Hundreds of homeschool students helped get Republicans elected to key senate races around the United States and keep the GOP majority in the 2016 election, according to USA Today.
The homeschoolers volunteered thousands of hours campaigning for Republican incumbents in key areas that would keep the Senate in Republican hands as part of a group called Generation Joshua, which trains homeschool children to be “Christian servant leaders.”
According to Generation Joshua, 871 student volunteers had contact with over 650,000 voters this election season. Each teen or preteen talked to an average of about 750 voters, often working door-to-door in neighborhoods that were targeted as key in the election.
Children also worked the phones in order to contact voters and attempt to sway them to vote for the group’s preferred candidates.
Generation Joshua focused most of its attention on four candidates this election — Pat Toomey in Pennslvania, Marco Rubio in Florida, Roy Blunt in Missouri, and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. All four candidates won their races, and all four outperformed independent polls that were taken in the last week of the campaign.
The homeschool volunteers are thought to have been a deciding factor in these wins. USA Today points out that in two Florida counties, Orange and Pinellas, nearly 70 Generation Joshua volunteers canvassed and made phone calls during the last week of the campaign on behalf of Rubio. In those counties, total voter turnout rose from 936,592 four years ago to 1,038,294 this year, or about 11 percent. The GOP turnout in those two counties increased by about 44 percent.
In addition to the four key Senate races where they focused most of their efforts, Generation Joshua members also helped a Senate race in Utah and House races in Indiana and New Hampshire. They also conducted voter education efforts in North Carolina and Virginia.
After the election, Republicans held 51 seats in the Senate and Democrats held 48, giving them the minimum number they needed for control.
Generation Joshua covered almost all of the expenses for the homeschoolers during their campaign work, such as food, gas, and lodging. Then they provided them with specific homes to visit on during the day and people to call at night. The kids were also given very clear instructions on what to tell the voters.
This is not the first election that homeschool kids have helped sway. Mother Jones called Generation Joshua volunteers “Michele Bachman’s child army” and credited the underage volunteers in helping her maintain her congressional seat despite falling in the polls. Members have also been active in many other campaigns around the country.
Generation Joshua was founded in 2003 by Mike Farris, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) President Mike Smith, and the HSLDA Board of Trustees. The group works with the HSLDA-PAC to “participate actively in the election process.”
According to their website, the primary goal of Generation Joshua is to train Christian youth to be an active force in American politics.
“As the Generation Joshua Program continues to grow, more conservative godly youth get involved in the political system making a real difference in our nation. The future of Generation Joshua will continue to be an exciting journey as the next generation shapes this nation and becomes tomorrow’s leaders.”
While the group is primarily made up of homeschool children, it is open to any Christian child between the ages of 11 and 19. Members campaign for causes and candidates that have been endorsed by the HSLDA-PAC.
These include working to end abortion, maintain gun rights and protect “traditional families,” among others issues.
Current members of Generation Joshua weighed in on the group at Eagles Home Educators, mostly talking about the experience as rewarding and inspiring, and about feeling compelled (sometimes by parents) to do their part.
“The Student Action Team in Florida was both a tiring and a rewarding experience,” shared one homeschooler named Max. “The tiring part was phone-banking. I prefer literature dropping as opposed to calling people I don’t know and telling them to go vote. A few people I called hung up before I finished talking, a few yelled at me, but a few were very nice and thanked me for calling.”
Some homeschool graduates of Generation Joshua have spoken out about their time in the organization. One former homeschooler wrote about the reasons many conservative Christian homeschooling parents believe they should put their children in the group at Homeschoolers Anonymous.
“The U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, but the forces of secularism have held us in captivity as the U.S. progressed,” he said. “So God — now the God of Republican, conservative Christians — chose homeschooling parents to lead the U.S. away from its godlessness and back to its Christian roots.”
Generation Joshua boasts over 7,500 members and has established over 100 clubs nationwide.
[Featured Image by J Pat Carter/Getty Images]