of quotations from the essay.

________________ 


·     Article: “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy” by Robert D. Woodberry in American Political Science Reviewvol. 106, no. 2 (May 2012), 244-274.[1]

 

·     Purpose of the article: explain the influence of religion—particularly a specific kind of Protestant Christianity—on the development of democracy around the world

 

o   “Most theories about democracies emphasize the material interests of different social classes and either ignore or minimize the role of cultural and religious interests.” (p. 244)

 

o   “More broadly, this article challenges many aspects of traditional modernization theory (i.e., that liberal democracy and other social transformations traditionally associated with “modernity” developed primarily as the result of secular rationality, economic development, urbanization, industrialization, the expansion of the state, and the development of new class structures). Although all these elements may matter, they are not the only causes. Moreover, those “causes” must be explained. I argue that Western modernity, in its current form, is profoundly shaped by religious factors, and although many aspects of this “modernity” have been replicated in countries around the world, religion shaped what spread, where it spread, how it spread, and how it adapted to new contexts.” (p. 244)

 

·     The kind of religious groups that were most influential

 

o   “In particular, conversionary Protestants (CPs) were a crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, most colonial reforms, and the codification of legal protections for nonwhites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  These innovations fostered conditions that made stable representative democracy more likely—regardless of whether many people converted to Protestantism.  Moreover, religious beliefs motivated most of these transformations.” (pp. 244-245)

 

o   Woodberry adds a note about the definition of “CPs”:

 

§ Conversionary Protestants(1) actively attempt to persuade others of their beliefs, (2) emphasize lay vernacular Bible reading, and (3) believe that grace/faith/choice saves people, not group membership or sacraments.  CPs are not necessarily orthodox or conservative.” (p. 244)

 

·     “The Origin of Democratic Theory and Institutions” (p. 248)

 

o   “Those who doubt the religious roots of democracy typically overemphasize its Athenian, Enlightenment, and Deist roots.” (p. 248)

 

o   Athenian roots—cautions

 

§ “Modern democracy differs greatly from Athenian democracy” (p. 248)

 

·     “Athenian democracy was direct, limited to the elite hereditary Athenian families, excluded more than 80% of Athenians, never expanded to Athenian-controlled territories, and was unstable.  Modern democracy has elected representatives, separation of powers, constitutions, ‘natural’ rights, legal equality, and broad citizenship and has often been very stable.” (p. 248)

 

·     “Greek classics were most consistently available in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Muslim world, but democracy did not thrive there; the Roman Empire circled the Mediterranean, and the Renaissance flourished in Southern Europe, but democracy did not thrive in those places either.  The ‘Athenian seed’ germinated only after 2,100 years in alien soil: Northwest Europe and North America.” (p. 248)

 

o   Enlightenment roots—based in religious precedents

 

§ “Enlightenment theorists incorporated many legal and institutional innovations from earlier religious movements (Berman 1983; Nelson 2010; Waldron 2002; Witte 2007). In fact, arguments for political pluralism, electoral reform, and limitations of state power were originally framed in religious terms (Bradley and Van Kley 2001; Clarke 1994; Ihalainen 1999; Lutz 1988; 1992; Nelson 2010; Witte and Alexander 2008).  For example, Calvinists tried to reconstruct states along “godly” lines and limit sinful human institutions. Perhaps as a result, most Enlightenment democratic theorists came from Calvinist families or had a Calvinist education, even if they were either not theologically orthodox or personally religious (e.g., John Locke, Rousseau, Hugo Grotius, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton),9 and they secularized ideas previously articulated by Calvinist theologians and jurists (Hutson 1998; Lutz 1980; 1988; Nelson 2010; Witte 2007).10 For example, Hobbes’ and Locke’s social contracts are secular versions of Puritan and Nonconformist covenants, and Locke’s ideas about the equality of all people are explicitly religious (Waldron 2002;Woodberry and Shah 2004).

 

“Although stated in secular form, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights derive most directly from earlier colonial covenants, compacts, and bills of rights that were generally justified explicitly in biblical and

theological terms; many were written before Hobbes and Locke expounded their ideas. Only 7 of the 27 rights enumerated in the U.S. Bill of Rights can be traced to major English common law documents (Lutz 1980; 1988; 1992; Witte 2007). Even between 1760 and 1805, political writings quoted the Bible more often than either Enlightenment or classical thinkers (34% versus 22% and 9%, respectively; Lutz 1984).” (p. 248)

Montesquieu had a Calvinist wife and based many of his arguments on Puritan rule in England.

