That Time Mary Pride Put the Modesty Survey on Blast

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Mary Pride is considered by some to be “the queen of homeschooling.” She is one of the founders of the Quiverfull movement, the anti-feminism author of The Way Home, and the publisher of the wildly popular magazine “Practical Homeschooling.” I have previously covered problematic aspects of her worldview, including her thoughts on domestic violence and child abuse. Her belief that women’s use of contraception turns men gay is also bewildering.

That said, Mary Pride is also an expert at putting people on blast. Normally she puts her archenemies — child advocates, feminists, and LGBTQ people — on blast. But sometimes even her peers are not spared. The best example of this comes from her trash-talking of Alex and Brett Harris’ 2007 “Modesty Survey.” The following passage is from page 221 of the “Afterthoughts” chapter added to The Way Home‘s 25th Anniversary Edition in 2010:

Speaking of our daughters, I would like to say just a few words about the “Modesty Survey” and other attempts to “encourage” young ladies to dress according to some ill-defined, ever-shifting male standard of “modesty.”

The bottom line here is the belief that women’s dress can cause men to fall into ungodly thoughts. If I had the space, I would have plenty to say about this. For now, consider just this:

  1. The only female features that the Bible says cause potential male downfall are “eyes” (Prov. 6:25): literally “eyelids,” as in the KJV.
  2. The “strange woman” (KJV) or “adulteress” (NIV), who is by no means a Christian sister, leads a young man astray by her smooth speech (Prov. 5:3), not by her outfit.

Those arguing for the “Burqa Lite” standard of Christian dress also fail to explain how young men who faint at the sight of a Christian ankle are supposed to control themselves when out in the world.

Doctors see naked women. Missionaries see half-naked women. But we don’t expect them to go insane with lust.

Proverbs 7:6-27 describes a woman leading a man astray. She is loud, defiant, dressed like a prostitute, and deliberately talks him into committing adultery. Even so, the passage is all about how he should have known better.

I’m all for modest dress, but not because Christian men are going to fall into temptation left and right if various arbitrary skirt lengths, etc., are not met. In the New Testament, “modest” dress refers to “spending a modest amount on clothing,” not to the amount of cloth and where it is draped. “Modest” dress is contrasted with ostentatiously expensive clothing and hairstyles—and the passage is talking about how to dress for church (1 Tim. 2:8-10)!

This preoccupation on men’s part with women’s modesty is misguided and proto-Islamic. Once again, the older women should be teaching the younger what is appropriate. Neither older nor younger men are responsible or authorized to instruct the younger women in this area.

There are, of course, problems within this passage, including Pride’s penchant towards Islamophobia. But still…

burn

Mary Pride: Don’t Divorce Your Drunk, Raging Husband

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.26.19 PM

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

The following passage is from the 2010 “25th Anniversary Edition” of Mary Pride’s seminal book The Way Home: Beyond Feminism Back to Reality, originally published in 1985. The emphases are in original:

The reason the church is getting lax about divorce is that we no longer understand marriage. If a spouse has problems, such as drunkenness or fits of temper, the other one concludes it is not a “good” marriage and moves on. Those who take this perspective end up allowing divorce “for any and every reason,” just as the Pharisees were doing in Jesus’ day. Jesus answered the Pharisees that destruction of any God-ordained marriage is always wrong… Only adultery, which breaks the partnership by pouring its resources into a spiritually fruitless extramarital union, as well as (in the case of an adulterous wife) jeopardizing the children’s legitimacy, and desertion, which nullifies the partnership, are biblical grounds for divorce… Christians may never, never, never divorce Christians. (21-22)

Image from page 21’s excerpt of the book:

IMG_20141229_143356

You can read more about Mary Pride and her book The Child Abuse Industry here.

