The New Christian Right home schooling movement is one piece of a broad network of politically active New Christian Right organizations. In this essay, family motivations for home schooling are considered in a resource mobilization context. The resource mobilization theory was offered as an alternative to strain theories or the breakdown tradition in the study of social movements. Strain theories contend that social movements arise from dissatisfaction, but the resource mobilization perspective contends that a social movement will not emerge until people organize and use available resources such as time, money, people, and skills no matter what their level of dissatisfaction. The resource mobilization approach has grown to become the dominant perspective for the study of social movements and has replaced traditional social‑psychological theories which tended to focus on movement participation as deviant and irrational (Klandermans, 1984). It has been argued that the resource mobilization perspective has shifted the emphasis from “hearts and minds to money and labor” (Lofland, 1979). Recently, the resource mobilization perspective has been criticized for underestimating the significance of “grievances and ideology as determinants of participation in social movements” (Klandermans, 1984). Herein is an attempt to explore the “hearts and minds” side of a social movement without returning to an earlier individual motivation framework that can deteriorate into a discussion of social pathology (Hine, 1974; Bromley & Shupe, 1979). Rather than arguing for the importance of emotions over resource mobilization in our attempt to understand social movements, the present focus instead acknowledges that each informs the other. Rose’s (1982) assertion that, “Our only argument with the adherents of the `resource mobilization’ approach is to note that collective behavior requires motivation as well as resources, just as the gun and the floor plan of the bank cannot produce a bank robbery without the human actor who is so motivated to use these resources,” is a useful critique for helping one understand the home schooling movement.
Liebman’s contention (1983, p. 238),
It is well known that social movements in religion and politics flourish only when they provide their adherents with explanations for the problems of everyday life and with the possibilities for their resolution. The New Christian Right has many contenders who seek to provide such explanations and to promote their own program of change,
touches on the complexity of the New Christian Right. The home schooling movement is one of the contenders that seeks to provide explanations for the problems of everyday life. The decision to home school one’s children follows from powerful convictions. These convictions arise from and are influenced by the parents’ biographies, their religious history, present religious orientations and church membership, mass media religious influences, home schooling support groups, family connections, friendship networks, and participation in a variety of New Christian Right political organizations.
Data used in this study came from:
a) in-depth interviews with 47 religiously motivated home schooling families in their homes and home school classrooms, using a standardized, open-ended interview schedule,
b) interviews with other, non-home schooling, New Christian Right political activists,
c) interviews with three ideological leaders of the movement,
d) interviews with two, key Oregon state legislators who serve on the House Education Committee, and interviews with their legislative aides. (These legislators played a role in the passage of legislation regulating home schooling. In addition, I was given full access to, and allowed to make copies of, all correspondence relative to the home schooling bill. The correspondence numbers several hundred pages.)
e) interviews with the leaders of two separate counter-movement education organizations who oppose the home schooling bill,
f) interviews with some of the public school personnel who are charged with carrying out the provisions of the home school bill,
g) interviews with two private school administrators who supervise satellite programs for home schooling parents and children,
h) participant observation during a day long home schooling workshop for home schooling parents and interviews with some of the attenders,
i) participant observation at a New Christian Right lobbyist dinner given for Oregon State legislators at the state Capitol,
j) analysis of home school literature and New Christian Right literature (i.e., books, magazines, pamphlets, newsletters, home schooling curricula and curriculum guides, and a variety of advertisements for home schooling materials,
k) analysis of programs about home schooling on Christian radio, and
l) interviews with the individual in charge of coordinating state policy for home schools from the Oregon State Department of Education and an evaluation of materials provided by this individual.
