The Blogging Community Takes on the Destructive Subculture of the Homeschool Movement

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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:

Homeschool Apostates and Kathryn Joyce’s Sins

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.

and

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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Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 3.16.43 PM

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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.

Joshua Generation

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:

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 5.20.16 PM

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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170 comments on “The Blogging Community Takes on the Destructive Subculture of the Homeschool Movement

  1. Under the Radar, I appreciate your response. I am sorry you were spiritually abused. You mentioned, “their doctrines of hoping to be good enough to only have to go to Purgatory.” as problematic for you as you tried to understand & connect the dots in the doctrines behind your abuse.

    It is quite odd that you gave yourself permission to examine the RC doctrine & express your opinion on an aspect of it as part of your healing, but you don’t want an examination of a doctrine you uphold, which might aid in someone else’s healing or avoiding abuse altogether. You imply to do so is insensitive, unloving. Hmmm. This train of inconsistent logic baffles me. And frankly, it concerns me.

    You stated what I’ve said about the doctrine you uphold is wrong. I have been quite specific & have worked hard to be as clear as I can in my statements. Yet you have made several comments, never pointing to what you think IS wrong. You just keep stating I’m wrong. You have yet to be clear & specific, IMO.

    Both of the examples above are “stop the speech” tactics, not “let’s have a dialogue” tactics.

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  2. As I stated earlier, I do not have an agenda. I am all for identifying & stopping spiritual abuse in all doctrines, religions, belief systems, including Roman Catholic, Arminian (thanks UtR), & in “C”.

    There may be others here, however, who want a certain doctrine to be off limits!

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  3. I thought I had replied here before, but my comment seems to have disappeared. Thanks, Julie Anne, for caring and asking. We are working on it, but the going is slow and difficult. I have trouble still separating my anger at the system from my anger at him specifically, because I think a lot of the damage was environmental, from the general atmosphere of the subculture, and not necessarily due to him, and I know he was trying his best to do what he thought was right, but there is like…an effect of trauma, in my brain, that I’ve erased some things and confused others, so sometimes I remember him as saying or supporting something that he maybe didn’t, I just assumed he did because it was the general message I was getting and he never contradicted it or indicated in any way that he disagreed with anyone or anything in the system. I know that in many cases he just didn’t have a lot of time or energy, because we were extremely poor and we had seven children and in his words, he nearly killed himself working crappy jobs just to feed us. I believe that, especially in my younger years, we had nothing and I know he hated those jobs. But it still isn’t right, when he was home, to take his frustration and anger out on us. The whole atmosphere was fear, and him always being angry and yelling at us for seemingly everything we did, just for existing sometimes, didn’t help. We couldn’t do anything right. Physical abuse was limited to spankings, but we were in mortal fear of those. Home was fear too, but we never had a chance to escape. My youngest sisters were eventually allowed to take some classes at the local high school, but us older ones were denied anything similar even when we asked. We were discouraged from talking to other kids or making friends, even inside the movement, because they might not line up with our beliefs exactly and were a bad influence. I didn’t have a single friend, ever, until I was 17, when I discovered the internet. Some may think that doesn’t count, but when you have never had anyone – it was a revelation to me.

    Anyway, I am just…still processing a lot of things, and struggling to separate out a lot of things that are cloudy or just unreliable in my memory, and realising that I was a very sensitive kid, and some things may have been worse for me because of that. It didn’t, and still doesn’t, take much to cut me deep. When it happens over and over with no chance to heal in between, it adds up to serious trauma, apparently. I am stronger and better about dealing with it these days, but I’m still sensitive enough to know that as a kid, I had no way to know this or cope with it or process the hurts. I ended up just burying and repressing everything emotional, and creating a facade that approximated what I thought was demanded of me, being happy and submissive and what not, and even if it became rather brash and defiant and even rebellious eventually, it was all a cover for the fear and the hurt behind it. The best defense is a good offense, you know? My dad feels hurt because he feels like I was deceiving him when he believed I was happy all those years, and I don’t know what to tell because yeah, I guess I was, but it was the only way I knew how to survive. As it was, parts of my mind just shut down, trying to protect myself.