The 10 Best (AKA, Worst) Quotations from Mary Pride’s “The Child Abuse Industry” (With Gifs)

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 9.52.11 PM

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Most Christian homeschoolers know Mary Pride as “the queen of homeschooling,” one of the founders of the Quiverfull movement, the anti-feminism author of The Way Home, or the publisher of the wildly popular magazine “Practical Homeschooling.” But she also wrote a lesser known book in 1985 entitled The Child Abuse Industry: Outrageous Facts About Child Abuse & Everyday Rebellions Against a System that Threatens Every North American Family. It is a remarkable read that calls for a “Second North American Revolution” — namely, having babies, abolishing no-fault divorce, going to church, eliminating foster care, homeschooling, re-instituting “biblical” executions of criminals, and getting rid of abuse hotlines.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

I am currently writing an in-depth, multi-part review and analysis of The Child Abuse Industry, which I will publish on Homeschoolers Anonymous as soon as it is finished. But in the meantime, I want to share with you the 10 best — and by “best,” I mean most disturbing — quotations from this book. (And just to make this more tolerable, I added some gifs.)

Trigger warnings for abuse apologism, abuse denialism, and a racial slur.

Also: As a child abuse survivor myself, I find the gifs make reading these ideas more tolerable. However, another child abuse survivor told that, for him, the gifs make the ideas feel more intense. I want to respect everyone’s different ways of processing, so: if you’d like a gif-free version of this list, click here.

And now, without further ado, I will let Mary Pride speak for herself…

.

*****

.

10. “The major problem is that the public has been convinced that child abuse is a major problem.”

.

freshprince

.

*****

.

9. “Are one out of four adult women (or one out of three, or two—the statistics keep getting wilder) really the victims of savage lust perpetrated in their youth? Isn’t it possible to organize a bridge party without staring at an abused woman across the table? Where do these wild statistics come from?”

.

minniechicken2

.

*****

.

8. “Never vote for a candidate whose campaign promises include ‘doing more for children.'”

.

tumblr_inline_ml9p041ue71qz4rgp

.

*****

.

7. “Child abuse hysteria is a self-righteous coverup for anti-child attitudes.”

 

9072_a3a8

.

*****

.

6. “If [child abuse prevention programs] are allowed to proliferate, we will produce for the first time an entire generation of males who have been trained to consider raping their sons and daughters as passably normal behavior.”

.

niccage

.

*****

.

5. “If sex has nothing to do with having babies, you can have sex with anyone or anything. Including children.”

.

28681-nicki-minaj-Hell-no-gif-LuBd

.

*****

.

4. “We need to stop allowing the unsupported testimony of children who are of an age where they can barely distinguish fantasy and reality.”

.

No!

.

*****

.

3. “Don’t hotline anyone.”

.

oh-heeeell-to-the-no

.

*****

.

2. “A retarded daughter told contradictory tales of sexual abuse by her step-brother and other male relatives… So here we have a girl who probably made up the story in the first place.”

.

9GTPnhA

.

*****

.

1. “Age segregation increasingly alienates children and adults. Children are the ‘new n*****s.'”

(Not censored in Mary Pride’s version.)

.

nope-nope-octopus

His Quiver Full of Them: Jeri Lofland’s Thoughts

His Quiver Full of Them: Jeri Lofland’s Thoughts

Jeri’s post was originally published on her blog Heresy in the Heartland. It is reprinted with her permission. Also by Jeri on HA: “Generational Observations” and “Of Isolation and Community.”

Decades ago, I cross-stitched a scripture motto for my parents from Psalm 127, the favorite psalm of large families.

“Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

The psalmist goes on to say: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them…”

The term “quiverfull” is now used as both a noun and an adjective to describe a theology and lifestyle that glorifies human fertility while maintaining that God will provide the resources to raise as many children as he allows a couple to conceive. Contraception is held to be “playing God” and a violation of the command to be “Be fruitful and multiply”. The ideal Quiverfull couple are always open to “more blessings”, regardless of financial situation, health concerns, housing limitations, or needs of existing children.

I’m not certain when my parents decided that contraception was immoral. As a high schooler, Mom was an advocate of zero population growth and intended to adopt rather than bear children. A few years later, she graduated from a strict Catholic nursing school and married my dad. I was born a year later, my brother two years after that, and so on for the next 20 years.

