Fear within the Homeschool Movement Interferes with Sex Abuse Victims Getting Adequate Help and Justice for Perpetrators

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Karen Campbell’s interview with Lisa Cherry on sex abuse and the Homeschool Movement and how fear is leaving children in harm’s way

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homeschool movement, lisa cherry, karen campbell, sex abuse

The Prevalence of Fear of Government Intrusion in the Homeschool Community

Since writing about my personal experiences of homeschooling, I have written about a cloud of fear among Christian homeschoolers. I went to Christian homeschool conferences in the 80s and 90s and there was always a strong presence of people from Homeschool Legal Defense Association HSLDA, especially using their attorneys as keynote speakers. The keynote speaker event was widely attended, usually with a packed-out crowd (at the conventions I attended). I never attended a Christian homeschool conference in which HSLDA was not present.

Back in the earlier homeschool days, I believe HSLDA perpetuated fear among homeschoolers about any type of government agency. They sent out a list of what to do if a government official came to your door and I taped it to the inside of my cupboard. I remember discussion on e-mail groups and message boards among homeschool moms about not allowing homeschool kids to play outside during normal school hours because a neighbor or someone driving by might report you for truancy. HSLDA told stories of children being yanked from their homes because certain state homeschool laws weren’t good and your child/family could be at risk. Most likely the highlighted cases were legitimate cases where homeschool freedoms were threatened, but the fear that spread among parents led to an overall distrust of the government or any of its agencies: school authorities, social service employees, police, etc.

I had one incident in the late 90s in which my children were playing with a neighbor’s dog behind our house. The dog was left alone all day and would poke his nose through the hole in the fence. My children felt sorry for him and pet him as he poked his nose through the fence. His wagging tail was their reward. However, our neighbors didn’t care for my children’s involvement in their dog’s social life and called the police (rather than coming to let us know personally, ::::sigh::::). The police came to the door and politely asked that we not interact with the neighbor’s dog. On his way out, the police officer asked if the child behind me was my son, and I affirmed that he was. The police officer left, and sadly, I explained the dog situation to my children.

Ten minutes later, the police officer came back to our front door and asked about my son – the same son he inquired of earlier. This son had a pink mark on his face and the police officer asked about it. I realized where he was going with this very quickly. Thankfully, I didn’t react in fear, but calmly told the police officer that my son was born with a port wine stain birthmark on his cheek, that he’s been seen by medical professionals and I asked him if he’d like our pediatrician or dermatologist’s contact information. He told me that was not needed. Whew!  My heart was racing like crazy!

I cannot describe the amount of fear that had gone in my mind. I felt like our family could have been the new feature story written up in the Court Report (HSLDA’s newsletter sent out to its members). Because I, too, was living in fear, my mind raced to the worse predicted outcome. Thankfully, my calm and legitimate response showed the police officer that there was nothing for him to be concerned about, my children were safe, and that was the last we saw of him.

My story is a simple one, but exemplifies the fear many of us homeschool moms experienced, either personally, or heard through friends, or friends of friends back in the 80s and 90s. Many of us seemed to live in fear: fear of government intrusion and taking away our homeschooling rights, fear of government intrusion and even taking away our children. There was a universal distrust of the government. There was an us-vs-them mentality. Some homeschool leaders came out right and said that the government was evil, from Satan. Whatever the issue was, we needed to stay as far away from the government as possible – they were not on homeschoolers’ side.

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Karen Campbell Interviews Lisa Cherry about Sex Abuse and the Homeschool Community

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Karen Campbell, a veteran homeschool mom and blogger recently interviewed Lisa Cherry from Frontline Family Ministries. Part of the interview promoted an event that Lisa Cherry put together, Sexual Abuse Prevention Week For Homeschoolers, which was held during the end of October.

I listened to the second podcast in the series and it raised some alarms for me. I think Karen and Lisa have good intentions. I appreciate that they identified the problem of sex abuse among the homeschool community. But I believe they are amiss in not acknowledging something that a lot of us moms know to be true: the Christian Homeschool Movement has perpetuated fear of the government, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

And here is the point that I want to bring home: this fear that the Homeschool Movement has perpetuated, and continues to perpetuate, is putting children in harm’s way. I will show you more examples of how the fear continues to be perpetuated even in this very recent interview.Both Karen and Lisa are respected moms in the homeschool community and people will listen to and respect their words. I’m asking you to put on your critical thinking skills as we go through the interview.

