Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Reverse Decision, Withdraw from Homeschool Conference

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

This evening, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar reversed their commitment from earlier today and withdrew from speaking at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family.

The Super Conference is a homeschool conference put on by the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC), the largest statewide homeschool organization in Colorado (reaching over 10,000 families). Earlier in the day, the CHEC board announced that Jim Bob and Michelle would not be withdrawing from the conference despite recent revelations concerning their troubling handling of child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by their son, Josh Duggar. The board issued a public statement that said, “Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be joining us on Friday evening of the conference. They humbly desire that the evening be focused on how the Gospel has penetrated their lives and given them hope in the trials that Christian families face.” You can view the CHEC board’s original statement here.

Tonight, however, the CHEC board revised their statement and informed conference goers that the Duggars had withdrawn due to “recent and increased attacks and pressure on the family.” You can view the new statement as an archived PDF here. An image and full text follow:

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Text is,

A Note from the CHEC Board on the Duggars

Updated statement as of Wednesday, 5/10/15 at 7:15 pm

By God’s Providence, CHEC just received word that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have decided not to come and address the 2015 Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family. This latest change comes in light of recent and increased attacks and pressure on the family.  They have graciously requested to withdraw entirely from speaking at this year’s conference and therefore will not be appearing at the Friday evening event on June 19th.

We thank you for your patience as we have interacted closely with Jim Bob the last several days.  Please be in prayer for the Duggar family during this difficult time.Thank you for your support of CHEC and the Rocky Mountain Super Conference.

The CHEC Board of Directors

About CHEC and the Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family

CHEC was founded in 1990 by Kevin Lundberg, who is currently a Republican Senator for the state and most known for his opposition to IUDs. Lundberg was replaced as CHEC director in 1999 by Kevin Swanson (now the director of CHEC’s radio program Generations Radio), whose hyperbolic rants against homeschool alumniGirl Scout cookiesTaylor Swift’s “demon songs”, and Disney’s “Frozen” are well-documented by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Right Wing Watch. CHEC organized the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, where Swanson, late HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka, and male supremacy advocates like Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham called for abolishing child protection services. CHEC is also known as the homeschool organization from which mass shooter Matthew Murray graduated.

According to their website, CHEC’s upcoming Super Conference on the Family “will explore ways to build stronger families, churches, and governments through SERVANT LEADERSHIP.” The conference features educational tracks on homeschooling, leadership, Christian worldview studies, relationships, and Christian discipleship. It is being held next week, June 18-20, 2015, at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado. In addition to the Duggars, conference speakers include R.C. Sproul, Jr. (a defrocked pastor who advocates extreme patriarchy), S.M. Davis (speaker and writer for Bill Gothard’s IBLP and ATI programs), and others.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to Speak Next Week at Homeschool Conference

UPDATE, 8 PM PACFIC: The Duggars have now withdrawn from the conference. Read more here.

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Despite recent revelations concerning their troubling handling of child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by their son, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be speaking next week at the Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family.

The Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family is a Christian homeschool conference organized by the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC), the largest statewide homeschool organization in Colorado (reaching over 10,000 families). CHEC was founded in 1990 by Kevin Lundberg, who is currently a Republican Senator for the state and most known for his opposition to IUDs. Lundberg was replaced as CHEC director in 1999 by Kevin Swanson (now the director of CHEC’s radio program Generations Radio), whose hyperbolic rants against homeschool alumni, Girl Scout cookies, Taylor Swift’s “demon songs”, and Disney’s “Frozen” are well-documented by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Right Wing Watch. CHEC organized the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, where Swanson, late HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka, and male supremacy advocates like Doug Phillips and Voddie Baucham called for abolishing child protection services. CHEC is also known as the homeschool organization from which mass shooter Matthew Murray graduated.

According to their website, CHEC’s upcoming Super Conference on the Family “will explore ways to build stronger families, churches, and governments through SERVANT LEADERSHIP.” The conference features educational tracks on homeschooling, leadership, Christian worldview studies, relationships, and Christian discipleship. It is being held next week, June 18-20, 2015, at the Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado. In addition to the Duggars, conference speakers include R.C. Sproul, Jr. (a defrocked pastor who advocates extreme patriarchy), S.M. Davis (speaker and writer for Bill Gothard’s IBLP and ATI programs), and others.

Prior to the sexual abuse revelations, the Super Conference web site had highlighted the Duggars as special conference guests. Their web site said,

Friday Evening with the Duggars

Join us on Friday, June 19th, at 7:00 pm for a special evening with the Duggars . Come and hear a presentation with Jim Bob and Michelle. Entry is free with a full conference pass, and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Although this is a first-come, first-served event, please indicate on your registration how many from your party will be attending this event.

And they featured an image of Jim Bob and Michelle prominently on the web site:

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After the allegations several weeks ago that the Duggar family’s oldest son, Josh Duggar, had sexually abused five young girls when he was a teenager and Jim Bob and Michelle possibly violated state law by taking over a year to report the abuse to the authorities, many people speculated whether CHEC would withdraw its invitation to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. However, in a recent radio program, Kevin Swanson (director of CHEC’s ministry Generations With Vision) said CHEC would wait to see what Jim Bob and Michelle wanted to do. Swanson made clear CHEC would not be withdrawing their invitation.

Today, the CHEC board announced that Jim Bob and Michelle will not be withdrawing from the conference. Rather, they will be continue as the Super Conference’s special evening guests. The CHEC board statement states that, “Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be joining us on Friday evening of the conference. They humbly desire that the evening be focused on how the Gospel has penetrated their lives and given them hope in the trials that Christian families face.”

You can view the CHEC board statement as an archived PDF here. An image and full text follow:

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 12.37.16 PM

Text is,

A Note from the CHEC Board on the Duggars

We have confirmed that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar will be joining us on Friday evening of the conference.  They humbly desire that the evening be focused on how the Gospel has penetrated their lives and given them hope in the trials that Christian families face.  We anticipate an evening of reflecting upon the repentance, forgiveness, and healing that Jesus brings as we walk meekly before Him – even through the tough times.

Given the recent events in their lives, Jim Bob and Michelle asked that Friday evening be the only time that they speak at the 2015 conference. They also decided that it would be best for their children not to attend.

The event is included in full conference registration, and we encourage families to come hear this powerful testimony of the gospel’s work in our lives, but all attendees must be registered* for the 2015 Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family to attend.  (This includes grandparents and children attending with your full conference pass.)  Register online here.

Seating is limited, and is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The evening session starts at 7:00 p.m.; doors open at 6:00 p.m.  We are anticipating a full house, so please plan on arriving early!

The CHEC Board of Directors

This statement by CHEC coincides today with the revelation by In Touch Weekly that the Duggar family is now under investigation by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Police were called when the family refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Shame on You, Kevin Swanson

HA note: The following is written by Kathi and reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on June 4, 2015 with the title “Kevin Swanson talks (or doesn’t talk) about the Duggars on his radio show.”

About Kathi: Kathi is a Bible-belt midwest transplant to the beautiful Pacific northwest. After homeschooling her kids for 10 years (she decided that high school math and science were not her strongest subjects), both kids are in public school. She is a former church goer and finds herself in that unstudied demographic of middle-aged Nones. She has a B.A. in Urban Ministry and a M.S.W. (Master of Social Work). Her goal is to work with children who have been abused or are in foster care. She loves to knit, cook and read (not in any particular order). Kathi is a contributing writer at Spiritual Sounding Board. Also by Kathi on HA: “Kevin Swanson, Child Abuse, and Dead Little Bunnies”“A Closer Look at Karen Campbell and Lisa Cherry’s Podcast Series on Sexual Abuse Prevention”, and “Kevin Swanson on the Gen 2 Survey, Homeschooling, and Sexual Abuse of Women”.

On May 28, 2015, Kevin Swanson entered the foray of folks talking about the revelation of Josh Duggar sexually molesting several little girls when he was a teen. His radio show, “The Duggars – Why the Media Storm” starts off with the vague assertion that no matter what Christians may say about the Duggars, the world will attack because the world hates the Duggars because they don’t take birth control. Right.

“The liberals have hated the Duggars from the very beginning and they will admit that. . . .The reason they hated the Duggars was because the Duggars did not take birth control. That’s a simple explanation for why they hate the Duggars. They hate the Duggars because the world is into killing babies and they kill a lot of them.”

Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, here is what Swanson was not going to say:

  • Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.
  • Incest is worse than homosexuality. HUH?? Steve Vaughn chimes in saying, “They’re about the same.” To which he offers hearty laugh.
  • Humble, repentant sinners will go home justified rather than the proud, unrepentant homosexuals.
  • Most children sin, or that all children sin, or that all of us sin, or that some teens commit fornication, or that a lot of teens commit fornication.
  • Incest is a capital crime in some cases, and we’re not going to tell you which cases incest is a capital crime as defined by scripture.
  • The Duggars shoulda, shoulda, shoulda, shoulda, reported the problem to a different police officer, different judge, different church elders, and, and, and, and, and, and, and…
  • The Duggars can be more real now after all their sins are out there for the public to see and that’s going to make for a better reality show.
  • The whole sexual revolution with all of its millions manifestations was a really good idea.
  • American conservative Christianity is in really solid shape. (Really, this is such a long, drawn out rabbit trail that makes absolutely no sense.)

Whew! Am I glad that Swanson saved us all from listening to an uncomfortable conversation about the real issues surrounding the Duggar situation. So what did Swanson manage to talk about?

Well, he did manage to state that his radio show, Generations With Vision, is a part of the parent organization Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC). And, he did manage to mention that the Duggars have been invited to the Rocky Mountain Super Conference on the Family. He also mentioned that while the Duggars have not been asked to withdraw from the CHEC conference, the Duggars also have not informed CHEC that they will not be upholding their speaking engagement. So, as far as we know, the Duggars will still be making their appearance at this “super” conference. You know, all of this information would have made for a great disclaimer at the beginning of the show.

Screenshot 2015-06-01 at 1.20.09 PM

So why has CHEC not revoked their invitation to the Duggars for this upcoming conference? It’s all about forgiveness. And, praying and loving the Duggars. And because sin is bad (because God said so), but Jesus went to the cross for that sin so who are we to judge? I think we all just got Jesus-juked.

If it’s all about forgiveness and not judging, then I want to know when the Duggars asked CHEC and Kevin Swanson to forgive them of their sins. When did Josh Duggar approach the organization and confess what he did and ask for forgiveness? When did Michelle and Jim Bob approach the organization and Kevin Swanson and confess how they manipulated the system to hide what their son had done and ask for forgiveness? Why does Kevin Swanson pull the forgiveness card so easily when he was not the one who was wronged? Why is he so quick to forgive and forget? Honestly, it is my opinion that Kevin Swanson views victims of sexual abuse as bitter and he has very little empathy toward victims of abuse.

Co-host, Steve Vaughn, summarizes this attitude by quoting Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” With this comes the call for all Christians to put it all away. Stop being bitter and slanderous toward the Duggars. Be tender-hearted and compassionate. Because that is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.

To which I reply, “Shame on you!”