    It’s hard talking to him because I’m still afraid of his explosive reactions if I say something he disapproves of or doesn’t like, and he’s hurt by everything I say that seems to him like an attack or accusation, like I don’t care about all the things he did right, or don’t remember the good times. I’ve tried explaining to him that the good times get eclipsed by all the rest to the point that I don’t necessarily remember them, though I know that there were good times, but they weren’t good enough or there wasn’t enough of them to offset all the rest. I did and do still highly respect how hardworking he’s always been, and everything he did to provide for us. That isn’t really the issue, and I’m not discounting that but it doesn’t really help. So, it’s a process, and right now I’m mostly trying to get him to tell me what he does believe, so I can start sorting out the stuff that came from him directly and what things I just picked up from the environment and people around us. I think the homeschooling community was possibly much more damaging than either church or home, to be honest. There was a lot of extremism.

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  4. Dear A Mom – “ you don’t want an examination of a doctrine you uphold” Who are you to judge if I examine my doctrine?
    “ And frankly, it concerns me” Again, why? Are you in control of me?
    “never pointing to what you think IS wrong. You just keep stating I’m wrong. You have yet to be clear & specific, IMO.” You like to make rules, don’t you? Yes, you are wrong and uneducated. It is not incumbent upon me to educate or correct you, regardless of your opinion. If you would like a recommendation on what to read to further your education:

    http://www.amazon.com/Recovering-Reformed-Confession-Theology-Practice-ebook/dp/B00BPG5DAK/ref=la_B001JP3PSY_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387734972&sr=1-1

    http://www.amazon.com/Ravi-Zacharias/e/B000APPDAC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

    “Both of the examples above are “stop the speech” tactics, not “let’s have a dialogue” tactics.” We have been asked by the owner of this blog to not get into it over “Calvinism”. So therefore, I will not discuss “Calvinism” or your opinions of what it is with you on this thread. I can respect the JA’s wishes. The subject of this heading is the destructive subculture of the homeschool movement.

    “There may be others here, however, who want a certain doctrine to be off limits!” Loving and friendly, healing and thoughtful. Always a pleasure to interact with you.

    Like

  5. I didn’t know a large graphic would display when recommending a book on amazon. It seems to overpower the whole post. Sorry!

    I can’t recommend Ravi Zacharias enough. Not only are his books wonderful, his sermons and radio material is excellent. He has such a big heart, sharp wit, and humble attitude. http://www.rzim.org/

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  6. Dear Kagi – Your post has touched me deeply. Do you still live with your parents? It’s not really my business to ask, but it has me a little worried. If you don’t answer I understand. Sending love and prayers your direction –

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  7. By all means, you may continue the discussion on the Calvin debate thread linked above. That’s what it is there for.

    The topic of this thread is important as people are still searching Phillips and trying to make sense of it all, that’s why I’m trying to keep them separate.

    Like

  8. Dear A Mom – “ you don’t want an examination of a doctrine you uphold” Who are you to judge if I examine my doctrine?
    “ And frankly, it concerns me” Again, why? Are you in control of me?
    “never pointing to what you think IS wrong. You just keep stating I’m wrong. You have yet to be clear & specific, IMO.” You like to make rules, don’t you? Yes, you are wrong and uneducated. It is not incumbent upon me to educate or correct you, regardless of your opinion. If you would like a recommendation on what to read to further your education:
    “Both of the examples above are “stop the speech” tactics, not “let’s have a dialogue” tactics.” We have been asked by the owner of this blog to not get into it over “Calvinism”. So therefore, I will not discuss “Calvinism” or your opinions of what it is with you on this thread. I can respect the JA’s wishes. The subject of this heading is the destructive subculture of the homeschool movement.
    “There may be others here, however, who want a certain doctrine to be off limits!” Loving and friendly, healing and thoughtful. Always a pleasure to interact with you.

