Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children


Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP


Last month, “Dash” commented on an older SSB article, Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams. He used some strong words to describe his experience:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

In the comments, Dash was asked to share more, and did so with me privately. I have compiled them into this article (and at least one more article). Dash’s words were difficult for me to read, especially because of my own abusive childhood, but also because of many years of teachings I was subjected to as a parent, including Gothard’s materials, so I am going to issue trigger warnings for anyone who might be triggered by childhood abuse, by spiritual abuse, etc.
Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries

Dash Explains Why He is Telling His Story Now


I have chosen to share my story with you because I’m 44 years old and it’s time for me to start talking, to anyone who cares enough to listen. I’ve already lost more than half my time to Gothard, and I want my life back. He’s 80 years old and I believe he is still damaging people in alarming ways, and he is leaving behind a deeply rooted, vile and secretively violent institution that seems to be poised to grind forth in his absence and continue churning out his awful work upon the next generation. I want to put a stop to IBLP, and I want to end Gothard’s legacy as utterly as possible. Everything he has ever written, touched, or talked about is poisoned and poisonous, and it must be destroyed.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about those aspects of Gothard’s teachings which were protocols for physical abuse: examples include blanket training, beating children with rods, and the sheer exasperation of parents whose children failed the rules of the program which would result in explosions of rage and indiscriminate hitting. In particular, Gothard’s distortions of the following verse were extremely detrimental:

Proverbs 23:13- Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Gothard devoted a great deal of written material, both IBLP and ATI, to using this verse as a premise for encouraging brutal beatings, albeit using roundabout phrasing and “soft” language which absolved him legally of any actual responsibility. At least, that’s how my parents interpreted it.

Part of my frustration in confronting Gothard stems from the fact that my family threw out a lot of Gothard’s most offensive ATI literature, some of which included blatantly racist arguments encouraging white followers to apply the “Quiverfull” practice, and to avoid miscegenation (in addition to the pamphlets encouraging beatings). So I can’t document a lot of these anecdotes. The basic literature quoting Proverbs 23:13, however, is part of the Red Book I believe; so it begins there.

“Spanking” vs Beatings

Also, I would like to be very clear about this point: “spanking” was not what we experienced in my family. These were actual beatings, ranging anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more. The beatings were delivered to the buttocks, thighs, and lower back, and sometimes the hands, fingers, and forearms (defensive injuries), in response to any perceived slight, offense, or rules violation.

Depending on the severity of the of the punishment, anything from a wooden spoon to a 3/4″x2′ dowel rod was used. My parents actually had an array of dowel rods to choose from (at least a dozen) ranging from a thin one about 1/8″ thick to the 3/4″ terror previously described. Occasionally my dad would use his belt, a heavy leather belt with a weighty brass buckle. Not often, though, because the belt would leave visible bruises.

My sister and I would go to school with huge black and purple welts across our buttocks, carefully placed so that they were covered by our clothes, and we would sit at our desks in excruciating pain with tears streaming silently down our faces. This was during our initial participation in ATI, but before we enrolled full-bore in home-schooling.

My parents were very clear that these practices were part of our Gothard instruction.

On the few occasions when I met Gothard in person, he actually stated that he believed spanking made children healthier and more successful. He would then quote the proverb about beating. He was very good about mincing words in order to evade responsibility.

If you have questions at this point, it would help the dialogue. I’m happy to type everything I can think of, but I get so bogged-down and blinded with rage that it becomes difficult to think clearly. Answering questions is very focusing for me.

(JA note:  On the next post, I have asked Dash specific questions and he responds to those questions.


I’m not interested in confronting Gothard on Christian terms, in accordance with church protocols. He forfeited that privilege decades ago. I want worldly justice. I want a genuine reckoning from the man. I want to burn his entire legacy to the ground, and stand amid the ashes and say to the world, “This was a man who ruined thousands upon thousands of lives. Nothing to see here. Please move along.”

The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I keep hearing from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard my be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” No, no and no. This is a lie: an ugly, flat-out foul and evil lie, intended to continue perpetuating Gothard’s abusive legacy. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ. Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should listen to the Holy Spirit, and not any human teacher.


The Dangerous Fallacies of Gothard Apologists

I’ve stated this in a previous email, but it bears repeating. The greatest and most dangerous fallacy that I hear from Gothard apologists is the argument “Gothard may be imperfect, but his teachings are still right.” This is blatantly false. Everything Gothard teaches is wrong, all of it, even his direct Scripture quotes, because the CONTEXT is wrong. It places Gothard in the seat of worship instead of Christ.

Everything Gothard ever taught or ever will teach must be discarded. If people want answers, they should read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit. They should not listen to Gothard or any other human teacher; they should make up their own minds.

 he second greatest fallacy I hear from Gothard apologists is “Many families have a great experience in IBLP and ATI. If your family had a bad experience, it’s because you misinterpreted Gothard’s intentions.” This is also blatantly false. I believe Gothard does in fact intend for parents to beat their children. I would argue that anyone who claims to have had a good experience with Gothard, IBLP, or ATI is either lying, deluded, or sadists themselves. If you got 4-5 years into ATI and you actually applied everything in the publications that Gothard sent you, especially the material based on Proverbs 23:13, you would have had an identical experience to mine.

I would argue that those who believe that they had a positive experience with Gothard are the ones who are in fact misinterpreting his intentions… just as I would argue that those who defend his behavior from the ongoing accusations of sexual misconduct are deluding themselves as to his true nature, and are blind to the damage he has inflicted.

Dash Believes Bill Gothard to be a Con Artist and Explains Why

I believe that Gothard is a consummate con artist. In spite of the endless documentation of the damage he has done, Gothard still manages to convince his inner circle of friends that he is a good man with good intentions who merely stumbled a little bit, and his victims are more to blame than he is for making such a big deal out of “nothing.” There are two explanations for this phenomenon:

  •  The first explanation is that genuinely hurting people, like my mother, who are desperate for real answers and a real connection with God, are easily misled by Gothard’s overpowering charm, his carefully crafted image, and his claims of secret knowledge and a special understanding of the Bible. These people are broken to begin with, and the hurt piled on hurt that Gothard inflicts is too much for them to comprehend; they defend Gothard out of reflex as all abuse victims will defend an abuser, due to Stockholm syndrome and an inability to comprehend their own damages and failures.
  • The second explanation is that Gothard appeals to genuine sadists and sociopaths, such as your commenter Alfred who obviously has zero concern for Gothard’s victims and is committed entirely to defending Gothard and behaving as vindictively toward his accusers as possible. These people are reprehensible scumbags. I would use a more graceful word to describe them, but there isn’t one.

