Wisdom Booklet Archive Index

Nicholas Ducote, HARO Community Director

Starting in May, I began uploading my collection of ATI’s Wisdom Booklet homeschooling curriculum to our website. I will add links here as they go up. These versions are NOT intended for educational use, but for journalists and researchers who want to investigate the teachings of ATI in primary sources. Any interested parties are highly encouraged to read through our Inside ATI series and the growing collection of information on Recovering Grace.

Please let me know if you would like to see a specific volume – scanning them page-by-page is a time consuming and tedious process, so it will take months to put all 50+ volumes and parent guides online. The galleries can be difficult to read, so I’ve included compressed PDF versions as well. If you would like full-res versions of the PDFs (usually around 70 MB), email us at HomeschoolersAnonymous@gmail[dot]com.

  • Discerning God’s Will in Every Decision and Appendix on the Place of Old Testament Law in the Life of New Testament Believers (pamphlet included with Wisdom Booklet package) [PDF]
  • Wisdom Booklet #1 [PDF]
  • Wisdom Booklet #2 [PDF]
  • Wisdom Booklet #2, Parent Guide Planner [PDF]
  • Wisdom Booklet #3 [PDF]
  • Wisdom Booklet #4 [PDF]

It’s Not Just the Duggars

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Melissa’s blog Permission to Live. It was originally published on May 23, 2015.

This post has been a long time coming, and with the Duggar scandal all over the news, it’s been on my mind again. First off, let me say that what Josh Duggar did was wrong, and how the media has handled this story has been pretty awful too. Tabloids have been flippant about sharing police documents with the victims’ names on them, and since the Duggar family has been very vocally against LGBTQ people, who they claim are child-molesters, there are a lot of people eager to point out the hypocrisy of covering up the deeds of a child molester in their midst. I think there is plenty out there on what happened and how it was “handled”, I want to talk about the why. So many people are shocked and horrified that this happened in a “good christian family” like the Duggars, but it didn’t surprise me at all. I grew up in this movement, along with 10 siblings.

Sibling incest is not young, similarly aged siblings curiously looking at each others’ genitals. It is initiated by one sibling, and there is usually a 3 (or more) year age gap. Risk factors for sibling incest include power imbalances, parentalized siblings, lack of sex education, and other forms of abuse already occurring in the home. Judging by the general information we have about the Duggars, a lot of these factors are present. The sheer amount of children dictates that the older children care for the younger ones. And in the police report interviews none of the children interviewed even knew the correct names for the human anatomy when it came to genitals.

In a large homeschooling family, older siblings are often in charge of the younger ones. Younger children are expected to obey their older siblings as they would a parent and may face punishment from the parents or even the siblings if they do not obey. This creates a hierarchy where the younger children are basically powerless and have already come to expect that they do not have a say in how they are treated. Sexual actions initiated by the older sibling are not likely to be resisted or talked about in this sort of relationship.

If a parent is physically or emotionally largely unavailable, such as would be the case for anyone with 19 children, parenting younger children can often fall to the older ones. The older child is often experiencing the parental neglect as well, and since they are not emotionally mature enough to handle being a parent, they end up relying on the younger child for whom they have parental responsibilities for emotional fulfillment. Sometimes this leads to sexual actions as well.   Other abuse existing in the home greatly increases the likelihood of sexual abuse occurring. If children are used to being emotionally abused or physically abused, they do not have healthy boundaries or understandings of their rights as a human being.

In the conservative christian homeschool worldview sex ed is extremely lacking. We are talking about no knowledge of what sex is, human anatomy, etc. I grew up in this movement. My parents did not allow books in the house with such information. I remember when an art book from my grandparents included a nude sketch, my parents stapled several thick sheets of paper over it. I was told when I was 10 about menstruation and that babies grow in a womb inside a woman’s belly with help from a seed from her husband. I was at several of my siblings’ home births. But that was it. When I was 17, I found a book in the library filled with pictures of fetal development; on one page it showed 2 thermal images of a penis showing how flaccid = cool, and erect/engorged = warm. This was the first time I was aware of the fact that erections were a part of (penis-in-vagina) sex. I went to a different section and found “Seventeen magazine’s girls guide to sex”, and I put it inside of a large history book so no one could see what I was really reading and sat in the back corner on the floor reading as fast as a could. This was how I finally figured out that sex (the thing that only married people were supposed to do when they love each other very much, and was sinful and dirty otherwise) did not magically happen while 2 people slept in the same bed, and I was 17. I was 20 and married before I learned what a clitoris was. I had several children before I finally heard of the concept of “consent”.

This sheltering did not keep me from being a sexual person; it just left me with a complete lack information about it. I had no understanding of boundaries, or consent or even that masturbating was a sexual (albeit normal) act.  My point is that it is entirely possible to be a teenage, conservative, homeschooled kid, and have no idea what is sexual and what is not, or what is appropriate and what is not.