    Under the Radar,
    I have no problem with you examining your doctrine! LOL 🙂 I encouraged you to examine doctrine yourself by reading “Institutes of Christian Religion ” if you hadn’t already. Exactly how am I controlling you? Anyone reading this thread will see I said we should examine all doctrine in my last comment. Maybe you missed that? I’m not following your logic.

    What concerns me is you gave an example of what you thought was wrong with the Catholic doctrine, yet you told me “it’s not loving” to point out what I think is wrong with “Cs” doctrines. You are not practicing what you preach, that’s what concerns me. You can speak about doctrinal problems, but I can’t? Why would it upset you if BOTH of us expressed our thoughts? Hmmm. Anyone having flashbacks to Geneva?

    Do you want to bring healing? Stifling others who may want to connect the dots between their abuse & doctrine is not the way. If it worked for your own abuse in regards to Catholicism, why not let others do the same?

    And by the way, there is no question that “C”s doctrines are alive & well in the destructive culture of the homeschool movement. Just read the next post.

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  9. P.S. I think you’d have to turn a blind eye to not make the connection, after reading so many stories of spiritual abuse here. I am afraid what I’ve read is just the tip of the iceberg. People are starting to connect the dots.

    I also want to be clear there are many who hold to this doctrine who are loving, kind & would never abuse anyone. That doesn’t mean the doctrine itself doesn’t have huge problems.

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  10. Sorry. To finish my thought:

    I also want to be clear there are many who hold to this doctrine who are loving, kind & would never abuse anyone. That doesn’t mean the doctrine itself doesn’t have huge problems that may lead to or enable spiritual abuse.

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  11. Thank you, Gary W. I also just moved Under the Radar’s most recent comment there. so feel free to continue the Calvin conversation there. Debating is good – it stretches you and causes you to challenge yourself.

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  12. Under the Radar,

    You mentioned Servetus as “an interesting guy” regarding his religious beliefs or something of the sort here or on the next post.

    Everyone,

    For the record, I don’t care if someone has blue hair, is an atheist, and rides a bike to work. They don’t deserve to be killed in the name of religion. Without religious tolerance in this country, all religious groups but the ruling one would live in bloody fear. God help us all if this country becomes a theocracy/church-state.

    I am starting to realize I take religious freedom for granted & that there are those, not just in the destructive subculture of the homeschool movement, who seem to want government power to enforce doctrines. Their actions look intolerant. To which they would probably yell out “Amen” as their battle cry. Their eye seems to be on a theocracy.

    Religious freedom may be at stake. That sounds crazy or unlikely, but for me it’s not after reading this & other spiritual abuse blogs. Freedom to choose our own spiritual beliefs needs to be protected & defended, no matter what our personal religious belief is.

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  13. Hi Kagi:

    BTW, Your other comment is still there, you probably just missed it. No worries. Thanks for sharing how things have been going. It sounds like it’s been a challenging journey. The one thing you both have going for you is that you love each other and there seems to be respect for each other. That is very positive. I would encourage you to take it one day at a time and treasure each moment that there is a positive connection. I think in recovery there are some times where it seems like it is one step forward, two steps backwards, but it’s still movement and I think that’s better than being stagnant. Try to focus on the positives. Having understanding of where he was coming from and extending grace will help your relationship, but also don’t lose sight of healthy boundaries, too, for your own protection.

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  14. JA: Trust me, I am allll about the boundaries. But he’s definitely not, doesn’t really understand what they are or why they’re healthy and sometimes he doesn’t understand the need to respect them. He pretty much labels all of it as ‘unforgiveness’ or bitterness or what have you, and I’m like….no. It’s really not.

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  15. @CindyK:

    Yet for all the talk about providence in some of these Calvinist influenced homeschooling related groups, they just turn everything into social engineering to build the desired and preferred world that they want.

    Just like the Communists.

    And their predecessors; the Jacobins of the French Revolution, mesmerized by their future Republique of Perfect Virtue. A Cause so Righteous it justified any means to bring it about.

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