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Bloggers are taking on the destructive subculture of the Homeschool Movement and calling homeschool leaders out for their extra-Biblical practices and abusive patriarchy.
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The Homeschool Movement really took off in 80s and 90s. Back then, when we read homeschool magazines, we were sold on the “perfect” homeschool family on the front covers. We were the parents who wanted to protect our children from worldly influences and train them up in the way they should go because the government school systems were indoctrinating our children with their agenda. We wanted to give our kids godly education.
Along the homeschooling journey, homeschool leaders have taught us their ideologies and some of us bought them. Some of us bought into the idea that if we kept our daughters at home, they would be protected from the world and bad influences. Our daughters were kept home and away from the world, so they would be sexually pure. Through the practice of “courtship,” fathers would be sure to select/approve a spouse for our daughters who had the same religious convictions and ideologies that he shared, and thus, our daughter’s new family would carry on in the same ways, building generations of godly warriors for Christ. It was the perfect plan. So we thought.
Where are those kids now? A whole generation of homeschoolers have grown up and are now moving on from their parents’ homes. Over the last several years, I have watched adult Homeschool Kids (HKs) “come out” and share their experiences in blogs. Homeschoolers Anonymous blog has been very influential in drawing attention to these abuses that had once been kept secret in families.
Now, through blogs like Homeschoolers Anonymous, HKs could see that they were not alone in how they were raised. Some of them discovered that their home life was not as godly and Christian as they were led to believe – some of them were in fact abused and had very troubled lives.
Kathryn Joyce’s new article, The Homeschool Apostates, recently came out. Several homeschool graduates were interviewed in Kathryn’s article. The article is not an easy read. If you are a homeschooling parent and have poured your life into the education and well-being of your children, it is going to make you angry to think that others could have sabotaged the welfare of their precious children. You also might feel that your family’s homeschool experience is lumped into Joyce’s article, and you might get a bit defensive. I’ve observed this strong reaction from several of my personal homeschool mom friends.
But we who are homeschool parents need to check and see if some of the ideologies that we have adopted are in fact biblical and are not just some newfangled idea promoted by homeschool gurus. If there is some truth to what you read in the article, then it is up to healthy and godly parents to make sure to call out the abuses and extra-biblical legalism when we identify them.
I’ve been blogging alongside these young HKs, seeing the same patterns of mental illness, substance abuse, depression that Stollar mentioned in Kathryn Joyce’s article. What happened to the perfect homeschool family?
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One common response when drawing attention to abuse in churches or spiritually abusive church leaders is: attack the “attacker.”
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We are now seeing that same attack-the-attacker response from those who speak out against those leaders who promote legalism in the Homeschool Movement. Homeschool leaders who previously had free rein to say what they wanted and were rarely challenged no longer have that privilege in the blogosphere. The whole subculture and legalistic aspects of the Homeschool Movement are under fire and rightly so. And now, because the heat is on, anyone who draws attention to these abuses is up for attack by these homeschool leaders.
Kevin Swanson is one such attacker.
In critiquing Joyce’s article, he nitpicks on aspects that are not even important, but glosses over the most important points.
The homeschool community at large would be wise to distance themselves from this man who spews vile rhetoric on topics that challenge his ideologies. (He has yet to retract his statement on dead embedded fetuses in wombs of women who were on birth control pills.)
Below is an excerpt from his recent blog post in which he attacks Kathryn Joyce and her article:
Kathryn Joyce’s propaganda pieces that are intended to demonize the homeschooling population (or at least, certain segments of conservative homeschooling in America) continue rolling off the presses, and I like to keep track of the people who sympathize with her.
So of course, there will be masses of homeschooling millennials who will take on these ideologies, and abandon any semblance of agreement with the Christian faith. My tiny radio broadcast is only meant to salvage a few Christians left in the Western world who have ears to hear and won’t move with the masses.
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I took at look at Swanson’s Facebook page and his supporters echoed similar comments. Rather than taking a careful look at the idea that there might be legitimate abuse going on, they comment on denim jumpers?
Why oh why are people still bringing up the denim jumper thing. Good grief who cares! Some of the loveliest people I know wear denim jumpers. (Source)
And this parent focuses on public schools and rights of parents being taken away:
this [sic] is very sad, some children will reject the faith, i pray its’ never my own child daily!!!!!!!!! it doesn’t sound like it is the blame of the parents here, just a child that fell away and i pray that she will be a prodigal. but what about the horror stories from public schools, lets hear some of those. it’s all about taking the rights of parents away.
What in the world? Did they read the article? Do you see how these homeschool parents avoid the real agenda and don’t even want to tough the real issues?
If you’ve never listened to Kevin Swanson’s radio broadcast, be sure to check him out – if you can handle it. Here is a little snippet from the broadcast:
Her big article that she did for uh..Prospect…American Prospect.org…she…she names the article “Homeschool Apostates” which is exactly what I used for my show a couple of 4 3 weeks ago. Um..so..anyway..she’s pretty excited about uh the point 1%…whatever it is…of the homeschool population. It might be 10% it might be 20% I dunno what it is…it’s hard to know..but they are definitely the whiners that are coming out of the homeschool population and saying they didn’t have the best of experiences and some of them may have a good point. Others may not. Now she covers a number of them in her article and most of whom seem to be to be whiners.
Kevin calls these adult homeschool kids whiners. He, a homeschool leader, pastor, instead of looking to see if there is any truth to their story, calls them whiners. Plus he’s criticizing an unbeliever. Well, what you don’t see is him addressing all of the Believers who are coming out publicly against his brand of extra-Biblical legalism in the Homeschool Movement. Why is that?
