In a Closed and Sometimes Tightly Knit Sphere

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate TruthIt was originally published on October 18, 2013 with the title “Are Homeschoolers Socially Adept?”

I am at a point in my healing where memories aren’t as painful anymore. I have enough safeguards up to protect me from the pain, even though I can still feel the anguish from that memory especially if it is a difficult one. 

But my heart isn’t being neatly sliced by every memory anymore, which is a relief and shows the progress I’ve made.

Of late, my mind has drifted, curiously at first, back to my first memories of being homeschooled. It is with an odd sense of seeing something for the first time as I cautiously navigate memories which potentially hold mines and booby traps to trip me up. The big memories, the ones which hold the most potent abuse from my dad, are carefully tucked away as I chip at them slowly. But I am now dealing with the memories like helping mom move a massive computer desk across a precarious corner of the stairs as she reorganized rooms, meaning I was getting my own room for the first time.

She rearranged like crazy every so often.

Those days of major rearranging were days when all schooling stopped and all of us caught the giddy excitement of seeing the rooms being transformed.

I am being gently reminded of fuzzy memories of first learning to read and suddenly taking off with my avid love of reading. I was 5 or 6 when I first learned the beautiful art of understanding the funny little black shapes that danced across many pages. I being reminded of the pride I felt at being 10 years old and being able to read college level books and “understanding” them, whatever that really meant.

All mixed through these memories is a significant strain of sadness.

It is something I cannot avoid, it is something so strongly woven through my life’s story that it is a permanent part. As my memories go from those earlier memories to ones where I was being forced in an adult role, I feel the shift in the memories. Those memories are no longer slightly nostalgic, no longer reminding me of the days of exciting new discoveries. They are memories more strongly tinged with sadness and the weight of responsibility I carried proudly even though it nearly destroyed me.

I watch a proud little girl completely unaware and unable to relate to her peers, but eager to please authority figures and eager to be the authority figure to those younger than her. It is through viewing the kaleidoscope of these memories that I pick up on a familiar and explanatory strain of something a lot of homeschoolers I know have faced.

I have long struggled with being able to relate to those who are truly my peers.

It has been a struggle of unknown origins, or at least I had no idea where this struggle had really started. It wasn’t until I started following conversations in a group I am a part of on Facebook that I figured it out. I grew up being taught to impress the authority figures in my life, whether those be my parents or the adults in other families. I grew up being given heavy responsibility with being an authority over my younger siblings and being someone they should look up to. Being the oldest put me in that position. It also put me in a position of having inappropriate responsibilities of helping raise siblings, taking care of the kids, the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning. I took these responsibilities with pride. I was proud of how “mature” I was, and how so many people thought I was so much older (like years  upon years older) than I really was.

I saw the other girls my age and the oldest of their families almost as competition. Was I working as hard as them? Did I have as much responsibility as them?

Were they in authority over me or was I in authority over them?

Being homeschooled meant I was in a closed and sometimes tightly knit sphere. In those spheres, I was either sucking up to an authority figure, or I was the authority figure. There was no middle ground, I was never allowed to be a child. It was impress the adults or keep the little kids in line. I viewed the public schoolers as immature, incapable of handling the responsibility I so proudly and gravely carried. I saw them having “fun,” and thought they were such losers. I apologize now if I have ever offended anyone through this mindset when I was younger! I was never taught to relate to my peers. My peers were simply another name for fellow butt-kissers and authority makers. The kids my age were in the same position I was in, kiss up to the adults, or take charge of the littles. I was taught to be the best, not to relate.

I grew up being told and believing homeschoolers were the better socialized group over public schooled kids. I would scoff and laugh if anyone ever challenged that idea. “Of course we’re socialized!” I would haughtily answer anyone who questioned the socializing of homeschoolers. I knew what I was talking about, I was very well socialized, I could talk for hours with the adults.

Socialized meant I could talk and interact well with the adults I found myself face to face with. 

Socialized meant that I was more mature than someone who wasn’t homeschooled and had a better grasp on what it meant to be an adult. (I was about 13 at the time I started thinking like this.)

Little did I know how wrong I was.

I had no idea just how un-socialized I was until I got out of highschool. I had no freakin’ clue how to interact with someone my own age. I only knew how to be on the defensive and to try to not let them put themselves into authority over me. It confused me so much to realize how happy, content, and in love with their lives these “public schoolers” were. They had a healthy appreciation for their childhood and saw the responsibilities I so proudly bore as strange, concerning, and upsetting

I am just now starting to get references to various pop culture quotes and whatnot as we hang out with friends who grew up totally differently than me or Phil. I am realizing I tried to grow up too quickly, and succeeded in doing so, because that was expected of me. This goes back to my post last week about parenting. I never got to be a happy go-lucky child. I had to put on my big girl pants when I should have still been blissfully unaware of the weight of life.

Phil and I won’t be homeschooling our children unless one of them specifically needs it. 

I don’t want my children to be contained or taught that they are above the kids who aren’t homeschooled.

I want them to have normal childhoods and I want to encourage the grand exploration of finding brand new experiences and things. Homeschooling left a bitter taste in my mouth and I haven’t even touched on everything here. While I do believe there are people who have quite successfully homeschooled “normal” healthy children, I never experienced that. I barely made it out of highschool. I taught myself for most of my homeschooled life, and am lacking skills or classes I should have be taught a long time ago. I don’t like admitting this, it’s embarrassing to me. I haven’t taken more steps towards college because I don’t want to find out just how bad my homeschooling was.

So have patience with me and others of us who were homeschooled as we continue trying to ease into culture and societies that are still foreign in some ways to us.

I’m learning to not take myself so seriously and to relax and enjoy the diversity of those around me. I learning to love the differences I bring to conversations and to greatly appreciate the differences others add to the mix. No one is an authority figure to me anymore, nor do I feel like I have to be in authority over anyone anymore.

I can be me and I’m quite happy with that.

Doug Phillips Resigns from Vision Forum, Cancels Speaking Events, Due to “Inappropriate” Relationship

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Yesterday, Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum Ministries*** and discontinued future speaking engagements.

Doug Phillips is a former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Assocation (HSLDA). As an HSLDA attorney, he was the architect behind what is probably HSLDA’s most significant legal event: rallying opposition to H.R. 6. Phillips was “the person who received the phone call from the office of Congressman Dick Armey alerting the Home School Legal Defense Association of a threat posed by bill H.R.6.” He then “launched a national e-mail alert and physically gathered a brigade of valiant home educators to descend upon the Capitol en masse.” (Phillips’s and HSLDA’s handling of H.R. 6 sharply divided the homeschooling community.)