Shame on you, Steve Vaughn, for callously laughing at victims of incest. And for saying that homosexuality is the same as incest.

Shame on you, Kevin Swanson, for not taking seriously the issues that have been exposed about how the Duggars mishandled Josh’s sexual molesting of young children.

And, shame on you Kevin Swanson for the appearance of not addressing the issue because it may impact your parent organization’s “super” conference. Because, if the Duggars don’t show up, then you need to take out “We’ve Got the Duggars” on your banner and then people may not be as interested in attending.

HSLDA Withdraws From Kevin Swanson’s Gen2 Conference

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

On August 29, HSLDA announced via their Facebook page that their attorney, Mike Donnelly, withdrew from speaking at Kevin Swanson’s upcoming Gen2 Conference:

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Donnelly was originally slated to be 1 of 6 speakers at the conference. Other speakers include: Kevin Swanson, Brian Ray, Jeff Myers, Al Mohler, and Ken Ham. An August 21 screenshot of the Gen2 Conference page shows Donnelly listed alongside the other speakers:

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As of August 31, the Gen2 Conference site has been updated and Donnelly no longer appears on the speaker roster.

The Gen2 Conference is hosted by Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC)’s Generations Radio program. It is being held on January 30-31, 2015, at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to the conference website, it “is for Christian Leaders who care what happens with the Millennial generation.” During the conference the results will be revealed from Kevin Swanson and Brian Ray’s 2013 Gen2 Survey, allegedly “the largest Christian study ever conducted on the Millennial generation.” Last year Homeschoolers Anonymous covered methodological problems with the Gen2 Survey here and here.

Kevin Swanson has recently come under significant criticism for his radio broadcast entitled “Homeschool Educational Negect,” where he and CHEC board member Steve Vaughan went on a bizarre rant against WORLD Magazine and cruelly mocked abuse survivors. In light of that broadcast, as well as HSLDA’s recent white paper about “drawing a line in the sand,” withdrawing from a conference run by Swanson was an absolutely essential step in demonstrating HSLDA’s new principles will be put to practice.

HSLDA did the right thing. I thank them for that.

CHEC’s Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughan on the “Little Whiners” and “Benedict Arnolds” of Homeschooling

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Yesterday we were “blessed” with the Generations Radio episode “Homeschool Educational Neglect: Media Rages Against Homeschooling.” In that episode, Kevin Swanson (former CHEC Executive Director and current Director of CHEC’s Generations With Vision program) and Steve Vaughan (CHEC Board Member) responded to Daniel James Devine’s “Homeschool debate” article published by WORLD Magazine on August 25, 2014. Here is Swanson’s own description of the episode:

We are seeing more negative reports on homeschooling than ever before.  Anecdotal evidence is fun, but does it reflect the real story? Kevin Swanson interacts with a World Magazine article that covers homeschool graduate malcontents, and discusses a biblical perspective of educational neglect. Should the state prosecute educational neglect in the case that a father fails to follow through on Deuteronomy 6:7?

Sound like fun?

Well, in case it does not, I saved you the teeth-grinding and transcribed the entire episode here.

Swanson and Vaughan go after WORLD rather mercilessly, accusing them of “cutting down” and creating a “firing squad” against fellow Christians. Furthermore, they insinuate that WORLD is too daft to know how to use a concordance and may have socialists on its staff. This is all curious considering that Swanson had no problem using WORLD to advertise his “Apostate” book just a few months ago. It’s also curious because Swanson and Vaughan neglect the fact that WORLD’s own Editor-in-Chief is the Distinguished Chair of Journalism and Public Policy at Patrick Henry College, the same college at which Michael Farris is Chancellor. They further neglect the fact that WORLD is probably the most go-to news source for conservative Christian homeschoolers. So whatever “bias” WORLD Magazine has, it clearly isn’t against Farris, HSLDA, or homeschooling. That Swanson and Vaughan would immediately jump to that conclusion is indicative of their own paranoia, not anything about WORLD turning an ideological leaf on homeschooling.

If you want to read the entire transcript of the episode, you can do so here. Below are the “highlights” from it. (Be forewarned you might need to steel your mind and stomach for abuse denialism and apologisms and homophobia galore.)

My final comment before I turn you over to the minds of Swanson and Vaughan is this:

Yesterday Michael Farris and HSLDA declared to the world that they are “drawing a line in the sand.” But time and time again they say this and yet it seems like nothing but word gamesit isn’t trueit minimizes or refuses to acknowledge the atrocious and previous lack of lines, or it isn’t enough. And sometimes, like today, when I am so disturbed, heartsick, and saddened by Kevin Swanson’s hatred, cruelty, and antichrist-like behavior towards homeschool alumni, and I see that HSLDA’s “line in the sand” means nothing when it comes to standing up to someone like Swanson — and thenthen I see Swanson promoting his book “Upgrade,” a book that HSLDA’s very own president J. Michael Smith said “should be in the hands of every homeschool family in America”

Then I want to say: You really have built your lines on sand, HSLDA, haven’t you?

I think Libby Anne said it best:

Real leaders speak out against dangerous teachings or leaders when speaking out is still difficult rather than letting others do the heavy lifting and waiting to speak out until speaking out is easy.

And on that note, here are some highlights from Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughan’s “Homeschool Educational Neglect”:

WORLD Magazine just found “the 25 people” upset and created a “circular firing squad”:

Kevin: They [WORLD] found the 25 people upset with home education…

Steve: …yeah…

Kevin: …that started the little IHateHomeschool.com and then they gave them a nice little publicity piece. And HSLDA, you know, did their faithful thing, they wandered up to the microphone and tried to fight for homeschooling and its reputation but…

Steve: Yeah they got a paragraph in the middle of the article. (laugh)

Kevin: They did. But, but you know what? And I realize that makes news. I realize that the 25 people upset in America make news. But they’re not interviewing the 3.2 million kids who have been homeschooled. That didn’t show up in the magazine. And I don’t see that showing up much in the magazine [WORLD] these days. But you know, here’s the problem with Christian organizations. They turn into circular firing squads.

Steve: Yeah. (laughter)

Steve: You know how that works? Everyone just stands in a big circle. Aim, fire, shoot. And everybody falls.

WORLD Magazine covering abuse and neglect is just “cutting each other down”:

Kevin: What is with WORLD Magazine, guys? I mean, come on. Aren’t we supposed to be one big family? Isn’t there supposed to be a little bit of symbiosis happening in the Kingdom of God? We are overwhelmed, we are outnumbered. The, the other side is gonna kill us when it comes to homeschool freedoms, the freedom to speak against homosexuality. The left is on the rise, baby! Barack Obama is President of the United States, the most pro-infanticide president ever to serve and what are we doing? Cutting each other down? I don’t think so! Try not to do that!

To be real abuse, abuse must be verified by 2 or 3 witnesses; it is the result of the sexual revolution:

Kevin: Let me say from the outset that sexual abuse, physical abuse — that’s verifiable, 2 or 3 witnesses, etc., etc., k? — a court or trial works through the issue and sure enough, someone was sexually abused? — that’s really, really bad.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: That should not happen.

Steve: Anywhere. (laughter)

Kevin: Anywhere. Thank you! And I think it’s due to the fact that we had this sexual revolution that unleashed itself in the 1950’s and 1960’s. And America and many other nations around the world have become a sexual cesspool in which homosexuality, incest, sexual abuse, all sorts of things are happening.

Spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, and educational neglect are laughing matters to to Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughan:

Kevin Swanson: When you talk about things like spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, educational neglect — we’re talking about things that are very, very slippery. Very, very hard to get your hands around. Okay? (laughter)  And it’s fun for people to use those terms because, you know, you can just bring accusations against anybody and everybody as you use the slippery terms that are very, very hard to define.

Steve: So yeah, how would you define spiritual abuse?

Kevin: Yeah! Or emotional abuse! What IS that? What exactly is that?

Steve: “Well she spoke harshly to me and used the Bible to let me know I was wrong, so I was spiritually and emotionally abused.”

Kevin: Right, right! Someone came up to a rapist and said, “It’s wrong to rape!” (pretending to be rapist:) “Oh you’re abusing me! You’re abusing me! That’s not very grace-filled! You know, what in the world are you doing? Accusing me of sin? That’s terrible! Oh I’m so abused! I’m so abused!”

Steve: Yeah! “You need to honor your father and mother!” “Oh my!”

(laughter)

Kevin: “I’ve been so abused…” (laughter)

When kids are educationally neglected, it’s really just their own fault for being lazy:

Kevin: when someone says, I could have had a better education than that provided by my mother or by my father, that’s really, really, really hard to prove. How, how, how do you know that? Maybe it was a character problem on YOUR part. Maybe you didn’t obey your parents! Maybe you didn’t study your books like you were told to! And to think that you could have had a better education if you had done it this way versus that way is extremely hard to prove.

Steve: Right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Extremely hard to prove!

Steve: Because you can’t go back and do it that way!

Kevin: You can’t! (laughter) You can’t… and even if you could have, you would have dragged your same old person, with your same old character flaws, with your same old slothfulness issue, into the public school or private school setting or other setting ‚ and you could have done worse…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …than you did with your parents — trying to do whatever they could have done with you, even with all of your character issues that you’re dealing with. It’s fun to blame your parents for your OWN lack of character!

Making fun of a homeschool alumna who was regularly beaten and neglected by her parents:

Steve: Here’s the case with the WORLD Magazine article and this gal who wrote this. 31 years old. One of the things she was complaining about was that she still counts on her fingers and has to double-check the tip on her restaurant table.

Kevin: That’s 40% of public school graduates, by the way.

Steve: 31 years old now! She’s 31 years old and she set up a website and started an organization apparently counting on her fingers! And so, you know, give me a break!

Kevin: Yeah.

Steve: If you can do THIS, you can COUNT.

Kevin: And if your parents failed in 18 years, or 12 years, of education, she’s had an additional 13 years!

Steve: Right!

Kevin: So, so…

Steve: GROW UP!

(laughter) (more laughter)

Steve: READ SOME BOOKS!

(laughter)

Steve: THERE ARE BOOKS OUT THERE ON MATH! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO NOT COUNT ON YOUR FINGERS!

(laughter)…

Kevin: So this little whiner, talking about her bad experience with home education, um, you know she’s had 13 years to learn how to count.

Steve: Right!

Kevin: And to learn how to add. And still hasn’t happened. Sounds to me like there’s something wrong. With HER.

On WORLD Magazine not knowing what a concordance is:

I think WORLD Magazine should think biblically about these things. What does the Bible say about educational neglect? Again, look it up in the concordance! See, people aren’t used to that. Let me explain to you what a concordance is. A concordance is typically found in the back of a Bible. You can find them online. It’s called BibleHub.com. Go there. And… and you look up the word. “Educational neglect.” Look it up in the Bible. You say it’s not there? Yeah. Yeah, exactly! Why? Because it’s not an issue.

