The Ironic Curtain
This past May, my wife Betsy and I spoke at the third biennial Global Home Education Conference, attended by homeschoolers from 35 nations. The locale might come as a surprise: it was a two-city event in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. While the "liberal democracies" of Germany, Sweden, and Norway have recently criminalized home schooling, jailing offending parents and seizing their children, "authoritarian" Russia has legalized the practice as a recognition of "natural" parental rights.
Prominent members of the Duma attending the event praised home education as the best way to rear "spiritually strong" children grounded in Russia's Christian heritage. This mode of education, parliamentarian Inga Yumasheva declared, also grows out of the very purpose of human marriage: to bear children and rear them as moral beings. Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, chairman of the Patriarchal Commission on Family Matters of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular television host (he has been called Russian Orthodoxy's "Fulton J. Sheen"), also addressed the gathering. He lauded home schooling as the "recovery of a natural, God-given" thing. Nothing is sweeter and nobler, he said, than for parents to teach their children and build "the image of Christ" within them. "Because this movement now exists in Russia," he confided, "it is easier for me to fall asleep."
Viewed through a wider lens, the event reveals again the growing divide in Europe, and in the world. As the Irish vote for abortion and as the whole of Western Europe submits to LGBT masters, expressions of Christian moral values grow stronger in most parts of post-Communist Eastern Europe as well as among the Christian lands of Sub-Saharan Africa. In short, the Culture War is global and is being cast in ever-sharper relief.
Allan C. Carlson is President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Illinois (www.profam.org). His books include Conjugal America: On The Public Purposes of Marriage and The Natural Family: Bulwark of Liberty. He is married and has four children and is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.