Mail would arrive periodically from the Couple to Couple League and my parents had a couple of books by Catholic authors John & Sheila Copley explaining the practice of abstinence and/or breastfeeding as a means of birth control. Of course, even “natural family planning” (NFP) sounded too much like the evil “Planned Parenthood” so it was usually referred to as “child spacing”. Somewhere along the line my parents abandoned NFP (turns out it’s not all that effective at preventing pregnancy!) and the babies began to come even closer together.

Certainly Mom was influenced by Mary Pride’s 1985 book The Way Home, a story of the author’s journey from feminism to what she calls “reality”. Mary had just three young children when she wrote the book, in which she blasted away at contraception, lingerie, Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman, and even Christian schools.

All forms of sex that shy away from marital fruitfulness are perverted. Masturbation, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, prostitution, adultery, and even deliberate marital barrenness–all are perverted.”

“Since the word used for female is connected so strongly with the idea of nursing babies, whereas it has no connection at all with the idea of sexual activity, I believe that God is saying here that when women exchange their natural function of childbearing and motherliness for that which is ‘against nature’ [that is, trying to behave sexually like a man], the men tend to abandon the natural sexual use of the women and turn to homosexuality. When men stop seeing women as mothers, sex loses its sacredness. Sex becomes ‘recreational’, and therefore the drive begins to find new kicks.”    (Mary Pride, The Way Home, 1985)

(Pride’s position against family planning was more extreme than even the Catholic Couple-to-Couple League’s, prompting a correspondence between her and John Kippley, president of CCLI, and leading Pride to grudgingly endorse NFP in some situations in her sequel to The Way Home.)

Pride went on to birth six more babies and became a powerful force in the new homeschooling movement. My mom used to share The Way Home with all her friends and donated it to church libraries when she could. (When she encouraged me to read it, I was confused. Especially by the story about the lady wearing saran-wrap. Sexually naive young women raised in patriarchal, homeschooling isolation were definitely not Pride’s target audience.)

Mary Pride’s views fit rather well with the teachings of Bill Gothard–a middle-aged bachelor who handed out plenty of sexual and parenting advice at his seminars and encouraged couples to have surgeries to reverse previous vasectomies and tubal ligations. One of Gothard’s books informs us, “Labor in childbirth… was given to the woman for her spiritual benefit…” and points out that the God of the Old Testament “cursed several women by closing their wombs.” Attendees of Gothard’s conferences learned to associate infertility with God’s judgement. A full quiver, on the other hand, was a sign of God’s favor, a spiritual status symbol.

In 1990, a Nebraska couple published A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ. In this book, Rick and Jan Hess (homeschooling parents of ten) invite the reader to imagine a world where no one has ever had more than two or three siblings, effectively eliminating many historical figures. This exercise concludes with visualization of a future where enormous families are normal and God provides spacesuits for a missionary family moving their brood to evangelize a colony on the moon. My parents had this book, probably purchased at an IBLP seminar and still available on Gothard’s website.

Then there was Nancy Campbell’s occasional magazine for moms, Above Rubies. Nancy is a fierce promoter of anti-feminism from her compound in Tennessee. Her website includes multiple articles by women who felt guilt and regret over “the biggest mistake” of their life. After they repented, they went on to expand their families by four, five, six more babies. What mistake is reversed by more pregnancies? An abortion, perhaps? No, as it turns out, the biggest mistake of these women’s lives was a tubal ligation. Nancy also sells a book, A Change of Heart, encouraging couples to have surgeries to reverse both vasectomies and tubal ligations.

Vickie Farris, whose husband Mike is president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, homeschooled their ten children and lived to write a book about it. She encourages other women to reject birth control methods and embrace motherhood. Quiverfull women like Farris, and Michelle Duggar of “Nineteen Kids and Counting”, have built their lives on the mantra “God won’t give anyone more than they can handle”, sometimes phrased as “What God orders, he pays for”.