So no, given the circumstances of the home, combined with their belief system, I am not surprised by sibling incest. In fact, I think this happens in large conservative families far more than anyone thinks it does. What is truly horrifying is that after setting their kids up for this to happen, Josh Duggar’s parents pushed it under the rug, kept things in house, and didn’t get help for either the molester or the children who were molested. Several of the headlines have claimed that Josh was turned in by his dad; this wasn’t true either. The investigation did not occur until over 3 years after and only because an outsider got wind of it and called the abuse hotline. Jim Bob and Michelle did their best to cover up and move on. They claim because of god’s grace the slate is wiped clean, as if it never happened. Except it did. It happens precisely because of the family system that has been paraded on TV for too long.

And it isn’t just the Duggars; this is basically the tip of the ice berg of what is out there in the conservative christian homeschooling movement. Despite the smiling wholesome-looking exterior, ignorance and repression and isolation creates this kind of set up again and again. When a system teaches that the victim is to blame, refuses to educate on or even talk about sex, treats children as property with no rights, and requires unquestioning obedience, it is not surprising when dysfunction comes to light.

When “Family Values” Means Covering for Child Sexual Assault

Matt Walsh (l) with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar (r).

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on May 26, 2015.

In March 2002, Jim Bob Duggar found out that his fourteen-year-old son, Josh, was sexually molesting prepubescent girls. Jim Bob did not say anything about this to the authorities until July 2003, even as it continued to happen and the list of victims grew. And in the wake of these revelations, I have been absolutely horrified by the number of people who have said they would not have immediately reported their fourteen-year-old son for molesting prepubescent girls either.

I have a six-year-old daughter. The number of people who have said they wouldn’t report their teenage son for molesting girls either makes me worried for my own daughter. I look around at families with teenage sons and I wonder. If that boy molested children, would his parents turn him in, or would they cover for him? Whose safety and wellbeing would they prioritize—their son’s, or my daughter’s?

Here is Matt Walsh’s answer:

3) I know I’m opening myself up to serious criticism here, but let me be honest with you: If my own son, God forbid, came to me and admitted to doing what Josh Duggar did, I don’t know that I’d immediately run to the cops.

Would you? Is it really that simple? The decision to have your child arrested as a sex offender would be an automatic thing for you? Really?

I guess I’m just a horrible person then.

. . .

As a parent, you have to think whether your 14 year old son deserves to have his life ruined over his mistakes. Maybe you’d decide that he does. I can’t say I’d agree.

Mistakes?! That’s what we’re calling sexually assaulting a child now?!

Do you see what I mean about prioritizing the wellbeing of the abuser over that of his current and future victims? Walsh says a fourteen-year-old child molester doesn’t deserve “to have his life ruined over his mistakes,” because apparently ensuring that he is punished for his abuse and prevented from abusing in the future is just too much to ask for.

Did I mention that I have a six-year-old daughter?

I suspect Walsh would say that his hypothetical son’s abuse would be punished and future abuse prevented, it’s just that this would be carried out by him as father rather than by the authorities. But we have authorities and a process for dealing with child sexual abuse for a reason. Parents frequently make excuses for their own children, as we see Walsh doing in his hypothetical. Parents are less likely to play hardball and more likely to believe justifications or excuses.

I’m sure Jim Bob felt he appropriately punished Josh in March 2002, when he first learned of Josh’s behavior, but for a full year after that Josh went on to victimize more girls. Had Jim Bob immediately taken the matter to the authorities and sought professional help for his son, this might have been prevented.

I’m honestly not sure how it’s not painfully obvious that parents should not be the ones handling punishment and prevention if their child sexually assaults another child. It is very common for someone who has molested one child to molest other children. Josh Duggar, for his part, molested five girls from two different families. Parents should not be the ones dealing with this. We have authorities and professionals for a reason!

Well sure, Walsh would say, but what if you had a teenage son and found out he’d sexually fondled a young girl? Would you turn him in, and ruin his life? Yes I absolutely would, but I reject the framing of the question. Turning someone in for child sexual assault helps ensure that they will get help, that they will get treatment, and (hopefully) that they will turn their lives around and not victimize more children. And yes, I do have a son. He’s not fourteen yet, but he will be someday.

Turning someone in for child sexual assault can only be framed as “ruining their life” if you remove their victims, present and future, from the picture entirely. Does life as a registered sex offender truly weigh more on the scale than the life of a sexually abused child whose abuser walks the street with no record or legal consequences for his actions?

My daughter’s school does background checks not only for teachers and school staff but also for volunteers and chaperones. An increasing number of churches do background checks for their childcare workers and Sunday school teachers as well. The goal is to protect children by ensuring that they will not be placed in the care of someone with a history of molesting children. Denying child sex offenders this sort of access also helps ensure that they will not reoffend. If Josh Duggar wanted to volunteer at my daughter’s school, or work in the religious education program at our church, he would be permitted to do so, because a background check wouldn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary, even though he sexually molested five girls, some as young as five years old.

Background checks only do what they’re supposed to do if people report child sexual abuse, no matter who the perpetrator is.

Mostly, right now, I want Matt Walsh and all of the other conservatives saying that they, too, would not have reported their son to get off the moral high horse they ride so often when it comes to religion and family. How can they proclaim “family values” from the rooftops and yet openly state that they would cover for their fourteen-year-old son if they found out he was sexually assaulting children?