On what educational neglect REALLY is and WORLD Magazine maybe having socialist employees:

Educational neglect is the failure to teach God’s Word as you sit in the house, as you walk by the way, as you rise, as you lie down. Okay? So, so, so those are the categories in which we should be thinking, friends. And, now, here’s the next question: How do we prosecute that through the civil magistrate? That’s the next question that comes to the mind of the socialists — whether they work for TIME Magazine or whether or not they working for WORLD Magazine. I don’t know if socialists work there or not.

On educational neglect being a joke:

We’re back on the Generations Radio broadcast talking about homeschool educational neglect. Educational neglect: “when my fa—, when my parents did not get me into Harvard.” (using fake whining voice) “Why didn’t my parents get me into Harvard? What’s wrong with them?” And you know, the point is, the point is, the goal is not to get you into Harvard. The goal is to get you into Heaven.

Basic reading and math ought not be of primary importance to Christian homeschool families:

Kevin: I’m talking about Christian homeschool families. Their values are primarily first and foremost not to get their kid into Harvard or get them a good job.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: That’s not primary. It’s not being sure that the kid can read Plato before he’s 12 years of age…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …and get really messed up with the wrong worldview. (laughter) That’s not the goal. See, homeschoolers bring in other values: like relationship building, character building, work, worship. These are important. So it’s not that you can count when you are 31 years of age.

On homeschool alumni being “homeschool whiners” and “traitors”:

These homeschool whiners, let’s get back to what they’re really all about. They’re jettisoning a biblical world and life view. They’re looking for more socialism. They want more governmental controls of education. They want more socialist services sticking their noses into homeschoolers around America. This is their agenda. From what I’ve read. And, and they’re traitors. Traitors to the cause. The cause of what? The cause of freedom! The cause of anybody who wants to fight for freedom against the rising tide of totalitarianism and socialism in America! I am seeing a lot of these guys. They’re bitter…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …against the values represented by home education and their parents. And it’s probably due to broken relationships in the home. So they walk away from the home, all embittered against their parents and whatever stinkin’ issues their parents ever stood for. And whatever friends their parents ever hung out with. And they’re just angry, bitter people who are, have it in for home education.

On how to logic:

Steve: They’re [homeschool alumni] blaming the whole homeschooling movement. They’re taking… they’re… they’re actually committing the fallacies of… it’s, it’s a genetic fallacy. It’s a fallacy of generalization, that you take the small bit and you say that must be true of the whole. So, so since Judas was one of Jesus’s disciples and he betrayed Jesus, then ALL of the disciples must—

Kevin: —must be a bunch of nutcases—

Steve: Yeah. And so. So yeah.

Kevin: And yeah. That happens when you go irrational when, when your relationships bust up and you begin to hate everything about whatever your parents were associated with because those relationships went sour.

On the “PatrickHenryGayBlogspot.com” or “whatever that is”:

Kevin: These ex-homeschoolers to which WORLD Magazine is giving credence are pro-homosexual. They’re right there behind the emerging gay movement in Christian colleges. They’re encouraging the PatrickHenryGayBlogspot.com or whatever it is. Uh, don’t go there. I said it wrong on purpose. They’re encouraging the homosexuals showing up at the conservative Christian colleges as well and giving them as much credence as possible. Why? Because they are apostates. They’re embracing everything the Bible doesn’t. They’re embracing socialism, totalitarianism, homosexuality. If it’s ugly, if it’s wicked, if it’s totalitarian, they love it!

Homeschool alumni are “Benedict Arnolds”:

Kevin: These traitors are nothing new in the history of the world, my friends. Um, and they’re making it hard on the rest of us. But that’s what the Benedict Arnolds have always done.

Transcript of Kevin Swanson and Steve Vaughan’s “Homeschool Educational Neglect”

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HA note: The following is a transcript of the Generations Radio episode “Homeschool Educational Neglect: Media Rages Against Homeschooling,” broadcast on August 27, 2014. It features Kevin Swanson (former CHEC Executive Director and current Director of CHEC’s Generations With Vision program) and Steve Vaughan (CHEC Board Member). The program is a response to Daniel James Devine’s “Homeschool debate” article published by WORLD Magazine on August 25, 2014. This transcript was created by HA Community Coordinator R.L. Stollar.

See the context of and “highlights” from the episode here. Content warning for transcript: abuse denialism and apologism and homophobic remarks.

*****

(introduction, not transcribed)

Kevin: Today we’re going to take a look again at homeschooling. Why? Because homeschoolers, generally speaking, like to restore and reintegrate the family — as a family in the 21st century. And homeschoolers tend to like freedom. They’re the ones fighting for freedom. You want to find anybody interested in decreasing the influence of government in our lives in an era where 60% of the GNI is consumed by governments at all levels up from 9% in 1900? You want to find people interested in backing government off from education, backing government off from family-owned economies, backing government off from all areas of life? Homeschoolers at the forefront of fighting tooth and nail for any semblance of freedom left in the 21st century. I’m thankful for home educators. It’s hard to find anybody else fighting the good fight for freedom in the 21st century.

There are a few. There are some. Here and there. But not very many.

Hey you want to look at the Tea Party and you want to find the people who are fighting at the forefront for freedom? Tends to be homeschoolers. Not always. But I tell you what, you want to find pro-lifers out there? Tend to be homeschoolers.

People out there on the front lines of the battle fighting for the right to life — generally speaking, you’re going to find homeschoolers. K? Homeschoolers at the forefront of a battle for restoring family, faith, and freedom in the 21st century. and I’m thankful for them.

Steve: Amen.

Allright, so there’s my little spiel. Now, now, WORLD Magazine. Now I’ve been getting WORLD Magazine since the 1980’s. I used to think that WORLD Magazine was interested in home educators and home educators were some of their primary market. They were the ones buying the magazines.

Steve: Yeah, we did that.

Kevin: Then they got a lot, a lot, a lot of spread to public schools. A lot, a lot, a lot of spread to private Christian schools. And homeschool has kinda taken the back seat, I think. That’s my impression, Steve. Maybe I’m wrong. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong. But the recent piece published in WORLD Magazine on home education was not particularly positive.

Steve: Yeah it was particularly negative. (laughter)

Kevin: You think it was negative? It was more negative than positive.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: I think so too. You know they found the 25 people upset with home education…

Steve: …yeah…

Kevin: …that started the little IHateHomeschool.com and then they gave them a nice little publicity piece. And HSLDA, you know, did their faithful thing, they wandered up to the microphone and tried to fight for homeschooling and its reputation but…

Steve: Yeah they got a paragraph in the middle of the article. (laugh)

Kevin: They did. But, but you know what? And I realize that makes news. I realize that the 25 people upset in America make news. But they’re not interviewing the 3.2 million kids who have been homeschooled. That didn’t show up in the magazine. And I don’t see that showing up much in the magazine these days. But you know, here’s the problem with Christian organizations. They turn into circular firing squads.

Steve: Yeah. (laughter)

Steve: You know how that works? Everyone just stands in a big circle. Aim, fire, shoot. And everybody falls. What happened? We turn into circular firing squad way too much. And I think it was a couple months ago they kinda had a negative piece on Mike Farris.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: And they apologized afterwards, thankfully. But what is with WORLD Magazine, guys? I mean, come on. Aren’t we supposed to be one big family? Isn’t there supposed to be a little bit of symbiosis happening in the Kingdom of God? We are overwhelmed, we are outnumbered. The, the other side is gonna kill us when it comes to homeschool freedoms, the freedom to speak against homosexuality. The left is on the rise, baby! Barack Obama is President of the United States, the most pro-infanticide president ever to serve and what are we doing? Cutting each other down? I don’t think so! Try not to do that!

Now we talk a little about homeschooling negligence and homeschooling abuse. Now granted there are abuse cases out there. We know that.

Steve: Oh yeah.

Kevin: And sexual abuse, physical abuse, in the homeschool is as bad as it is anywhere else. And there’s a lot of it out there. Here’s an article from a South Dakota newspaper referring to child sexual abuse there. The estimate is 8% of kids in South Dakota are sexually abused. That’s bad. That’s really bad. That’s really, really, really bad. If we’re close to 1 in 10 kids in South Dakota are sexually abused, that’s really, really bad.

Steve: Now that’s overall, all the families of South Dakota?

Kevin: That’s right, that’s right. And WORLD Magazine, to their credit, did report that 7% of kids complain to some sort of unwanted touching in public schools.

Steve: Right. And that’s nationwide?

Kevin: That’s nationwide. So a lot of the sexual abuse is coming in public schools. But let’s not negate that issue. And HSLDA apparently has said 1.2% of HSLDA members complain of some kind of abuse. Or something like that.

Steve: Yeah, yeah but I think that’s the state complaining of homeschooling abuse…

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Steve: …which could be a messy house. It might be that they didn’t have the right to… [cut off]

Kevin: It’s not just sexual abuse. It could be a messy house. It could be a lot of things. Ok, so it’s very possible there’s way, way, way less abuse happening in homeschools than in the rest of the population.

Steve: Yeah but it makes the news when it happens.

Kevin: Yeah. It does. It does. And of course what we’re talking is the minus 3 standard deviations. And it’s ok to refer to some of the abuse cases happening. That’s newsworthy. But we’ve got to keep these things in perspective.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: And by the way the report did not include references to individuals who have been sexually abused in homeschools. As far as I could tell, that was not part of the story. So first of all, let me say from the outset that sexual abuse, physical abuse — that’s verifiable, 2 or 3 witnesses, etc., etc., k? — a court or trial works through the issue and sure enough, someone was sexually abused? — that’s really, really bad.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: That should not happen.

Steve: Anywhere. (laughter)

Kevin: Anywhere. Thank you! And I think it’s due to the fact that we had this sexual revolution that unleashed itself in the 1950’s and 1960’s. And America and many other nations around the world have become a sexual cesspool in which homosexuality, incest, sexual abuse, all sorts of things are happening.

Steve: Yes.

Kevin: Which is a very very sad thing, a very very bad thing. And may God bring repentance to the nation.

Ok. But when you talk about things like spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, educational neglect — we’re talking about things that are very, very slippery. Very, very hard to get your hands around. Okay? (laughter)  And it’s fun for people to use those terms because, you know, you can just bring accusations against anybody and everybody as you use the slippery terms that are very, very hard to define.

Steve: So yeah, how would you define spiritual abuse?

Kevin: Yeah! Or emotional abuse! What IS that? What exactly is that?

Steve: “Well she spoke harshly to me and used the Bible to let me know I was wrong, so I was spiritually and emotionally abused.”

Kevin: Right, right! Someone came up to a rapist and said, “It’s wrong to rape!” (pretending to be rapist:) “Oh you’re abusing me! You’re abusing me! That’s not very grace-filled! You know, what in the world are you doing? Accusing me of sin? That’s terrible! Oh I’m so abused! I’m so abused!”

Steve: Yeah! “You need to honor your father and mother!” “Oh my!”

(laughter)

Kevin: “I’ve been so abused…” (laughter) “…because this Christian is telling me that I’ve sinned against God and I need to repent.” Ok, so if that’s spiritual abuse… (laughter) …I don’t think the Apostle Paul would agree with you. Put it that way.