My parents were opponents of both birth control and sterilization. They even encouraged some of their friends to have reversal surgeries, resulting in many more babies. My mom had eleven children over 24 years, including ten [unassisted home]births. Pregnancy was not easy for her–she often referred to herself with the phrase from St. Paul, “a living sacrifice”. She spent most of my childhood breastfeeding, diapering, potty-training, and homeschooling on top of that. I understood that this was not culturally normal, but sought to convince myself that God was pleased with this self-sacrifice. I spent my teen years watching my mom’s body swell and deflate, and changing thousands of diapers.

In my twenties, as I waited for my turn to become a wife and mother, I quietly ticked off how many children I could have in years. I may have been ideologically persuaded that contraception was wrong, but I didn’t want to spend twenty years lactating either. When I got impatient for God to bring me a husband (no boyfriends on the horizon), I consoled myself by guessing how many fewer children I would bear in a shorter window of fertile sexual activity.

Fortunately, when I did get married, my husband and I quickly began to realize that many aspects of Quiverfull thought and practice were contradictory to our values. Not before taking NFP classes from a Catholic certified trainer, though. When we got pregnant anyway, we were told the method worked fine–we’d just had sex when [it turned out!] we were actually fertile. Well, what do you know?

I think my relationship with the Quiverfull movement finally ended a few years ago as I was perched on the end of an exam table in my doctor’s office. Looking up from my chart, she compassionately observed, “You’ve been raising kids for a long time,” and I burst into unexpected tears.

These days, stories of ex-Quiverfull moms and their “quivering daughters” are multiplying on the Internet like rabbits in the spring. The fruit of the movement has not turned out to be sweet; we deal with health problems, poverty, anxiety, depression, PTSD, eating disorders, cutting, sexual abuse, emotional incest, and divorce. (You can read far more than you want to know at the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog.)

In spite of these firsthand horror stories, Quiverfull continues to enjoy wide support in America and is gaining traction in other nations. Earlier this year, the BBC reported on the movement’s growth in the United Kingdom. You can listen to more, including scary-sounding clips from Nancy Campbell, here.

Meanwhile here in the States, Hobby Lobby and Catholic hospitals gnash their teeth over their employees’ rights to use birth control. Texan teenagers are taught that contraceptives don’t work. (The result? Texas has more than 10% of America’s teen births.) And TLC continues to profit from shows like “Nineteen Kids and Counting”, promoting Quiverfull ideology to some unsuspecting viewers.

The show should include a disclaimer: For your own safety, don’t try this at home.

Making My Own Way: Matthew’s Story, Part Two

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Matthew” is a pseudonym.

*****

In this series: Part One | Part Two

*****

High School Years

My first year in high school was wonderful for me. Finally, I was out of the house! I made friends and felt like I could finally breathe. I won’t go into great detail about my high school experience, since that isn’t the point of this story. However, I will point out a few things that I noticed over those four years:

• I discovered that I had a real problem with social anxiety. I’m not sure if this is hereditary or caused by my childhood. After reading some of the stories on this site, I’m thinking that it was a little of both.

• I was plagued by feelings of inadequacy. I thought I was not good enough, smart enough, athletic enough, witty enough… none of it. I did come to the realization that there are things that I’m good at, but it took years. In high school, I wound up trying everything since I had no idea where I fit in – I’d never had other kids around for me to gauge my own ability.

• I was plagued by guilt. Even if I hadn’t done anything wrong, I was often overcome by guilt over my (imagined and real) transgressions. This tied a lot into the messages we were receiving at church, which at this point were downright toxic.

• I had little-to-no self-confidence. As a homeschooler, you become so used to your parents’ authority, that you don’t really know how to make your own decisions, or when you do, you constantly second guess yourself.

So while getting out of the house was a welcome relief, I still felt like I was trying to overcome my upbringing.

At Home – Part 2

While I was off enjoying my high school experience, the “shit was hitting the fan” at home… oh, and how! My oldest younger sister had started hanging out with this girl she met at the homeschooling coop, and they decided they weren’t going to let being at home slow them down. I noticed one night that my sister and this girl, who was sleeping over, were acting really strange and goofy. Turns out, they were drunk! But how did they get the alcohol? After all, my parents didn’t drink. I later learned that my 12-year-old, shy-as-can-be sister stole it from a convenience store!