Matt Walsh is on record arguing that gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, because of the potential harm to children, and that transgender women shouldn’t be allowed to use the women’s bathroom because of concerns about women’s safety. But when it comes to the potential harm to children and threat to children’s safety posed by unreported child sexual abuse, suddenly what matters is protecting the abuser? For all Walsh’s claims of “progressive hypocrisy,” he really needs to look in mirror.

Four of the Jackson Brothers Plead Guilty in Incest, Rape Case

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

In May 2014,  news broke about a homeschooling family — the Jackson family from North Carolina — that hid child sexual abuse within the family for over a decade. A young girl (then 16 years old) was repeatedly molested and raped by the six Jackson brothers, Eric (27), Jon (25), Matthew (23), Nathaniel (21), Benjamin (19), and Aaron (18). This sexual abuse occurred from the time she was 4 until she was 14. The boys’ parents, John and Nita Jackson, knew about the abuse and yet did nothing to prevent it.

The original news report from WTKR notes that in addition to the brothers being charged, the parents were also charged “because they witnessed the abuse” and took no action. Furthermore, as Julie Anne Smith at Spiritual Sounding Board has pointed out, “At the time of the alleged abuse, they were living in North Carolina and two of the brothers were reportedly members of Scott Brown’s church, Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina.” This would be the same Scott Brown who has “very close ties with the now defunct Vision Forum Ministries and recently fallen Christian Patriarchal leader, Doug Phillips. Brown also heads up National Centers for Family-Integrated Churches.”

The latest development in the Jackson family story happened last Thursday, May 21, 2015. As reported by WAVY, four of the six brothers pleaded guilty to the charges against them:

The oldest brother, Eric Jackson, who first came forward about the sex crimes happening in the family’s home, pleaded guilty to first-degree sex offense. The second-oldest brother, Matthew Jackson, took the same plea deal, leaving both brothers to serve 12 to 15 years in prison.

The two oldest brothers could barely speak through their tears Thursday afternoon, as they asked for the victim’s forgiveness. They said they were trying to make the situation right, and will do whatever God calls them to do in the future. The victim responded, saying, ” Forgiveness is not mine to give. It’s God’s. You need to take it up with Him.”

Nathaniel and Benjamin Jackson pleaded guilty to 4 counts and 3 counts of incest, respectively. They will receive 20 to 24 months in prison, followed by 36 months probation.

The other two brothers, Jon Marc and Aaron Jackson, are taking slightly different routes. Jon Marc’s case is being postponed until July due to an alleged conflict of interest on the judge’s part. However, Jon Marc is still expected to plead guilty. Aaron Jackson, on the other hand, declined the state’s plea agreement and desires his case to go to trial. He is thus expected back in court at the beginning of next year.

Both of the Jackson parents are also expected to appear in court in August to face charges of child neglect, child abuse, and accessory to sexual abuse charges. During the brothers’ trial, the victim said that, at one point during her 10 years of abuse, the mother, Nita, witnessed the girl being assaulted and “walked away.” The young girl also said that “she believed she would go to hell if she told anyone about the assaults.” She thanked the oldest brother, Eric, for stepping forward and admitting the abuse to his pastor.

For more information about this case, read our original article on it: “This is What Child Abusers Look Like in Homeschooling Communities.”

Christian Artist Steve Taylor Called Out Bill Gothard 30 Years Ago

Covert art from Steve Taylor’s “On the Fritz” album.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on May 26, 2015.

The music hasn’t worn well with time (so very ‘80s), and this isn’t one of Taylor’s better songs, but it’s all there. The chain of command, the seminar notebooks, the umbrella of authority, all of it. So next time people try to play dumb about how Bill Gothard was just some fringe figure that nobody in mainstream evangelical Christianity had ever really heard of, here we have one of the most important figures in Christian music calling the whole thing out. In 1985.

No wonder Steve Taylor was one of my favorite artists when I was a teenager. He’s one of the only people in American evangelicalism who have consistently called out the problems within American evangelical Christianity. We need more of that.

I’ve posted the lyrics after the jump.

I Manipulate

Does your soul crave center stage?
Have you heard about the latest rage?
Read your Bible by lightning flash
Get ordained at the thunder crash

Build a kingdom with a cattle prod
Tell the masses it’s a message from God
Where the innocent congregate
I manipulate

Take your notebooks, turn with me
To the chapter on authority
Do you top the chain of command
Rule your family with an iron hand

I dispense little pills of power
From my hideaway ivory tower
From the cover of heaven’s gate
I manipulate

Now it’s time to fill in the space
Where we talk about a woman’s place
Do you want to build a happy home?
Have you sacrificed a mind of your own?

‘Cause a good wife learns to cower
Underneath the umbrella of power
From the cover of heaven’s gate
I manipulate

Yes, I know that parable
That’s the story of the prodigal
If you question what I’m teaching you
You rebel against the Father too

If he loved him why’d he let him go?
Well, I guess I don’t really know
But I see it’s getting late