But when someone says, I could have had a better education than that provided by my mother or by my father, that’s really, really, really hard to prove. How, how, how do you know that? Maybe it was a character problem on YOUR part. Maybe you didn’t obey your parents! Maybe you didn’t study your books like you were told to! And to think that you could have had a better education if you had done it this way versus that way is extremely hard to prove.

Steve: Right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Extremely hard to prove!

Steve: Because you can’t go back and do it that way!

Kevin: You can’t! (laughter) You can’t… and even if you could have, you would have dragged your same old person, with your same old character flaws, with your same old slothfulness issue, into the public school or private school setting or other setting ‚ and you could have done worse…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …than you did with your parents — trying to do whatever they could have done with you, even with all of your character issues that you’re dealing with. It’s fun to blame your parents for your OWN lack of character!

Steve: Oh yeah!

Kevin: It’s fun to do! And I’m sure there are a lot of kids out there who are doing just that! They’re running across the country. Yeah! Their parents pointed out their sin, pointed out Christ. But they still rebelled and they were scoffers and they refused to take the correction their parents gave them. They violated every single principle in the Book of Proverbs. They made a point not to follow through on anything in the Book of Proverbs! Nothing! And at the end of their educational experience at home, they didn’t succeed. They didn’t make it into Harvard.

(laughter)

Steve: Right! But here’s the case with the WORLD Magazine article and this gal who wrote this. 31 years old. One of the things she was complaining about was that she still counts on her fingers and has to double-check the tip on her restaurant table.

Kevin: That’s 40% of public school graduates, by the way.

Steve: 31 years old now! She’s 31 years old and she set up a website and started an organization apparently counting on her fingers! And so, you know, give me a break!

Kevin: Yeah.

Steve: If you can do THIS, you can COUNT.

Kevin: And if your parents failed in 18 years, or 12 years, of education, she’s had an additional 13 years!

Steve: Right!

Kevin: So, so…

Steve: GROW UP!

(laughter) (more laughter)

Steve: READ SOME BOOKS!

(laughter)

Steve: THERE ARE BOOKS OUT THERE ON MATH! YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO NOT COUNT ON YOUR FINGERS!

(laughter)

Kevin: I ran into a family, Steve, a couple of years ago, and these guys had made it through Littleton public schools for 12 years. Okay? They had taken the special needs track as well. Okay, for 12 years, both of them, they got married at 20, 22 years of age and they couldn’t read. Okay? Littleton public schools had spent 100, no, no, excuse me, $347,000 on the education of these kids. They couldn’t read. So they went to church and there were some elderly church people who, you know, took them in and taught them how to read. They were concerned because they went down to the library to get some Dr. Seuss books and he said they couldn’t read the big 27 point font stuff.

Steve: Wow.

Kevin: And they got concerned because they were having kids. Pregnant with the first. So, so they went to some folks in the church and the church folks helped them. They taught them how to read. And so they thought to themselves: Okay, let me get this straight. The Littleton public schools spent $347,000 and they couldn’t teach us how to read. (laughter) They couldn’t pull it off!

Steve: I know there are stats out there about how many seniors can’t even read their diplomas.

Kevin: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s really high. Functional literacy really, really, really high. In fact, college graduates? It’s about 40%.

Steve: Yeah. Isn’t that crazy?

Kevin: College graduates! So this little whiner, talking about her bad experience with home education, um, you know she’s had 13 years to learn how to count.

Steve: Right!

Kevin: And to learn how to add. And still hasn’t happened. Sounds to me like there’s something wrong. With HER.

Steve: Yeah! Or she’s whining without any reason.

Kevin: Yeah! So anyways this couple decided, you know, if the public schools spent $347,000 and couldn’t teach us how to read, why would we send our kids to these schools? That was their logic. And I’ve met this family again — well, it’s been about 10 years — and their kids are doing very well. Very, very well.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: They’ve got 8 kids. They live in Nebraska. They’re doing very, very well… So anyways, so why are we sending our kids to public schools? And, and ok, there are sort of the minus 3 standard deviations everywhere. Thankfully homeschoolers are averaging somewhere around the 80th percentile for reading and literature and such. So, if they’re at the 80th percentile, my guess is that there’s got to be something like 93% above the functional literacy level. Or 99% above the functional literacy level! Therefore, people like WORLD Magazine are going to have to look HARD and LONG for the 1%!

Steve: Yeah, that’s right.

Kevin: The minus 3 standard deviations on the standard curve! And they found them! Evidently they found them, they interviewed them!

Steve: Yeah! Yeah, and if you take a look at just the overall standardized tests, homeschoolers score consistently in the 60 to 80% percentile average, for public schools 50%. So, so we’re above that, too.

Kevin: The other, psssh, illustration given by the WORLD Magazine article was a young lady whose parents were divorced. And, and here’s one thing that almost every educator understands: that if the family situation is dysfunctional, the marriage is breaking down, there’s divorce in the family — the kids generally are not going to do well in school.

Steve: Right. No matter where they go.

Kevin: No matter where they go! Oh yeah! The reason you’ve got such problems in public schools is not the teachers, generally speaking. It’s the home life. And just taking a kid who is raised in a dysfunctional home — single mom, etc., etc. — putting them in the public schools is not going to fix the problem necessarily. In fact, it generally doesn’t fix the problem. Why? Because they come from dysfunctional home backgrounds. There’s a reason why inner-city schools typically are producing the very worst results. Well, that’s because the family situation for these kids attending these inner-city schools are dysfunctional. And you can’t fix the problem by fixing the schools! And you can’t fix the problem by fixing the education! I’m sorry, you’ve got to fix the family relationships. You have to fix the family. And that should be a no-brainer.

Moreover, I think WORLD Magazine should think biblically about these things. What does the Bible say about educational neglect? Again, look it up in the concordance! See, people aren’t used to that. Let me explain to you what a concordance is. A concordance is typically found in the back of a Bible. You can find them online. It’s called BibleHub.com. Go there. And… and you look up the word. “Educational neglect.” Look it up in the Bible. You say it’s not there? Yeah. Yeah, exactly! Why? Because it’s not an issue. What’s the issue?

Steve: Family.

(laughter)

Kevin: The issue is discipleship neglect.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: The issue is, biblically speaking — if we were thinking biblically — not, not with the psychobabble of the world gives us — but if we’re thinking biblically, educational neglect is the failure to teach God’s Word as you sit in the house, as you walk by the way, as you rise, as you lie down. Okay? So, so, so those are the categories in which we should be thinking, friends.

And, now, here’s the next question: How do we prosecute that through the civil magistrate? That’s the next question that comes to the mind of the socialists — whether they work for TIME Magazine or whether or not they working for WORLD Magazine. I don’t know if socialists work there or not. But, but the question in the minds of a socialist that are in the Christian population and the non-Christian population is: If there is an educational neglect — where a parent refuses to teach their children God’s Word as you sit in the house, as you walk by the way, as you rise, as you lie down — the question in their minds is, should the State prosecute it? My answer is: No.

Steve: No!

Kevin: Thank you! I’m glad that you have a biblical worldview, too!

Steve: Oh yeah!

(laughter)

Kevin: Oh it’s incredible, Steve’s got a biblical worldview, I’ve got a biblical worldview!

(laughter)

Steve: Yeah!

Kevin: Yeah! The State doesn’t prosecute it! So, who prosecutes it? Um, well — where there are church relationships! Where there is somebody who cares! Here’s one thing I’m learning, Steve: the State can’t fix these problems. They can’t fix the family. They can’t fix educational neglect.

Steve: They’re not designed to!

Kevin: They can’t! And it doesn’t matter how many compulsory [unintelligible] laws they pass down, it doesn’t matter how many… uh, their minions they hire… to enter into every single home and double-check and double-check and double-check. It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t fix the inner-city family! It has NEVER fixed the inner-city family! It has never fixed the educational problem in the inner-cities where there is all kinds of dysfunctionality in the families. Friends, the government can’t fix it! Period! Get. That. Down. Straight!

Those of you working for WORLD Magazine and Time Magazine and anywhere else where there’s people trying to be the do-gooders and trying to fix society’s problems: how you fix society’s problems, it doesn’t happen by government. It happens by people who care. Yeah. People who care. People in the church, people in the community, who come side by side and help those families to homeschool and disciple their kids. That’s how it gets fixed.

(commercial break, not transcribed)

Kevin: We’re back on the Generations Radio broadcast talking about homeschool educational neglect. Educational neglect: “when my fa—, when my parents did not get me into Harvard.” (using fake whining voice) “Why didn’t my parents get me into Harvard? What’s wrong with them?” And you know, the point is, the point is, the goal is not to get you into Harvard. The goal is to get you into Heaven.

Steve: Amen!

(laughter)

Kevin: Mike Smith gives that talk. Heaven, not Harvard!

Steve: Right.

Kevin: Um, the goal is to teach as you sit in the house, as you walk by the way, as you rise, as you lie down. And teach what? The Word of God. The goal is biblical discipleship in the Word of God because the Word of God is the core in the education program of a child. And I understand there are secularists who may listen to the program and don’t believe that. I understand. That’s a different worldview, a humanist worldview. I don’t. I have a biblical worldview.

Steve: Yeah! And so, really, when they talk about spiritual abuse, spiritual abuse REALLY is not following Deuteronomy 6.

Kevin: Yeah, it’s not teaching the Word of God as you sit in the house.

Steve: Right! And that’s what’s really going on. They’re thinking that when you DO do that, that’s spiritual abuse.

Kevin: And, and, and the problem is Huffington Post would not agree with you.

Steve: Yeah, that’s right!

(laughter)

Kevin: Or Patheos.com. Or Apostate.com or wherever. Um, here’s the other thing I think we ought to draw into this: Homeschooling families are not like public school families. They have different values. Generally speaking. Now, some share values, but I’m talking about Christian homeschool families. Their values are primarily first and foremost not to get their kid into Harvard or get them a good job.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: That’s not primary. It’s not being sure that the kid can read Plato before he’s 12 years of age…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …and get really messed up with the wrong worldview. (laughter) That’s not the goal. See, homeschoolers bring in other values: like relationship building, character building, work, worship. These are important. So it’s not that you can count when you are 31 years of age. Now hopefully that’s a by-product…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …of other things that have been happening. But homeschool families are focused on other priorities. And that’s a shocker to the world out there.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah, there’s a — do you remember the dad and the daughter who, like, split the city and went out into the wilderness and lived in a tent for a while?

Kevin: Yeah, right, right, right.

Steve: And she ended up, you know, they were so afraid that she was horribly abused and didn’t know anything. And she scored way high.

Kevin: She scored as a 12th grader, a high school graduate, at 12 years of age. And they’d been woods-schooling for 4 years. I remember that story. Um, but again, the goal is not to be sure that your child is hitting the 97th percentile in math or reading.

Steve: Yeah!

Kevin: That’s not the goal. That’s not the goal.

Steve: Jesus said something about that. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul?”

Kevin: Yeah. Well, what socialists are doing — and I’ve seen this more and more, Steve, and I’m concerned about WORLD Magazine and I hope that they don’t go this direction — but what the socialists are doing is they’re looking for the minus 3 sigma cases and using it as the PR case against home education…

Steve: Right.