For my little sister, this would kick off what would become a six year blur of cigarettes, alcohol, promiscuous sex, drugs, and whatever else. To this day, I am convinced that the combination of home schooling and extreme Christian Fundamentalism destroyed her confidence. I remember her telling me, at 11, that she had given up and could never live up to the standard — I really think that she cracked under the pressure of that atmosphere.

She got pregnant at 17, got married, moved out, and hasn’t had issues with drugs or alcohol since. She and her husband now have 5 kids, all of whom are in public school, and her oldest daughter (13) is an exemplary student. All of her kids appear to be doing well.

Because of my sister’s meltdowns, I ended up getting away with a lot that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So in a roundabout way, I owe her a “thanks” for taking the pressure off me and humbling our parents. I did take advantage of her recklessness and flew under the radar as I started drinking at 15.

College

The drinking continued on into college. I could never shake the idea that I wasn’t good enough and that I was in a perpetual state of sin, so the alcohol helped me to ease the anxiety and mentally “check out” for long periods of time.

Then I’d get sober, feel horrible, and go cry to my Christian friends about how I was going to hell. My secular friends would shake their heads and wonder why I was so conflicted. This pattern continued until I got sober at about 26 years old.

Other things happened in college as well. My drinking habits combined with my lack of any sort of sex education made me a sitting duck when it came to STDs and unexpected pregnancy.

But despite all that, I managed to graduate.

Adulthood

Today, I don’t harbor any resentment over my upbringing, as I realize it could have been a whole lot worse! There were actually several good things that came out of it:

• Since much of my learning was from reading books and not in the classrooms, I’m very good at figuring things out on my own. This has been a very beneficial skill to have as an IT specialist.

• I don’t mind being alone. This is something I’m starting to see as a blessing. During my four year marriage (yes… I’m divorced) I was miserable most of the time. I always had to come home to a spouse who was either angry with me or trying to drag me to some function that I didn’t really feel like attending. Once I realized that marriage is not for me, I’ve been able to enjoy being a single dad, making my own way. Since as a kid, I often went out and about to do things on my own, it isn’t really much of an adjustment to do things and go places on my own today. I don’t need a large social circle.

• I’ve seen the damage that religious extremism causes and I can spot the warning signs a mile away. While I still attend church, it’s a seeker-sensitive, theology-lite congregation that just loves everyone. I take my kids on the weekends when I have them, but I don’t preach at them. Their faith is between them and God. I expect them to make mistakes and refuse to hold them to a higher standard than the one I hold for myself. I have no idea if God is real or if the Bible is completely true. If he is and his word is true, then I’m sure he’ll get my attention one way or another. But after years of unanswered prayers, a failed marriage, kids from multiple relationships, and alcoholism, I find it hard to believe that he is actively involved in our lives.

• I witnessed first-hand the despair and hopelessness of many disillusioned homeschooling parents. These are people who, by and large, poured their hearts and souls into raising Godly men and women. Seeing this convinced me that it’s best to adopt a “live and let live” parenting model and to love your children unconditionally! Even if my son winds up marching in the local gay pride parade with his boyfriend and my daughter ends up working overtime at the Diamond Club, I will still love them and welcome them in my home with open arms. Life is too short for fallouts over lifestyle choices.

Summary

Homeschooling was really just one piece of the whole dysfunctional puzzle. I’m sure that if other factors had been different, but I was still homeschooled, I might feel differently about it than I do now. That said, it is very encouraging to read accounts from other homeschoolers to confirm that many of my experiences are shared by others.

End of series.

Making My Own Way: Matthew’s Story, Part One

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Matthew” is a pseudonym.

*****

In this series: Part One | Part Two

*****

I have been reading the posts on Homeschoolers Anonymous with great interest for the past few weeks. After giving it some thought, I decided to share my own experiences. I can identify with much of what has been posted here, even though my story isn’t as traumatic as some of those I’ve read here.