JA note: Alfred, who was mentioned above, is Alfred Corduan, who commented on this SSB post. You can also see his comments on articles at the Gothard survivor site, Recovering Grace website, where he continually defends Bill Gothard. 


I would like to close at this time by saying that while I no longer call myself a Christian, I never gave up on Christ. I still believe in the Great Commandment:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I don’t do so well with the first part; loving God is next to impossible when I don’t know who God is, and I blame Gothard for that. I may yet end up in hell, and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I focus on the second part, and I try to love my fellow-man as best I can. That’s the best I can do. I can’t save myself. Only God can do that, if he wants to.


“That’s the Jesus I follow. I don’t know WHO Creflo Dollar is preaching about”


Mega-church Pastor Creflo Dollar wants a $65 million jet and more fish stories defending the exorbitant expense


Mega-church Pastor Creflo Dollar has been in the news lately. Earlier this month, he sent out an appeal for 200,000 to donate $300 each so he could purchase a $65 million jet.

A Creflo Dollar spokesperson said in an interview on March 13 that Dollar needed the Gulfstream G650 to carry thousands of pounds of food and other supplies, as well as the word of God, worldwide. (Source)

Uh-huh. Yea, I want to see this mega pastor in a jet crammed with food and supplies. The kind of food and supplies they are talking about is caviar and scuba diving gear. Who are they trying to kid?  I wonder how much salary Creflo Dollar’s spokesperson makes? He’d have to make more than peanuts in order to tell fish stories like that, don’t you think?



My friend, Kevin Oliver of NotYourTypicalNegro posted this YouTube video of a pastor who sure seems legit. Here is the transcript:

“Look, the bottom line is this. This is ludicrous, it’s insulting. Uh, I think at some point these mega-churches are going to come down, people are going to open their eyes, and we should NOT pimp the poor so that we can have a private jet and a private lifestyle that doesn’t benefit the congregation or the city, or people who are the least, the lost and the left out.

Jesus said, “I was hungry, come feed me. I’m in prison, come visit me.” THAT’S the Jesus I follow. I don’t know WHO Creflo Dollar is preaching about.”



SSB Gathering – March 22, 2015


Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

 by Kathi



Luke 7: 36-50

(36) Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

(37) When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, (38) and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

(39) When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

(40) Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

(41) “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. (42) Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

(43) Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

(44) Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. (45) You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. (46) You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. (47) Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” (48) Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

(49) The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

(50) Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”



May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?


photo credit: Brian Bonham

A Spider Web of Emergent Leader Tony Jones and His Business and Christian Celebrity Supporters


Emergent Leader Tony Jones has a group of friends who fail to look beyond the benefits his celebrity status gives them


Have you been following the ongoing Tony Jones/Julie McMahon strife in social media lately?  Tony Jones is part of the Emerging Church movement. R.L. Stollar did a great piece summing it up and here is a quick overview:

On January 27, 2015, Emerging Church leader Tony Jones released a statement responding to allegations of abuse against him by his former wife, Julie McMahon.

These allegations, which date back to 2008 when Jones served McMahon divorce papers, received a breath of new life in the last year in the comments section of David Hayward’s blog post about Jones and Mark Driscoll, “Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What came first, the thug or the theology?” They then came to the forefront of numerous people’s attentions when popular Christian leaders Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber announced their WX15 conference, originally produced by Tony Jones’s organization, the JoPa Group. Several concerned fans of Evans, for example, commented on one of her blog posts about Evans and Bolz-Weber’s associating with Jones. “I saw your upcoming conference featuring women and got super excited,” said one individual, “until I saw that you’re partnering with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt for the event. This is surprising to me because you’ve always been an advocate for the abused and for victims, but Tony Jones had been accused by his ex wife of some serious things, including throwing her against a wall and dislocating her shoulder from its socket.” A Response to Tony Jones’s Statement

Here is how Tony Jones responded publicly about his divorce:

Being a theologian has always felt like the right fit for me. I realize that my divorce impacts my credibility in some circles, but I am thankful for the communities that continue in relationship with me and continue to allow me to serve in the capacity I have felt called to since middle school. – Tony Jones 

Interesting … he still feels called to ministry despite one of the most bitter, contentious, and ongoing divorce court battles I’ve seen (the battle still continues today), while evidently leaving his wife and children in dire financial situation. But it is the second part of this quote that I’d like to focus on:

… but I am thankful for the communities that continue in relationship with me and continue to allow me to serve in the capacity I have felt called to since middle school.


What communities?  Who is allowing him to serve in the capacity he has felt called to since middle school?  Who are these people who ignore domestic violence among their ranks in support of a friend? 

There is a disturbing pattern that we have seen time and again, where the church creates a climate where leaders defend other leaders for no other reason except that they are their buddies, meanwhile the marginalized, the abused are left in the dust. Let me name a few stories SSB has covered:

It has happened in Calvary Chapel: Chuck Smith knew of the gross abuse problems going on with Pastor Bob Grenier and his church and sons. But the abuse was overlooked and Chuck Smith essentially said his hands were tied. It’s messy to call out one of “your own,” isn’t it?


It has happened in my case. After Chuck O’Neal’s lawsuit against me and four others was dismissed, he tried to recreate his image and has done so by buying a relationship. Chuck O’Neal’s church supports Tony Miano monthly for his full-time street preacher “ministry” and also endorsed Tony Miano’s book. They speak at conferences together. Do you think that Tony Miano would ever speak out against Chuck O’Neal and his bad behavior for suing?  Nope, nada. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.


In the Sovereign Grace Ministries/CJ Mahaney situation, we saw how pastors covered up for each other and kept known sex abuse cases amongst themselves instead of reporting to authorities. The pastors continually denied knowing about these sexual abuse cases, yet once in court, one pastor finally admitted under oath that he did in fact know of the sex abuse coverup.