Christian homeschool parents want to have complete oversight and control of their children – they feel a biblical responsibility for their children and don’t want someone else having that responsibility. I get that. But what if a parent is a perpetrator? What if the perpetrator is someone they know from church, from their homeschool co-op, etc? What, then is their responsibility?

In the interview, Karen Campbell (KC) says this:

KC: Now, when we’re talking about sexual abuse, it doesn’t, you don’t have to go very far to find somebody you know in your life who has, has struggled through this. And I will bet most of us can list people that we have known who have shared with us and I’ll bet you very few of those people were homeschooled. I will bet they were mostly, for the most part in public school.

I do not think it is appropriate for Karen to make a blanket statement sexual abuse cases between those who have been homeschooled and those who have gone to public school. This speculation, “I’ll bet,”  is not based on fact. If Karen wants to say something like this publicly, it’s important that she back it up, not endorse a long-standing agenda within the Christian homeschool community that public schools are inferior or the problem. Christians, of all people, should be committed to truth, not rhetoric.

Let’s look at some data about sexual abuse:

  • An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
  • About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
  • Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child. (National Sex Offender Public Website)

 

While most homeschooling parents would never sexually abuse their children or want to put their child in harm’s way, if their child has been sexually abused, the above statistics indicate that 60% of the perpetrators were known to the child, 30% of the perpetrators were family members, and only 10% were strangers. So, in looking at those statistics, each child who has been sexually abused, whether that child was homeschooled, or sent to public or private school, has a 90% chance of being sexually abused by either someone he/she knows, or a family member. It really doesn’t have to do with homeschool or public school, as Karen seemed to be implying earlier.

Kaylyn, the daughter of Lisa Cherry (LC), was sexually violated by someone the family knew. He was part of the church Kaylyn’s father pastored. Kaylyn was homeschooled, and she was a victim – note, she was part of the 90% of victims whose perpetrator was either part of the family or someone the family knew.

While Lisa Cherry and Karen Campbell are trying to directly address abuse issues, and I applaud them for that, they are missing that the fear perpetrated by the Homeschool Movement has put homeschool families in harm’s way.

Case in point, read some of these words from Lisa Cherry as she is interviewed by Karen Campbell. They are discussing Kaylyn’s story (Cherry’s daughter), and what has been going on in the homeschool community as sexual abuse stories are coming to light.  My responses: JA response in black. I bolded for emphasis, Karen Campbell = KC, Lisa Cherry = LC  We jump right into the interview as the topic of sex abuse is discussed by Lisa Cherry.

Portions of Transcribed Interview

LC: And I, and I, you know, again, I don’t want to minimize and say we don’t have any problems because we’re people. People in any culture right now will have problems because the devil roams around seeking whom he may devour. It’s a part of the human problem. We’re in an oversexualized culture.

JA response: So first the problem identified, sex abuse, is blamed on Satan – not a human who sinned. This is not an appropriate way to look at sex abuse and is not biblical. Sexual abuse is perpetrated by sinful people. Satan is not the perpetrator. In scripture we read of people committing the sin of sexual immorality, not Satan (1-corinthians 6:12-20). 

Lisa Cherry continues:

But as a community, it’s very important that we not ignore where we might be vulnerable. Instead, we become wise. Now I know that there’s some places online that are saying we need the government to step in, we need more regulation, we need to protect our kids, we need to have more rules, we need to have more laws. Karen, I don’t believe that’s the answer.

JA response: Of course not, not when you believe the government is of Satan. This is what we as homeschool parents been taught for years.

KC: No

JA response: Note that Karen goes along with Lisa.  Karen has been in the homeschool community for years and has followed the same fear bandwagon and continues to perpetuate it.

LC: I don’t believe the government will be able to protect from these kinds of very sensitive things.  

JA response: This is false. Of course the government is not perfect, but the government can and does remove children from harmful environments.  The government can arrest, prosecute and convict offenders and make sure justice is served.

LC: I think, I believe that God placed families together to provide protection for children.

JA response: That’s fine and dandy when it works, but what about when it doesn’t work? What about when a parent is an abuser or fails to properly protect their children, then what? 

LC: At the same time, I do think it’s time for us to update our own homes. So I’ve put together an event coming up now the last week of October, October 26-31. A five-day event. And I just decided we need to do something. We’ve seen enough spectacular cases. We’ve seen HSLDA try to help us with them. We’ve seen people writing about it.  Let’s just stand up as homeschoolers right now and let’s put a week worth of training together. Let’s find some of the best experts in the country that can teach us what we might need to know so that even though the culture is rolling out of control, we will not be rolling out of control.