After serving as an attorney and Director of the National Center for Home Education at HSLDA for six years, Phillips founded Vision Forum in 1998. He also founded a number of other groups and projects, including the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches and the Beautiful Girlhood Collection catalog. He is an advocate of homeschooling, the family-integrated church movement, as well as Quiverfull and Patriarchy ideologies.

Phillips is an extraordinarily popular speaker in the Christian homeschool movement. He has been a featured or keynote speaker at homeschool conventions across the United States. Just in the last two years he has spoken at: 2012 FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention (2012, FL), 2012 CHEF of Missouri 28th Annual Convention (CHEF-MO) (2012, MO), Christian Family Schools (CFS) 28th Annual Expo Homeschool Convention (2012, CA), 1st Annual 2012 Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention in Spartanburg (2012, SC), 2013 29th Annual Home School Book Fair (2013, TX), 2013 Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference (2013, WA), 2013 CHEF of Missouri 29th Annual Convention (CHEF-MO) (2013, MO), and 30th Annual CHEA Homeschool Convention (2013, CA).

Phillips was one of the main speakers at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, where Phillips spoke alongside Kevin Swanson, Voddie Baucham, Brian Ray, and Chris Klicka and declared that, “We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence” and called for “eliminating it altogether.” It was also at this conference that Phillips declared that, “It is on your watch, it is on my watch that the sodomites are redefining marriage in our land,” and that “We will lose this movement and this work of God, men, if we do not govern our households. And that means lovingly shepherding our wives.” Which to him meant keeping one’s wife from “the female sin of the internet” — namely, blogging.

But in a statement released yesterday by Vision Forum, Doug Phillips resigned as president of his organization and discontinued future speaking events not because of “the sodomites” or because he did not “govern [his] household.” He resigned not because of female blogging. Rather, he resigned because he himself “engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.” This relationship was apparently not physical but was instead some form of — “emotional fornication”? He is not clear: “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Phillips is therefore no longer the president of Vision Forum Ministries for the time being, choosing instead to focus on “nurturing [his] wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life.”

The full text of Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum follows. You can read it on their website here or view an archived version of it on HA here.

Statement of Resignation

by Douglas Phillips, Esq., October 30, 2013

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

Doug Phillips

Update, November 1: As Kathryn Brightbill has pointed out, “What is not clear is whether Phillips’ resignation is solely from Vision Forum Ministries, the non-profit arm of Vision Forum, or if it is from the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. as well” (emphasis added). In fact, “Business is usual at the for-profit VisionForum.com site, with no indication of Phillips’ resignation.”

*** Update, November 6: While Phillips resigned from the non-profit Vision Forum Ministries because he “engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he announced today that he “retains ownership” of the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc., which sells all of his books, teachings, and products and will continue to do so. Here is the text of his blog post today on the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc.:

Last week, I announced my resignation from the presidency of Vision Forum Ministries, a 501(c)3 organization. I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc., a distinct and private company, but consistent with my desires to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, I will not be giving speeches or running conferences at this time of my life under the banner of VFI or VFM. In addition, Doug’s Blog will become the Vision Forum Blog and will be focused on publishing reports and articles by others, along with news and information from Vision Forum, Inc.

View an archived version of today’s announcement here.

Isolating Kids to Shield Them from “The World” Is Not Only Harmful, but Counter Productive

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sheldon, who blogs at Ramblings of Sheldon. It was originally published on October 28, 2013.

Recently, I published a post titled Can You Sincerely Believe in Something If You Have Never Doubted or Questioned It?, it was a repose to a blog post by Christian blogger Kansas City Bob about the “Idol of Certainty”. I had said that I can’t really see how a belief in anything, politics, etc, but especially religion can be a personal belief, a true and powerful part of someone’s identity if they have never seriously questioned it or doubted it at some point.

Blogger Jack Vance had this to say in response to the post:

Here was my long, rambling response, which really got me thinking about the fundamentalist homeschooling movement and how it makes questioning downright impossible when a young person is in it, due to the constant isolation in order to protect children from “the world”:

Not only question the maturity of it, but the strength of it? How strong can someone’s beliefs be when held up to questioning and opposition if someone has never questioned and tested it?

I think that was kind of a fatal flaw of the current fundamentalist system. Fundies like to blame secular colleges for their kids leaving the faith, as though professors are actively trying to de-convert students (you of all people would know that’s the farthest from the truth), (Sheldon’s note: Jack Vance is a university professor in Mississippi) but it’s not the colleges that are leading to the de conversions, it’s being allowed to experience the outside world for the first time, being exposed to all varieties of people, and realizing that the world doesn’t fit in a nice little fundamentalist box, and that some people aren’t as bad as they were lead to think.Their faith is being confronted with reality, and it has never been questioned by reality before. They’ve never asked the hard questions about their faith, because they haven’t been outside of fundie land, and never been faced with questions before.

I think the forced isolation is not only destructive, but counter productive to the efforts of thew parents to keep their children in the faith. Because their faith has never had to face the hard questions of life before, you end up with young students that know their faith well, and can repeat all the lines and canned arguments, but their faith has never been hardened by being exposed to outsiders, and facing the hard questions that facing reality will bring about.

They have never had to ask “Is this truly what I believe?” because they have never had to make the choice to believe.

Any normal, rational person can see how isolating a child from the outside world is harmfully psychologically, and that kind of closed environment is a fertile breeding ground for abuse (if you can’t see it, just spend about 30 minutes on Homeschoolers Anonymous, if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will).

Fundamentalists isolating their children in order to protect them from”the world” don’t seem to realize that not only will they be creating adults who feel like a foreigner in their own country, and have a hard time coping as adults, but that their efforts in trying to keep their children in the faith well into adulthood (which they think will happen by keeping the out of the corrupting influences of “the world”), are actually counter productive.

Let me explain.

I sincerely believe that in order for a faith to be real, and personal to someone, a major part of their internal identity, they have to at some point question what they believe.

Without questioning, the faith is merely what that person believes due to the fact that it is all they have ever  known in their culture, or just what they have believed due to the fact that is the way they have always seen the world, and they don’t want to change that fact.

To me, genuine faith can not come about without questioning, or doubting at some point, without it, it can’t true representation of who that person is, and what they believe with every fiber of their being. Questioning usually comes about as a result when someone is questioned about their faith, or confronted with new perspectives that they have not encountered before.

Neither of which can happen if someone has never been exposed to the outside world.

When a person raised in such an environment finally has to go out and be in the outside culture, whether that be in the workplace, college, etc, their faith gets shaken even harder than it would have been had they ever been allowed the opportunity to question, because though in some cases, question leads to an abandoning of the faith (like in my case), if someone can sincerely question the faith, and still decide to remain in it, it comes out on the other side as a much stronger faith than before.