This lawsuit was dismissed only because of the Statute of Limitations, but the appalling pattern which we are observing is leaders in high places who deliberately turned a blind eye to known abuses. In C.J. Mahaney’s case, his friends in high places (at The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel), even wrote public statements in support of C.J. Mahaney. Not one of those men who issued those statements has publicly recanted them (although one of the statements has been removed).

But this is how I see it working with C.J. supporters: “We love C.J. Mahaney and what he stands for. He’s got all the right doctrine. He believes in complementarianism just like we do. He’s Reformed, he’s got charisma, he draws a crowd, and a crowd follows him at conferences and buys his books. He has endorsed the books that I wrote, so that means more people buy my books, so let’s not let a little church squabble interfere with OUR relationship. I’ll just let C.J. Mahaney handle his church because it really doesn’t affect me.”


We are now watching the same pattern unfold with Tony Jones and his circle of friends who have come to his defense.

They have done this publicly via statements of support, they also support him by endorsing his books, inviting him to speak, etc. Additionally, some of these defenders shut down anyone who challenges their endorsement of their good buddy, Tony Jones. They shut down the conversation by removing comments, unfollowing on Twitter, etc.

In fact it was seeing this kind of behavior by a notable friend of Tony Jones which prompted a recent tweet of mine:



They have even attempted to shut down conversation by threatening lawsuits against bloggers who speak out or allow conversations on their blog. Yes, David Hayward was threatened when he allowed Julie McMahon and others a place to share their personal story on his blog post. Her voice was previously silenced in Emergent circles and she was referred to as “bat-shit crazy.” (That exact and very memorable phrase was heard by people who had never even met Julie, but were warned to stay away from her.)

I stumbled across a great video which describes the pattern of what is going on with Tony Jones and his friends. Some call this kind of network diagram a mind map, others call it a spider web. Whatever the term, “Emergent Parody” uses it to show how Tony Jones and some other people involved with Emergent events and books are all tied together. This video is only 4 minutes long, but as you see the web of connections between these folks, we have to ask ourselves, “who is benefiting from these business-like connections?”



Brad Sargent has been following and writing the ongoing developments in the Tony Jones situation, especially as it relates to abuse systems. This is from his article, 10 Institutional: Christian Industrial Complex:

If/when money becomes a major issue to the insider elites, the oligarchy typically becomes a plutarchy (i.e., plutocracy, rule by the rich). This is where the individual celebrities link up with complementary financial partners: event sponsors and promoters, publishers, speakers bureaus, social media platforms, certifying agencies, etc. Where grassroots movements might be far more sustainable, the consumer networks require constant streams of new products to keep the income maintainable – and sometimes the reduction in the size of the celebrity group at the top of the publicity pyramid.

When the demand side of consumers marries with the supply side of elites-and-partners, this once-creative counterculture is on the way to a closed system. Only those individuals who have the required platform, message, social media following, connections with others in the directory are allowed to be designated as elite insiders, and – for “the greater good” – there is now a gridlock against outside voices that critique. Inside critiquers are likewise not very welcome, and so various enforcers of the system find ways to silence, deflect, or remove them.


Parenting: How to Respond When Your Children are Demons, even as a Babe in the Womb Affecting Your Pregnant Wife


Parenting, children as demons, demons wrestling with unborn babies in the womb of your pregnant wife? Say what?


by Kathi


“What in the name of all that is holy?”


These were the words that I uttered to Julie Anne when I ran across the post, “Parenting Means Wrestling with Demons,” by Jonathan Parnell on John Piper’s Desiring God site.

I’ll admit, I tend to not see spiritual warfare in everyday life, especially when it comes to child development, pregnancy, birthing, or parenting. I look at these things as normal life happenings. This article, however, suggests that there is a war on our children and that demons hate little children. (The intent of my article is not to focus on whether or not spiritual warfare is real or if demons exist, but to focus on how the mindset of turning normal life events into a spiritual battle may be harmful.)

The very beginning of Parnell’s article had me scratching my head. He starts with a story:

I nudged the door open with my shoulder, hands holding carryout (again). I made my way through the dark living room and set dinner on the table. I could hear the kids playing in the basement as I peeked into the bedroom to find my wife lying there, doubled over with nausea. She felt too sick to think about eating, not to mention preparing food for the rest of us, and so for the fourth time in as many nights, dad was dishing dinner for the fam.

This is how it goes in wartime, and for a few months now at our house, we’ve been in the battle zone. My wife is pregnant with our fifth child.

As many mothers could attest, sometimes it’s not so much morning-sickness as just plain sickness. She hasn’t felt well since the newest member of our family came into existence at the end of last year. But it’s okay — we get it. It comes with the territory. Nausea, in fact, is just one piece of the larger struggle. We’ve learned by now that wrestling demons isn’t supposed to be easy.

Is it me, or does Parnell sound a bit annoyed at his wife’s pregnancy sickness? He may not have intended to sound this way, but he sure comes across that way. He’s bringing home carryout (again) and his wife is unable to prepare food for the family, which leaves him dishing out dinner. . . for the fourth time, for crying out loud!

I’m more concerned about the fact that his wife has not felt well since the birth of their last child “at the end of last year.” Does this mean that they have a 3- or 4-month old and she’s pregnant again? No wonder she feels sick. There is a real physical issue going on. Is she dealing with postpartum depression? Were there concerns for her physical safety after the birth of her fourth child that she not go through another pregnancy? If she did give birth at the end of last year, her body hasn’t had much time to fully recover from birth to go through pregnancy again.

But this is nothing new. They’ve been in this battle zone before. Please help me understand how pregnancy sickness and bringing home carryout (again) equates with wrestling demons and Satan hating children. My concern is that when viewing parenting and children through the lens of spiritual warfare, a line may get blurred when a parent responds to or tries to differentiate between normal child behavior and Satan’s influence on the child or the family.

Parnell calls for  a change in perspective:

This calls for a shift in our perspective as parents. If we go into the work of parenting with a Precious Moments romanticism, it won’t be long before despair sets in. It’s just too hard if we think it’s going to be easy. It’s essential to know, especially when the going gets tough, that we are fighting hell.




I would like to know if anyone actually thinks that parenting is going to be easy. I would venture to guess from the moment that baby is born, no parent thinks that it’s raising a child is going to be a cakewalk. But, to go to the extreme of fighting hell? Well, okay I guess.