Kevin: …in America. I’ve seen this a hundred times if I’ve seen it once. I… And… And, you know, that’s what they do. That’s what they do. Never mind the fact that homeschoolers are registering, averaging, at the 87th percentile, and Dr. Ray’s study looked at other teaching— other testing services beyond Bob Jones. I think he was looking at a broader slice of the population than the Rudner study in the 1990’s. So I think Dr. Ray nailed it with the Ray study that came out about 3, 4 years ago. And the overall core average was running somewhere around 87 percent. And remember the Rudner study of the 1990’s was running somewhere around the 83rd percentile point.

So, so, you know, the bad guys are gonna come after us one way or another. I’m just hoping the good guys would understand a biblical perspective on issues like this and fight for freedom. A little faith! A little courage to get out there and shove this back in the faces of the socialists and the homeschool whiners that — by the way, these homeschool whiners, let’s get back to what they’re really all about. They’re jettisoning a biblical world and life view. They’re looking for more socialism. They want more governmental controls of education. They want more socialist services sticking their noses into homeschoolers around America. This is their agenda. From what I’ve read. And, and they’re traitors. Traitors to the cause. The cause of what? The cause of freedom! The cause of anybody who wants to fight for freedom against the rising tide of totalitarianism and socialism in America! I am seeing a lot of these guys. They’re bitter…

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: …against the values represented by home education and their parents. And it’s probably due to broken relationships in the home. So they walk away from the home, all embittered against their parents and whatever stinkin’ issues their parents ever stood for. And whatever friends their parents ever hung out with. And they’re just angry, bitter people who are, have it in for home education. Now, not everybody. But there’s a handful out there that are making some noise. And as far as I am concerned I’m not giving their websites any credence whatsoever.

Steve: Right. And what they need to do is put the blame where the blame actually is supposed to be. They’re blaming the whole homeschooling movement. They’re taking… they’re… they’re actually committing the fallacies of… it’s, it’s a genetic fallacy. It’s a fallacy of generalization, that you take the small bit and you say that must be true of the whole. So, so since Judas was one of Jesus’s disciples and he betrayed Jesus, then ALL of the disciples must—

Kevin: —must be a bunch of nutcases—

Steve: Yeah. And so. So yeah.

Kevin: And yeah. That happens when you go irrational when, when your relationships bust up and you begin to hate everything about whatever your parents were associated with because those relationships went sour. Moreover, these ex-homeschoolers to which WORLD Magazine is giving credence are pro-homosexual. They’re right there behind the emerging gay movement in Christian colleges. They’re encouraging the PatrickHenryGayBlogspot.com or whatever it is. Uh, don’t go there. I said it wrong on purpose. They’re encouraging the homosexuals showing up at the conservative Christian colleges as well and giving them as much credence as possible. Why? Because they are apostates. They’re embracing everything the Bible doesn’t. They’re embracing socialism, totalitarianism, homosexuality. If it’s ugly, if it’s wicked, if it’s totalitarian, they love it! Why? Because they’re turning away from the values they were raised with.

And guess what? This has happened since Day One. Think about Demus. Think about Alexander the Coppersmith. Think about Judas. I mean, these people have existed since the beginning of the Christian Church. And these traitors are nothing new in the history of the world, my friends. Um, and they’re making it hard on the rest of us. But that’s what the Benedict Arnolds have always done.

Steve: And that’s nothing new either.

Kevin: Yeah, exactly. So, now, now, let’s get back to home education. Are there problems with home education? Yes. Yes. There are problems. And, and, and we need to be the first to confess the weaknesses. Where there are weaknesses, confess them. And, and their slothfulness is an issue. Now again, is it any different, public schools versus private schools versus homeschools? I doubt it. Slothfulness with young men? Yeah. It’s a huge problem.

Steve: Yeah.

Kevin: Huge problem. Lack of discipleship for young men because they’re stuck, tied to their mothers’ apron strings until they’re 18 years of age? Yeah, that’s dysfunction. I’ve seen that. Yeah, I’ve seen single moms out there who may have these co-dependent relationships with kids and they won’t do any schooling at all with them. It’s just this weird little co-dependency. They won’t let them go to the public schools, won’t let them go to private schools, and they won’t even homeschool them because they’re just sitting there in the house in this sort of weird, co-dependent relationship. It’s all self-centered. Self-centered, self-centered. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, you see, you see issues — sin issues — in people’s lives everywhere.

Steve: Right.

Kevin: And as you see those things, I think the church, the local church, needs to address them.

Steve: Yeah! See, really, this is a, not only a family problem, but it’s also a church discipline issue as well. And that’s a whole different show.

Kevin: It is, yeah.

Steve: But it is. I mean, you know, there’s a book Jay Adams wrote that I just really liked about church discipline. And it’s not, you know, most people think of church discipline as a way to kick people out of church. But really, church discipline is a right that everybody has in the church. A well-disciplined church is gonna turn out well-disciplined families, which will have an effect on the community at large.

Kevin: Well, Steve, to close off the program, my hope is that homeschool leaders get a little chutzpah to ‘em and fight the good fight, engage the battle of ideas, come back to a distinctively biblical world and life view and be more self-consistent to it. Stop being so wishy-washy and… And those leaders who are discouraged, I think they’ve been beaten up by an increasingly hostile media to homeschooling. And, and we can expect that.

Hey, you know, homeschooling is making an impact. Of course the enemy’s upset. Of course the media, the academy, the political world is going to note and they’re gonna come after us and they’re gonna do their best to discourage us. But, man alive, get a little faith! You know, dig in for the long haul! Be self-consistent to your world and life view and encourage the next generation of homeschoolers — who, hopefully, should be more self-consistent — and, and, and more committed to the vision of home education than the previous generation.

That’s why I wrote my book “Upgrade: The 10 Secrets to the Best Education For Your Child.” And hopefully this will give vision to tens of thousands of people listening to the program, especially to our kids and grandkids who need a vision for educating their kids — a distinctively biblical vision because education is a point at which we have seen massive apostasy from the Christian faith. This is the catalyst to apostasy. So if you want to see a restoration of the good things of life, it’s gotta happen in the education of the next generation.

The bad guys understand it. Now it’s time for the good guys to figure it out. And that’s why I wrote my book “Upgrade: The 10 Secrets to the Best Education For Your Child.” Also, “Keep the Faith: Volume One” deals with the historical Christian perspective of education based on 2,000 years of the greatest Christians who have ever written anything on Christian education. You need to get these books. Get these resources. And empower the next generation to be even more faithful than we were.

The vision for home education, for family-based education? You’ll find it in my book “Upgrade: The 10 Secrets to the Best Education For Your Child” and our website, KevinSwanson.com.

(end transcript)

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Matthew Murray

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Matthew Murray

On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray went on a killing spree in Colorado, opening fire in the early morning at a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training center in Arvada and then later in the afternoon at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. His spree left 4 people dead and 5 wounded, following which he committed suicide.

On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray (pictured here with his niece) went on a killing spree in Colorado
On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray (pictured here with his niece) went on a killing spree in Colorado

Matthew was 1 of 2 sons born to Colorado neurologist Ronald Murray and his wife Loretta Murray. Matthew’s family was a deeply religious Christian household and he and his younger brother Christopher were homeschoooled since 1990 through high school graduation using Bill Gothard’s “Wisdom Booklets.” His family attended Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, a church noted for its Christian Zionism beliefs. The Murray family were members of Kevin Swanson’s Christian Home Educators of Colorado, and Christopher was part of a homeschool graduation ceremony held by CHEC in 2005.

After being homeschooled all the way through high school, Matthew attended Arapahoe Community College and Colorado Christian University for brief periods. In 2002, he attended a YWAM missionary training program held at the same Arvada facility he attacked. He did not complete the training, however, due to several reasons: one being health problems that prevented him from doing the requisite field work; others being “strange behavior” such as talking about “hearing voices” and performing “dark rock songs” from Linkin Park that made co-workers feel “pretty scared.” (Court records indicate that the Arvada attack was at least partly inspired by his anger about being expelled.)

Matthew was alleged to be either gay or bisexual and experienced guilt over his orientation. He felt he had to justify it through pointing to the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders like Ted Haggard. He struggled with depression, took Prozac, and was seeing a therapist. He believed his parents were simply using him as a religious weapon or tool, saying that “The only reason [my mom] had me was because she wanted a body/soul she could train into being the next Billy Graham.” He claimed to suffer psychological and other forms of abuse at the hands of his parents growing up, taking particular aim at how Gothard’s teachings influenced his family, at one point writing the following online:

“Me, I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard (expletive) and then trancing out . (expletive) . I’m still tranced out.”

Gothard himself commented on the murders after the fact, saying that Matthew and his family only used his homeschooling curriculum for “several years” and that his curriculum is “all built around the Sermon on the Mount.” Gothard added that Matthew’s problem was that “he rejected the curriculum,” pointing to Matthew’s love of rock music. “The music we listen to is a powerful force,” Gothard suggested.

While Matthew’s family did not regularly attend New Life Church, his mother Loretta considered Ted Haggard — the disgraced evangelical celebrity who founded and pastored New Life — to be her “favorite pastor.” The Murray family gave money to New Life and Matthew and his mother went to a conference at the church 4 years prior to the attack.

On the day of the attacks, Matthew drove to the YWAM facility in Arvada in the middle of the night. After asking if he could stay the night at the facility (and being denied), Matthew pulled out his guns and opened fire. He killed 24-year-old Tiffany Johnson and 26-year-old Philip Crouse, as well as wounded 24-year-old Dan Griebenow and 22-year-old Charlie Blanch. Matthew then drove to New Life Church. Around 1 pm, Matthew began his second attack, spraying bullets at church members leaving after church service. He struck and killed two sisters, 18-year-old Stephanie Works and 16-year-old Rachel Works — who happened to be homeschooled themselves. He also wounded the sisters’ father, 51-year-old David Works, as well as 40-year-old Judy Purcell and 59-year-old Larry Bourbannais.

Matthew’s shooting rampage finally came to a halt when Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard at the church, managed to shoot and wound Matthew. Matthew then shot and killed himself.

In May 2008, Matthew’s parents appeared on James Dobson’s radio show. His father Ronald said they had “no idea he had ownership of weapons or any plan,” blaming the shootings on his son’s “depth of bitterness” about his Christian upbringing. That “bitterness” was expressed by Matthew himself in his handwritten “Letter to God” found in his car after the attacks. In the letter, Matthew wrote,

“The more I read your stupid book, the more I pray, the more I reach out to Christians for help, the more hurt and abused I get.”

Following Matthew’s rampage and suicide, Kevin Swanson (Director of CHEC, which the Murray family were members of) did a radio broadcast on the situation entitled, “Should Pastors Pack?”

View the case index here.

End Child Protection: Doug Phillips, HSLDA, and the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit

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 By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

In 2009, an exclusively male group of conservative Christian leaders in the homeschooling world descended upon Indianapolis, Indiana. The event was the Men’s Leadership Summit. While its purpose was to draft a unifying vision for what they called “the Christian home education movement,” it included speeches on a variety of topics that were part of the vision.