Fundamentalists don’t seem to understand this, and they are scared of questioning, they try to limit their children’s exposure to the outside world to keep them from questioning, and it ends up creating a generation of people, who until they are able to walk away from such an environment, don’t even know how to question and explore their beliefs.

It’s a very closed culture where outside ideas are not allowed in, questioning isn’t just discouraged, but up to a point, the very concept of it doesn’t exist. Questioning is only allowed, and can only be comprehended in very limited ways. When taught how to debate, they are only taught how to use certain talking points to back up what they already believe, with consideration ever given to the possibility that what is taught is wrong on some level.

Questioning in such a way is a concept that someone in that culture, especially young people can’t even grasp. Words are redefined, as many different bloggers showed in the Learning the Words project organized by Samantha of Defeating the Dragons.

It’s a deliberate tactic to keep their children in the fold (hopefully for life), and it bears an uncanny resemblance to Newspeak in the book 1984.

Newspeak was a new language designed for the people of the empire of Oceania, whose main goal was to make dissent impossible. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 5 of 1984 where the main character, Winston, a government clerk, is talking to Syme, a clerk responsible for helping to create Newspeak dictionaries:

(Syme is speaking in this conversation):

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.  

‘By 2050 earlier, probably — all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron — they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.’ 

George Orwell was right, orthodoxy is unconsciousness, it’s believing without thinking. That is the goal of this kind of thinking, people who believe without sincerely questioning. They think this will result in children growing up to believe it as a matter of fact for the rest of their lives without questioning it.

The problem is, at some point, a person, has to become an adult, they have to be able to work outside the home, they will end up moving out, and having unbelieving neighbors and co-workers, or maybe just simply people who are Christians, but not as extreme as them. At some point, this exposure to the outside world will become overwhelming to them.

They will be for the first time, forced people who don’t look, act, think like they do, forced to face the reality that exists outside of the narrow confines of the world they grew up in. It automatically either forces them to retreat into a lonely shell, or make them face questions that they never had before, which is a highly emotional process that they don’t quite know how to deal with, because they have never been able to honestly question before.

They don’t know what to believe, or what to think of the world around them, because they have never experienced it before.

Suddenly the canned response they were taught to give in response to challenges to the faith (lovingly called apologetic in the world) seem to be falling short in response to this new internal struggle. They will be forced to re-evaluate everything they have been taught, and decide for themselves what they truly believe.

For some, they will end up coming back to fundamentalism somehow, and more determined to be a “better Christian”, but most will either come back to Christianity in a more moderate form, it give it up all together, the experience will lead to their former fundamentalist beliefs collapsing like a house of cards.

The parents who wanted to try to keep their children in the faith by isolating them don’t realize that that their tactics are back firing on them, creating a generation of former fundamentalist who have given it all up, and who realize just how toxic that belief systemis, people like me and Lana Hobbs, Jonny Scaramanga, and Samantha Field, just to name a few.

In trying to create a army of fundamentalist foot soliders who follow orders, and believe what they are told without objection or question, they have actually created toxic fundamentalism’s worst enemy:

A generation of people willing to tell the truth about fundamentalism.

Falling from Family Dysfunction into Nightmares Realized — Another Story of Homeschool Abuse: Lana Martin’s Story, Part One

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The HSLDA promotes a certain image of the average homeschool family, a cozy picture which convinces thousands of parents each year to withdraw their children from public school.

Parents in the conservative Christian subculture explicitly use homeschooling to shelter children from secular beliefs. Regardless of the degree of their sheltering, they often want to provide an emotionally and spiritually healthy educational environment for their child. While HSLDA propaganda acknowledges that homeschool parents experience a range of “ups and downs”, it neglects to provide critical, data-driven information on specific challenges. God will lead any willing parent to successfully homeschool, they say, avoiding the issue that some families could be considered high-risk for unsatisfactory, even abusive, homeschooling outcomes.

Instead, these promotional materials vaguely assert that God will use each parent’s strengths to provide a positive and effective home education environment. They assure potential homeschooling parents that, regardless of their educational background, any follower of Christ can give their child a better, safer intellectual and social development than formal schooling would.

*****

My experience as a neglected homeschool student growing up in an abusive, dysfunctional family is testimony that this scenario does not always unfold so neatly.

My mother was encouraged by HSLDA propaganda to homeschool me, and my parents were enabled by lack of regulatory oversight to proceed with little consideration for my needs.

*****

Over the past few years, the confusion and pain that has haunted me for over a decade has driven me to tease apart how my bizarre past came to be and how I managed to survive it. I grew up in a conservative, fundamentalist Southern Baptist family. True to form, my parents believed that children, relative to adults, lack basic rights of respect and agency. They bought into the Dobsonian authoritarian parenting philosophy that rose in popularity during the 1980s: parents are responsible for their children’s eternal salvation, a task best achieved by breaking the child’s willful inner core of sin through severe physical punishment and verbal shaming.

My mother, in particular, was extremely controlling and sheltering. As long as I can remember, I had to sit patiently and listen to her rants about “contemporary culture” and her demonization of public school, working moms, divorced couples, the existence of sexuality, almost all the music out there, and (of course) spaghetti-strap tank tops.

I later realized that her polarized perspective, especially her black-and-white thinking, relates to her poorly managed mental health issues, which most likely expand far beyond official diagnoses of major depression and anxiety disorder. She partially blamed these illnesses on energy lost in battling the devil — particularly in guarding her children against influences of the more liberal family members who were, in fact, instruments of the devil placed on earth to challenge her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, her personal friend and savior.

My mother’s parenting decisions were driven by fear and paranoia. She lacked empathy, a psychological freedom that allowed her to place ideology above a child’s needs.

My father’s choices were driven by his desire to pacify my mother. He wanted peace and quiet, a need I was happy to comply with, as I had been trained to do since birth.

Life in public school grades K-3 was no picnic. My mother frequently initiated conflict with teachers and administrators. She confronted teachers over which G-rated secular movies were shown in class; she became incensed when her VHS cassette of a cartoon Christian Easter Story was not allowed to be shown due to religious content. Appeal to follow the norms of mainstream society means nothing to someone who is convinced they have discovered the one right way to live.

As I faced my entrance into junior high school, my mother grew terrified of my impending exposure to a more rigorous secular education, jealous of the increased time I would spend away from her during extracurricular activities, and paranoid of “worldly influences” from the more complex peer relationships I might form. She expressed alarm when I began budding as an independent person. I recall her rebuking me for my change in personality, blaming my new attitudes and opinions on peer influence, and shaming me for “becoming a different person”. No developmental change could be attributed to my unique thoughts and emotions; her shame- and fear-based authoritarian parenting creed declares children do not (or should not) have their own. Her need to use her child as a mirror to understand herself prevented her from acknowledging my identity.