From this point on, it is made clear that everything a child does is related to spiritual warfare, from peeing on the floor, to not staying in bed at night, to being rude, to even a pre-born abnormality. Forget taking parenting or child development classes. They won’t help you wrestle the demons.

Even though Parnell thinks that children are a blessing (but don’t put those blessings on a pedestal lest they become your idol and certainly don’t let them run your home), the crux of the matter is that children are born sinful and are in desperate need of a Savior.

When does this view of spiritual warfare in parenting and children cross the line?

Let’s take for example the recent disturbing news story of Justin and Marsha Harris of Arkansas. Justin is a State Senator who fostered and adopted two little girls. The oldest was sexually abused and has difficult emotional issues that need addressing. These issues were so severe that DHS reports that they tried to talk the Harrises out of adopting the two girls.

Now, the Harrises are being accused of isolating the girls from each other (because of believed demon possession and telepathic communication) and monitoring them with video devices, of having an exorcism performed on the girls, and “rehoming” the oldest to the person who sexually abused her. The Harrises also run a Christian preschool and a former teacher is reporting that Harris would perform exorcisms on misbehaving children. The teacher also reported that Marsha Harris spoke freely of the demons that possessed their two adopted girls.

This is where parents go too far with their beliefs of spiritual warfare and Satan-hating children, and it crosses the line of inappropriately responding to a child’s natural development. Misbehaving children is normal. Emotional and behavioral disturbances in a sexually abused child is normal. Pregnancy sickness is normal. Bringing home takeout dinners because a spouse is too sick to cook . . . is normal.

Should the response to normal emotional and behavior disturbances be to . . . “fight hell?”




image:Owned by Cupid via photopin (license)

Is the Local Church the Greatest Hope for our World?


Church:  the greatest hope for our world?




He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16


Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
    as I meet with his godly people.

Psalms 111:1


 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.  

Ephesians 1:22-23


I checked my Twitter feed in the parking lot at school right before coming home and stewed about this tweet on the 20+ minute drive home:




My brain went all over the place with this and I wondered about you. What do you think of this statement?  Notice it doesn’t define church as a building.  So, with that in mind . . .





photo credit: Thursday Night Bible Study via photopin (license)

Chuck O’Neal, My Ex-Pastor Who Sued 5 Former Church Members, Tweets His Most Honest Tweet Ever


This will keep me smiling all week:

And in case he deletes it, I have a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 6.12.39 PM


Update on Alecia Pennington, Homeschool Alumna with No Legal Identification for Job, College, Passport, Driver’s License, etc.


Update on Alecia Pennington, the homeschool alumna who has no legal identification.



The Washington Post has an update on the story of Alecia Faith Pennington, who was raised in a large conservative homeschool family without legal documentation to prove she is a US citizen:

Alecia Faith Pennington describes herself as a Texan, born and raised. But in a video that went viral after she posted it on YouTube last month, Pennington said her parents never obtained a birth certificate or other basic documentation of her life, leaving her with “nothing to prove my identity” — or her U.S. citizenship. Because she was home-schooled, she also has no school records. That means, the 19-year-old said, that she’s unable to get a job, go to college or obtain a driver’s licence. (Source)

This is the original YouTube video Alecia posted trying to raise awareness about her situation and get help. Alecia’s story went viral and was covered in the UK.




Alecia gave an update on February 12:



Later, we read that she was receiving legal counsel for her case, in the State of Texas, in an attempt to obtain identification documentation.

An article in The Washington Post today mentions that as a result of Alecia Pennington’s plight, a new bill in Texas has been written to address this issue:


The bill, inspired by Pennington’s campaign, would address some of the problems she says she encountered when she set out to prove her own citizenship. It would allow individuals to petition for a delayed birth certificate in the county where they live, rather than in the county in which they were born. It would also make it a misdemeanor for a parent to refuse to sign an affidavit to help their child obtain a delayed birth certificate.

“This bill is designed to make it easier for people like Faith to get a delayed birth certificate,” David Glenn, legislative director for Texas Rep. Marsha Farney (R), said in an e-mail. “If this measure had been in place today, it would have been easier for Faith to have her case heard in the county court and find representation during those court proceedings.  It also would have required her parents to sign the affidavit or face jail time.”


This new bill is really important. I hope it passes and other states follow suit. A few years ago at a homeschool family camp, I met a woman who also had to go through hoops to get her own identification. She needed it to get married. All of her siblings (also a large family) had to go through a difficult process of getting their documentation so they could get their driver’s licenses, go to school, be employed. Thankfully, their mother cooperated, but there are cases where parents do not want to cooperate. It goes against what they believe spiritually. However, this puts the adult child at great risk.

It’s important to note that this situation is not isolated, especially in Homeschool Movement circles and in some families whose parents are strongly anti-government. R.L. Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous wrote, When Your Very Identity is Held Hostage: Alecia Pennington and Identification Abuse, on the Pennington story and has labeled this as abuse.  The term, identification abuse, coined by Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out defines the term:

Identification abuse is destroying, holding hostage, or denying a child their identification documents: birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card, and so forth. While such abuse can happen anywhere and everywhere regardless of one’s educational environment, homeschool kids (and alumni) are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse because of certain anti-government and pro-parental rights attitudes in totalistic homeschool subcultures. Some people see identification documents as ungodly or even a “mark of the Beast,” a reference to the number 666 associated with the Antichrist in the Christian Book of Revelations.

Stollar continues:

By denying their children documentation of their existence and citizenship, such parents set up their children for future exploitation and abuse, even trafficking. They are forcing their children into jobs that are unsafe and/or lacking basic rights and protections. For example, I have heard from a number of homeschool alumni who were forced into sex work because they had no other ways to stay afloat.

This is a movement that is anti-government. The government is viewed as evil. This is the same movement that labels public schools as “government schools,” and it is not uncommon to hear from leaders in this group that anyone who sends their children to public schools is sending their children to Satan.