10For example, natural rights, the social contract, separation of powers and freedom of expression and association: “Every one of the guarantees in the 1791 [U.S.] Bill of Rights had already been formulated in the prior two centuries by Calvinist theologians and jurists” (Witte 2007, 31).

 

o   “Thus modern democratic theory and institutions area confluence of streams, not a uniquely Athenian or Enlightenment creation. Although Enlightenment and Greek thought were important, they are not a sufficient explanation for liberal democracy. Religious ideas, institutions, conflicts, and social bridging were also important. In summary, the ideas that shaped the first successful democratic movements were heavily influenced by Protestantism, not just by “secular” classical and Enlightenment thought. Moreover, ideas are not enough. Without conditions that dispersed power beyond a small elite and prevented life-and-death struggles between secular and religious forces, democracy did not last. In the next subsections I discuss how CPs fostered greater separation between church and state, dispersed power, and helped create conditions under which stable democratic transitions were more likely to occur.” (p. 249)

 

·      Key areas Woodberry documents the conditions CPs promoted that help foster democracy

 

o   Printing, Newspapers, and Public Sphere 

o   Education

o   Civil Society

o   Colonial Transformation

 

·      Printing, Newspapers, and Public Sphere

 

o   “One mechanism through which CPs dispersed power was massively expanding access to printed material and news. Scholars often claim that printing and capitalism birthed the public sphere and that the public sphere in turn enabled democracy (Habermas 1989; Zaret 2000). CPs greatly accelerated the development of mass printing, newspapers, and the public sphere or several reasons. First, CPs changed people’s ideas about who books were for. According to CPs, everyone needed access to “God’s word”— not just elites. Therefore, everyone  needed to read, including women and the poor. Moreover, books had to be inexpensive and in language that was accessible to ordinary people, not in foreign languages or classical versions of local languages. Second, CPs expected lay people to make their own religious choices. They believed people are saved not through sacraments or group membership but by “true faith in God”; thus, each individual had to decide which faith to follow. CPs used printed material to try to convert people, which forced other groups to use such materials to compete for ordinary people’s allegiance. This competition helped give rise to mass printing.” (p. 249)

 

o   “In the West, the development of CP movements also predicted many of the major advancements in the quantity and techniques of printing. For example, CP Bible and tract societies helped spark a nineteenth century printing explosion. Their drive to print mass quantities of inexpensive texts preceded  major technological innovations and helped spur technological and organizational transformations in printing, binding, and distribution that created markets and facilitated later adoption by commercial printers (Bayly

2004, 357; Bradley 2006, 38–39; Brown 2004; Howsam1991; Nord 2004).” (p. 249)

 

·      Education

 

o   Another mechanism through which CPs dispersed power was through spreading mass education. Much statistical research suggests that formal education increases both the level of democracy and the stability of democratic transitions (Barro 1999; Bollen 1979; Gasiorowski and Power 1998).19  

 

“CPs catalyzed the rise of mass education all around the world. CPs advocated mass literacy so that everyone could read the Bible and interpret it competently. Their attempt to convert people through education threatened other elites and spurred these elites to also invest in mass education.” (p. 251)

 

·      Civil Society

 

o   CPs also dispersed power by developing and spreading            new organizational forms and protest tactics that allowed non-elites, early nationalists, and anticolonial activists to organize nonviolent political protests and, in British colonies, form political parties prior to independence.  Many scholars argue that this type of organizational civil society helps foster democracy (Fung 2003; Putnam 1993).” (p. 252)

 

·      Colonial Transformation

 

o   “CPs also dispersed power by publicizing colonial abuses, advocating for changes in colonial policy, and transferring ideas, skills, and networks that helped colonized people organize anticolonial and nationalist movements. Some scholars suggest that British colonialism fostered democracy, but this may be because CPs had greater influence in British colonies. CPs forced the British to allow religious liberty, but were not able to do this in historically Catholic regions. Religious liberty increased the flow of Protestant missionaries to British colonies, heightened competition between religious groups, and freed missionaries from direct state control. Missionaries were then better able to limit colonial abuses and spur mass printing, mass education, and organizational civil society. Religious liberty also made it easier for local people to organize early nonviolent anticolonial and nationalist organizations.” (p. 253-254)