These topics included the necessity of patriarchy: girls needing to have an entirely home-focused education,  the need to defeat “feminism” in homeschooling, and the concern that “the female sin of the internet” (framed as equal to “the male sin of pornography”) was blogging. Indeed, blogging could be the kryptonite to the homeschool Superman, the patriarchal Ubermensch. Men needed to take back their rightful place as head of their own households and as members of churches and homeschool groups through a new vision. Speakers at the summit claimed that, in doing these things, they could change the world. To the end of world-changing, submission of women and children was mandated and homeschooling was to be reframed as “discipleship,” the specific tool to accomplish world-change for generations to come.

This post is long and detailed and will include all of the information currently available about the Men’s Leadership Summit. This post will also focus on how this event’s goals transcended the narrow confines of entrenching Christian male superiority in the homeschooling world. In fact, it extended to their dream of ending public education entirely and and implementing their expansive conception of “parental rights.” It was at this summit that a former HSLDA attorney articulated a disturbing call: a call to end child protection as we know it. This call places the recent controversy between Libby Anne, the HSLDA, and Homeschoolers Anonymous’ #HSLDAMustAct campaign into an entirely new and much more urgent context.

A Brief History of the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit

The Christian Home Educations of Colorado (CHEC) is a state homeschool organization founded in 1985. Directed by Kevin Swanson since 1999, CHEC hosted a “National Leadership Summit”  in 2006. This was a men’s only event, described by Generations With Vision as “a men’s leadership meeting…for home school leaders across the nation, in order to encourage home school dads to fully embrace the vision, and to launch a vision for the future of a movement.” There is nothing of particular interest on the Internet about this first summit. The same, however, cannot be said about its sequel.

In December 12, 2008, Kevin Swanson announced on the Generations With Vision blog a new summit, a “National Leadership Summit with Kevin Swanson, Doug Phillips, Chris Klicka, Voddie Baucham, Dr. Brian Ray.”

According to CHEC, this event — even though it was in another state — was officially hosted by the Colorado organization: “CHEC host[ed] a 2nd National Leaderhip Summit in Indianapolis.” It was allegedly co-sponsored by HSLDA, but I cannot find any verification of that from the little original source material that is available. The Men’s Leadership Summit had five headlining speakers, according to Generations With Vision: “Chris Klicka (HSLDA), Dr. Brian Ray (NHERI), Douglas Phillips (Vision Forum), Voddie Baucham, and yours truly [Kevin Swanson].”

Swanson believed this summit to be remarkable because, “We have [never], in the history of the movement drawn so many visionary leaders into one room at one time to discuss the home school vision.” Furthermore, he says, everyone is attending on their own accord, because they want to: “Every leader represented (including speakers) are volunteering their own time to this meeting.”

And what was the purpose of this historical summit of exclusively male homeschooling leaders? Swanson says, “The objectives of this 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit are first, to define a vision for the future of the Christian home education movement.” Not just a “vision,” though. There is another, more important objective of the summit: “the development of a Christian Education Manifesto statement.”

This, then, should be the most important, defining moment in the entire history of the conservative, Christian homeschooling movement. All of the movement’s visionary leaders will be there, he says, and they will be creating the movement’s very own vision and manifesto. As that is the explicit, publicized purpose of this summit, all these speakers — Klicka from HSLDA, Phillips from Vision Forum and previously from HSLDA, Ray from HSLDA’s NHERI, Baucham, and Swanson — will be attending to (1) create a vision and (2) create a manifesto.

It is curious, however, that — up until two days ago — I never heard of this summit. Even more surprising is that, apart from some serious digging, this seemingly most-important homeschooling summit of all time barely exists on the Internet. The website for the event, 2009leadershipsummit.com, no longer exists. There are no recordings, no mentions of this summit on Generations With Vision (save the one I just cited), or Vision Forum, or HSLDA. I had to go a good, old fashioned web archive service just to view archives of the original event website.

To save you the hassle of finding the right archive, I will detail what the now-expired 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit website said. But I will also provide links to the archived versions for your own perusal.

The 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit was held on March 5-7, 2009. It had a mission statement: “Defining a Vision for the Christian Home Education Movement.” The website’s home page explicitly stated the purpose of the event:

“In March of 2009, Christian Home Educators of Colorado will host homeschool leaders from around the country at a national gathering in Indianapolis. The Purpose? To lay out a vision for home education in the 21st Century.”

The About page of the website goes into further detail about the summit’s “vision”:

The homeschooling movement has entered challenging times . . .Challenging times require extraordinary leadership . . .Extraordinary leadership requires dynamic vision.

The time has come to define the vision. With the explosion of school choice and the increased accessibility of state-funded options for home educators, the time has come to define the vision that characterizes the Christian Home Education movement, thus unifying both national and state leadership and solidifying the vision for generations to come. As George Washington said at the Constitutional Convention, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God.”

For Such a Time as This, in a Changing Political and Socio-Economic Climate . . .

Home education is poised to bear significant effects on the how we do education, economics, church, and politics in the years to come. As leaders, we feel it is important that we be self-aware of the direction we are headed.

The goal of the 2009 Leadership summit is to define a vision for the future of the Christian home education movement. Together, we must lay down a rock-solid, biblically-based vision for home education that will withstand the attacks of our current generation and preserve this precious vision for future generations. To accomplish this goal, we are assembling the key national leaders, authors, researchers, speakers and advocates who have framed the homeschool vision over the past generation (1979-2009).

Another objective for the leadership summit will be the development of a Christian Education Manifesto statement.

The speakers listed are identical to what Kevin Swanson said on the Generations With Vision blog: Chris Klicka, Doug Phillips, Voddie Baucham, Brian Ray, and Kevin Swanson.

Finally, the accommodations: As already stated, even though the Men’s Leadership Summit is “hosted” and “sponsored” by a Colorado organization, it is interestingly held in Indianapolis. Even more interesting is where: it is not held a normal convention center. Rather it is held “at the Indianapolis Training Center in Indianapolis, Indiana,” a facility “owned by the Institute for Basic Life Principles.”

Yes, the Men’s Leadership Summit was held at one of Bill Gothard’s IBLP/ATI training centersSpecifically: Indianapolis Training Center, 2820 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Although now that center appears to be a new IBLP project, the “Verity Institute,” a college created by Gothard and ATI’s Trent Thompson to “help students obtain a college degree without…losing their faith.”

So in 2009, an exclusive group of male homeschool leaders got together at a conference held at Bill Gothard’s training center, to be inspired by talks by frequent HSLDA guest Kevin Swanson, then-current (now deceased) HSLDA attorney Klicka, former HSLDA attorney Phillips, current HSLDA-affiliated researcher Ray, and Heritage Defense ally Baucham. And all of this was to culminate in one thing: a grand vision, or manifesto, for the future of what they themselves term “the Christian Home Education Movement.” And none of these organizations ever mention it happening.

Shall we take a look at what happened, then?

The “Manifesto” of the Men’s Leadership Summit

There is very little primary source material available for determining what happened. However, two bloggers — John Holzmann and Karen Campbell — have preserved a few items, which are extraordinarily important. 

A Manifesto for Christian Education

The first item is “A Manifesto for Christian Education,” which was handed out by Kevin Swanson at the end of the summit. That manifesto, as recorded by Campbell, is as follows:

A MANIFESTO FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

The Basic Elements

First Proposition

The beginning of wisdom and knowledge in the education of our children is the fear of God.

The Worldview

All education assumes and presents a basic worldview, and Christian education is based on a biblical, God-centered worldview.

The Purpose

The primary purpose of education is to equip our children to live to the glory of God.

The Sphere

It is the family – not the state or the church – whom God has assigned the responsibility and attendant rights to educate their children.

The Teachers

Parents are the principal and primary instructors for their children.

The Content

The training in humility -and fear, faith and character is preeminent and inseparably integrated in the intellectual development of a child.

The Core Curriculum

The Word of God is the primary textbook for our children’s education.

The Summary

Therefore, we affirm that education is discipleship, and Christian Education is Deuteronomy 6:7. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:7

The main observation to be made about this manifesto is that, according to Swanson, education should utilize the Bible as its primary textbook. Not science books, history books, or mathematics books, but the Bible. Education equals discipleship. This demonstrates that education should not only be primarily religious, but — it seems — exclusively so. Children are also to be trained in “humility” and “fear.” And making one’s children humble and fearful is a task God has assigned not to state schools or private schools (or even church-based private schools) but to parents.

Cindy Kunsman from Under Much Grace has a good summary of this “Manifesto”: “I think it’s been another lesson in the wisdom of Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun, and there is nothing really new in patriocentricity and the Vision Forum driven CHEC…The MCE is essentially an outline of major points already contained in the Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy.” 

Transcripts of Swanson, Baucham, and Phillips presentations

The only copies of speeches from the Summit, that I can find, are preserved on John Holzmann’s blog. The Summit’s site is not up anymore; HSLDA, Vision Forum, and Generations With Vision do not have audio recordings or transcripts. At one point in time, there was a website — Resounding Voice — that sold the original audio recordings of the talk. (Resounding Voice is run by Joshua Erber, a homeschool graduate and Patrick Henry re-enactor.)

Holzmann purchased the recordings of the presentations of the Summit. He then linked to Resounding Voice so that others can also obtain the recordings. However, the links to the recordings now lead to “database errors.” And if you go on Resounding Voice’s website, there are no mentions of a Men’s Leadership Summit, there are no talks by Phillips or Ray or any of the speakers from the Summit, and — of especial note — there is not a single recording from Chris Klicka on that site in general.

So all we have to go off of to determine what was said at the Summit are presentations by Swanson, Baucham, and Phillips transcribed by John Holzmann. These presentations are divided into five parts. I will summarize Holzmann’s findings under each part’s link:

2009 Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) “Men’s Leadership Summit,” Part I

In Part One, Holzmann summarizes some of the themes throughout the conference: the Reformation; fathers are responsible for family discipline; homeschoolers should use “home discipleship not home education,” because “we out not be preparing our children for Harvard… but (instead for heaven”; gender roles via “biblical manhood and womanhood”; countering the rise of “feminism” in not just the culture at large but also within the homeschooling movement; the need to integrate religion into every school subject; the need to train daughters to be moms and supportive spouses, not leaders.

Of particular concern is this observation: “In an open forum Friday night, one of the participants at the conference asked three questions of Doug Phillips related to this obvious missing piece. One of the questions specifically asked for Phillips’ views concerning a woman’s ability to have a career in addition to being a great mom and a great spouse. Phillips’ response indicated that he believes it is unbiblical for a woman to have a career.

Holzmann ends Part One with this: “Bill Roach, CHEC’s president, introduced each speaker at the Summit. According to my source, before he introduced Kevin Swanson for Thursday Evening Session I, he said, ‘This weekend is to define what Christian Home Education is and to strategize our next moves.'”