My mother’s behavior created intense chaos and embarrassment for me as a child. I became fearful of her near-constant scrutiny of my tone, expressions, and reactions. In his passivity, my father did little to mitigate the negative impacts my mother’s intrusive, unpredictable behavior had on me.

*****

My journey down the rabbit hole begins when I was placed in a Baptist private school, which I actually liked because the 4th grade classes were small and intimate. But half-way through the school year, my mother once again generated conflict with school officials.  The more “secular” aspects of an otherwise quite religious curriculum were questionable. She had taken a part-time job in the after school care program and developed irresolvable interpersonal problems with her co-workers. Suddenly everyone at this school was bad, dumb, not up to her standards. She abruptly moved us back to the local public school for the second half of the year.

I remember this mid-year move as a turning point in my childhood, when I first fully realized that my mother had serious problems which were not being addressed by other adults in my life. I realized that her selfish whims would be catered to at the expense of my needs. That I had to shut up and put up, as I would not be listened to nor respected. I silently grieved the departure, leaving friends I would likely never see again. My last few months in public school were disastrous. I struggled to cope with the change, was self-conscious of my mother’s erratic behavior, and developed behavioral problems. My grades fell from As to Cs. This shift strengthened my mother’s resolve to remove me from this “toxic environment” and teach me at home.

Around this time, my mother became attracted to HSLDA’s portrayal of the homeschool family. Through HSLDA, she learned that children did not need to learn how to be independent, mature teenagers because the concept of “teens” is a modern myth. She declared that dating would not be allowed, but she would supervise a parent-controlled courtship. Participation in athletics, the arts, or science labs would have to be carefully censored and restricted to prevent exposure to un-Godly influences. She learned that mainstream education, socialization and rampant acquaintance-making would be unnecessary for and harmful to my development.

As a homeschooled child I would, presumably, learn how to become an adult through observing and imitating my mother in the home. As an emancipated 18-year-old, I would then either attend a Christian Bible-based private university (Pensacola and Bob Jones were popular ideas) or marry some family-approved fellow I had successfully courted under her supervision.

This was the reality I faced as a 10-year-old girl.

This might have all been faintly reasonable had my family been functional and my mother a healthy, responsible adult. Rather, my mother was increasingly overwhelmed by self-gratifying fantasies and obsessions. She became easily bored with reality, distressed by responsibility. Clearly, between her crises and my family’s financial struggles, even courtship and extracurriculars would not happen. My father was surely aware of these weaknesses and would have had compelling reason to question her competency, but he did not intervene. Even as a young child, I could see that I would not be taken care of in this bizarre world. And I would not have the childhood or education that would prepare me for a successful, fulfilling life in the real world.

This nightmare was my reality.

And so, beginning with 5th grade, I was “homeschooled”. I bracket this term in quotes, because without doing so would be an insult to families who legitimately home educate. At first my mother kept me involved with the local Christian home educators group. We attended meetings, field trips, and play dates. My mother purchased a years’ stock of A Beka, Bob Jones, and Saxon Math textbooks. She planned out a few months of lessons and graded my work for a few weeks.

She voraciously consumed every hyperbolic HSLDA-issued line about using homeschooling to save children in the “culture war”.

At first this seemed better than being in school because I suffered less conflict and chaos. But, predictably, over time the people in our homeschool group became bad, dumb, not up to her standards. My mother withdrew herself socially, effectively withdrawing me from the outside world except for trips to the public library and grocery store, occasional visits with extended family.

My mother’s mental health declined severely as my eight years spent “homeschooling” progressed. For much of this time, my mother slept all day in a depressive state while I cooked, cleaned, watched television, and read library books. My mother continued to purchase textbooks on an annual basis, but most remained uncracked until boredom drove me to fill out and “grade” workbooks on my own. Aside from the secular math curriculum, information I gleaned from the homeschool curricula was uselessly biased toward a fundamentalist Christian worldview.

Somehow I was aware of this and, when a particular subject interested me, I filled in gaps using the latest technological innovation we had acquired: the Internet.

Part Two >

Homeschool to Public School

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Heather Doney’s blog Becoming Worldly. It was originally published on December 23, 2012.

I figured since I am one of the rare former Quiverfull kids that was both homeschooled and public schooled, I’d talk about my experience. First off, though, I want to say that I find the debate about whether homeschool or public school is inherently better to be the educational equivalent of arguing whether Coke or orange soda is better. It’s utter foolishness when people act like their personal preference is the only one that counts. Overall I believe that human beings are resilient and adaptable creatures, capable of learning in many different environments if given the opportunity and some quality mentoring. If I was choosing how to educate my own kids, I’d want mixed methods, the best of both worlds.

I realize looking back that I have had two different kinds of homeschooling and two different kinds of public schooling, so figured I’d share my experience with each.

Neglectful Unschooling

The first kind of homeschooling I had was unschooling without the very necessary cultivation and introduction to resources aspect.

Basically it was educational neglect.

This is a pretty common problem in the unschooling world from what I understand. I also got intensive religious messages and was forced to submit to rigid and oppressive gender roles. The bits of educational instruction I got were often pretty abusive too because every now and then, when my Dad got it in his head to formally teach me something, the session would generally end with me getting a spanking, grounded, or having the papers thrown at me in disgust because I was “being stupid,” “obstinate” or “stubborn and difficult.” Unsurprisingly, all that did was leave me with a pretty decent math phobia and worries about my mental capabilities. My parents also often told my sister that she was just stubborn and didn’t want to learn to read.

Thing is, my Mom said she didn’t really teach me how to read. She just read me books out loud when I was small and soon I was reading them back to her. That pattern didn’t happen with my sister or any other siblings because it isn’t typical. Yet my parents expected it to work that same way somehow.

They had little understanding of how kids actually learn, or what motivates them, or that it simply isn’t the same for each kid.

I was a self-directed learner who ate up the few books that had been donated to us by other homeschoolers and the boxes full of classic literature that my Grandad sent me. I didn’t get to go to the library. I just read these books and sometimes when I got too absorbed and forgot to wash dishes or change diapers, my Dad came in, snatched my book from me, hit me with it, and yelled at me. My Mom went from claiming that my book reading was “constructive” to saying that it was “selfish.”

Classic Home Tutoring

After this first kind of homeschooling experience had been thoroughly put to shame by my grandparents and the Sylvan standardized testing they secretly got for me and my sister, I started the second kind of homeschooling. It generally involved sitting at a desk every day at the same time, working through problems, diagramming sentences, having problem sets to solve and a row of sharpened pencils, with regular interspersed “field trips.”

Now I had to answer to my tough, tattooed up old Grandad, a former Navy commander who’d never homeschooled anyone or previously had the desire to.

