News organizations around the country were quick to pick up on the news that the newly identified Austin bomber was homeschooled by strict, conservative Christian parents.
While no motive has been established for the bombing and Mark Anthony Conditt’s confession says nothing about terrorism, the media is already stating with confidence that negative aspects of his personality can be attributed to his homeschool background.
Conditt was homeschooled by conservative Christian parents in Pflugerville. It is being reported that as a teen he was involved in a Christian survivalist group named Righteous Invasion of Truth (RIOT). RIOT offered Bible studies as well as classes on how to use guns, mock battles and other activities for young people. The organization was set up and named by local homeschooled teens in Pflugerville and Mark’s younger sister also took part in the activities.
Cassia Shultz, a member of RIOT who knew Mark well, notes that while RIOT did not provide any sort of instruction on how to make bombs, a number of teens attending programs were science aficionados, and often discussed the properties of particular chemicals and how to mix them.
Conditt stated in a public social media post that he was conservative, but didn’t feel prepared to defend his beliefs. He hoped that the classes he was taking would help him to do just that. He wrote articles against gay marriage and abortion and in favor of the death penalty. A number of his friends describe him as being an assertive person who would dominate any conversation. Others, however, state that due to his homeschool background he was shy and found it difficult to make close friends.
There is little in Mark’s telephone recording to indicate that he hated particular groups of people, or had a desire to destroy certain individuals. Religion, hate and terrorism are not mentioned a single time in the recording according to local law enforcement officials, leading them to conclude that Conditt was a troubled young man who wound up making very wrong choices. However, the lack of stated motive has led journalists and regular citizens alike to come to their own conclusions regarding why he chose to assemble and mail lethal, homemade bombs to various individuals.
Activists are already pointing out that the two men killed by Mark Conditt’s bombs were both African Americans. They have not only labeled him a terrorist, but also a racist one. Others are blaming his conservative and religious viewpoints, even though Mark actually walked away from his faith several years before he began building bombs.
At the same time, others have made it a point to highlight his homeschool education, essentially blaming his parents for raising someone who made very wrong choices later on in life. Given the fact that there are many people who would be all too happy to restrict or even ban homeschooling, it would not be surprising to see this tragic story being used as a rallying call against parents who choose to teach their children at home instead of sending them to a public or private school.
Conditt’s involvement in a homeschool group that offered knife, gun and battle training has also been widely reported and could very well be misused not only by the anti-homeschool lobby, but also the anti-gun lobby.
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that a homeschooled child will not make very wrong choices later on in life. However, no one blames public schools or universities when young people schooled in these institutions turn into mass shooters. By the same token, it is wrong to automatically blame homeschool parents when one of their children commits a heinous crime.
Homeschooling does in fact offer children and young people many opportunities that simply are not available in public or even private schools. Such students get personal attention, can have schooling tailored to meet their specific needs and interests, are able to bond with people of varying ages and walks of life instead of only associating with same-age peers and much more. It would be a shame for homeschoolers around the country to take a hit because pundits from one side of the aisle want to take a tragedy and use it for their own purposes.
~ Conservative Zone