 

o   “In British and American colonies, religious liberty and private mission financing weakened officials’ ability to punish missionaries and freed missionaries to critique abuses, while popular support allowed missionaries to punish colonial officials and settlers. For example, colonial magistrates and governors were reprimanded or removed, military officials were put on trial for murder, confiscated land was returned to indigenous people, and so on. Thus, Protestant missionaries spurred immediate abolitionism, as well as movements to protect indigenous land rights, prevent forced labor, and force the British to apply similar legal standards to whites and nonwhites.  Although others participated in these movements, it was the missionaries who provided detailed information and photographs that documented atrocities. Missionaries also provided emotional connections to distant people and mobilized large groups through church talks and mission presses.  Without missionaries, mobilizing mass protests would have been difficult. The missionary-enabled mobilization made it more difficult for the British to sustain colonial violence or to apply different legal standards to whites and nonwhites. It helped create a cocoon in which nonviolent, indigenous political movements could develop and increased the incentives for colonial officials to allow gradual democratization and decolonization.” (p. 254)

 

·      Conclusion

 

o   “The historic prevalence of CPs is not the only cause of democracy, but CPs seem both important and neglected in current research. This does not mean that CPs consistently directly supported democracy nor is mass conversion to Protestantism necessary. Yet in trying to spread their faith, CPs expanded religious liberty, overcame resistance to mass education and printing, fostered civil society, moderated colonial abuses, and dissipated elite power. These conditions laid a foundation for democracy and long-term economic growth. Once CPs catalyzed these transformations and others copied them, CPs’ unique role diminished.” (p. 268)

 

o   “Distinct theologies and organizational forms lead to distinct outcomes.” (p. 269)



     [1]Available online: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235503063_The_Missionary_Roots_of_Liberal_Democracy.  Note: Woodberry’s article is filled with substantiating documentation embedded throughout the text.  In my quotations below I have chosen to remove most of the internal citations so as to make for smoother reading.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Scientific Foundations: Platonism vs. Christianity

 


Some thoughts from Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton's book:


“One of the most distinctive aspects of modern science is its use of mathematics—the conviction not only that nature is lawful but also that those laws can be stated in precise mathematical formulas. This conviction, too, historians have traced to the Biblical teaching on creation.

 

“The Biblical God created the universe ex nihilo and hence has absolute control over it.  Genesis paints a picture of a Workman completely in charge of His materials. Hence in its essential structure the universe is precisely what God wants it to be.

 

“This idea was alien to the ancient world.  In all other religions, the creation of the world begins with some kind of pre-existing substance with its own inherent nature.  As a result, the creator is not absolute and does not have the freedom to mold the world exactly as he wills.

 

“For example, in Greek philosophy the world consists of eternal matter structured by eternal rational universals called Ideas or Forms.  In Plato’s creation myth, the creator (demiurge) is an inferior deity who did not create from nothing; he merely injected reason (Ideas) into reason-less matter.  And even that he did imperfectly because matter was stubborn stuff, capable of resisting the rational structure imparted by the Ideas.  In short, this is a creator whose hands are tied, as Hooykaas writes, in two respects:

 

‘He had to follow not his own design but the model of the eternal Ideas; and second, he had to put the stamp of the Ideas on a chaotic, recalcitrant matter which he had not created himself.’

 

“As a result, the Greeks expected a level of imprecision in nature, a certain fuzziness at the edges.  If some facts did not fit their theories, well, that was to be expected in an imperfect world.  Individual things were, after all, only rough approximations to the rational Ideas or Forms.  As historian Dudley Shapere explains, in Greek thought the physical world ‘contains an essentially irrational element: nothing in it can be described exactly by reason, and in particular by mathematical concepts and laws.’

 

“By contrast, the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo means there is no pre-existing substance with its own independent properties to limit what God can do.  God creates the world exactly as He wills.  For a Platonist, if a line in nature is not quite circular, that is because nature is an only partially successful approximation to geometrical Ideas.  But for a Christian, if God had wanted the line to be circular, He would have made it that way.  If it is not exactly a circle, it must be exactly something else—perhaps an ellipse.  The scientist can be confident that it is exactly something, and not mere capricious variation from the ideal.

 

“A striking example can be found in the work of Kepler, who struggled for years with the slight difference of eight minutes between observation and calculation of the orbit of the planet Mars.  Eventually this slight imprecision drove him to abandon the ideas of circular orbits and to postulate elliptical orbits.  If Kepler had not maintained the conviction that nature must be precise, he would not have agonized over those eight minutes and would not have broken through a traditional belief in circular orbits that had held sway for two thousand years.  Kepler spoke gratefully of those eight minutes as a ‘gift of God.’