Access to the home schooling movement came through names provided by state legislators, word of mouth (e.g., many interviewees provided me with names of home schooling friends and acquaintances), and contacts were developed at events where home schoolers gathered for a variety of reasons. The Teaching Home, a magazine for home schooling families that lists the leaders of home schooling support groups, was another source, and through my contacts with these home schooling support group leaders I obtained entry to the homes of many other home schooling families. The majority of initial contacts were made by telephone. Only three of the contacted families refused to be interviewed, citing personal reasons for this refusal. The sample is obviously not representative and, thus, may give a selective view of the movement. Most of those interviewed comply with Oregon State laws regulating home schooling. Those who do not comply with the laws and agreed to be interviewed indicated that there were many others like them who would not agree to an interview and did not want their names known.
Social Background of Participants
In this section the age, education, and occupation of participants will be considered. Home‑schooling parents are relatively young with husbands in this sample averaging 35.6 years and wives averaging 32 years. These ages correspond with most parents who have school age children. In addition, the relative youth of these parents may be related to home schooling being chosen primarily for younger children. The drop out rate from home schooling increases dramatically after the children’s early years. Older children are sent either to private Christian schools or to the public schools.
Home school parents are relatively well educated. In this sample all parents had completed a minimum of high school and most had some college education. Approximately one‑third had at least a high school degree with perhaps some college, one‑third had graduated from secular colleges, and one‑third had graduated from private Christian colleges. A few had gone on to pursue advanced degrees and two had Ph.D.’s. In this regard they violate the popular stereotype of the uneducated fundamentalist. It should be noted, however, that a good portion of them appear to have insulated themselves somewhat from the secular world through attendance at private Christian colleges; a part of the separatist tradition of some evangelicals that may have contributed to their decision to insulate their own children. Those who did attend secular colleges were either “born again” before entering college or became part of an evangelical organization while in college, primarily Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization founded and led by Bill Bright, one of the conservative leaders of the New Christian Right’s effort to politicize evangelicals (Liebman, 1983, pp. 50‑52).
In evaluating the occupations of the parents it is important to indicate that only three wives worked outside the home. Two reasons for these low numbers are that the wives are the primary teachers of the children family religious convictions demand that the wife stay home with the children. These religious convictions are based on a literal interpretation of the Bible which they view as calling for a male breadwinner and a homemaker‑traditional wife. Without further research it is difficult to assess if these relatively well‑educated fathers are out of the norm when measured against comparably educated males, but they appear to be underemployed. Five of the husbands have a history of unemployment and most of the rest held blue‑collar or clerical positions. Some held jobs commensurate with their education, but they are hourly wage jobs, not salaried jobs. Lifestyle indicators such as make and model of automobiles, neighborhood, size of home, home furnishings, clothing and other unobtrusive indicators (Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest, 1972) reflect a relatively modest lifestyle which may mean they are below the median income or that they choose to spend their money in other ways. They do not appear destitute as a group, but neither are they well off. A significant factor they may block upward mobility is the choice to maintain a single‑worker household. To be upwardly mobile in the 1980s and beyond increasingly requires a dual‑worker household. Their religious convictions appear to take precedence over their economic advancement. If true, this reveals something of the strength of their “hearts and minds” as a motivating force in this social movement.
Motivation for Home Schooling
The above social background variables influence one’s religious convictions and perhaps one’s decision to home school, but there are many persons who have similar social circumstances and choose not to home school their children. The following variables are more specifically related to the home schooling choice. It will be argued that the home school parent’s religious milieu–their plausibility structure–weighs heavily in their lives and their decision to home school. The variables that will be considered are a) religious background, b) present religious conviction, c) family values, d) peer influence, and e) climate of public education. These variables were cited by home schooling participants as significant in their decision to home school. These variables will be considered in the context of the much broader New Christian Right social and political agenda.