CHEC “Men’s Leadership Summit,” Part II–“For Such a Time as This — The 1000-Year Battle Over the Hearts and Minds of the Next Generation”

Part Two is Kevin Swanson’s speech, “The 1000-Year Battle Over the Hearts and Minds of the Next Generation.” Swanson begins his speech by referencing the Father of Reconstructionism, RJ Rushdoony, and then claiming that the “Pillars of Homeschooling” — Harris, Klicka, and Farris — were the foundation for what he is about to say:

Let’s thank God for the men and women who went before us–the R.J. Rushdoonys, the Gordon Clarks, the Cornelius Van Tils–who created the materials that we are using today. I’ve also read some great materials written by Gregg Harris and Chris Klicka and Mike Farris. These guys were writing things in the 1980s that we are saying today. . . .

We here, today, stand on the shoulders of guys who went before us 20 and 30 years ago who started The Reformation of the 20th Century.

Swanson then goes to detail the problems with our world, including gems such as, “Men are not being men.” He also then says that the “Manifesto” — which, remember, was the point of this whole thing? — was going to be “put off.” But it is still necessary, for some rather bleak reasons:

By the way, we are going to put off the publishing of the Manifesto. We’re not doing it this week, because we don’t think we have cultivated it enough. We’re going to give you an outline, a preview of that Manifesto…

I think it’s about time we had such a manifesto because, number one, education is falling apart in America. Our culture is falling apart. And the culture, the social system, is a derivative of the educational system. And the political system is a derivative of the social system. And it’s all falling apart… Our world is falling apart!

…Call it what you will, existentialistic, humanistic, materialistic, whatever it is, it is enveloping our culture, our academic system, our universities, our economic system. It is raging. And if our little children even get one little toe in that river, it will suck them through and [make] them join the millions upon millions of Christian children who have been taken into this river.

To Swanson, our world is on the brink of extinction. But not just any extinction. It is the exinction of “The City of Man,” as opposed to “The City of God”:

I think we’re coming to the end of an about 1000-year project of building the City of Man.The City of Man is built by the Cains of this world, the humanists, those that refuse to fear and love and worship the living God. It is their project. And this project has been worked on for the last 1000 years.

The root of this is that we, I guess, have not integrated God into every school subject:

Guys, if you teach science, if you teach chemistry, . . . don’t you dare to do it without stopping from time to time and saying, ‘. . . Children, let’s worship [the God who made these things]. Get down on your knees and worship the God who made these things.

…Universities haven’t taught that way in hundreds of years. I’ll tell you, that’s what’s ruining chemistry and biology and science in our modern age. It’s a scary thing what’s happening. You teach science without the fear of God for a hundred years, I fear what they will do to that science. They’ll destroy it.

Swanson’s solution, naturally, is the Christian home education movement:

God says, “I want you to teach your children My truth as you sit in your house. You see, I want you to take the truth, the reality, the absolute truths, the ethics of God, the laws of God, the perspectives of God, and teach them My worldview, My truth, in the womb of relationship.” And I say we call that discipleship.And that, brothers, is the Manifesto.We are going to bring back the relevance of God. We’re going to bring back worship, bring back confessions, bring back relationships in the education of our children.

…We need to call [Christians] to use words like discipleship and nurture. Stop talking schools with me. Don’t talk about education with me. Let’s not talk about home education and Christian education, Christian schools. Let’s talk about discipleship. Let’s talk about a focus on faith and character. Let’s focus on the discipling of a child.

…So, brothers, let’s restore the concept of discipleship in our homes and in our families. Let’s take the arms of those little children and say, “Let me lead you to Jesus. Let me teach you about Christ.” Let’s nurture them in these relationships. Let’s nurture them in the algebra class. Let’s disciple them in the chemistry class. Let’s worship God in the physics class. And then we’ll shock everybody when we begin confessing our sins in the geography class.

That’s education!

CHEC “Men’s Leadership Summit,” Part III – “The Battle for Faith and Family”

Part Three is Voddie Baucham’s speech, “The Battle for Faith and Family.” Baucham begins by identifying himself with the family-integrated church movement, which is a movement, he explains, that is “committed, absolutely committed–in our structure, in our doctrine, in our practice, in our philosophy–to a very simple principle: we look men in the eye and say, “I double-dog dare you to disciple your family and we are not going to do anything structurally to put a net under you. It’s your job.”

Baucham then lists off all the normative statistics that so many of us in the homeschooling world grew to fear: how few Christians “possess a biblical worldview,” how few Christians say there is absolute truth, how the youth today are disenfranchised from Christianity, and so forth. And the zinger: “We are currently losing 70 to 88% of [the youth] by the end of their freshman year in college!”

Baucham says that questions people, including Christians, have about homeschooling — like “What about socialization?” — are rooted in evil:

They all ask the same questions. It’s a running joke in the homeschool community because nobody asks any other questions. And their questions all go back to certification, permission, and instruction. Why? Because they’re Marxist, secular humanists to the core disguised as Christians. That’s why. . . . The homeschool movement is now rife with parents who do not know their roles; do not have a vision for their families; are afraid to lead.

And then there is his ending:

When [people] say they can’t do [some]thing, I say, “You racist, you!”

And they look at me: “Wha-?!??”[

And I answer,] “If I took you to Africa or Asia or South America, and we preached the gospel and some people got saved, you’d spend two weeks there and find one of the guys with God’s hand on him, and you’d say, ‘Now, you’re the pastor and this is your church.’

“But you’re saying that God is not good enough for you. –You racist!”

CHEC “Men’s Leadership Summit,” Part IV – “A Vision for the Family”

Parts Four and Five are the most important to this exploration. They are the speeches from Doug Phillips, an HSLDA attorney for six years and the director of Vision Forum. Phillips begins his first speech, “A Vision for the Family,” by identifying the other speakers as his comrades:

They are my paisanos. They are men that we have had the privilege of being in many battles together, traveling around the country and sharing a synchronous message. Our hearts are linked together.

Phillips thus begins with identifying his message as synchronous with the messages of Swanson, Baucham, Klicka, and Ray. And what is this message? The heart of it is that his version of God is the beginning of knowledge:

The fear of the Lord not only gives us wisdom and knowledge, but it is true faith that tells us to believe when all the empirical data seems to be pointing us in the opposite direction. We must believe what God says when you cannot taste, touch or smell the victory, simply because God said it.

Phillips believes this is important because, he, like Swanson, sees our current time as an apocalypse due to very specific events:

You and I are presiding over the worst international cultural apostasy of the West in more than a thousand years. There [have] been terrible wars, terrible evil. Horrible things have happened…

Never have we had major nations, major cultures that once claimed to be Christian, fundamentally questioning whether marriage is one man and one woman for life…

It is on your watch, it is on my watch that the sodomites are redefining marriage in our land. Never before in history. First time…

More professing Christians want to thwart the womb, to pervert the natural function of the body, to separate life from love, than don’t. First time ever….

This is a judgment on our land. It’s not that America is about to have judgment; it’s that America is in the midst of judgment. This is a judgment. It is perverse. It is evil. It is wrong. And where is all this pointing to? The family!

…these judgments and horrors are the product of our worship of the false gods of our day, our idolatries . . . of self, of materialism; philosophical idolatries: evolutionism, social Darwinism, feminism, statism, Marxism, and hundreds of -isms…

In contrast to all this evil, Phillips brings up Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as shining role models: “Jim Bob just radiates Christ.”

CHEC “Men’s Leadership Summit,” Part V – “Visionary Fathers”

In his second speech, Doug Phillips brings it all home. This is where Phillips sets forth his vision for the future of the Christian home education movement:

One of the most important things we can do is to have God’s panoramic presentation for us, looking at the past, standing in the present, with our eyes focused on the future. This is a critical component of preparing the next generation for leadership.

What does this future look like?

It involves a future where men take the reins of homeschooling back from women:

The birth of the modern homeschool movement gave us a generation of mighty ladies–ladies that fear the Lord, ladies that wanted to see great things happen to their families, ladies that walk beside their sons and their daughters and their men as well. But it was predominantly a woman’s movement.

Something must be done, before… we become like Massachusetts?

If we do not continue to grow and advance further on toward where God would take us next, we will become worse off, we will become like Massachusetts, like Boston, like New England, which, having had the glory and the blessing of the Gospel, ultimately rejected it and became one of the darkest places imaginable.

The solution is heavier doses of ideology:

Is every homeschooler that goes through a state conference getting a heavy dose of vision and presuppositional apologetics in the area of education? Because if they’re not, we are actually training them to be apostate…

I remember a day when we talked about fundamentals. And we need to be speaking about them again.

…Every subject from math to history needs to be reformed to incorporate distinctively biblical presuppositions about facts and the interpretation of facts.

We should be explaining to people that mathematics makes no sense in an atheistic universe. We should be telling them that Genesis 1 is the very first primer on basic arithmetic…

And now begins Phillips’ comments that are particularly concerning for those of us in the homeschooling community that are trying to represent moderate voices as well as stand up to child abuse:

We need to realize the state has zero jurisdiction in education. None!

….We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence.

…At the end of the day, the problem isn’t simply Child Protective Services to get better; it is eliminating it altogether.

…It is the fathers who have a duty of lovingly leading their family, and fathers, not moms, will be overseeing the home education discipleship of their family.

…the movement within home education circles of creating an androgynous educational system where we view boys and girls as having the very same outcomes of careerism and world independence is contrary to the principles of the Word of God, which teaches that we should be training our daughters, ultimately to prepare themselves for the assumption . . . –and the assumption is, they will be married, they will be keepers at home.

…if we are not willing to talk about this, what it means is, we have been usurped by feminism.

Phillips at this point references Chris Klicka:

I’m quite confident that Chris [Klicka], my brother in HSLDA, . . . We all stand unified in recognizing that the greatest threats are not legal. Those are real and they have to be addressed, but they are not the biggest ones.

And then Phillips veers into something entirely bizarre:

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. The less you love your wife and the less you shepherd your wife, the more you create an open door for the female sin of the internet. The male sin of the internet is pornography. The female sin of the internet is gossip-mongering…

…We don’t live in the type of communities where our wives tend to go from house to house gossiping. They tend to go from blog to blog gossiping. And they spend their day going from blog to blog gossiping. And some of you are letting them.

…The world is watching. When the lesbian, feminist, transgender publishing house Beacon Press decided to release their exposé this month on families that believe in large households, they knew exactly who to go for. Go to the internet assassins. Go to the blogosphere gossips and get the information to denounce and divide the homeschool movement directly from the wives who live on the internet, gossiping 24/7.

Phillips ends his speech by calling for casting out from the homeschooling movement those who disagree:

The homeschool movement can no longer tolerate, it can no longer handle, unassociated Christian members that are simply not willing to be part of formal biblical associations.

Why? Well, because of anthrax:

If we ever find ourself in a state of martial law; if somebody puts anthrax in one of our major water supplies; if there is a suitcase nuke, which is opened up in a major city, we could very well see panic break out.

So there you have it: the agenda of the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit. Karen Campbell provides a helpful summary of what the “Manifesto” would look like based on the presentations:

1. Destroy the entire government-run school system and abolish Child Protective Services.

2. Reject and bring an end to church-based or church-run schools.

3. Reject college or any training for daughters that might lead to them being outside of the home.

4. Kick out homeschoolers that are not willing to be part of formal biblical associations.

5. Ensure mothers are not leaders in their homes and protect them from women internet bloggers who see godly womanhood in a different light and who speak out against patriocentricity.

