By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Every year the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) puts on the National Leader’s Conference, where the biggest names and leaders in homeschooling come together to network and hear educational and inspirational talks from both HSLDA’s staff as well as outside speakers invited by HSLDA. During the conference, HSLDA gives an annual award: the Lifetime Achievement Award. According to HSLDA, this honor is bestowed upon “a leader who has demonstrated valuable leadership to the homeschool community, inspired and motivated others to effective action, overcome hardships and obstacles to succeed, demonstrated a servant’s heart while exhibiting the qualities listed above, and maintained a clear witness concerning Jesus Christ and the Gospel.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was dubbed “the Gregg Harris Award,” named after homeschool leader Gregg Harris. It was first bestowed upon its namesake in 2007. In 2008 it was given to Brian Ray “in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of homeschool research.” In 2009, HSLDA awarded it to James Dobson. According to Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, “HSLDA presented Dr. Dobson with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual National Leaders Conference here in Colorado Springs.”
Which brings us to 2010, a mere 4 years ago.
Who did HSLDA bestow the “Gregg Harris” Lifetime Achievement Award on at the 2010 National Leader’s Conference?
HSLDA does not have the answer to this question on their website. However, the event page for the conference is still available. You can view it here. First, some background: HSLDA’s 2010 National Leader’s Conference was held September 22-25, 2010, at the Westin North Shore in Chicago (Wheeling, Illinois to be precise). Invited to speak at the conference attended by state and national homeschool leaders were Dr. Henry Morris (from the Institute for Creation Research) and Erwin Lutzer (from Moody Church and Worldview Weekend). HSLDA’s Michael Farris gave the plenary session.
But there was one particularly significant speaker I have yet to mention. On the afternoon of the last day, the conference attendees are divided into two groups: ladies and men. The ladies attended a “Ladies Tea,” and the men attended a “Men’s Huddle.” And who did HSLDA invite to led the “Men’s Huddles” at their conference for homeschool leaders? Bill Gothard, of course:
HSLDA invited Bill Gothard just 4 years ago to teach state and national homeschool leaders at the 2010 National Leader’s Conference.
But that is not all.
Gothard was not simply invited to speak. He was also chosen by HSLDA to receive their Lifetime Achievement Award at that same conference. According to Kiri Kincell, a conference attendee, “During [Saturday] evening, the Greg Harris [sic] award (named after it’s first recipient) was awarded to Bill Gothard for his huge contributions to the early homeschooling movement.”
Just a reminder: this was in 2010, just 4 years ago.
This fact has not gone unnoticed. An anonymous commentator on a blog criticizing Michael Farris’s recent “Line in the Sand” article pointed to the 2010 conference:
As a former board member of a state home schooling organization, I clearly remember HSLDA, during their national conference for home schooling leaders that was held just 4 years ago in Chicago giving a lifetime home schooling achievement award to none other than Bill Gothard. HSLDA gives this award annually to those that they judge to have made significant contributions to the home schooling movement. This award has gone to men like Greg Harris and the now deceased and former HSLDA attorney, Chris Klicka. HSLDA even had Gothard conduct a Sat afternoon session at their conference that was geared toward fathers and sons…just 4 years ago!
You can read the full comment here.
Let’s put this into perspective:
HSLDA’s Michael Farris just released a blistering white paper condemning Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips. In that paper, Farris declares that Gothard’s teachings “usurp the role of God,” “threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement,” are “dangerous,” and have “harmed” “families, children, women, and even fathers.” He also admits that he and the HSLDA board have believed this for years, which is why HSLDA “did not directly promote their teachings.”
So. Let’s get this straight: HSLDA believes that Bill Gothard as a teacher is anti-biblical, freedom-threatening, dangerous, and harmful — and has believed this for years — and despite all that, invited Bill Gothard to be the teacher of state and national homeschool leaders just 4 years ago?
And then gave Bill Gothard the highest honor they could?
And then had the gall to publicly lie to all of our faces and say they “did not directly promote their teachings”?
Either Farris and HSLDA have suddenly contracted temporary amnesia or there’s a troubling lack of both sincerity and transparency to this “line in the sand.”