Parents who home school come from three backgrounds. First are those born to evangelical or fundamentalist parents and raised in this tradition. There is some debate among conservative Christians and social scientists about the precise meaning of fundamentalist and evangelical (Moberg, 1975; Quebedeaux, 1974), but it usually centers around the literal interpretation of the Bible (Chalfant, Beckley, & Palmer, 1987). Second are those born and raised in mainline denominations and later converted or “born again.” All of the home school parents in this group claimed that they were not Christians until their conversion experience. Third are the unchurched who were later converted. Most often the conversions for this group occurred in high school or college and through participation in groups such as Youth for Christ, Young Life, or Campus Crusade for Christ, rather than through other sources such as family or conservative churches. They later joined churches. The largest number of home school parents came from the first group and the smallest came from the third group.
Those in the first category reported early conversions, ages 4‑11, and were in homes where church and church‑related activities were a central part of their lives. The majority attended public schools, but emphasized that “schools were different then.” This sentiment was repeated over and over by most home school parents as a reflection of their dissatisfaction with the current cultural climate. The other two groups were converted in their late teens and early twenties. Thus, adherence to a conservative Christian framework was a significant socializing variable prior to the decision to home school for all in the sample.
Present Religious Orientation
Those interviewed describe themselves as conservative Christians. Some are more specific and prefer to be known as particular types of conservative Christians such as, evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic, pentecostal, or reconstructionist. There are significant differences in these theological positions, but these differences do not appear to block them from working together in a Christian home schooling network. All interviewees belong to churches and most are regular participants which means they involve themselves in church activities several times a week. The churches include non‑denominational, sectarian churches with names like Emerald Bible Fellowship, Reformation Covenant Church, and Grace Fellowship, and more mainstream conservative churches such as The Assembly of God, Nazarene, Church of God‑Anderson, Indiana, and a variety of conservative Baptist churches.
In discussions centered around the role of their present religious convictions, it was clear that participation in these religious organizations and adherence to their belief system is important in the decision to home school. Only one church in the sample, however, has an active home schooling support system. This particular church is a sectarian, charismatic church that runs a private school. Their outreach program is for church members who cannot afford the private school. The church opposes public education and feels it must provide outreach support. Other private schools have outreach programs, but their programs are for all Christian home schoolers. Virtually every home school family cites Deuteronomy 6:6,7 as the religious rationale for home schooling:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
They interpret this to mean that they, not the state, are in charge of the education of their children. This command is interpreted in the following ways by parents:
Ours is a Biblical conviction. God has called us to home school. I would break any law that tries to stop me. God’s law is greater than man’s law.
We really felt God was calling us to home school and he keeps us going when we get discouraged.
We believe we are losing our Christian heritage. We have to take America back. Our forefathers were Christian. Our vision is that our children will take us back and the only way for that to happen is for us to educate our children ourselves.
In the 1970s a fierce public debate over family policy erupted in convergence with the militant political conservatism of Protestantism’s theological right wing. They were able to set the tone of the debate by claiming the high moral ground of support for “family values.” This usurpation of the pro‑family label, as if to suggest that those who differ are anti‑family, was a wise and powerful political choice (Heinz, 1983; Skolnick, 1987, p. 8). The New Christian Right’s assertion that high divorce rates and working mothers contribute to the decline and death of the family and a consequent breakdown in moral values, which includes permissive and anti-Biblical attitudes towards male dominance, the proper role of women, divorce, permissive sexuality, and improper child-rearing (Skolnick, 1987), is repeated often by participants in the home schooling movement. The perceived breakdown of the family is one more powerful force that appears to have reversed the tide in the traditional anti-political stance taken by dispensational-premillenialists. When the family is under assault, action is required. Home school parents live in a rapidly changing world. The Bible tells them that the male is the head of the household, but government social programs supported by liberals, feminists, gays, and other varieties of secular humanists appear to undermine the dominant role of the male. Pride (1985), a fundamentalist woman calling for a return to traditional