HSLDA’s Doug Phillips on the CPS

In light of the recent controversy between Libby Anne, HSLDA, and Homeschoolers  Anonymous’ #HSLDAMustAct campaign, I’d like to refocus now on what Doug Phillips said at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit:

….We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence.

…At the end of the day, the problem isn’t simply Child Protective Services to get better; it is eliminating it altogether.

Doug Phillips, a former HSLDA attorney, explicitly called for the destruction of child protective services as they currently exist. This should concern not only the homeschooling community, but also the entire United States. Phillips’ call did not go unnoticed. In fact, Karen Campbell — in writing recently about the #HSLDAMustAct campaign — references this fact:

I am not surprised in the least that this has been the posture of HSLDA. In 2009 they co-sponsored the Homeschool Leadership Summit where one of the goals listed in their manifesto was to get rid of Child Protective Services which I discussed in this podcast series on august 15 and 21, 2010. From the first time I saw that on the list, I was dumbfounded. While I do not believe the government is the solution to all of society’s ills, I do believe there are times when it must step in to protect children who are genuinely being abused. I know many godly parents who do understand this and have become involved in the foster care system in order to provide good homes for little ones in these situations. But to me, the message HSLDA is sending is that protecting the rights of parents to homeschool trumps protecting children (any children) from abuse.

Unlike Karen, I was sadly surprised to read Libby Anne’s series on the relationship between HSLDA and child abuse. While I grew up in the “Christian home education movement” and am intimately familiar with the fears we homeschoolers had of the CPS, and while I witnessed first-hand a lot of abuse experienced by fellow homeschoolers, I was oblivious to the specifics of the relationship. I never knew, for example, that HSLDA was moving from homeschool advocacy to the dismantling of some of the cornerstones of our child welfare laws: anonymous tips, mandatory reporting, and mainstream definitions of child abuse. I never knew the details of the Michael Gravelle case — that he had a history of abuse, and later divorced his wife after he assaulted her — and I did not know that Scott Somerville, an HSLDA attorney, called Gravelle a “hero.”

It is in this context of sad surprise, then, that I encounter the words of Doug Phillips and others at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit. Phillips, an HSLDA attorney (though not any longer, since he left HSLDA to run Vision Forum), made a direct threat against child protection and advocated a dystopian —almost Orwellian — dream of what homeschooling can “achieve” for him and other adherents to Christian patriarchy.

Doug Phillips spoke of wanting to gut the egalitarian goals of our society and destroy child protection as we know it.

Does Doug Phillips Speak for HSLDA?

When you have a national event like the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, it is difficult to determine how like-minded the speakers are. I remember that, during the California Home Education Association (CHEA) conventions that my dad ran in the Bay Area when I was a kid, there would be speakers of all sorts of ideological leanings. I particularly remember Reb Bradley, a courtship proponent, mercilessly tearing into Jonathan Lindvall, a betrothal proponent, for being “extreme.” Of course, everyone at these conventions shared a common vision for conservative Christian homeschooling. But doctrinal disagreements were everywhere.

But here is the difference between CHEA conventions and the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit: CHEA conventions did not explicitly state their purpose was to create a grand, unifying vision and manifesto for the entirety of the Christian home education movement. The speakers attending did not agree to that; the speakers attending did not constantly reference each other as ideological comrades; and the speakers attending did not have their speeches mysteriously disappear after the fact.

The question then arises, when Doug Phillips calls for the destruction of child protective services in the United States — or really, any of the other extreme positions he has — where does HSLDA stand on that?

This is particularly important with the CPS question right now. HSLDA has — to this day — not condemned another one of their attorneys, Somerville, for calling Gravelle (an incestuous child molester and self-appointed warden of his own caged children) a hero. Also, HSLDA has visibly chosen to target child protection laws instead of focus on homeschool advocacy.

To determine the relationship between Doug Phillips and HSLDA, the best thing to do is just look at what Doug Phillips and HSLDA themselves say. According to Vision Forum’s website, Phillips “served for six years at the Home School Legal Defense Association in multiple capacities including staff attorney and Director of the National Center for Home Education.”

Phillips was thus not only an HSLDA attorney. He was the Director of HSLDA’s National Center for Home Education, now called the Federal Relations Department and run by William Estrada, former director of HSLDA’s Generation Joshua program.

A quick search of HSLDA’s website shows a number of results for Doug Phillips. In 1992, Phillips was a legal staffer for HSLDA who traveled to Ontario to speak at one of Gregg Harris’ workshops. By 1993, he was the Director for Government Affairs for the National Center for Home Education, tasked with lobbying against things like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, “all child rights bills,” and corporal punishment restrictions. In fact, when President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which Michael Farris drafted), Phillips attended the signing ceremony in Farris’ place when latter could not attend.

In 1995, when the extraordinarily divisive controversy in the homeschooling community over H.R. 6 erupted, Doug Phillips was at the center. It was Phillips who received the alert from Dick Armey’s office. According to HSLDA’s timeline of the H.R. 6 situation,

Doug Phillips assembles the team of ten staffers to blanket Congress, personally delivering the letter to each of the 435 Congressional offices….Doug Phillips meets with Martin Hoyt, the Washington, D.C., representative of the American Association of Christian Schools, to discuss the dangers of the Miller Amendment… Doug Phillips meets with Horace Cooper and Dean Clancy of Armey’s staff to strategize on how to obtain broad support for the “Home School/Private School Freedom Amendment.” …Christopher Klicka and Doug Phillips hold a press conference in Houston, Texas, attended by 100 home school support group leaders and three television networks.

And if you read Phillips’ own account of the fiasco, he is almost entirely the one responsible:

I 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…I was given the honor of serving as Director of the National Center for Home Education…I launched a national e-mail alert and physically gathered a brigade of valiant home educators to descend upon the Capitol en masse.

If this was not clear, then: Doug Phillips was the man behind one of HSLDA’s most important legislative moments in their history of advocacy.

Also in 1995, Phillips worked alongside Farris and Klicka “with a broad coalition of pro-family groups, including Concerned Women for America and Eagle Forum, to ensure that the freshmen of the 104th Congress will fulfill their promise to completely eliminate the federal role in education.” 1996 saw Philips training homeschool lobbyists as well as featured in HSLDA’s Court Report as one of “The Dads of HSLDA.”

He also was part of HSLDA’s National Legislative Strategy Day. Along with Farris and Klicka, Phillips “briefed the home school leaders on the latest developments and strategies concerning a host of federal issues. The topics included the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act, the national registry and identification system in the Immigration bill, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, abolishing the federal role in education, and the Careers Act.”

1996 seems to be the last year that Phillips appears as an HSLDA attorney. But since then, HSLDA has made zero efforts to distance themselves from his viewpoints. In fact, almost a decade after Phillips left HSLDA to run Vision Forum, he was still featured by HSLDA as a peer. In 2007, HSLDA referred to Phillips as one of “the nation’s top leaders.” Also in 2007, Chris Klicka received an award from Doug Phillips and Vision Forum for his homeschooling advocacy. In 2008, HSLDA says of him that he is “one of the most popular conference speakers in the nation today because of his ability to encourage, inform, and inspire.” In fact, HSLDA proudly sponsored a reception at an event where he was the keynote speaker.

The official relationship between HSLDA and Doug Phillips is thus one of continued mutual admiration. There are several debates online about whether this “official” admiration is real or not. I have heard rumors that HSLDA considers Phillips to be “radical” or “extreme,” or that leaders in HSLDA consider things like ATI and Vision Forum to be “cults.” But in terms of official statements that are publicly verifiable, at no point has HSLDA distanced itself from Phillips’ ideas, and in fact on many accounts they are the same: ending public education, keep their ideas of corporal punishment legal, and so forth.

If HSLDA really was concerned with preserving child protection services, they have made no efforts to counter Phillips’ call for ending the CPS — a call made at the exact same summit where HSLDA’s research guru Brian Ray and fellow HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka spoke at, the same Klicka that Libby Anne has so well documented as being zealously dedicated in his own right to dismantling child welfare laws.

Conclusion

It has already been pointed out by Kathryn Brightbill that what Phillips said about child protective services is a sentiment shared on many levels by other HSLDA attorneys:

HSLDA seems to be arguing that even parents who are already known to law enforcement and CPS as abusive should still be allowed to homeschool. And here is another article where Christopher Klicka argues that the child abuse prevention system is too aggressive. Here is Scott Summerville claiming that parents who withdraw their kids from school to hide abuse already have social services on their trail. No suggestion that these parents should be prohibited from homeschooling if they’re withdrawing their kids to hide abuse, just an assertion that CPS will be watching.I am unable to find an instance where HSLDA has indicated that they believe that abusive parents should be prevented from homeschooling.

Brightbill wonders whether this might be part of some overarching legal strategy on HSLDA’s part:

The only thing that makes sense to me is that HSLDA is doing what they’re doing with abusers as part of a well thought out legal strategy with the end game being the Supreme Court ruling that homeschooling is a fundamental right that is subject to virtually zero regulations…The idea that HSLDA would be using children who have been abused by their parents as pawns to expand the right to homeschooling is too horrific for me to really want to contemplate. But yet, it’s also the strategy that makes logical sense if an expanded fundamental right to homeschooling is the goal.

Whether or not this is HSLDA’s intention, here is what we know: Two HSLDA attorneys attended the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit, which included some of the most dystopian, nightmarish language about the future of homeschooling that I have ever encountered. The evidence of this fact has almost gone entirely unnoticed, and all the original evidence apparently has vanished. At that conference, Doug Phillips, a former HSLDA attorney, called for the destruction of the United States’ child protection system. A then-current (now deceased) HSLDA attorney, Christopher Klicka, was there. He never repudiated Phillips’ statement, and his career indicates that he, too, desired a similar dismantling of child welfare laws. Another current HSLDA attorney, Scott Somerville, called Michael Gravelle, a child and wife abuser, a hero.

This is no longer about homeschooling. The vision and manifesto laid out at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit should surely worry anyone with a vested interest in countering the extreme voices in the Christian home education movement. Laid out were misogynistic, educationally neglectful, and frankly dangerous ideas. And as Heather Doney points out, “This kind of perverse ideology has hurt too many unsuspecting families, too many men, women, and children already, including my own family. ”

But also laid out there was a vision that entails a fundamental redefinition of how our society thinks about child abuse. That fundamental redefinition would have extraordinary ramifications for all children in this country, just not homeschooling children. That redefinition, articulated so explicitly by a former HSLDA attorney, has only been echoed and enhanced by other representatives of HSLDA through their own words and actions.

If HSLDA fundamentally disagrees with Phillips and fundamentally disagrees with Somerville’s choice of words, then now is the time for them to speak up. For too long their silence has been complicity.

“We understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence.”

This is no longer about homeschooling and child abuse in homeschooling communities. This is about protecting every child in this country.