In the year of our Lord 1212, a few medieval sources have it that two peasant boys, Stephen of Cloyes and Nicholas of Cologne, began to preach that innocence and good intent could achieve what kings and armies could not in recovering the holy city of Jerusalem, lost for the second time in 1187. The “Chronica Regiae Coloniensis Continuatio prima” describes it thusly:
About the time of Easter and Pentecost, without anyone having preached or called for it and prompted by I know not what spirit, many thousands of boys, ranging in age from six years to full maturity, left the plows or carts which they were driving, the flocks which they were pasturing, and anything else which they were doing. This they did despite the wishes of their parents, relatives, and friends who sought to make them draw back.
Suddenly one ran after another to take the cross. Thus, by groups of 20, or 50, or a hundred, they put up banners and began to journey to Jerusalem … Some were turned back at Metz, others at Piacenza, and others even at Rome. Still others got to Marseilles, but whether they crossed to the Holy Land or what their end was is uncertain. One thing is sure: that of the many thousands who rose up, only very few returned.
As the academic excellence of homeschoolers becomes less and less deniable – the 1.8 percent of children homeschooled now account for 16 percent of the 800 annual National Merit Scholars and 17 percent of the 1,600 National Merit Semifinalists – parents who prefer to keep their children in the public schools are forced to become ever more inventive in producing excuses for doing so.
A favorite excuse of Christian parents is that their children are acting as missionaries to the other children, who will otherwise be deprived of the chance to hear the Gospel. But this makes little sense on several counts. First and foremost, it is questionable to assert that a young child can even be considered a Christian. Many children become “Christians” in order to please their parents only to completely reject this instilled faith by the time they are adults.
And even if they can rightly be considered Christians, the use of children as missionaries directly contradicts the example of Jesus Christ. While he suffered the children to come unto him, he did not choose them as his disciples and send them forth to preach, nor did he begin his own ministry until he was over 30. And if a prophet is sure to be regarded without honor in his home town, how much more contemptuously is a missionary first-grader to be regarded in his local public school?
Furthermore, the hysterical reaction on the part of the educratic bureaucracy to even the most minor potential Christian influence, from Christmas carols to anti-drug Christian rock bands, is significant in light of their open-armed acceptance of schoolchildren from Christian families. Like Vladimir Ilyich, they believe that given “four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” If children really were capable of being the positive influence that their Christian parents believe them to be, they too would be banned from setting foot on school property.
The scientific purpose of the public school, as explained by William Torrey Harris, is to subsume the individual, to suppress the child’s natural independence and turn him into an obedient cog in the collective. This is known as “socialization” in the vernacular. Christianity – being focused on the individual soul and its sole accountability to God – is inherently inimical to this concept, which is why homeschooled children often appear as different and alien to their government-indoctrinated counterparts as Midwestern Christians appear to atheist New Yorkers.
Now, it is true that the evil seed of socialization does not find fertile soil in every public schoolchild. And while committed parents can help counteract it, the salient question remains: If one would not insert one’s children in a meat grinder in the faith that the machine will not function, why would one place them in an intellectual grinder specifically designed to destroy much of what you hope to pass on to them in the hope they will survive it?
As the public schools continue to sink into mindless depravity and Christianity comes under increasing attack, it should be easy to see that the Children’s Crusade of the last 50 years is, like its semi-mythical historical predecessor, a disastrous failure.