These anti-government Homeschool Movement families often connect with other homeschool familes who have similar beliefs, so for teens or young adults raised in this environment, they may be isolated and not know that the way they are living is not the norm, and that they have no rights as US citizens. With no documentation, they really aren’t considered US citizens. In this “culture,” parents are hoping that their young adults marry others who hold to the similar ideologies.  Now do you see how important courtship (where the father gets to decide who daughter marries) comes into play in the Homeschool Movement? Some adult children will not realize the full ramifications of the choices their parents made for them – on their marriage partner, the choice to not file birth certificate, Social Security card – until they are well into adulthood.

We really should not be surprised when some of these adult children get divorced, abandon their faith, or even sever ties with their families once they realize what their parents have done to them based on their spiritual ideologies.


Related articles:
Alecia Pennington Wants to Obtain Her Legal Documentation: Is Spiritual “Tough Love” Preventing Lisa and James Pennington from Complying?

Was Your Spiritual Abuser a Good Speaker?



Spiritual abusers can sometimes be excellent speakers. They can use that “gift” to abuse.


For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:13


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I’m nearing the end of my first year of college and in the next couple of weeks will be really busy working on the final project in my statistics class which is worth a lot of points. We have separated into groups and each group has to create two separate “live” newscasts discussing homicide rates and gun ownership. We were given a sheet of paper with a listing of countries, including data on how many guns per 100 residents and the number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Each group will then split into two groups: one of the groups is to take the data and use it in a way to intentionally lie to the audience about the message they want to present about gun ownership and homicides. The second group is to explain why the first group lied using statistics to back up their claims. The second group must convince the audience that the first group intentionally lied to sway their thinking.

I love this project because it’s teaching us to not blindly follow what we see/hear in the news regarding statistical information. At the end of this term, I hopefully will have gained the tools to be able to say, “um, nope, that’s not a good statistic, your sample is bogus, I’m not buying it.”



Let’s face it some people intentionally lie and manipulate us to support them and their agenda. My spiritual abuser did that.


Was your spiritual abuser a good speaker? Mine was. Chuck O’Neal could own any stage in front of a sanctuary. He knows how to capture an audience. He tells cat jokes. He hates cats. Even if you owned and loved cats, you would probably laugh at his cat jokes. He loves food, and especially desserts. The church audience always connected with his stories on desserts. I mean, really, who doesn’t like desserts?

His voice commanded attention, he shared jokes and personal stories to draw us in. He had good voice inflection and diction. The gestures he used with his hands backed up what he was saying. He was convincing. He was compelling. He was believable.

We felt at odds if we didn’t believe him and had to recheck ourselves, and many times were swayed to his ways of thinking because his words and tone and emphatic stance caused us to second guess ourselves. Well, he is the pastor, right?  He’s called by God to lead and guide us, right? He wouldn’t do us any harm. He must be right. I must be wrong. Do you see how this works?

Here’s the deal, you may now have a good pastor who knows how to speak well. Good speaking techniques can sell and manipulate, but they can also be used to bless, encourage, and shepherd. We have to be discerning and not let a good speaker’s talents lure us in to their ideologies based on their talent.

Take a look at this video. If you have sat in church pews listening to someone who can speak well, this video might show you how we got suckered into a situation in which someone used their words, speech, poise, confidence, and position of spiritual authority to reel us in emotionally. It is excellent.





Did your spiritual abuser employ similar methods?



First Church Men’s Breakfast Group


Families of First Church’s Men’s Breakfast Group Mourn Their Loss





Please pray for the families of First Church’s Men’s Breakfast Group as they grieve. The Men’s Breakfast Group was comprised of faithful men who cherished God’s word. More than just a once a month pancake gathering, the Men’s Breakfast Group loved serving God near and far. Last year they put a new roof on Widow Smith’s house. But her neighbor Widow Jones didn’t qualify for them to unstop her sink while they were there because she has able-bodied nephews who could do the task.

For this year’s annual short-term missionary trip, the men heard of a village in Kaping, Micronesia that needed a bridge over a creek. While there, they contracted a bacterial infection that the natives are immune to.  Don Miller, a recent convert, had taken a medical journal with the remedy. The book was authored by Terry Gold.

Being the Bereans that they were, they knew better than to receive instruction from a woman and offend God. When they could not determine with absolute certainty that Terry was a man, they threw the book in the ocean, thereby removing the temptation to consult it and condemn their souls while saving their lives. Such was their devotion to the Holy Scriptures.

A mealtrain has been set up to help feed their wives and children for a couple of weeks. To help the families financially, we have started a gofundme campaign as well.

contributed by: ACFJ’s Ellie

Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago


Three years ago, I was sued by my ex-pastor, Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for speaking out on social media about the abuse we and other families incurred.

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Is there a correlation between sexual abuse as an adult and homeschooling?


Kevin Swanson attempts to tie together child abuse statistics from the Gen 2 Survey, a University of Oregon campus sexual assault survey, and stay-at-home daughters.

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Survivor Shares about Abuse in Which He Puts the Blame Ultimately on the Teachings of Bill Gothard


Abuse Survivor Shares Experience with Bill Gothard’s Teachings (IBLP) and Holds Him Responsible


Bill Gothard, abuse, IBLP, ATI, spiritual abuse
A comment was left by “Dash” very early this morning on an old article from October of 2014, Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams. When someone comments on an old post, you know they used search engines to find it. I remember doing the same thing in 2008. Something wasn’t right with my church and I was looking for answers. I needed to find out if I was the only one with my experience. Was I imagining this inner turmoil or did it really happen?


Some spiritual abuse survivors are able to recover. They may do things differently after their bad experience. They may have trust issues with people in positions of authority at church. They may have difficulty going to church. Sadly, some abandon church and Christianity altogether.

The following comments will be difficult to read, but they express a personal experience, one in which this person’s life has been permanently affected. It’s sad when the ending is not a happy one. However, we need read the good, bad, and ugly. This person’s experience is why we continue to speak out against spiritual abuse and false teachers. I wish no one would have to experience spiritual abuse ever again. This breaks my heart, but I’m grateful this precious soul came to my blog to share their experience. It compels me to continue blogging and speaking out.

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.


Marsha and I saw the comment and responded:



Julie Anne and Marsha, thanks for the replies. I’m doing as well as can be expected. I have PTSD as a result of my experiences with my family and with Gothard, which makes my life very difficult. I hold my parents primarily to blame for what went on under our roof, but as I research the IBLP and ATI aftermath, I’m beginning to wonder if my injuries do not belong solely and entirely on Gothard’s doorstep. My parents were victims as well, after all.

