Defending Host Churches Against Anonymous Letters

 

Several years ago, about 2500 churches that support and host Classical Conversations communities received anonymous letters demanding they disband their CC communities or else fear losing their non-profit status. In an article for The Federalist—an online magazine reporting on politics, religion, and culture—writer Jenni White argues against the claims of the anonymous letters, defending the thousands of churches who graciously support their local communities by providing homeschool families with a place to meet and educate their children. Below is a brief excerpt from the article:

The Anonymous Letters Situation

Recently, at a weekly neighborhood Bible study, I was surprised to hear a friend describe a letter sent to a church that hosts a Christ-centered program she uses to homeschool her kids called ‘Classical Conversations’ (CC). The unsigned letter threatened the church with loss of their non-profit status for hosting a for-profit company. When the woman, a CC leader, informed her leadership of the letter, she found versions were being circulated to churches hosting CC groups across the nation.

Although her CC host church wasn’t concerned about the letter, two other local churches had closed their doors to CC groups after receiving the same letter, one immediately before the start of the school year and one at midyear.

Atheist and LGBT groups threatening churches through the Internal Revenue Service for preaching the gospel is nothing new. Yet Christians threatening a church’s tax-exempt status for hosting a Christian homeschool organization is entirely new…

Nikki Haley speaks to crowd of homeschool families…Robert Bortins, CEO of Classical Conversations, said he became aware of two versions of an anonymous letter that were claimed to have been sent to ‘approximately 2500 host churches’ nationwide in early 2019. Both letters began with the salutation, ‘Dear Church.’ The first closed, ‘Former CC Families,’ the second, ‘Concerned Christian Citizens.’ (An organization named Concerned Christian Citizens sent an official statement to Bortins reporting that they not only did not send the letters, but expressly support both CC and its host churches.)

The first letter attempted an informational tone and contained internet addresses for a number of articles referencing ways various states regulate interactions between churches and for-profit businesses. A second letter sent several months later took a more strident tone. It identified the writers as ‘a group of Christian parents who are very concerned about the business practices of this company’ and was accompanied by a ‘comprehensive list of issues that former Classical Conversations families have compiled.’

The four-page list documented nine ‘Issues With Classical Conversations,’ which continued the tax-exempt theme, but added complaints about the culture of the organization and comments from its founder judged to be political ‘rhetoric.’ Several of the complaints referred to a five-page anonymous blog post under the guise of a ‘product review.’

This blog, written by a person who ‘spent a year in Classical Conversations,’ devoted many paragraphs to whether CC is ‘classical’ or ‘neo-classical’ in nature before charging it is ‘not an inexpensive program,’ not Christian enough, too centered on memorization, and the structure was ‘inflexible and taxing for my family.’

In other words, the complaints at core don’t really seem to be about CC or any host church’s compliance with the law. That’s just a stick the letter writer (or writers) are using to beat up a company the writer dislikes, rather than just taking her business elsewhere and letting other people freely associate as they choose…”

To read the full article on The Federalist’s website, please click here.

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