Early Childhood

I was homeschooled from grades K – 8 and in public school for grades 9 – 12. I believe that it was my dad’s idea to send me to high school full-time. I give him credit for this since it left my parents open to criticism from members of the church we attended. Had it been solely up to my mom, I probably would have gone to public school for math and science only and been at home for all other subjects. She typically had her own ways of doing things, and her ways didn’t always line up with conventional wisdom.

My parents started homeschooling me in the early 80’s (I’m 33). If I had to guess, I would say that they were influenced to do this by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family ministry and Mary Pride’s book, The Way Home. Back in the mid-80’s, there weren’t nearly as many groups and organizations for conservative, Christian homeschoolers. However, our family managed to link up with a church that had a few other families that were educating their kids at home, so we would get together with these other families on a weekly basis for a homeschooling coop.

Our curriculum was a hodge-podge of Saxon, Bob Jones, and Abeka. My memory is a little hazy on what curriculums we used for each subject, since my mom typically mixed and matched our text books from year to year. I am certain that my parents’ primary reason for homeschooling my three younger sisters and I was to pass on their religious beliefs. It may have had a little to do with my mom’s belief that she could give us a better education than the local public schools, but the main reasons were definitely religious in nature.

The church we attended started off as a group of charismatic, non-denominational Christians who just loved Jesus. Practically every member was a first generation “believer” and many had really traumatic pasts. There wasn’t too much emphasis on theology or formulating a consistent, Christian worldview, but the members were undoubtedly in love with the Lord. The pastor of this church had a particularly abusive childhood and had accepted Christ in his early 20’s. From there, he just started preaching. I don’t believe that he had a formal education at a seminary, but he was very sincere and spent his life studying the Word.

My early childhood was fairly pleasant. I didn’t mind homeschooling, mainly since I didn’t know any different, and because all my best friends were at church. Things were good up to the age of about 9 or 10. But then, slowly and subtly, the environment at church and at home began to change.

At Church

Our congregation started to get heavily involved in the Pro-Life cause and, in particular, Operation Rescue. We became very active in pickets and protests and even started sitting in front of abortion clinics. For a 10-year-old kid, the scene at these early protests and sit-ins leaves a real impression. On one side, you had the Christians, who were singing praise and worship songs while walking in a slow circle or sitting in front of the clinic. I never witnessed any of them behaving in a confrontational manner (although I did witness how they would go limp when the police would start hauling them into patty wagons).

On the other side were God’s enemies – the feminists, liberals, and atheists. These people would spew all kinds of hate and vulgarities at the Christians. As a kid, the contrast was stark. I couldn’t understand why these people were so angry at the Christians who were just trying to save the babies.

(Getting a little off track here… so back to the story.)

Not too long after getting involved in Operation Rescue, our church split up. About half the members stayed at the original church and the other half planted a new one that began meeting at an elementary school. Soon after the split, a new assistant pastor came on board. The new pastor was staunchly reformed and, within a few years, the church adopted a Reformed, Christian Reconstructionist theology. Christian Reconstructionists are fiercely post-millennial, meaning that they believe Christ will not return until all aspects of culture and government are under his “Lordship.”

What does this look like exactly? The book of Leviticus should give you some idea. The pipe dream of this movement is one where the constitution is replaced by Old Testament case laws. Public executions by stoning, slavery, and extreme patriarchy would be the “norm.” Separation of church and state would become a thing of the past. RJ Rushdooney was the patron saint of this movement.

Once our church adopted this theology, homeschooling became the main method for raising up our nation’s next generation of foot soldiers to usher in a theocratic “utopia.” Suddenly, evangelism was replaced by activism and joy was replaced by anger and paranoia. Rather than serving the community, the members became focused primarily on getting the right candidates elected into office, including a few from within our small church.