He had flown me out West to stay with them for a few months and to give an excellently intensive if sometimes harsh go of his brand of tutoring, motivated by his love and concern for me.

My Grandad and I drove each other crazy at times but ultimately bonded for life. He loved being a homeschooling grandfather. He would go on to do the same with my other school age siblings, and later told me that he found his role in his grandchildren’s education to be one of the most satisfying things he’d done in retirement.

He was not motivated by any sort of religious instruction goals, but rather valued and had respect for classical curriculums that connected history to current events, modern life, and a versatile skill set. He also said being cosmopolitan and well-rounded was the primary goal of education.

It wasn’t just about finding a job or about knowing stuff, but making yourself question and think, being a world citizen.

He introduced me to books on Native American history, and Greek and Roman mythology. He brought me outside at night to point out the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades among the stars and tell me the story, and recount what these constellations had meant to sailors of old. He and my Grammy took me to museums and national parks and to go try sushi, fried rattlesnake, and spanikopita. They brought me to see Phantom of the Opera. They got me once a week snow-skiing lessons with teens my age. I was encouraged to find pen pals among them and to practice penmanship, and so I did. I was told to keep a diary and a scrapbook where I wrote down my experiences and saved mementos from events.

I still have those things and they are some of my most valued belongings.

My Grandad continually said, “The world needs lerts, so be alert!”

At the end of our intensive tutoring sessions or a day walking in the redwoods, or a day learning about volcanic activity while swimming at Mammoth Lakes hot creek, my brain would feel tired in a satisfied sort of way. I knew without a doubt that I was learning and it made me much happier about life. I loved it.

When I went back home to my parents, my Grandad gave me a self-study schedule written out on a yellow legal pad so I could hopefully somewhat replicate this rapid rate of absorption. I wish I could say I kept up with the books like he’d had me doing at his house, but I didn’t. No one was pushing me at home, so I only studied what I liked, and what I liked were novels that I could become totally absorbed in and ignore the stressful reality of a family situation I now loathed even more.

Cliquey Public School

Because my parents still weren’t teaching us and my Mom had pretty much given up, the next year we all got sent to public school.

I was both excited and scared. The local high school was known as the “bad school in the good district.” Over a third of the kids (including me) got free lunch because their parents were poor, and it was about half white, half “people of color” — mostly black and creole, a few Hispanic and Vietnamese. My school did really well in sports, less so in academics.

At registration nobody checked to see if I was up to grade level or oriented me to what public school would be like, instead simply assigning me to 9th grade based on my age.

The first week of classes were absolutely overwhelming.

I got laughed at on the bus for handing the driver the paperwork and saying, “My Mom said to give you this.” After being isolated so much, now I was constantly surrounded by people my own age, hundreds of conversations going on in the lunchroom at once, but nobody wanted to sit by me. They already had friends. I was an unwelcome stranger. Someone even threw my backpack on the floor and told me to go sit somewhere else. Finally I got invited to sit at a lunch table by a guy who had a lisp and I gratefully shared eating space with him, a “super-senior,” a pregnant girl, and a tall skinny gamer who wore his backpack on one shoulder and ran to lunch when the bell rang in order to be first in line. They were nice to me, the first friends I made, and I will be forever grateful. They reassured me and gave me hints after I got lost going to my home room class, received a detention for lateness, and got glared at often because I apparently unknowingly stared at people. I’m sure I did stare.

These teenagers were fascinating and I’d never seen anything like it.

Then there was the weirdness of learning how to do homework and study for tests and figure out when and how you are or aren’t supposed to ask questions in class while surrounded by people who’d done these things their whole lives. Everybody assumed I should just know this stuff and was from another planet when I didn’t.

By the end of the first week I was pretty much singled out as a weird kid, by both teachers and students.

One teacher thought I might have a learning disability and scheduled a parent-teacher conference. Classmates made fun of my Walmart shoes. Some boy asked me for a blow job and got people laughing when it was obvious I had no idea what that was. A group of girls walked by and one put gum in my hair. A boy hit me in gym class, I hit back, and we both got suspended for fighting under the “zero tolerance” rules. That’s how for a short time I became one of the “bad kids.”

I had to attend three nights of “PM school” with other suspended kids from around the district, some who’d thrown chairs at teachers, had sex in the bathrooms, set things on fire, or brought vodka to school hidden in Sprite bottles. We all sat around in a circle and talked about what we did wrong and what we should do better next time. Most of them were pretty disrespectful and said school was stupid and they couldn’t wait to drop out when they turned 16.

I really hit the culture shock head on right there.

Why didn’t they want an education? I’d had to fight so hard to get mine and I had no intention of letting anything take it away from me.

Around that time I discovered that high school was two-tiered. There were the regular and remedial classes and then the honors classes and advanced placement classes. The kinds of people who took either of the latter were treated better. Honors and AP classes also had people who were more invested and were given more in-depth information, but nobody else in that classroom seemed to feel as enthusiastic about learning as me. I was absorbing everything all at one time — the coursework was only part of it. How to walk, how to talk to people, what were appropriate topics of conversation, what to wear, what not to say seemed even more crucial.

Often it seemed there were more important things I was missing in my education than book learning, and I just made social mistake after social mistake. I was made fun of ruthlessly about them, remembering even one of the coaches laughing when some boys threw balls of paper at me in civics class.

I told my parents about the bullying once.

When my Dad’s response was, “Well, it’s ok with me if you drop out.” I never said another word about it.

I didn’t want them to have any excuse to pull me out. I just soldiered through. I made up my mind I would not be one of the dropout crowd. Here’s the thing about bullying though — it often just happens to new kids. Once your quirks and social status have been thoroughly made fun of, then you start to become accepted. The hazing (however wrong it is) is over. Girls start to give you tips about how to dress and talk and ask if you want a cigarette (no thanks), and guys start to flirt and ask to copy your homework (um, no. Well…maybe an exception for that cute one).

The learning curve that first year and a half was quite steep and I was stuck between different educational worlds where I had to know very different things to get by. I failed my first algebra class (what on earth were those letters doing in the math problems?!) and so sophomore year I took remedial math and honors English and history. I got invited to work on the school newspaper and the literary publication due to my work in honors English, and I got suspended again for getting in another fight (in the middle of class, no less) in remedial Algebra. This time I knew what these school fights required, so when the girl called me out and threw a punch, I grabbed her by the hair and hit her in the head a bunch of times until some guys pulled us apart. Now I figured people would get the message and nobody was going to threaten or try to fight me again.

I was also going to make her pay for ruining my perfect attendance record.

After serving my suspension, I apologized profusely to my poor math teacher (she was this nice Pentecostal lady who patiently tutored me during free time in math class and at lunch), and about six months later I made peace with the girl I’d fought.

