Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
I came back from a much needed week of vacation with my family, a vacation in which I (wonderfully) had no internet access, and found that due to Second Lady Karen Pence working at a Christian school, #ExposeChristianSchools was trending on Twitter. Thus it was that I reconnected with my five days dormant Twitter account, @PreacherBo, and weighed in on the topic.
Having done so, my mind began to muse on a verse of Scripture that my wife and I have leaned upon for guidance a great many times through the years. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Clearly, the rearing and training of a child is to be an intentional, active, well-thought-out mission for Christian parents.
Now, hypocrisy aside, (By this I mean, can you imagine the outcry against “hate speech” if something like #ExposeMuslimSchools began to strongly trend, and can you imagine the horrific anecdotal tales that could also be shared under the banner of #ExposePublicSchools) I have my own sordid tale to add when it comes to Christian schools. If you think you have heard horror stories from others, well, prepare to gasp, and be sure to shield the eyes of any young or sensitive readers as I begin.
I myself was subjected to the cult-like influence of Christian school all my young life. I vividly remember my principle, who knew I did not have a father in my life, coming alongside and sneakily filling that role on many occasions. With a sinister hand he bought me sodas or lunch when he thought I might need it. He even brought me back souvenirs from his trip to the Holy Land, knowing how much that would mean to me.
My teachers were no better. They often took me to youth camp and saw that I was well taken care of when I was there. They helped me to learn how to shoot a rifle, how to play volleyball, and even prayed for me and with me. The fiends very nearly ruined me with all of the love and concern they showed me. And what is that, you ask? Academics? You would be horrified, simply aghast at the dark depravity of the Christian academics through which I suffered.
I read the classics. I learned such archaic and needless subjects as grammar, history, science, French, math, civics, and many more. I went on to further Christian education and learned Hebrew, Greek, logic, public speaking, and other time-wasting subjects, when I could have been learning truly important things like “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse” and “The Art of Walking,” two actual, honest to goodness university classes.
Having suffered through all of this, I somehow inexplicably ended up putting my own children in Christian school. I can only hope that future generations will forgive me for such hideous child abuse on the part of a man who clearly, through his own experience, should have known better.
My children all participated in the sports programs, primarily volleyball and basketball. They were forcibly dragged within their will neither kicking nor screaming to horrible locations like Florida, having to endure sunshine, laughter, friendship, and camaraderie to play in tournaments where the noise and energy in the arena was enough to make you feel like you had ended up at the NCAA championships. They cried together over losses, they screamed till they were hoarse over victories, and they still maintain constant contact with every team member past or present.
They had culture foisted upon them by nefarious instructors determined to make them learn how to sing, draw, act, and play instruments. They were even subjected to such slavish treatment as having to produce live theater performances, and go and watch others. The fact that they still rave about the experience months and years later is testament enough, I think, to the brutality it inflicted upon them. They have been coerced into being respectful to adults, obedient to parents, and even, horror of horrors, loving toward sinners.
My youngest daughter may be beyond hope by now. She has become an absolute social butterfly, making more friends than she knows what to do with, and cannot seem to manage her schedule of sleep overs, makeup parties, and other various outings.
My eldest daughter has perhaps suffered the worst of all, and it is her very suffering that makes me so deeply regret our choices, and hope that the #ExposeChristianSchools movement succeeds in its aim. Her academics are ridiculous. She was reading at a college level by the sixth grade, recently scored a 31 on her ACT, has already received a massive scholarship offer, and is being inundated daily with requests that she apply at universities around the country. Clearly we may never be able to repair the damage that Christian schools have done to her; all I can do now is apologize and warn others to beware her fate.
I cannot turn back time, my fate and the fate of my children has been sealed by our horrible family choices. But if I can save just one child out there from the horrors we have endured, this column will be worth the effort.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org