 

“Thus the application of geometry and mathematics to the analysis of physical motion rests on the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo.  The implication is that God is omnipotent; there is no recalcitrant matter to resist His will.  In the words of physicist C. F. von Weizsacker: 

 

‘Matter in the Platonic sense, which must be “prevailed upon” by reason, will not obey mathematical laws exactly: matter which God has created from nothing may well strictly follow the rules which its Creator has laid down for it.  In this sense I call modern science a legacy, I might even have said a child, of Christianity.’

 

“Historian R. G. Collingwood expresses the argument most succinctly.  He writes: ‘The possibility of an applied mathematics is an expression, in terms of natural science, of the Christian belief that nature is the creation of an omnipotent God.’”[1]

      [1]Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1994), 27-29.

* Note: Here is a video I did for class going over this section of text by Pearcey and Thaxton:



Monday, June 29, 2020

The Book of Revelation: Background on the Political and Cultural Context (part one)

I was recently spending time reading and re-reading the book of Revelation.  In our mid-week Bible study we are going through chapters 2-3 and looking at the seven churches mentioned.  As is usual, anytime I spend significant time in Revelation I tried to read in both commentaries and published articles.  Two recent articles I read are Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb: Observations on the Function of Revelation 5 by J. Daryl Charles (Criswell Theological Review 7.1 [1993], 85-97) and The Social Setting of the Revelation to John: Conflicts Within, Fears Without by David A. DeSilva (Westminster Theological Journal 54 [1992], 273-302).  This blog post will look at J. Daryl Charles' essay.

Both articles bring out the first-century background of the Roman Imperial cult.  This background is crucial since it sets up the point of tension with the Roman society--its culture, religion, economics, and politics.  These Christians in the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 had to navigate an increasingly hostile culture.  Opening up this background dynamic helps bridge the hermeneutical gap and provide practical resources and examples for our time.

Charles begins his essay with these words:
"At the core of the Christians' dilemma in the first century was their refusal to adore the national gods and affirm Roman Imperial pretensions.  Christian non-compliance in this regard constituted rebellion against the established order, at the center of which stood the emperor, hailed as Kyrios, 'Lord,' incarnate.  Although conditions reflected up to the time of the writing of the Apocalypse suggest that Christians were not regularly martyred, the writer foresees an ominous development.  At issue is a clash of two irreconcilable worldviews.  At its core, the apocaplyse represents a challenge to the Roman principate.  The all-encompassing machinery of the imperium Romanum is utterly bewitching to the world (Revelation 13 and 17), leaving none unaffecte; it thus calls for a prophetic consciousness."  (pp. 85-86)
Charles focuses on Revelation chapter 5 with its depiction of the heavenly throne room with worship being offered to the Lamb.  Charles argues that the imagery of chapter 5 is not merely general in nature but would have evoked Imperial overtones with a subversive twist: true worship was being offered to Christ the Lamb and not to the Roman emperor.  Here are the words of Charles:
"In 5:1-14 the reader catches a glimpse of both the political ramifications of Imperial pretensions as well as the religious implications of absolutist Imperial claims.  Both kingly and priestly imagery are employed to reassure John's audience.
"Attention has been drawn earlier in this century as well as more recently to the 'polemical parallelism' between the Imperial cult and early Christianity.  The language of adoration and worship associated with the former is transferred by the writer of the Apocalypse from a defied emperor to Christ.  Most conspicuous in Revelation is the emphasis on ritural and ceremony.  Ritual demonstrates precisely where human loyalties are to be found.  To affirm the sovereignty of one is in fact to deny it to another.  Worship, hence, is the confession of one's all.  In the Apocalypse, the reader is confronted with an absolute antithesis; no compromise is possible.  Since confession of one is clearly a negation of another, the Christian community is challenged with a dilemma stemming from claims of ultimacy by the Imperium." (p. 87)
The Christian allegiance to Christ Jesus was "perceived a menace to imperial unity and supremacy."  (p. 88)
"Inasmuch as the Christians called Jesus Kyrios/Dominus, the same title could not legitimately be ascribed to the emperor--a dilemma interpreted plainly enough by Pliny.  Ultimately, for the first-century Christian the matter comes down to a fundamental antithesis: Divus Imperator ('Emperor Divine') or Christus Dominus ('Christ the Lord').  Christians refused to acknowledge Caesar as god-man, while at the same time proclaiming Christ to the God-Man who ruled even Caesar.  Such de-sanctifying of the state was certainly not lost on the emperor himself.  The Christian disciple is thus at root an imperial antagonist; one's devotion cannot be split." (p. 88)
Charles notes that even the specific imagery of Revelation 5 and the throne room vision of the Lamb has resonances with the Imperial cult.
"The vision, as it turns out, is heavily imbued with 'imperial' overtones.  The 'Lamb--ie., the 'Lion-Lamb' who is simultaneously 'savior' and 'conqueror'--is revealed in terms that are uniquely and painfully familar to a first-century audience living in Asia Minor.  Borrowing images and epithets suggesting conscious 'polemical parallels,' John portrays Jesus in a manner that causes even the glories of the Imperial throne to pale by contrast."  (p. 89)
The historical background regarding Emperor worship is also something to be noted.  "Worship" is a key theme in the book of Revelation and the ancient Roman world was filled with actual religious devotion to the Emperor.
"From 3 B.C., at the formation of the Octavian-Antony-Lepidus triumvirate, until the time of Diocletian, eighty-three places of consecration/deification were erected in Rome, indicatiing the relative influence of the Imperial cult.  Augustus, as the inscriptions show, was being worshipped in the East as 'a Savior... through whom have come glad tidings.'  While it is true that Augustus never allowed himself to be openly designated a god and worship of Augustus in Rome and Italy was nominally forbidden, the poets of his age--Proportius, Virgil, Horace and Ovid--were lavish in their praise of him as Deus." (p. 91)
Caligula and Nero had pretensions of divinity.  Coming to Domitian, the third of the Flavian rulers, he becomes much more inclined to accepting Divine praise so that "he became the object of widespread worship, marking a departure from the moderacy of earlier Julio-Claudian emperors." (p. 91)