I’d listened to the principal talk to her Mom and realized her home life was harder than mine.

Still, what would have once seemed counterintuitive to me — fight harshly to avoid more fights — had worked. Nobody tried fighting me again and the bullying subsided.

College-Bound Academic Track

By the time junior year came around I pretty much had the high school thing down. I was now one of the “smart kids” due to being in honors and AP classes. I rarely got detentions and never got suspended again. I found myself being nice to new people and often befriending exchange students, giving them the same tips I’d needed myself. I made a number of good friends, had lots of acquaintances, got good grades, passed notes in class, had a couple short-term boyfriends, and went to a number of high school dances.

I was passing for normal, working at the local grocery store, and feeling like my life was headed in the right direction.

Except for how awful it often was at home.

Quiverfull Values vs. Public School Values

My parents were still ideologically attached to the Quiverfull stuff even though their marriage was disintegrating and it was plain to see that actively living it was no longer doable. I had thoroughly rebelled against all of it and my younger siblings were now oriented in a similar direction. According to my Mom I was a bad example — disrespectful, a negative influence, and I had a poor attitude.

When I was given a Good Attitude Award at school for all my Key Club volunteer work, I waved it at her as vindication.

It was ignored though. Her criteria were different. I faced one perspective at school and another at home. At home I had to help care for a bunch of younger siblings in addition to homework, and was still hit by my Dad as “punishment,” (even though I fought back) right up until I moved out at age 17. After that I tried to throw all of it in the past, start college, and successfully “pass as normal.”

So do I think homeschooling can be great?

Yes.

Do I think public school can be great?

Yes.

Can they each be mediocre and uninspiring? Yes.

Can they both be awful and hurtful and soul sucking and practically the worst thing ever? Yes.

Can you work to overcome the bad stuff? Yes.

It’s all about implementation and setting goals and neither can be successfully done in a vacuum, ignoring what else is going on around you.

When people just look at the labels and decide whether it’s good or bad based on only that, they are being incredibly shortsighted. Education has so much more to do with mentorship, respect, and access to a challenging and inspiring curriculum.

I loved the type of homeschooling my Grandad did, and I loved my AP high school classes and the friends I made (some of whom I am still close to).

But most of all I loved going to college. It was like the best of the homeschooling and public school worlds combined. I could choose my classes, topics, and schedule, yet I had people guiding and supervising my work, helping me improve it.

I value my education and expect to always be committed to lifelong learning, no matter the setting.

An Open Letter to My Former Highschool Teachers: By Sarah Henderson

HA note: Sarah Henderson blogs at Feminist in Spite of Them about her journey from Quiverfull to Feminist. The following post was originally published on her blog on October 15, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.

Dear Teachers,

When I came to the high school at age 17, I had absolutely no idea how to be a student.  

Many of you know by now that I didn’t know what a teacher-student dynamic was. I hope you understand that up to that point I had been around adults who mostly made stuff up as they went along, and expected respect from authority that was derived simply from being bigger and older, not from legitimate accomplishment. To a scared 17 year old, it looked the same at first, because of the authority aspect.

In the three years I went to high school, I learned to respect you for the knowledge and expertise you represent. I think I was supposed to respect you simply for being teachers, adults, and authority figures, but instead I respected the time and effort it took to become teachers, and the skill and patience that kept you there.

I remember sitting in my first class, which was a grade nine math class. That was a difficult thing for me, to enter a class with people three years younger than I was. But to the teacher who taught that class, and the second teacher who took over part way through (this was when the big math shuffle happened), thank you.

Thank you for seeing my anxiety and deciding to explain to the entire class what the 8:25 bell was, even though they clearly knew.

Thank you for for patiently explaining what the relationship between decimals and fractions was. I really didn’t know. To the librarian, thank you for making the library a safe place. I would have been very afraid of that environment and never gone there, especially because some students really avoided it. But you always said hello to me and that made me feel special even though you did that with everyone.

I liked that you knew my name. It made me feel less anonymous and afraid.

To my language teachers, thank you for doing what it took to allow me to have the best swath of language courses that I could in three years. To my drama and music teachers, these classes pulled me out of my shell the most. I learned that for the first time I could be a meaningful part of something significant. You taught me to not be afraid and to simply do, and that putting myself out there was not dangerous. Thank you for recognizing my ability to create, and giving me the chance to do that with costumes.

To my science teachers, thank you for creating a safe environment to learn. It was a bit of a rocky road for me, and a lot of that came out in science classes for some reason, but you were patient and somehow I never failed a science class, for which I am grateful.

To my guidance counselors, thank you for not making me muddle through a grade nine phys. ed. class with 13 and 14 year olds and expose my complete lack of knowledge about various sports. Thank you for taking the time to place me in the appropriate levels of classes and being willing to juggle that for three years. Thank you for the time you spent listening to me and believing me.

Thank you for calling family and children’s services with me.

Thank you for trusting that even though I didn’t always know how to act appropriately, I was learning as quickly as I could, and thank for seeing that I could succeed. Thank you for not punishing me when I engaged in self-injury at school. I didn’t know how inappropriate that was until you told me.

I didn’t actually know that self-injury was a “thing” or a big deal. I had never heard of it

But I had been doing it for a decade by then.

To my principals, thank you for not suspending me or punishing me for mistakes I made, and thank you for trusting that they were legitimate errors and not deliberate. Thank you for making allowances where you did but also for drawing the line where you did. The fact that you did draw some lines and said that there were certain things I did need to do, helped me learn to function more fully in a society with expectations. I learned that there are provisions for when you need them, but I also learned to take responsibility and action when I was able. Thank you for recognizing how challenging school was for me, and thank you for doing it in a way that celebrated success, not difficulty.

To my English teachers, thank you for the impact you have had on my life. From Grade 11 English where you gently explained to me what an essay actually was and how to write one (I really didn’t know), to writer’s craft and children’s literature where I had a chance to be creative, these classes allowed me to feel successful because I was able to achieve decent grades and take pride in what I wrote. You recognized when I was trying hard even if my results were not stellar. You explained to me how to improve when I was not happy with a grade. You suggested books for me to read as you started to learn more about my past. Thank you for being available to me and hearing me. Thank you for supporting me and helping me process through these classes. Thank you for letting me start off doing presentations in private but pushing me to do them to the class when you knew I was ready.

Thank you for teaching me the value of writing. That positive experience is why I am able to use the written word to share my story now.

To all the teachers and other staff at the high school, thank you for encouraging me and helping me learn how to be a student. Thank you for treating me with dignity even when I didn’t act very dignified. Thank you for being willing to overlook my shortcomings in exchange for investing in a brighter future. Thank you for being kind even when I was rude, thank you for knowing when to let things slide and when to push me to do better.