sex roles, is often cited by home school mother/teachers as a source for inspiration. Pride argues that traditional female roles are under assault by liberal forces. Skolnick (1987, p. 7) asserts that “The New Right is united in its goal of dismantling government social programs. It believes as a result women will remain in the home as full‑time homemakers, men will become responsible providers, divorce rates will drop, and America will be revitalized at home and abroad.” For many home schooling families, it is especially the women who feel under assault by the feminists. Their personal identity and sense of self worth is challenged by their perception of feminist ideology and the changes that are a part of an increasingly secular world. One of the battlegrounds where they can correct this is their own family. Home school parents, particularly the women, view the decline in respect for homemakers and the increasing respect for career women as destructive to society and to children. Women who work outside the home are viewed as selfish and greedy as is reflected in this sentiment of one home school parent: “The parents want too many things. They both have to work to get them and the kids come to love their babysitters more than their parents.” In addition to the pressures of secularization in societal institutions like the family, many mothers expressed concern about how these anti-traditional values are perpetuated in the schools. Many others cried when they told me of their deep fears of the public school system. Common among their expressions were statements like, “Schools devalue mothers,” and “Children are easily impressed with teachers and we did not want to give our kids away to the authority of the teacher over the parent.” To address the threats of society and a public education system they perceive as teaching anti-family values, these families choose home schooling. Many parents expressed sentiments such as:
I want a large quantity of time for bonding; for family ties, and public schools get in the way of accomplishing this goal. The family is extremely important.
Home schooling is great for our family relationship. She does not question our authority and does not put teachers above us. She respects adults, not kids.
Home schooling, thus, solves several problems associated with the family in a highly secular society. It reinforces traditional values for males and females; it justifies the role of the woman as wife, mother, homemaker and teacher, and the man as breadwinner and dominant head of the household by modeling these roles in the confines of the family home. It protects children from anti‑family values perceived as being espoused in the public schools. And, finally, by repudiating non‑traditional sex roles and promoting family values it may make a contribution to delaying the moral decay in society as it is reflected in high divorce rates, delinquency, and sexual promiscuity.
A recurrent theme in home school parents’ rationale for home schooling is the negative influence of peers. These parents have a 19th century view of children; the demonic child of the Calvinists (Kessen, 1965; Skolnick, 1987), and fear what children will do outside the influence of adults. A common sentiment is expressed in this parent’s words:
Children will be bad around other children. It is part of our Adamic nature. Left alone a child will go their own way, and that is not the moral way. They need parents to be more powerful than their peers.
In addition, Raymond S. Moore, a Seventh Day Adventist whose books are widely read and quoted by home school parents, and whose seminars, speeches and media presentations are closely followed, is a proponent of the idea that children can become peer dependent when they are isolated from their parents in schools (Moore & Moore, 1975; 1982a; 1982b; 1984). To solve the problem of peer dependency he argues in favor of home schooling and for later entry into schools, especially for boys who develop their intellects more slowly. It is his belief that genius requires isolation from children outside the family. He makes legitimate the fears of home school parents by referring to “social contagion” as a process that occurs in schools among kids, “who knuckle under to peer values and become like peers and give parent’s values the back of their hand” (Raymond S. Moore, personal communication, March 1987). The editor of The Teaching Home magazine distributes a pamphlet entitled, Socialization (Welch, 1984). Part of this pamphlet reads as follows:
As Christian parents, it is our duty to keep our children from undesirable companions and with good. Of course God wants us to love everyone. Your family can invite the undesirable playmate to an activity or outing where you will be present at all times, preventing most of the bad influence of your guest.
Home school parents espouse these same values and seek solace in the words of people such as Raymond Moore and other intellectual leaders of the movement. These fears are articulated by virtually all interviewees. Here are some examples:
I feel real strongly about moldable hearts and minds. Children do not have adult stamina and I won’t put my children in that situation where they are going to be called different and have to compromise.
I want to be able to control who my children associate with. I want them away from bad values, taunting and teasing. I don’t even let my kid’s go to other people’s houses. Some of these kids go to public schools and pick up bad attitudes and pass them on to other children.