I appreciated Shawn Mathis’ take on Joyce’s article, especially coming from a pastor who is taking a closer look at the Homeschool Movement.
But in spite of this weakness, the article may wake up some homeschoolers to the physical and spiritual abuses in their midst. Such abuses are not unique to homeschooling to be sure. These abuses arise from various causes, even ones I cannot imagine. But I believe a widespread root problem is legalism.
The air of legalism is fear. And the atmosphere painted in the article was fear. Her vivid stories display households drenched in fear: the fear of parents and children losing their souls because they are not obedient enough.
Matthis touched on another important aspect that I also took from Joyce’s article. This generation of homeschoolers had a heavy burden on their shoulders to perpetuate this homeschool mission that they were raised to take:
The article painted another important fact: the additional burden of being the newly christened Joshua Generation. I first ran across this term in a book I am reviewing, entitled Take Back the Land. The author unashamedly declares: “I believe that you [young homeschoolers] will lead America into decades of revival and national reformation. If you don’t, there is little hope for our country. A lot depends on you.”
Spiritual abuse, in the form of legalism, is a big problem. But the additional burden of being a chosen generation must be unbearable. (Some thoughts on American Prospect essay, Homeschool Apostates)
Homeschool parents would do well to take a closer look at these stories. Dig deeper and try to look at the Homeschool Movement from these HKs’ perspective. See if you can read some of these stories without getting defensive. Is there any truth to what these HKs are saying? If so, what are we as parents going to do about it? I say it’s time to call out the legalism.
I’ve been struck by my own friends who are homeschool parents and don’t want to challenge their practices. It might be a rude awakening for some when their adult kids do not emulate the same practices they tried to instill in their children. I get that in a real personal way.
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I will continue to blog about this topic because it is near and dear to my heart. I am so thankful to the other bloggers who have taken up this cause and will fight to make sure our adult children are not abused, isolated, undereducated, and forced to be a part of a system in which they have no individual rights, even as adults. This must stop.
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It will be interesting to see where the homeschool leaders shift the blame next. It’s not about them, of course, and extra-Biblical rules. Any failure in homeschool kids to toe the line as adults and carrying on the torch will be blamed on anything but faulty homeschool leadership. I know how this works.
In the meantime, here are some bloggers who are speaking out about their experiences. Many of them no longer look or live anything like their former lives. Let’s learn from this first generation of homeschoolers so we can make appropriate course correction. All homeschooling is not bad, but we have some work to do.
***Update on a newsworthy Homeschool Movement/blogging story:
This article was brought to my attention: Matthew Chapman to Headline the 2014 CHEO Convention. Please take a look at this very disturbing article.
It discusses another dangerous homeschool trend about marrying off homeschool girls at a young age. The article discusses the Matthew and Maranatha Chapman who were recently slated to speak at the CHEO homeschool convention.
Take a look at this screenshot with a very new development:
Now, recently, there have been several bloggers reporting on this disturbing story. So could they have voluntarily removed themselves because of this blogging pressure? hmmmm.
BAM – former homeschooler
Beautiful Disarray—”Surveying the aftermath of quiverfull devastation.”
Becoming Worldly—Eldest of 10 from a homeschool, patriarchal and quiver-full family
Between Black and White—”A quiverfull girl who has realized she is worth something.”
Bridging the Gap – Ex-christian fundamentalist/quiverfull daughter, homeschool graduate. Survivor, fighter,entrepreneur, creative.
Darcy’s Heart Stirrings— “Fundy” homeschooler, influenced by Gothard and ATI and includes guests posts
Defeating the Dragons – An ongoing journey in overcoming a fundamentalist indoctrination.
Dispelled—One girl’s journey in a home school cult.
The Eighth and Final Square—A place to rant, ramble, and process.
Emily Maynard — Grew up in Homeschool Movement and now speaks out about her experiences.
Faith Filled Thoughts—”I ask hard questions, and then I write about them.”
Feminist in Spite of Them— “Finally feeling free to tell my story.”
For Heaven’s Sake—”One of 9 children whose family got into a cult.”
Freiheit 86—”Once upon a time I was homeschooled . . . and then the world opened and was wonderful and everything changed. Myself most of all.”
Heresy in the Heartland— “A homeschool grad and her atheist kids.”
Homeschoolers Anonymous – “HA is a clearinghouse for all stories about homeschooling from any people who have experienced it — the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
IBLP Detox—I wouldn’t consider myself to have all the answers.
Incongruous Circumspection—Fasten your safety latches . . . you’re in for the time of your lives!
Lana Hobbs, the Brave—Aspiring writer, perpetual seeker.
Lauren Nicole—I live to make my life beautiful, and to speak truth in love.
The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person—I was born at a very young age.
Love, Joy, Feminism—Former evangelical turned atheist progressive feminist.
Mari’s Musings—”story of how I was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how I was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out.”
The Neon God They Made—I’m done making excuses.
Out of the Chrysalis—The defrauded daughters
Overturning Tables – R. L. Stollar, co-founder of Homeschoolers Anonymous
Permission to Live—Pretty much everything changed.
Phoenix and Olive Branch—Daughter of the patriarchy.
Profligate Truth—Truth is beautiful without doubt; but so are lies
Ramblings of Sheldon—Exposing the IFB.
Spiritual Llama—A journey out of a life of fundamentalism and spiritual abuse.
Time To Live, Friend—Taking hold of my life, finally.
Who I Am Without You—Dealing with my past for the first time in my life.
Wide Open Ground—An unfundamentalist conversion.
Wine and Marble—We shall not cease from exploration.
Quivering Daughters—Hope, healing, and gentle encouragement.
X-ATI Girl—Don’t snicker. A lot of kids are hurting.
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