My mother fell prey to Gothard’s teachings as a result of her own trauma; she was sexually abused by her alcoholic father as a teenager in the 50’s/60’s, and her experience with IBYC in the 70’s was part of her seeking help and resolution for her own pain. My father went along with all of it out of love for my mother, which made the results a thousand times more unspeakable. Our family’s horror story with Gothard was a long downward spiral that lasted nearly 25 years, culminating in my parents divorce, which was the best thing for all of us.

To those who defend Gothard, I say this: You are liars and cowards. You are legalistic, petty, unfeeling, remorseless sadists, and you do not love. You don’t know the love of God, the love of man, or even the most basic love of self. You are perpetrators of hatred and abuse, and I do not pray for you and I do not have compassion for you. My own connection to God has gone dark for over 20 years, so I do not claim to be a Christian. I can only say that I would rather spend an eternity in hell than 5 more minutes with your version of “God.”

IBLP is the very embodiment of evil, as is Bill Gothard himself. I believe the man is clearly insane. He deserves no defense of any kind.

[Admin note: JA took the liberty to change one sentence so it doesn’t read as a fact, but a personal opinion.]



Late edit: I’ve added the pseudonym “Dash” to the anonymous commenter for clarity.

photo credit: BrokenHeart via photopin (license)

Council for Biblical Manhood and Woman: Will the Real Gospel Please Stand?


Is Complementarianism the Gospel? Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) Seems to Confuse the Gospel with Their Agenda

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Court Ruling on Calvary Chapel Pastor Bob Grenier’s Lawsuit against His Son and Former Member


Court Ruling on Calvary Chapel Pastor Bob Grenier against his step-son, Alex Grenier and Tim Taylor

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Pulpit and Pen is Publicly Correcting Church Leaders: The 21 Egyptian Beheadings? They weren’t real Christians, so was it true Christian persecution?

Pulpit and Pen blog disses on Evangelical leaders who claim 21 Egyptian martyrs were “true” Christians.

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Introducing Kathi, Spiritual Abuse Survey, and Free Domestic Violence Book for Ministry Groups/Organizations


Participants Needed for Research Work on Spiritual Abuse

I received an e-mail from Kathryn Keller Lamar with whom I have corresponded with and networked in spiritual abuse and survivor communities. She is finishing up her doctoral dissertation to complete her studies and I told her I’d be happy to pass along the information. Spiritual abuse continues to be largely misunderstood in the world of psychology and counseling and the more credible research we have on this subject, the better equipped mental health providers will be able to assist the growing number of people hurt by church leaders who spiritually abuse. If you have experienced spiritual abuse, please consider taking this survey. Here is the note Kathryn is sending out:


If you are interested in supporting academic research on spiritual abuse, you are invited to complete the following survey for a doctoral dissertation on spiritual abuse. Feel free to contact the researcher, Kathryn Keller Lamar, for any questions about the study or for general conversation about the topic of spiritual abuse. The academic literature seems to be lagging behind popular culture’s discussion on spiritual abuse (via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), so please help us “catch up” so we can better understand it. Kathryn is a psychology student at Texas Woman’s University and intends to use this study to enhance clinical work as well as further research. The following link will direct you to the survey. It takes less than 30 minutes. Thank you!



Can you help get Barbara Robert’s book, “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery, and Desertion” in the hands of ministries, shelters, abuse programs, and organizations?

Not Under Bondage, Barbara Roberts, Domestic Violence, Divorce, Christian Marriage


One of SSB’s regular readers/commenters, Brenda R., contacted me about a project she took on and I want to pass it along to you. I think it’s a great project and hope that my readers can help get this important book in places where survivors of domestic violence can get better understanding about divorce when there is abuse.  This is one area I think the church has failed women and their children in a horrific way. ~ja

Last fall, I took on a project to search out ministries, shelters, safe houses, abuse programs of all kinds both Christian and secular for the purpose of distributing books. Barbara Roberts and her dad have graciously sent a large number of her book, “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” to the U.S.

Barbara spent 3 years in research in order to write this book and it is excellent. Barb’s book is one of the reasons that I live free from abuse today. During this time, I have run up against a few stumbling blocks: the internet’s information is not updated, shelters no longer exist or have moved (10 years ago). I was even told by a Christian based organization that they could not hand out Christian materials because of their grant funding. Go Figure. Out of 96 letters sent to CA at the end of December about a third of them were returned with no forwarding address, however with the responses that I have had I have been able to promise 102 books. So all is not lost and all of the remaining books will find happy homes in God’s timing.

Rather than continue with sending letters to programs that no longer exist, I have begun asking for help from people on my favorite blog sites who live in the U.S. and Canada who might possibly direct me to programs that exist in their little part of the globe. Yesterday, I put out a similar request at another site and have promised over 100 books since then. I am ready to do some singin’ and shoutin’, but have a long ways to go before this project is complete. The reason that I say that books are being promised is they took a slow boat from Australia, where Barbara is from. I am told they should be arriving in the U.S. today (happy dance here) and then have to make their journey to the person’s home who is going to do the physical shipping of the books. There was much red tape to get through to make this happen, but we seem to be about through all of that.

If anyone knows of any of the types of organizations, ministries or programs that I spoke of that are operational in their area, I would so very much like to hear from you. If even one person reads this book and is saved from the ultimate sacrifice of abuse, it will be worth it. Oh, one last thing. This is a gift. There is absolutely no cost to those that respond and can use the books.

If you are interested in helping to get this book in places where survivors of domestic violence can access to it, please contact Brenda at



Kathi’s Bio

And last, but certainly not least, I think it’s high time that we hear from Kathi. As most of you know, last Spring, I started back at college full-time. This has obviously made an impact on the blog in that I do not have the same amount of time to produce the kinds of articles I was producing, or with the same frequency. Kathi has been helping to feed and moderate the SSB Facebook page and has assisted in moderation on the blog. She’s contributed blog articles, and also for the last few weeks, has put together the SSB Sunday Gathering posts. This has really been a big help to me.