The theme is consistent: there is virtue in home‑centered, traditional values when faced with a secular and dangerous society. Parents, especially mothers, express a need to protect their brood. Children will fare best if they are reared in semi‑isolation and under the very close supervision of parents. One might assume that many of these parents home school because they cannot afford to protect their children by sending them to private Christian schools. This is only partially true. Many of these parents even fear the peer influence present in private Christian schools.
These concerns raise an interesting analytical point. Did these values and fears exist before they were articulated by the leadership? Is it leadership and organization, meaning resource mobilization, that created the home schooling movement or does the cultural climate escalate the power of one’s relatively inarticulate fears so that leadership and organization rise up to better articulate changing feelings? It is argued here that resource mobilization and motivation coexist to create social movements. In this case, parent’s deeply held fears for their children are part of a larger cultural climate and leaders only reinforce, legitimate, and give structure to these fears. The language of the leaders is the language of the parents. One could not exist without the other.
Climate of Public Education
The public school system in the United States has come under significant criticism in the 1980s for failing to properly educate its charges (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), and these criticisms have reverberated through the society and gained significant public and media attention. The climate appears to have changed somewhat from the late 1960s and 1970s when critics charged that schools were authoritarian, class biased, racist, and stifling (Ravitch, 1983; Silberman, 1970). These two forms of criticism share one thing in common, a mistrust of schools. The cultural climate in which schools operate is bifurcated. On the one hand, Americans see education as a panacea for social ills and as an avenue for upward social mobility. On the other hand, schools are judged as inadequate to the task. Liberal reforms were instituted in the 1960s and 1970s to address the perceived inadequacies. Now the cultural climate has shifted so that the liberal reforms are seen as the problem. This climate has great significance to those in the New Christian Right home schooling movement. They view the liberally reformed public schools as places of poor education, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, violence, religious intolerance, and anti‑family values. Much of the New Christian Right’s response to contemporary America centers around the role schools play in secularizing society. The public schools are to blame for many of America’s ills. In an essay discussing the importance of the schools in symbol production and control, Heinz (1983, p. 139) makes the following observation:
For the New Christian Right, the public school stands as a primary symbol of their control, or lack of control, over decisions that directly affect their lives. The school is a symbol of the neighborhood, of grassroots, of family extended. Whatever else the rise of alternative schools means ‑ it means a war over competing mythologies and a battle for access to symbol production.
This battle for the schools is a recurrent theme in fundamentalism (Sandeen, 1970) and has been demonstrated in recent years through such issues as equal time for Creation Science, prayer in schools, and tax exemptions for private religious schools. Home schooling is one further logical step in the criticism of the public school.
Three themes that stand out in the home school parent’s criticism of the schools are (a) secular humanism in the schools, (b) poor educational practices in the schools, and (c) the superiority of the home schooling alternative.
Home school parents view secular humanism as comprised of anti-God values that take the form of things such as the teaching of evolution, values clarification, sex education, and anti-family/pro-feminist values. Some parents attribute these anti-God values to the influence of Satan in the National Education Association and on teachers in general. For example:
The NEA is the tool of the devil and the children are the experiment for the NEA. The NEA is pushing for socialistic, anti-God values to be brought out. They like values clarification.
Most people use the term secular humanism. It is just a label to describe something that has had a profound effect. Men’s visions have been clouded by Satan. Satan has had a hand in the perversion of education. Much of the problem has been Christian irresponsibility. The NEA is evil, but we allowed it to take over education. Now we need to develop the character of our children through home schooling.
These ideas parallel the ideas presented by Blumenfeld in N.E.A.: Trojan Horse in American Education (1984). His thesis is that the humanist worldview now so dominates American public education that the system is open to the corrupting influence of communism and Satan that “the only escape is the private school or the home school” (Blumenfeld, 1984, p. 261). This book is prominently displayed at home schooling workshops, sells briskly, and is quoted often by home school parents. In sum, home school parents oppose putting their children in an anti‑God environment. As one parent so aptly stated:
I think Christians are crazy to put their children in public schools. They are taking a chance. Schools are not neutral, especially on religious issues. I would not send my children to a Buddhist school, so why should I send them to a secular humanist school?