Thank you for being gentle with me when I was going through rougher times, and thank you ever so much for taking it as a given that I would go to university. Once I reached a certain point in high school, it was not really treated by you as optional that I would go, instead it was simply a question of where and what.

I owe a great deal to you.

People do not always get a chance to hear about the positive impact they had with a smile or a short conversation, and this letter is intended to make sure you are aware of that impact.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Sarah Henderson

Stiff-Necked Legalism: By Chris Jeub

HA note, October 3, 2014:

In light of recent allegations by Cynthia Jeub (one of Chris Jeub’s daughters), the HARO board is uncomfortable with hosting Chris’s content. You can view the original post and comments as a PDF here.

Christian Discipline, A Child’s Perspective: Jessica’s Story

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Also by Jessica on HA: “Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality.”

*****

Trigger warning: graphic description of physical abuse.

*****

Awaking from a fitful slumber, I turn over and squint to see the clock.

It’s 2 am, dad is home.

Who will it be tonight? If I hear one of my brother’s screaming, it probably won’t be me. I close my eyes, clasp my hands. “Dear God, I know you’re busy and I know this is selfish, but please just let dad go to bed tonight.”

I hear boots in the hallway and I curl into the fetal position under my blanket, shaking.  Please not me. Please not me.  Please not me and click, my door knob turns.  It’s me.  I pretend to be asleep.

“Get up.” 

No explanation. I do not know what I did. It does not matter. I stand up, shaking. Dad slings me over the side of the bed and I sob, “Please dad, please don’t.”

Swat. 1….2….3…

I make the mistake, I put my hands over my buttocks.

“Daddy please stop”

Crack!

A heavy leather mechanics belt slices into my hands, instantly excruciating and yet numb. I move them quickly or he will hit them again.  Painfully slowly, biting my cheek until it bleeds. I count in my head. 4…5…6….7……..18….19…20…21….22…. and it ends.

I collapse on the bed.

Dad says “I love you.” Then he turns and walks out shutting my door behind him. 

I listen to the boots walk down the hall and disappear. Silently, I walk into my bathroom, vomit into the toilet, clean it up and then run my hands down my 10 year old lower back, backside and thighs.

I have welts.

Some of them are bleeding.

My hands are already purple. I need a story, how did I get that shape mark on my hands… I’ll think of it in the morning. I go back to bed and finally allow myself to cry and think about how good life would be if my father were dead. Simultaneously, though, sad that he would be gone.

He is my dad after all. 

Tomorrow my classmates will know he hit me.  I won’t tell them, they won’t see the bruises, they’ll just know. They’ll see how awful I must be to make my dad hit me like that.  Why am I so awful?

I know I deserved it God, that’s why you didn’t stop him.

When Your Daughters are The #1 Threat to Your Agenda

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on October 15, 2013 with the title “Are Daughters the Biggest Threat to the Christian Patriarchy Movement and Reconstructionism?”

Whether they say it publicly or not, I believe that Christian leaders in the Reconstructionist and Homeschool Movements view adult daughters to be the biggest threat to their agenda in furthering their ideologies.

In this video trailer of The Return of the Daughters, you can hear the urgency of this movement, the fear-mongering blaming the feminists as the primary cause of the destruction of the idolized godly family image.

Stay-at-home daughters — it’s a matter of choice

I want to be clear what my beef is with this movement.

It is not the idea of daughters staying at home if they choose to stay at home.  It’s about an adult daughter not being allowed to make choices for herself.  It’s the idea that if daughters don’t stay at home under their father’s “protection,” they are not being biblical – that the only right way is if a daughter has her father’s blessing on all of her choices, including marriage – and that marriage is very selective as the father wants to make sure that his future son-in-law holds to the same Patriarchal beliefs as he.

I am sick and tired of the implication that young ladies who go to college are trying to perpetuate the feminist agenda and destroy families, simply for making the adult choice to further their education.

In studying the patterns of abuse in churches, the control tactics the proponents of this movement use are similar.  

Why does this issue have to be so black and white?  Because it’s about control.  We see love-bombing of daughters, building her up in her femininity, her homemaking skills, but there is no allowance for an adult daughter to question of authority, to have differing viewpoints, to have a mind of her own.

If adult daughters are not sold on the concept of first being comfortable at being stay-at-home daughters, and then stay-at-home moms, the authoritarian position of the Patriarch, and thus, the entire Movement, is diminished. Any diminishing of their role as Patriarch by a daughter challenging or questioning them would be looked at as disobedience and sin and divisive, just as in spiritual abuse patterns, any questioning of a pastor’s authority would be labeled as divisive.  Do you see the parallels?

Their ideology is that husbands will be spiritual heads of the home, will rule over their wives and families and wives will humbly submit without question to everything they say.  They will be reproducing babies and raising them with the same ideologies:  boys will grow up to be men and heads of households and will rule their families spiritually.  Daughters will grow up and embrace their “biblical role” as submissive wives/mothers.

But ask these folks what happens when abuse enters the picture?  

Does the wife and children get support?  Or what about a death of a husband or disability or unemployment?   Does the church assist these families in real and practical ways?  Or is the family abandoned and the wife accused of sin when she attempts to earn income for her impoverished and broken family?

…O, treason of the blood!
Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters’ minds
By what you see them act.  ~ Othello

Daughters who are allowed to think for themselves, make their own choices, are viewed as a threat

It is my belief that daughters who go against this system, who go to college, learn how to think for themselves, are viewed as a threat. It is wrong to challenge, to question, undermine, speak out against this destructive movement.

I’m certain that Patriarchs know this real threat and that is why we are seeing so much building up daughters positively by glorifying the godly wife role and encouraging the relationships with fathers and daughters.

Patriarchal fathers must win their daughter’s heart at a very young age, win her approval and trust, in order to successfully perpetuate this cycle.

I am now convinced that for many Patriarchs, the agenda is not to honestly build the relationship between the father and daughter. Rather, fathers are using their daughters to instill in them what they believe to be the godly ideology and sell the daughters on their role in continuing and supporting this ideology. This is accomplished through purity ballspurity covenants, books, videos, conferences or retreats like this:

God’s Word speaks volumes to the relationship between fathers and daughters: His most sacred duty is her protection and preservation from childhood to virtuous womanhood. He leads her, woos her, and wins her with a tenderness and affection unique to the bonds of father and daughter. Success in his life mission is directly related to the seriousness and compassion with which he seeks to raise her as an industrious, family-affirming, children-loving woman of God.

She, in turn, looks to her father as a loving picture of leadership, of devotion, and of care. Her relationship with her father will help to define her view of the worth of a woman, the meaning of fulfillment and contentment, and her vision for virtue. When these relationships are realized and cultivated, the generational mission of the Christian family is secure.