Even the physical dynamics of Nero's throne are helpful in understanding the throne room scene of Revelation five.  Charles describes Nero's throne:
"Nero had built for himself a rotunda that represented the cosmos.  The structure rotated day and night.  The middle region of the rotunda was the region of the sun.  Roman poets appealed for Nero to take his seat exactly in the middle of the universe, otherwise the cosmos would lose its equilibrium.  From this position the emperor judged, determing the fate of humans.  He thus fulfilled the role of fatorum arbiter, ho pantokrator, ie., the cosmic god of fate." (p. 93)
John's description, based on the heavenly revelation, provides a counter-image of a glorious throne with the Lamb--Jesus Christ--in the middle of it.   This is just one more example of a "polemical parallel" which manifests the transcendent nature and role of the Lamb of God.

This all is part of John's implicit political philosophy given his historical situation in the Roman empire.  The words of Charles are instructive:
"To be sure, Christianity was per se not opposed to the state; the Apostle Paul viewed it as divinely appointed with a civil function in the temporal order.  Rather, it was Rome's pretense of absolute authority and ultimate allegiance that for the Christian disciple was intolerable; hence, the dilemma for the Christian community." (p. 90)
With this understanding, the contemporary Church can glean insights and resources in the development of her stance against political regimes that seek to overwhelm the Church with oppressive, Jesus-denying policies.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Harvard, Homeschooling, and Responses


Recently there was controversy caused by an article in Harvard Magazine about homeschooling.  I put together a few resources on this as well as a few snippets from relevant responses.

Initial Article:
The Risks of Homeschooling by Erin O' Donnell Harvard Magazine (May-June 2020)
* Also see the longer academic article cited in the Harvard Magazine essay--Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection Arizona Law Review vol. 62, no. 1 (2020)

RESPONSES:

Harvard Law School Calls for Ban on Homeschooling: Homeschooled Harvard Graduate On Why This Is Wrong by Melba Pearson (April 19, 2020)
"Thus, it is disappointing that Harvard Magazine’s Erin O’Donnell, quoting Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, argues it is the government’s responsibility to educate the children of this nation. She is not arguing everyone has a right to education — they absolutely do. Rather, she argues the government has more of a right to educate, care for, and control your children than you, their parents, do; and furthermore, they can do it better. The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong.
 "The article argues only those whom the government deems correct can teach children; this is a blatant rejection of free thought, suppression of democratization of education, and attack on the freedoms and rights the citizens of our country fought long and hard to win. This article speaks directly against constitutional rights to parent your child as you see fit and exercise free speech. It speaks directly against those ideas of liberty and freedom that are fundamental to the success of our nation.
"Additionally, this anti-homeschooling narrative coming out of Harvard is completely contradictory to its recent crusade of “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “acceptance.” During my four years on Harvard’s campus, I saw many protests, new rules and regulations, and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. We as humans thrive on diversity, and the openness and freedom of thought and opinion and dialogue that comes with it. The scientific community thrives on open source solutions. The arts thrive on the creativity and optimization of ideas that are only possible through diversity.
"The restricting and banning of individual rights, especially on the basis of religious or political beliefs, or other ideas protected under freedom of speech is not democratization — it stems from the fundamental desire for a world without a certain group of people, and that desire makes the survival of creative, peaceful, pluralistic community impossible. I am sure that neither O’Donnell or Bartholet truly desire a world without homeschoolers, and I am sure that is not the vision Harvard wants to present to our world. That is discrimination, and it is wrong."