For years, my family had been the standard by which other homeschooling families in our community were measured. But then all these new homeschoolers started showing up. These families made my parents look liberal by comparison. They adhered to the courtship model and truly believed that public education was a tool of the devil. I did witness one marriage via courtship between an oldest daughter and one of the men in the church. My parents praised them as a shining example of biblical courtship.

They were divorced within a year.

At Home – Part 1

At about age 10, I started to realize that I was “different.” Kids in the neighborhood started asking me why I didn’t go to school. I’d probably give them some canned answer that my parents told me to recite when asked this question. But it still made me feel like an outsider. It also didn’t help that I had weak hand/eye coordination – I couldn’t hit a baseball! I’m sure if you’re a natural leader and athlete like, say, Tim Tebow, being homeschooled isn’t too bad. But for me, it felt like I was getting a double-whammy.

When you also take into account the fact that I was spending every day, 24/7, with my domineering mother and three younger sisters, well… let’s just say the fact I’m straight makes me living proof that homosexuality is not rooted in one’s upbringing.

Around grade 6, I had some sports-related activities going on at the local Middle School. I got to see kids goofing around, having fun, and just being kids. I was incredibly shy and did not know how to join in, but I really wanted to! I was tired of feeling like an outsider. I wanted to jockey for position in the middle school social hierarchy. I wanted to get teased or get in a fight. I wanted to flirt with girls. I was tired of spending my afternoons and summers cooped up with my mom and sisters. I wanted my own life – one that wouldn’t be under the constant supervision of my parents.

A few days later, I mustered up all the courage I had, and told my parents that I wanted to go to school. I’ll never forget my mom’s response: “NO WAY! OUT OF THE QUESTION! THAT’S FINAL!” I was crushed and cried for a few days. On top of this rejection, her and my dad laid a massive guilt trip on me for even wanting to go to school in the first place. Saying things like, “I can’t believe how ungrateful you are for all the sacrifices we have made so that your mother can stay home with you kids” or explaining to me “how disappointed God must be in me for being so ungrateful.” Then my mom would force out some tears to drive the point home.

Of course, whenever we were around my dad’s work colleagues or anyone else who was skeptical of homeschooling, I was expected to suck it up, be sociable, and tell them how great my homeschooling experience was. And I did… every time.

That rejection and those next two miserable years were the worst of my life. My parents used to be fond of telling us that we “have no idea how good we have it” as kids. But I’ll tell you, nothing I have encountered in adulthood rivaled the misery of 7th and 8th grade. It was like I died a little inside. However, worse than the initial hurt was the fact that the seeds were planted for my distrust and animosity not just of my mom, but of women in general. I really believe that those 13 years spent being micromanaged by a controlling, overbearing mother turned me off to ever wanting to live with a woman full-time again.

To be continued.

Evangelicalism Built Up the Homeschool Movement

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on January 1, 2013.

I lot of people have commented on my blog about my legalistic background (saying my story is unique). But honestly, I don’t find my story all that unique because of the way the evangelicals influenced the homeschool movement at large. Let me example.

I have mentioned that I was homeschooled in an evangelical family during the 90s and early 2000s. My parents started out homeschooling me for academic purposes (their plans were to keep my younger sister in school/kindergarten and just homeschool me for a year). But soon after they got swept up by the evangelical homeschoolers who were homeschooling for religious reasons.

In the 90s most homeschoolers were evangelical, and most were conservative evangelicals (stressing modesty, courtship, traditional women’s roles) and of the Religious Right.

But here’s the part to understand. Not only were homeschoolers influenced by the evangelicals, but it was the evangelical leaders who provided the gateway and built up the homeschooling movement that swept America in the 80s and 90s.

I recently read Frank Schaeffer’s autobiography. Frank is the son of the famous evangelical intellectual Francis Scaheffer (after his father’s death, Frank left the evangelical world and the Religious Right he helped build). Because he was a missionary kid, he was homeschooled in the 60s — in a foreign country, mind you. He writes,

Where homeschooling had meant freedom for me–albeit chaotic, crazy freedom– homeschooler leaders like Mary Pride (whose books I got published and who owed me her platform) were pushing homeschooling as a means to isolate and brain-wash a generation of children.