Is it any wonder that Satan is on the prowl seeking to tear the hearts of daughters from their fathers, and driving wedges of indifference between them — fathers with no time for their little girls, and young ladies who have replaced the love of their fathers with the acceptance of peers and inappropriate romantic relationships? The Vision Forum Ministries Father & Daughter Retreat is one step on the journey of recovering the preciousness of this relationship so crucial to the kingdom-building work of the Church. (from Father & Daughter Retreated Sponsored by Vision Forum)

Sadly, I also think that some fathers are unknowingly climbing aboard this fast train of destruction.

They don’t understand the system in which they are caught.  

They believe what they are doing is good for their families and daughters and don’t understand the price it will have on their family. It really is not about a relationship for many.  It is about an agenda.

As I have been following trends in the Homeschool Movement, what I am seeing is that those fathers who tightly control their daughters and their lives — do not allow them to have educational and work choices, do not allow them to make important life decisions,  do not allow them to think for themselves spiritually or own their own faith — will likely lose their daughters in adulthood.

They may in fact lose a relationship with their daughters forever.

The Reason I Despise Fundamentalist Christianity, As Revealed to Me In a Dream

misogyny

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sean-Allen Parfitt’s blog Of Pen and Heart. It was originally published on August 26, 2013.

Recently there has been a series over at the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog, called “Voices of Sister-Moms”. I began reading the introductory post, but could not finish. My entire body was having a negative reaction. I mentioned this to some of my fellow LGBT Homeschooled friends, and they wisely suggested that I step away from the article till I could calm down. I was seriously angry, and had beginning symptoms of a minor panic/anxiety attack.

I was surprised at my reaction to the article.

After all, I am a male, the eldest in my family, who, in the patriarchal/quiverfull system, is in a position of privilege. It’s true that I was expected to do a lot of housework and helped homeschool the kids (see last Friday’s post), but I went to college, got a job, and was allowed to live my own life. (And by “my own life” I mean going to work and coming back home and going to church with the family and sometimes hanging out with friends.)

Well, in the last two years, I’ve come out of the closet, left the fundamentalism my family calls Christianity, meet many new kinds of people, and discovered that what I was taught isn’t necessarily the truth. I am in a relationship with another man, which is for me a clear illustration that the traditionally taught family dynamics are not the one true way. I have even begun to question Christianity itself.

But I couldn’t put my finger on either my anxiety when reading about the mistreatment of Christian girls or my strange negative reactions to other generic mentions of Christianity.

Why did I cringe when I saw a post on Twitter recommending a book about God’s love? Why do I skim past the tweets with Bible verses and references to good times at church?

I believe I got my answer in a dream I had Saturday night.

In my dream, I was visiting my father’s childhood church, which my family had begun re-attending. Mom was in a small-group discussion, and brother T was in the main sanctuary. I walked up to T, but he distinctly turned away without acknowledging me. Once Small Groups was over, Mom came back into the sanctuary. I began following her as she straightened the pews, talking to her. She was upset with me for living openly gay, and I was getting more and more angry with her as the conversation continued.

Then I exploded at her. This is very much out of character of me, as I have only raised my voice at her on a few occasions. I almost tremble is reverent fear of my mother, who has power to unleash unheard-of retribution. Or at least, that’s how I feel. So for me to yell at her actually took me by surprise in retrospect. But what I said to her showed me exactly what I had been feeling but had been unable to express before.

It was the very innermost turmoil that I had not been able to understand.

Do you know what I hate about Christianity?” I shouted at my mother, standing in the very sanctum of the religion I was at that very moment criticizing. “Do you know what it is that makes you unable to accept the fact that ‘I’m gay, and it’s OK’?” My mother just stood there, not replying. And then I said the word. Just one word, a simple 8 letters that encompass the root of my dissatisfaction with the religion in which I was raised, and which has caused irreparable pain to so many people. I opened my mouth, and with conviction, the word thundered through the church:

“Misogyny.”

According to Wikipedia, “Misogyny /mɪˈsɒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls.” When used in a religious context, it usually refers to the belief that women are the “weaker sex” (see I Peter 3:7) and are under the authority of men (see I Corintians 11:3and I Timothy 2:12). In practice, this means that women and girls are to be humble servants to men. Girls are groomed to become wives and mothers, and should not aspire to be successful on their own. They are to submit, never questioning their fathers, husbands, or pastors.

When I awoke form my dream, I was surprised at what my mind had expressed while I slept. However, upon reflection, I realized how so very true it is. Misogyny is at the heart of much of the pain I have experienced in my life.

It is the root of the pain that countless other women and gay men have felt.

Wait, sure, you can see how misogyny has caused incredible pain and discrimination for women, but how dare I include myself and other gay men in that category? This is the question I asked myself. But even though I did not express it verbally in my dream, I knew what the answer was.

One major argument used against unions between two men is the call to remember God’s biblical definition of marriage. Thus, marriage is commonly interpreted as a union between one man and one woman. Traditionalists maintain that the proper balance of power places the man in the position of leader and the woman in a submissive position. Women are expected to take care of the home, cleaning, cooking, shopping, teaching, raising children, making life easier for men, and providing sex on demand. Men are expected to go to work, provide money and housing, spiritually lead the family, and lead the family into ministry work.

With this in mind, it’s not hard to extrapolate the effects of misogyny onto gay men. If two men are in a relationship, who has what duty? Men aren’t supposed to do the women’s work. Who leads the family and makes the decision? Which one goes to work and which one cleans the house? In short, which one is the man and which one is the woman?

So many straight fundamentalists can’t grasp the idea that gay men are still men.

A flamboyant gay man is called effeminate and looked down on. When I came out to my mother over the phone, she prayed for me. In that prayer, she cried, saying that she didn’t want me to be her daughter; she wanted me to be her son. I have had several people ask me who is the man in Paul’s and my relationship.

Besides being entirely misguided, such notions and comments are very hurtful. I have been completely cut off form my family. My old friends have told me that we cannot fellowship anymore. They see me as a deviant from the natural order and desires. Because I don’t want to be with a woman. Because I don’t want to exercise headship over my partner. Because I like to engage in “feminine” pursuits such as sewing. Because I care what I look like and plan my outfits to coordinate. Because I wear earrings. Because I am “acting like a woman”, when I am really a man.

I admit I am not sure where I stand on the issue of Christianity. The pain and hurt I have received from the church has made me very wary of the religion of the Bible. When I see others facing the same discrimination I have, I become enraged. It is hard not to be bitter against the very religion that brought me up.

It’s a world of pain, hurt, and rejection, all because of one word: misogyny.