Alex J. Harris (Facebook) (April 19, 2020)  Alex Harris was homeschooled and later graduated from Harvard Law School.
"While Professor Bartholet may not be aware of any of this, I was not the first or only homeschool grad at Harvard Law School when I arrived in 2012. At least two preceded me. Both were named editors of the Harvard Law Review, a distinction available only to the smallest fraction of the student body. Another homeschool grad matriculated with me. By the time I graduated, there were FOUR of us on the 92-member law review board. One homeschool grad won the annual award for best student writing on constitutional law. At the end of my 2L year, I won the Sears Prize for one of the two highest GPAs in the entire class.
"Because of my success at Harvard, I had the enormous privilege to serve as a law clerk—first for then-Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony Kennedy at the U.S. Supreme Court—right after law school. But once again, I wasn’t alone. When I arrived at 1 First Street in DC, another homeschool grad was clerking for a Justice down the hall. Another followed a year later. And while the ranks of SCOTUS clerks have historically been heavily imbalanced in favor of men, both of the other homeschooled clerks were women.
"Today, as a direct result of my homeschool education, I am a successful attorney at one of the premier law firms in the United States. But I’m just one of many success stories. My fellow homeschool graduates are some of the most talented, responsible, caring, well-read, and well-rounded adults I know. They have reached all levels of academia and are making the world a better place from boardrooms to living rooms, small business to big law. Professor Bartholet might even know some of them and just never realized they were homeschooled."
Harvard Magazine Calls for a "Presumptive Ban" on Homeschooling: Here are 5 Things It God Wrong by Kerry McDonald Foundation for Economic Education (April 20, 2020)
The central tension between those who advocate for homeschooling bans and heightened regulation and those who don’t relates to how each side views the proper role of government. The former sees a proactive role of government in “intervening to try to safeguard the child’s right to education and protection,” while the latter relies on the historical underpinnings of our democracy, going back to the writings of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. We are endowed with “unalienable rights” and that to “secure these rights, governments are instituted.”
If a child is being abused, whether in a homeschooling situation or a public school classroom, the government should intervene to protect that child. But to single out a particular group for increased suspicion, monitoring, and invasion of privacy under the guise of “protection” is as un-American as similar attempts of the past. I agree with Bartholet when she says in the article: “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.” She is concerned with families having this power, while I worry about giving that power to government.
Elite Imperialist Crusade Against Homeschooling by Rod Dreher The American Conservative (April 20, 2020)
What she’s really saying here is that it’s wrong that there is any place to hide from progressive propaganda. Progressives can be as rigid, intolerant and oppressive as any fundamentalist, but they don’t recognize it because they believe that they are morally and intellectually correct. In the discussion over Catholic “integralism,” small-l, small-d liberal democrats have objected that the Catholic Church should have no say over the state’s values and practices. They may (or may not) be right about that, but what they are certainly wrong about is that there is any such thing as a neutral viewpoint. The things that Bartholet cites as virtues necessary for democratic governance are expressions of a particular point of view. She is upset that there are people in this pluralist democracy who do not share those views, and seek to teach their children according to their family beliefs, not the state’s. (Note well that the original laws against private schooling in the US emerged from 19th century fears that Catholic schools would create a fifth column of subversives.)
Recently, some public schools have adopted policies for handling transgendered students that require teachers and staffers to deceive parents of gender dysphoric children. This is really happening. The school places itself between parents and their children, for the sake of assisting children’s beliefs that they are the opposite sex. It’s terrifying. In a matter of utmost concern and intimacy, parents really cannot trust the schools. And that, in my view, is at bottom the reason this Harvard Law professor and other elites hate homeschooling: they really do believe that they know better than families, churches, and non-state institutions, what is best for children. This is about an ideology of domination masquerading as care for abused children, and for liberal democratic values. 
It is important to get that straight in your head, so you’ll know what this fight is really about. The Elizabeth Bartholets of the world really will come after us, if they are given the opportunity. I especially appreciate the speaking out by homeschooling parents who are not religious and/or conservative, but who choose homeschooling because they regard it as a better way of educating their own children. These people are not supposed to exist in the Elizabeth Bartholet model of the world.
Harvard's Lazy Attack on Homeschooling by Mike McShane Forbes (April 21, 2020)
"Lazy stereotypes of insular religious homeschoolers are also easily disproven by a cursory look at the data. In 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics published results from a survey of homeschoolers who found that the number one reason for homeschooling was not “a desire to provide religious instruction” (that came in third) or even “a desire to provide moral instruction” (that came in seventh), but rather “a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.” Number two was “dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at other schools.”
 "Totally absent from these lazy stereotypes are two of the fastest-growing segments of homeschooling in America: families of children with special needs and minority families. In that NCES survey, almost 11 percent of homeschooling parents say that they do so primarily because their child has special need of some sort. In a recent research brief from the University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, Aaron Hirsh crunched the numbers and identified that 8% of all homeschoolers are African-American and 26% of all homeschoolers are Hispanic. Why are they opting out of traditional schools? As Hirsh puts it, “Motives for opting out vary, but many black families cite racism and a lack of opportunity for black students in the traditional classroom.”

