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the Body Politic
Vol. 4, No. 1 - January 1994, Page 22
Copyright © 1994, 1998 by the Body Politic Inc.
Eyes Right

HSLDA & The Rutherford Institute

The laws governing home schooling vary from state to state, but home schoolers have run afoul of the laws in most states. The reasons for conflict range in severity from parents unqualified to be educating children, to truancy and child abuse. Many charges are unfounded, but still result in legal battles.

There are two national organizations that home schoolers are turning to more and more to help them keep control of their childrens' education - the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Rutherford Institute.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
PO Box 159, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129

Founder: Michael Farris, President
Christopher Klicka is Senior Counsel

Date: 1981

Finances: Claims membership of 28,000 as of December 1992. Members pay $100 yearly fee. HSLDA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Focus: According to their literature, HSLDA is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to protecting the rights of parents to home school in all fifty states, the U.S. territories, and Canada. Membership in HSLDA provides families with free legal counsel and court costs in any battle over their right to educate their children.

HSLDA is also involved in lobbying for state legislation that governs home schoolers. Families already involved in litigation are not eligible for membership.

Literature: Both Michael Farris and Christopher Klicka have written books on homeschooling including:

Where Do I Draw the Line?, Constitutional Law for Christian Students, and Homeschooling Father
The Right Choice: Home Schooling and Home Schooling in the United States: A Legal Analysis.

Comments: Michael Farris, recently defeated candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Virginia, has little but contempt for public education. In his book, The Homeschooling Father he says in answer to the question, why would a Christian father want his children home schooled? "Home schooled kids can read. They can write. They can think. They have deeply ingrained moral and spiritual values."

Mr. Farris espouses a right-wing philosophy of government, not an unexpected position for a former chair of Washington State Moral Majority. Mr. Farris also has a long-standing relationship with Beverly and Tim LeHaye, and in 1982 became a director of Concerned Women for America. He also served a brief stint as treasurer for the Pat Robertson for President draft committee, but left when he shifted his support to Jack Kemp.

His conservatism extends to his vision of family life. In The Homeschooling Father, Mr. Farris says, "... I don't want them (six daughters) chasing the feminist dream of the two-career marriage (or shall we say 'living arrangement'). They can't have it all, as many feminists are beginning to find out."

Unanswered questions have arisen about Michael Farris and HSLDA. HSLDA essentially sells legal insurance. Yet, they are not registered with the Virginia Bureau of Insurance. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, HSLDA is also required to be registered with the state. According to the Virginia Attorney General's Office, HSLDA is not registered and has not filed a 990 financial statement.

Note: The Almanac of the Christian World 1993-94 has no listing for Michael Farris or the HSLDA in their section on Christian education, nor are they mentioned in the Home Schooling section. HSLDA is not listed as a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

The Rutherford Institute
PO Box 7482, Charlottesville, VA 22906-7482

Founder: John Whitehead
Alexis Irene Crow - Legal/Educational Coordinator

Date: 1982

Finances: The Institute is a 501(c)(3) corporation. According to their 990 financial statement of 1991, the Rutherford Institute had resources of over $5,000,000. Sources are unknown, since membership, grants, and gifts were not listed separately.

Focus: The Rutherford Institute in its monthly magazine, Rutherford, describes itself as "a nonprofit legal and educational organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and family autonomy." They see their defense of family autonomy and religious liberty as especially applicable to problems home schoolers have with the law.

President Whitehead says in his book, Home Schooling: Rights and Reasons, that, "As a nonprofit civil liberties organization, The Rutherford Institute is committed to assisting all home educators, regardless of their religious affiliation or reason for choosing home education. Our position is that parents have the primary control over the education and upbringing of their children."

In order to further aid home school educator, the Institute has developed a Home School Brief and the Home Rights Hotline. The Institute will take as clients families who have already run afoul of the law.

Literature: The Institute publishes a monthly glossy 15 page magazine, Rutherford. Each issue usually has a theme such as, Is America a Christian Nation?, or, The Pro-Life Movement: Where From Here?.

Mr. Whitehead has authored a number of books including, The Second American Revolution, Home Education: Rights and Reasons, The End of Man, and, The Rights of Religious Persons in Public Education.

Comments: Mr. Whitehead is a former pupil of R.J.Rushdoony and his Christian Reconstructionist movement that want to establish Old Testament Biblical principles as the standard of law in America.

Note: The Rutherford Institute is not listed in the Almanac of the Christian World 1993-94 in the index or under foundations. It is also not a member of the Evangelical Council for Accountability.

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