JA response: Ok, so Lisa touches on the reality that there are some real problems. She has to, her daughter was a victim, and she is using her daughter’s story as a platform within the homeschool community. But pay attention to what she says about the government. It’s the same anti-government mantra. It seems she is saying, “So we know there’s a problem, but we can’t go to the government for help, we have to do it ourselves and that’s why I’ve put together this new conference to put these important issues on the table.”  We’ll see this thought continue.

Further in the interview:

KC: And we have temptations and we have vulnerabilities. In some ways more vulnerability because we tend to not want anybody to know we have a problem. And so…

JA response: Why do we not want anyone to know?  Because of fear – the same fear that we’ve been exposed to for years in the homeschool movement. 

LC: Yeah, Karen, let me, let me speak a word on that because, um, you know, when this happened to us, it became my worst nightmare. Because never in my life did we need more help because we had a very serious situation going on here with a child that was in a dangerous condition. I was afraid that people would, um, would blame our homeschooling. I was afraid, in some sense, I was afraid that, uh, maybe the social service would misconstrue what my daughter was saying and that we would be blamed. You know, as homeschoolers we can have a lot of fear.

JA response: Let’s look at the underscored sentence. She was afraid that if she reported, people would blame her homeschooling?

When you call authorities because your daughter was sexually violated and think “they” are going to be concerned about what method your daughter is educated?  That’s your first thought?  Where is that coming from? I believe that’s coming from the fear perpetuated in the homeschool movement that getting the government involved in our families could threaten our collective rights to homeschool our children.  In other words, your actions (even legitimate actions) could have an effect on the rights of other parents to homeschool if things go wrong. 

When your daughter is sexually violated, a parent’s first concern should be safety of their child and other children  – that a sexual predator is on the loose. The first thought should not be, “I’m afraid they are going to take away my right to homeschool my children.”   [updated this section for clarification]

KC: Oh yeah.

JA response: Ok, here we go, look at this underlying fear and how it affected this family during their crisis.  The Cherry family had to trust someone in order to get their daughter help. Well, even God’s Word talks about submitting to governing authorities and if Christians would do what God’s Word says, the government is God’s vehicle by which sexual perpetrators can be tried, convicted, and punished. God endorses this system, yet we read so many homeschoolers turning away from it and calling it an enemy of God. Ok, which one is it?  Either these verses are in the Bible or they are not. Is God’s Word truth, or is it not? If it is not, does HSLDA and their ilk have a special anti-government Bible translation, or what? What does God’s word say about civil authorities? Are they good or evil? 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:1-5

Back to the interview:

LC: You know. What, what’s gonna happen? What if I reach out and it doesn’t go well?  And we hear all these stories of, of, you know, maybe the social service people coming to your front door. And so that put more pressure on us. And here’s what I’d have to say about that.

JA response: Ironically, my friend, Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) was a speaker at the above-referenced conference. I can guarantee you that he did not paint the government and social services out to be evil. He encourages people to first report to authorities if there are concerns about sex abuse. I sure hope Boz’s sessions were well attended. He does not buy into these kinds of fears.

Cherry continues:

LC: You know, we serve a heavenly Father who loves us and in the middle of our deepest pain, He opened a path for help in front of us.

JA response: Yes, He did, it’s all written out for you in Romans 13- use the civil authorities when there is just cause to do so. That’s why they are there.

LC: My path won’t be your path. He has plans that can get us out of this mess. But, being willing, under wise counsel, to bring problems to light and to get help is wisdom.

Trying to bury problems, pretend they’re not there, cooperate with the one who works in darkness, and that won’t bring healing. And so though it, it may feel. Now we need wisdom in the way we do it. I can’t just recommend that you just run right out to anybody and start pouring your soul out. You, you need to have wise counsel. You need to know where you’re going for your help. But, you know, if the first person isn’t able to help ya, pick yourself back up and go and look for somebody else.

KC: Yes

LC: You know, because I had to go several places before we could get some help. But there are people in the body of Christ who will listen, who’ve been there, and uh, and they will support us in prayer.

JA response: I urge people, once again, when there is suspected sexual abuse, report it to civil authorities, as God’s ordained authority in the civil world, to get perpetrators brought to justice.  Then, after civil authorities are called, go to friends and counsel for spiritual guidance and support.  The first response is so important so that trained professionals can investigate and make sure the perpetrator is investigated and the victim is no longer in harm’s way.