A second concern of parents is pedagogy, but it is pedagogy that is influenced by a broader cultural climate that militates against quality education. Home school parents share broader societal concerns about classroom size, teacher training and ability, poor playground supervision, falling SAT scores, lack of discipline, diminishing respect for teachers, and many other issues of quality. In addition, however, they express the unsettling feeling that America and the world have changed and this is a cause of some of the problems. For example:
Schools have changed. They are filled with latchkey kids and kids from broken homes. I don’t go with the trend of two working parents. I can’t let my five year old walk into that mess.
My oldest went through three years in the public system. I helped out. The kids were wild in the classroom. I no longer want to institutionalize my kids in such a setting.
And finally, as a counterpart to their concerns about the negatives of public schooling, all insisted on the superiority of home schooling. Examples of this sentiment follow:
My opinion has changed. I am getting a little bolder. I am almost ready to say home schooling is the best. Private tutoring is the best thing that you can do for a child. Even if a woman kept her children out of school without a specific home school education program, the children would be getting an education and may be getting a better education than they would in a public school.
My kids do academically much better at home. I do know my own children the best. Kids learn so easily and naturally. Why should we upset that process by sending them to school. Home school kids will be the leaders of tomorrow.
In the eyes of home school parents the public schools are a bad choice for several reasons. In a sense, they epitomize what is wrong with the larger society and are the location of a competing secular humanist symbol production and transmission organization. Public schools and even some private schools are not a safe environment for conservative Christian children. The children may be spiritually reborn, but the secular humanist ideology being promoted in the public schools has faith destroying potential. This concern for their children is the most important motivating force. These comments characterize the central motivating theme in home schooling:
To send them to the neighbors or to school is like sending untrained soldiers into battle or putting a new tomato plant out in the bad weather too early. I don’t want to sacrifice my child to save another until they are ready.
My children cannot be missionaries in the public schools. It is like throwing them to the wolves and I won’t do that to my own kids.
Sociologists do not talk enough about the power of one’s attachments to one’s children. We do talk a great deal about the importance of socialization and children’s attachment to their parents as a predictor of later behavior, but we have neglected to consider the significance of parent’s attachments to their children. Home school parents demonstrate the power of these bonds. Mobilization is more possible and more powerful with highly committed believers.
Social Movement Organizations as Plausibility Structures
One can look to the home schooling movement as an example of the full interactive nature of the human need for meaning, the creation of plausibility structures to provide that meaning, and the use of that plausibility structure to further reify that created meaning. Plausibility structures, or the church or community of fellowship, may be thought of as the conversation and interaction that maintain religion. When Berger (1967, p. 48) speaks of particular religious systems he states,
The implication of the rootage of religion in human activity is not that religion is always a dependent variable in the history of society, but rather that it derives its objective and subjective reality from human beings, who produce it and reproduce it in their ongoing lives. This, however, poses a problem of “social engineering” for anyone who wishes to maintain the reality of a particular religious system, for to maintain his religion he must maintain (or if necessary, fabricate ) an appropriate plausibility structure.
Empirical studies demonstrate the importance of plausibility structures for American evangelicals who face challenges to their traditional religious beliefs in contemporary secular and pluralistic America. By isolating themselves from the primary sources of secular influences (e.g., higher education) the belief systems of evangelicals fared better (Hammond & Hunter, 1984; Hunter, 1983). The home schooling movement is one example of “social engineering” to maintain a belief system.