Mary Pride’s The Way Home: Beyond Feminism Back to Reality fueled the Quiverfull movement, a movement that taught that sex should be open to life, and Christians should have large families (we are talking 7, 10, 12, even 20 like the Duggars) in order to dominate and overpower evil cities like San Fransisco. Even natural family planning was discouraged in this movement because that is still birth control, albeit natural.

One way reason Frank Schaeffer was able to get Mary Pride’s book published is his father, Francis Schaeffer, literally had brought Crossway Books to fame. Here is Frank, talking about those who stayed at their missionary house in Switzerland.

The evangelical elite didn’t stay in dorms but rented big chalets, as did Billy Zeoli and many others, including Lane Dennis. Lane was the publisher and editor at Crossway Books. In the case of Lane Dennis, he also came to woo two of the hottest evangelical authors, and to inspire a third to being to write: me.

Lane was kind and honest man. We all liked him, and soon Mom and Dad gave Lane their new books to publish. Actually, I did. I was acting as their agent. (Several years later, on the strength of the Schaeffer book sales, Crossway went from being an obsure mom-and-pop tract-printing company to one of the major evangelical publishers.)

Frank Schaeffer and his father also started the Religious Right; they actually went to leaders like Pat Robinson, Jerry Fawell, and James Dobson, and asked the religious leaders to make abortion a religious issue. Before the Schaeffer team, abortion was a Catholic, not evangelical, issue.

In other words, the Religious leaders, such as Francis Schaeffer, that built the Religious Right endorsed homeschooling too. This meant that evangelicalism, homeschooling, and the Religious Right all intertwined for the conservative homeschoolers of the 90s. .

When Mary Pride talked about the great Edith Schaeffer and her son Frank, it didn’t hurt that Frank had been homeschooled:

The evangelical homeschool movement was becoming profoundly anti-American. And Dad and I had done our part to empower them. The biggest laugh of all was that my home “school” experience was held up by some as proof that homeschooling was a great thing! Edith Schaeffer had homeschooled the great pro-life firebrand Franky, so this must work!

Mary Pride sites Mrs. Schaeffer’s book The Hidden Art of Homemaking a lot in her book. She says it was Mrs. Schaeffer’s homemaking skills that made their missionary house what it was. Read: because of a woman devoted to the home (where she homeschooled her son), thousands were able to be evangelized.

Of course, there were other evangelical leaders who got behind homeschooling, such as James Dobson, but again, this is not surprising because of what the evangelical community had begun to stand for.

There were many parents I knew (including many evangelicals) who were homeschooling who used their daily contact with their children to expand, not diminish, their children’s exposure to the bigger world. That said, by the 1970s the evangelicals as a whole had come up with an alternate “gated” America: “Christian” education, radio, rock, makeup, publishing, schools, home-schools, weight loss, sex manuals, and politics. It wasn’t about being something but about not being secular, about not having nudity, sex, or four-letter words. What it was for, no one knew.

In other words, the evangelicals reacted to the modern culture (some of which I believe was important to take a stand against), and in their attempts to not “be” secular, they became more of isolationists. This was the perfect environment to foster an evangelical homeschool movement.

And that’s what happened. Influenced by the works of Edith Schaeffer and Mary Pride, the Quiverfull ideal reached the hands of the homeschool leaders. Evangelical followers were ready for a pure lifestyle, a life away from secularism and feminism, and homeschooling provided an easy and safe way to raise children.

*****

It seems America is finally coming out of the evangelical homeschooling (homeschool mandate) stink, in small dosages. Part of this is because unschooling and peaceful parenting have attracted a lot of agnostics and atheists and brought more balance to the homeschooling world. There has always been some non-religious homeschoolers, but they were far between in my day.

Here’s a blog of a homeschool atheists mom as an example. Of course, I support the evangelical’s right to homeschool, but I hope evangelicals homeschool for a reason other than isolationism and purism that we saw in the 90s.