 

 

Late edit: This tweet came in after I sent the link to this article on Twitter:

 

 

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Special thanks to Kathi for transcribing the podcast and sharing it with me.

104 comments on “Fear within the Homeschool Movement Interferes with Sex Abuse Victims Getting Adequate Help and Justice for Perpetrators

  1. When I did my opinion piece on this podcast, I decided to focus on a few items that bothered me that most. What I did leave out that that I will mention here is that Lisa Cherry seemed to focus a lot about getting help for the parent. On the first podcast she briefly mentioned getting help for her daughter. Other than that, it was all about supporting the parent.

    While I understand the grief and anger a parent will fell when they find out their child has been sexually abused, how about focusing on helping the child? After all, it is the child that will have to deal with the physical and emotional ramifications of being abused.

    Just like HSLDA, Lisa and Karen focus on protecting the parent and homeschooling.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That fear of Secular Humanist Authorities(TM) has been there for a LONG time. I remember Christianese AM radio talk shows in the late Seventies/early Eighties speaking of fear of CPS taking away Christian kids to convert them to Secular Humanism and Sexual Permissiveness. Back then it was sometimes linked with Satanic Panic and/or World Communist Conspiracy angles, and even the more level-headed talk show hosts sometimes found themselves drawn in.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Headless Unicorn Guy
    NOVEMBER 10, 2014 @ 4:53 PM
    That fear of Secular Humanist Authorities(TM) has been there for a LONG time. I remember Christianese AM radio talk shows in the late Seventies/early Eighties speaking of fear of CPS taking away Christian kids to convert them to Secular Humanism and Sexual Permissiveness. Back then it was sometimes linked with Satanic Panic and/or World Communist Conspiracy angles, and even the more level-headed talk show hosts sometimes found themselves drawn in.”

    and far more important a lot of ministries and preachers raked in the bucks pandering to the fear of people. It is a good revenue stream but you need to keep making better lies when your first lies dont pan out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One could argue many things about this approach:
    – You need to start somewhere.
    – It’s better than doing nothing.
    – This is damage control and an effort to counter what groups like HARO are trying to do.
    – Parental convenience is more important than screening for child safety.
    – There is little to no accountability among parents to show themselves as worthy of the trust that the government has afforded in the past.
    – As a group, many sectors of homeschooling have been poor stewards of the privilege of the lack of oversight, and they don’t want to even deal with this. They’d rather deny that such problems existed.
    – What about alternatives of voluntary screening overseen by homeschoolers, perhaps twice in a child’s life to screen for health issues/care, academic achievement, learning disabilities, and growth and development. Why would Christians not want to show themselves accountable to be open books, known and read of all men?

    It’s a sad disappointment. I thought so much better about so many. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And as an adjunct to another discussion in which Martin Selbrede participated some months ago, I’m troubled by a statement made that success in homeschooling is measured by whether parent and child have a good, open, active relationship. Why are academics secondary? It is called homeschooling, is it not? Isn’t a certain degree of academic proficiency the primary objective of schooling? By what criteria does one measure what constitutes a good relationship? That bothers me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All of you, I trust, will have a wise discussion about the topic at hand. Sorry to go off-topic, but here is another thing to quickly point out:
    Notice how Julie Anne used Romans 13 in the passage above. The Romans 13 passage is a command to submit to the government. Yet, Julie Anna, and most commenters, know this is not just about obedience, but about using the authorities when needed, as a source of certain useful and good things. That same word for submitting is also present in the passages where wives are told to submit to husbands.
    Conclusion: Those texts are not just about obedience, but about using the husband when needed, as a source of certain useful and good things.

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  7. Cindy – The education aspect of homeschooling is why I never felt like I fit into the mold of the Christian homeschooling convention. They seemed more focused on relationship – parent to child, mother to father, parent to church. While these are not bad to consider, that should not be the sole focus on homeschooling. A parent makes a choice to homeschool in order to educate their child, not to follow a pattern or ensure that you will have the perfect child or family.

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  8. I was also thinking about Homeschool Anonymous’s review of Unmasking the Predator. Cherry mentions that Focus on the Family encouraged her to become the therapist to her daughter. This is wrong on so many levels!