So, with Kathi’s more prominent presence at SSB these days, I think it’s important for you to meet Kathi. She’s been a long-time reader since the lawsuit days. We actually lived in the same town when I was going to BGBC, but didn’t realize it until after we moved. I wish we would have known each other back then as I know we would have had fun getting together and knitting.  We met for coffee on one of my trips to Portland and then last summer, Kathi invited herself to come visit me. I loved that spontaneous visit. We had a great time getting to know each other and especially enjoyed our picnic lunch in kayaks going down the Columbia River.

What I appreciate about Kathi is her heart for those who have been marginalized in the church. She can easily see through nonsense talk from church leaders and calls it what it is. She has spunk and compassion – I love that. I asked Kathi if she’d write a bio to share and she has done that below:

My church experience has spanned from Roman Catholicism to conservative non-denominational evangelical Christian to now considering myself a none/done who still has faith in Jesus.

I attended a non-denominational Christian college and earned an urban ministry degree and now live in the suburbs of Portland (another story for another time). Even though the college I attended was very supportive of women in ministry, while taking homiletics I realized how unsupportive the local church (even in Southern California) was in regard to women in ministry. I have always hoped that I would see a change in the church in regard to women in ministry during my lifetime. I am still waiting.

I ended up in a social work program and during college found myself in placements that worked with children who were abused. My passion for working with and advocating for those who are abused developed during this time.

After the birth of our second child, we decided that financially it made sense for me to stay home. I can honestly tell you that if I would have known in college that I would be staying home and raising children I would have laughed. That was not what I had thought I would do with my life, but it was how life was presenting itself. Also, if I would have known in college that I would also spend 10 years homeschooling said children I would have laughed even harder. Again, life was presenting itself this way and I followed along. While I started out homeschooling with all intent to lead my children in a Biblical understanding of the world, I found that our church experiences were leading me farther from focusing on the Bible to making sure that my children were well-rounded academically and socially.

Our recent church experiences have included a pastor that aspired to become a megachurch pastor. A pastor who strong-armed his way into the pastoral position who later proclaimed that we were not to question God’s anointed. And a house church pastor’s kid who bullied one of ours. When the pastor made light of the situation we decided that we were done with church. We had had enough experiences and had lost enough friendships along the way because we decided not to tow the party line.

Several years ago I found myself reading survivor blogs such as SSB. There were few during that time, but I found it refreshing. I truly believe that one can find genuine community among an online forum. That is what I hope SSB will be for many. Please know that you will always find a listening ear from me. I believe that everyone deserves to tell their story and to have it listened to.


Alecia Pennington Wants to Obtain Her Legal Documentation: Is Spiritual “Tough Love” Preventing Lisa and James Pennington from Complying?


Alecia Pennington needs her birth certificate and social security card to help her in her adult life. Her parents, James and Lisa Pennington have not helped her obtain these important documents. Why?

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Should Christian Leaders Use their Public Platform to Endorse Their Vaccination Preferences?


Do Christians have a responsibility to vaccinate their children? Is this a matter of religious liberty? Should Christian leaders use their platform to influence us in this health matter?

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It seems that we have been getting barraged with religious leaders trying to convince us one way or the other on the recent vaccine issue in the news as Measles has made a comeback with a recent outbreak.  I was surprised to see numerous tweets from religious leaders and wondered what you thought about this.

Below are just some of the tweets and articles, including some excerpts I have found.

And Now a Brief Word on Vaccines – by Doug Wilson

The claim I am making here is very limited. If a person has decided personal convictions about the contagious disease he is carrying, the society in which he lives has an equal right to have decided and contrary convictions about that same contagious disease he has. And if there is an outbreak of such a disease, and the government quarantines everyone who is not vaccinated, requiring them to stay at home, the name for this is prudence, not tyranny.




3 reasons Christians should vaccinate with confidence by Justin Smith of ERLC (The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission)

In the midst of all the confusion about vaccines, I believe that Christians don’t have to be the ones who are confused. We can use the gift of vaccines with confidence knowing that, ultimately, our lives and our health are in the hands of our Father.

Cripplegate is blog with 4 contributors who seem to have connections with John MacArthur’s seminary/church. This article was posted on Cripplegate:  Anti-vaxxers and epistemological narcissism

Take note at how they use scripture to justify vaccinating:

  1. Vaccines are a form of common grace that have dramatically changed the world for the better (Gen 3:18; Ps 145:9-16; Matt 5:44-45; Acts 14:16-17). Participating in the blessings of common grace in a post-Babel society means that we bond together as nations, and we use common grace to make quality of life better (Gen 9:6, 2 Kings 12:2, Luke 6:33). We work, we marry, and we protect each other. A basic way to do that is to be vaccinated against diseases that plague the cultures that don’t vaccinate.
  1. Thus, being vaccinated is a form of loving your neighbor (Lev 19:18; Matt 5:43,Rom 13:8-10, Jas 2:8). Knowing that some are too little, too young, or too weak to be vaccinated, we protect the weak by being vaccinated.

The last paragraph admits this is gray area which is bizarre because if it truly is a gray area, can you really use scripture to 100% back up your stance?

I recognize that this is a Christian gray-area, and it goes beyond what is written to say that a person is sinning by being an anti-vaxxer. But it does not go beyond what is written to appeal to believer’s discernment: don’t undo one of society’s crowning scientific advancements because of epistemological narcissism.

Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor for the Huffington Post posted an article and a podcast at Huffington post.  (The podcast will start immediately as soon as you open the page, but you can turn it off and read the article:  Love Thy Neighbor: Vaccinate (All Together Podcast).  Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s hospital, Dr. Robert Klitzman,  professor and Director of the Bioethics Program at Columbia School of Public Health, and Sally Steenland, Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, were on the podcast and discussed why this is not a religious liberty issue. Paul concludes:

Jesus commands to love our neighbor as ourselves. This gets to the heart of the vaccination issue. It’s not just about loving your own family. It is also about caring for the well-being of your neighbors and your community. Everyone should vaccinate their children as an act of love.

In this case, we have a reverend with a highly visible position in public media using his platform to push his agenda. Is this okay?

Pat Robertson Says He’s Against Vaccination Mandates:

I’m sure that there’s some serious consequences to measles, and perhaps vaccinations is the answer, but I don’t think any parent should be forced by the government to vaccinate.



If I looked longer, I’m sure I could find even more articles from religious leaders. I have some questions:

Is it a religious leader’s responsibility to inform private citizens about their views on immunizations?

