Children are assigned to government schools according to where they live. If their parents want a better education for them elsewhere, they usually are penalized by paying twice—once in taxes for the school they’re trying to escape, and then again in tuition for the better private or even public school they prefer. Like the state-allied churches of old England, today’s government schools demand your money even if they can’t get your kids. In fact, they make you pay not just during the time your kids are in school; you’re required to cough up the money for your entire lifetime, even if you never put a single child into a government school for a single day. That’s very expensive education. At the same time, no amount of failure in government schooling, especially in our inner cities, prevents the government from insisting that it certify who can teach.
Four hundred years ago in early October 1620, the Mayflower was about half-way on its journey across the Atlantic from Plymouth, England. Its passengers, the Pilgrims, hoped they would step off in Virginia. Instead, storms at sea blew the ship off course. After 66 days, it landed near what is now Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It’s part of a story every American should know but there’s one largely forgotten aspect of it that deserves to be dusted off.
Like the Puritans of the later Massachusetts Bay colony, the Pilgrims who eventually established the colony of Plymouth fled England because of religious persecution by the Anglican (Church of England) establishment. Unlike the Puritans, however, the Pilgrims were Separatists who gave up on trying to reform the Church of England from within.
Recently I watched an episode of Dan Snow’s History Hit television program. More than anything else in the show, the comments of Anna Scott caught my attention.
Scott, an officer of the Mayflower 400 commemoration group in Britain, addressed the many forms of religious persecution that prompted the Pilgrims to set sail for freedom in America. She zeroed in on one that struck me as eerily similar to how public education is delivered today:
Back then, everybody had to go to church. It was the law. And you had to go to your local church. You weren’t allowed to go to a different church. You weren’t allowed to go to a different church perhaps in a different village. That was called “gadding about.”
You could be fined for not going to church, going to the wrong church, or preaching in a church if you didn’t have permission to do that. You had to have the right kind of training and education to be able to speak to people about God.
Courageous English people who didn’t like being indoctrinated by the official church began holding their own services secretly in their own homes. I would call that “home churching.”