Berger’s (1967) concept of plausibility structure is useful in understanding the wedding of “hearts and minds” to “money and labor” in religious social movements. At present, many families come into the home schooling movement because of personal religious convictions that are reinforced by the developing plausibility structure. This structure consists of many parts. The most prominent parts are (a) home school experts, (b) churches, (c) support groups, (d) evangelical print media, (e) the electronic church, (f) home school curriculum suppliers, (g) workshops and lecture, (h) satellite programs, (i) political action committees, (j) family, (k) friends, and (l) republican party activities. Many of these separate, but intertwined pieces are specific to the home schooling movement and others are part of the larger New Christian Right. It is evident at this point that the developing plausibility structure is compatible with the resource mobilization perspective. On the other hand, one must not ignore the beginnings of the movement. Relatively isolated individual families began to home school out of their religious convictions and only gradually discovered that others were doing the same thing. Motivation preceded organization. Now the “money and labor” side of the movement is developing and providing structure for the expression of religious conviction and the intensity of one’s passion for one’s precious children. To home school is not simply to take one’s children out of the public schools so they can be instructed in a particular religious orientation, but it is to join a community of like‑minded persons who support one another in a wide variety of ways.
In a highly secular world home schooling becomes another way to insulate traditional beliefs from the evils of that world. This desire to defend against the forces of secularization has been a part of the world of evangelicals from their inception. The important sociological questions center around why home schooling and why at this particular point in history? In each home school family interview the primary rationale for home schooling is one’s religious conviction. Many families described their decision as a conviction, another way of saying that they were carrying out a direct order from God. If this is the case, however, one must wonder why home schooling did not appear as an option in the past. The answer may lie in resource mobilization theory. Liebman and Wuthnow (1983, p. 4) made a claim in support of the resource mobilization perspective:
The Christian Right did not appear simply because there were masses of individuals with fears and political ambitions. It emerged because there was an effective leadership, a network of dedicated persons with organizational talents and financial resources at their disposal.
It is in this context that one can attempt to answer the question of why home schooling now and not earlier. The beliefs that support home schooling are both old and new and come out of a particular cultural climate that is reified by a pre‑existing, but continually changing plausibility structure. The search for meaning from “symbolic universes” in a pluralistic society such as America (Wuthnow, 1986, p. 132) may be a part of the “cultural climate” that sets the stage for social action (Bromley & Shupe, 1979; Liebman & Wuthnow, 1983). The beliefs are old in that they are consistent with the history of fundamentalism (Furniss, 1954; Gatewood, 1969; Sandeen, 1970), yet they have a new quality in that scriptural justification for this new option, home schooling, exists in part because people feel a need to protect their children from a corrupt public system of education. The changed cultural climate, a perception that contemporary schools are less adequate than the past and that private options do not always meet the needs of Christian parents, leads these parents to draw upon scripture and their religious training for their actions. Home schooling ideology demands structural support. This structural support, the effective leadership, financial resources, and network of dedicated believers is provided, in part, by a pre‑existing Christian Right religious and political structure. The structure, however, would not exist without deeply held convictions. Organizations and structures may intensify or even help to create one’s beliefs, but it is the beliefs themselves that motivate individuals. The historian, Marsden (1975, p. 133), offers this counter to the trend which emphasizes structure over motivation:
In analyzing such social and political dimensions and their roots in the fundamentalist cultural experience it should be kept in mind that exclusive attention to such aspects has the distorting effect of seeming to reduce to social functions the religious impulse at the heart of the movement. To restore the focus, then, it should be observed that the central dynamic of evangelicalism during the last century was the spiritual force found in men of deep convictions.
The resource mobilization perspective can provide part of the answer to this question by demonstrating that “money and labor” must be mobilized for a movement to organize and grow. On the other hand, this emphasis on structure and organization can obscure the significance of the emotional and motivational side of social movements. The movement began with the passion of a few separate individuals who wanted to protect their children from secular influence. In time they began to organize and engage in “social engineering” to further their efforts at protecting their religious reality.
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