At what point do religious leaders cross the line when it comes to health concerns and using their position of authority/celebrity-ism to influence?

How much credence do we give to religious leaders on issues of health?

As you can see above, some say this is a gray area or a religious liberty area, where others say it is not. Do you think we can discuss this topic, specifically the bolded questions without getting personal and debating the pros/cons of vaccines?  Please exercise caution when commenting. I specifically would like to keep it to the subject of Christian leaders pushing their health agendas using their public platforms.  



photo credit: Flu Vaccination Grippe via photopin (license)

SSB Gathering – February 8, 2015


Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.


Light rays



Psalm 5

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing.

Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;

in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.

The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.

You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.

But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house;

in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies -

make straight your way before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction.

Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit.

Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall.

Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Fore surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.



Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?


photo credit: Brian Bonham

Second-Generation Homeschoolers: Will They Be Homeschool Dropouts?


Will Second Generation homeschoolers continue with the vision given to them by their first-generation parents, or will they stagnate and decay?


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Posted on Facebook:


Second-Generation Homeschoolers:  Will They Be Homeschool Dropouts?

by Kathi

Homeschool Dropouts is a documentary which features the children (Anna, Benjamin, David, Elizabeth and Isaac) of Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin. The Botkins have been long time leaders in the U.S. Homeschool Movement. This film was made in 2009 and the description of the film by the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences says:

Five years ago, the Botkin siblings produced this documentary about the homeschooling movement after talking to their peers around the United States. In discussing the future of this movement, the film raised a number of controversial questions, examining the history of the movement and the character that would be required to sustain it into the second generation.

Today, many of the problems addressed in this film are even more apparent.

If you have 57 minutes of your precious time available, please watch. If not, I’ve done the work for you. Allow me to present my thoughts below.


Please know that even though I homeschooled my kids for 10 years, I am still fairly new to people within the Christian Homeschool Movement. Julie Anne (and if Hester is so kind to offer assistance) would be able to answer specific questions about the Botkins. I still feel like I’m a bit of an outsider on the Christian Homeschool Movement.

The Botkin children open this documentary by lamenting about how they are hard pressed to find anyone within their circle of friends who is willing to follow their parents’ example of Biblical homeschooling. As a result, the Homeschool Movement is in a crisis. According to the Botkin clan, the young adults of today lack direction, lack vision, are moving away from their parents’ principles, and are abandoning what their parents sacrificed so much for. Young adults need to stop blaming, take stock of their own sin and take action.

In other words, this is nothing more than a propaganda film for the parents and the soon-to-be-fading leaders of the Christian Homeschool Movement. The entire focus of this video is how young adults are abandoning their parents’ views, which leads me to wonder (and wander off topic for a minute) if any of the parents’ parents homeschooled them?

I would guess that the First Generation parents were not homeschooled. Wouldn’t that mean that the homeschooling parents rejected and abandoned their parents’ views of education? Why was it alright for them to move away from what their parents thought about education, but it’s not alright for their children to educate differently? When I think about our family, my children were not educated the same way I was. Was I rejecting what my parents thought was important for education? Absolutely not. My husband and I are not my parents and we have different life circumstances and decisions to make. I don’t expect that my kids will homeschool their kids. They need to make their own life decisions based upon what is best for them and their family.

Since this video is more about the parents, it is not surprising that the problem with the impending doom of the Christian Homeschool Movement is the Second Generation: it is the sins of the Second Generation, not the weaknesses of the families or leaders, that are the problem.

These sins are:

  • The Second Generation doesn’t seek God for ourselves. The First Generation had a desperate need for God because they came out of non-Christian homes. The Second Generation doesn’t have this desperation and displays false piety and are not truly saved.
  • Second Generation Adults don’t take their sins seriously. They are careless, lukewarm, and hostile to God.
  • SGAs are proud. Kevin Swanson enters the fray here (Yay!) by stating that homeschoolers talk all the time about higher test scores, admittance into good colleges, etc. However, God isn’t interested in achievements, but is interested in how kids honor their mother and honor God. The problem with this line of thought is that K. Swan and other homeschool leaders are constantly bragging about how much better homeschooling is to public school or Christian private school. At the end of this, one Botkin child says that pride is the silent killer of the Homeschool Movement.
  • Second Generation Adults don’t engage the world. They are called to take dominion of the world (judge it, disciple it, overcome it) and Second Generation Adults are not contending for the faith.
  • Second Generation Adults are defined by laziness and complacency. The First Generation knew that life is a battleground and that they were fighting a battle. The Second Generation doesn’t care about the war. There is no room for being laid back or pursuing one’s own interests.
  • Second Generation Adults are bitter instead of grateful. Ugh! – my least favorite word ever – bitter. SGAs who were homeschooled need to stop blaming and despising their Christian parents’ homeschooling because they are despising the plan of God. The right response is to be grateful for everything done for them. My favorite line is, “Some of us were not given a very big vision, but we can take whatever we have and grow it. Even if we don’t have perfect parents.”


What will become of the Christian Homeschool Movement if the Second Generation Adults don’t follow in their parents’ footsteps? Of course, the freedom to homeschool will be lost. Statism will take over every aspect of our lives. And, if Second Gens are not homeschooling, they are not honoring their parents. I do not agree with this at all, especially since we are seeing a rise in homeschooling across the United States, as more parents are displeased with the school environment or curriculum choices. Where I work, I talk to parents all the time who are thinking about, or are new to homeschooling. Homeschooling is not going away any time soon.

I think the Botkin’s concern is that if the Second Generation Adults who were homeschooled don’t homeschool exactly like they did, the chance of Christian dominion over the world fades. And, as the First Generation homeschool parents and leaders age, their influence over the second and third generation begins to fade. Growing old stinks, doesn’t it?

K. Swan offers these words at the end, “I am very optimistic of the future.” He’s only optimistic if you Second Gens follow in your parent’s footsteps though. You better get busy – leading your own lives and making your own decisions!

Owen Strachan Speaks out against Fifty Shades of Grey and Says that Christianity Disciplines Abusive Men


Owen Strachan speaks against Fifty Shades of Grey and attempts to show how complementarians do not abuse their wives, and says that Christianity disciplines abusive men

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