Harvard Professor Wants to Ban Homeschooling Because Christians Do It by Kelly Marcum The Federalist (April 23, 2020)

What She Cares About Is Controlling Kids’ Minds

As shown by her support of Blunt’s legislation and advocacy of placing children with adoptive parents rather than letting them languish in the system, Bartholet understands on some level that a nurturing, loving family is what’s best for a child. But, in her rabid attack on homeschoolers, parents are no longer the best guardian of a child’s happiness. They are suddenly tyrannical ideologues who, before they can be trusted to raise their own children, must prove to the state that they will not beat their offspring with Bibles while reciting Klu Klux Klan propaganda.
That is not to say that abuse has not happened in families who homeschool, just as abuse has happened at the hands of public school officials and staff, but it is nothing like the widespread epidemic Bartholet would have her audience believe. To her, homeschoolers’ true crime is being conservative and, worse, Christian.
Although nearly all homeschoolers do not fall into this category, Bartholet is blissfully unaware of such an inconvenient fact. But again, children’s safety is not truly her concern here. If it was, she would not have spilled so much ink fretting about the nefarious Christian parents.
Her worry, and the worry of all those who argue for weakening the parent-child bond, is that these parents will raise children who adhere to a vision of the good that differs from the morally acceptable viewpoints held by academics in their coastal conclaves.
It’s tempting to dismiss Bartholet as another elitist Ivy League professor, easily mocked for her obscenely out-of-touch positions. But while she does fit that descriptor, and the tone of her recent attack on homeschooling is condescending to the point of nausea, such a dismissal would only obfuscate the true malignancy.
Bartholet is a clear example of the distortion of even well-ordered desires—such as the desire to protect children—at the heart of leftism’s corruption. No longer is she fighting to protect children from true abuse. Now she is fabricating abuse to undermine parents who may seek to raise their children according to a different set of beliefs from hers.

A Short Response to Harvard's Anti-Homeschooling, Anti-Parent, Anti-American Professor of Child Advocacy by Home School Legal Defense Association (April 24, 2020)
Bartholet suggests that there should be a presumptive ban against homeschooling because parents can’t be trusted to raise democratic citizens. Thankfully, her dangerous premise is based on a discarded notion that the government, through its public schools, is solely responsible for creating democratic citizens through public education. The idea that homeschooling parents are too ignorant or too religious to be trusted is so elitist and without foundation that it must be condemned. And it has been, by none other than the United States Supreme Court and the United Nations General Assembly.
In 1922, a law was passed by Oregon voters that prohibited private education. That voter initiative was spearheaded by the discredited Ku Klux Klan and motivated by anti-Catholic animus. The United States Supreme Court struck down the law in a landmark ruling, which issued a profound and powerful precedent that has stood for nearly 100 years:
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
As a law professor, Bartholet should know that both American constitutional law and international human rights law utterly reject her view that parents are unworthy of exercising decision making for the education of their children. Far from being a risk to democracy, empowering parents to raise and educate their children is a bulwark against totalitarianism.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes in its Article 16.3 that families are the “fundamental group unit of society,” and in its Article 26.3, that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” These principles were articulated in response to what happened in Germany when Hitler took over all education in order to immerse children in national socialist values away from their families. Virtually every major international human rights treaty recognizes that parents are endowed with this inalienable right.
Harvard Attack on Homeschooling Doesn't Push Kids' Best Interests by Katie Jay and Sarah Campbell The Federalist (April 27, 2020)
"Unable to find evidence that homeschoolers are anything but well-educated, well-rounded, and happy from a body of 35 years of research in peer-reviewed journals, the professor cites a dated study with a pool of 90 adult Canadians and tries to extrapolate some of those limited findings to the lives of 2.5 million American children.
"Toward the end of the article, Bartholet admits she considers homeschoolers’ academic excellence  irrelevant. She simply wants a homeschool ban to indoctrinate all children into what she calls the “majority culture.” The professor unfairly, inaccurately, and irrelevantly attacks faith-based homeschoolers when she presumes that religious parents will not sufficiently expose their children to a “range of viewpoints and values.” Of course, she does not propose that children in public schools diversify their viewpoints and values by learning about religion or minority cultures.
"How does such intolerance pass for legitimate academic study? As one outraged homeschool and Harvard graduate has asked, even if most homeschoolers were conservative Christians, “Why does that matter?” It is not the role of government to override the family cultures and traditions of competent and safe parents and force “majority culture” on religious people. Indeed, the Constitution protects against such abuses."
.....................................
 "Homeschooling today is a far cry from the draconian world Bartholet describes. The article is based on the homeschooling community of some 30-40 years ago — and even then, it’s a caricature.
"Bartholet alleges that children who are homeschooled suffer social isolation, but our experience has been that homeschoolers are at least as active in extracurricular activities as their school peers. The article doesn’t recognize how widespread homeschooling co-ops, homeschooler field trips, and community classes are, nor does it take into account the wonders of modern technology. 
"Homeschoolers are privy to many life skills at an early age in comparison to their mainstream schooled peers. Unencumbered by the traditional school schedule, many teenage homeschoolers balance college courses, extracurricular activities, and jobs with more maturity and grace than many adults. 
"Homeschoolers, savvy to online education, have transitioned to quarantine with a wide support network already in place and with the discipline and creativity necessary for independent learning. Indeed, it is by and large modern homeschool families who have created the fantastic and diverse online resources that all children are now benefiting from during this national quarantine."

Harvard Law Takes Aim at Homeschooling by Kevin D. Williamson National Review (April 30, 2020)
"Homeschooling is based on a radical proposition that is utterly incompatible with Professor Bartholet’s politics. Homeschoolers insist that their children are not the property of the state, to be farmed and dispatched in accordance with the state’s needs; the homeschooling ethos insists that the purpose of education is to serve the needs and interests of students rather than those of the state or of business; it insists that there exists a sphere of life that is private and not subject to state surveillance, and that this sphere covers family life and child-rearing unless and until there is some immediate pressing reason for intervention. 
"The debate about homeschooling is not really about educational outcomes — there are good and bad homeschooling practices, good and bad public schools, good and bad private schools, etc. — but about who serves whom and on what terms. Do American families serve the state or does the state serve them? Do we live our lives and raise our children at the sufferance of the state, or is the state an instrument of our convenience? Professor Bartholet casts her vote with the Know Nothings." 
Home Sweet Homeschool by Peter Jones (May 1, 2020)
"It should not be lost from view that under the cover of contemporary educational theory, the conflict today over homeschooling continues to pit the still lively, Puritan, Twoist faith of biblical orthodoxy against the Oneist faith of ancient Creator-denying paganism, now aided and abetted by atheistic neo-Marxism. As public education becomes increasingly opposed to the principles of America’s founding, both in the domains of politics and theology, it follows that for serious parents homeschooling may well present an increasingly attractive option. Home education can not only defend the truth but also promote the intellectual and spiritual health of children.
"Many studies have demonstrated that home-educated students, on average, perform far better than their government-schooled peers on every metric. Homeschool children have a well-established history of success. They typically outperform their institutional public school peers academically, and actually excel in social development, defying the myth that social development can only occur in the setting of a school. The statistical outcomes are quite positive for the homeschooled, compared to those in conventional schools.[13]
"Public schools are also dangerous. According to government statistics, “During the 2017–18 school year, an estimated 962,300 violent incidents and 476,100 nonviolent incidents occurred in U.S. public schools nationwide. Seventy-one percent of schools reported having at least one violent incident, and sixty-five percent reported having at least one nonviolent incident.”[14]
"In view of the clear educational advantages to homeschooling, the only reason for such a determined attack on it is the existence of a widespread ideological commitment to use the state and state education to bring down historic Western culture and the Christian faith. Homeschooling, whenever possible, may be one of the last remaining ways to hold back these forces of evil—for the sake of our children, our neighbors, our churches and our nation—and for the glory of God, our good Creator and loving Redeemer."