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  9. Retha, I read what you wrote and heard what Peter wrote in my head, specifically what he wrote in 1 Peter 2:

    Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

    If CPS has ignorant things to say and slander Christians falsely by falsely accusing the Faithful of using freedom to hide malicious behavior, what better way to silence their ignorance by showing them excellence, confidence, and cooperation? Paul said we were to be living epistles to be known and read of ALL men.

    I’m a libertarian, and a lot of what I understand government to do is to preserve my liberty which involves making sure that others leave me alone in peace to do that. But that liberty comes at a price, and I have to do what God requires of me. There is lots of talk in these same circles about people looking to Caesar instead of God to help them and how sinful that is. Yet at the same time, there is a reciprocal paranoia that casts Caesar as the greatest, demonized enemy so that people put more faith in their own power to control situations than they put in a sovereign God.

    Per the example Julie Anne gives of the intimidation one feels when someone asked about her son’s port wine stain and the neighbor and their dog, feeling intimidation is healthy and helps to protect us. When I was in Christian school in the seventies and eighties, we also had concerns and were wise about our conduct because small Christian schools were seen by many as sinister, too. At that time, homeschooling was also more highly scrutinized. But the climate in the US has changed significantly, and a person can now homeschool their children from home through the internet programs offered by many public schools. By resisting compliance with the mechanisms intended to help all children, I think that the paranoia perpetuated by the Christian population only makes the whole subset of those who homeschool as Christians look even more sinister. It’s no longer 1982.

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  10. http://www.k12.com/

    You can even homeschool through a private school option. But I’m sure that you have to abide by certain guidelines to actually demonstrate that you really are educating your child or caring for them appropriately.

    My heart breaks over and over every time I hear of yet another intelligent homeschooling graduate (from across the country) who “cannot remember how to do fractions.” I don’t get through a single day without thinking about fractions in some way. There’s a problem of neglect and abuse in homeschooling and among Christians, and it’s not limited to either academic neglect or unaddressed sex abuse. Someone needs to address that problem rather than using homeschooling freedom and liberty as a cloak under which to hide. In that void of need, HARO developed to stand in that gap. It may be true that a minority has ruined that liberty through lousy stewardship, and that’s a shame. Regardless of why it has become a problem, it’s a problem.

    Rather than fighting for preserving parental rights, why doesn’t the community work with HARO and the government and others to ensure that there are no repeated patterns of problems? The more that the problem is denied or individuals are scapegoated as the poor, rare example of harm that doesn’t happen, the more opportunity for mandated government oversight grows.

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  11. JA and Kathi,

    I can see where Dobson may have been trying to say that a parent is a child’s counselor by the definition that the parent counsels that child every day of their lives by modeling good behavior and guiding their child’s development. A parent can help a child heal, and they can thwart their healing. I heard a broadcast on Canadian radio who was the director in their national mental health program who said that, sometimes, a person doesn’t need formal counseling but can get that same support from a good friend and through the love and guidance of the people around them.

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he failed to specify that the term “counselor” doesn’t always refer to the formal practice of professional counseling. ??? But statistics indicate one in three people will find themselves in need of formal counseling at some point in their life, and that doesn’t include help through bereavement which we all experience.

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  12. I’ve been an HSLDA member for over a decade now, and I’ve got to note that I have yet to see arguments from them that social services is of the devil. Rather, they are currently prosecuting a number of cases where social services personnel clearly are not following the limitations of state law and the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. They win most of these cases, by the way, one of them involving my own brother-in-law. It’s not 1982, but many social services workers have not gotten the memo.

    So if I’m going to point at a problem, I would suggest that the chief issue in getting justice for those who have been abused is that social services personnel have a well earned reputation for ignoring the law when it suits their purposes, and not just in cases involving home educators. It’s really the homeschoolers’ equivalent of minority communities distrusting the police because they remember Bull Connor tactics all too well.

    Yes, Romans 13, but keep in mind that Paul is the same guy who in Acts 16 told the magistrate who had unlawfully whipped him to come fetch him out of the jail himself. Lex Rex, as Samuel Rutherford says, and the chief tendency of homeschoolers is not to reject the authority of government altogether, but rather to insist that the authority of social services and the police be exercised lawfully.

    Put differently, while there are anecdotes where homeschoolers have suppressed evidence of abuse, that is not reason to judge an entire movement. Please, let’s put on our thinking caps here.

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  13. BB – I don’t recall HSLDA coming out right and saying the government is of the devil. However, they did and continue highlight the horror cases in the government (in the Court Report, on their FB page, etc). The point being is that they got the ball rolling and others homeschool leaders (Phillips, Swanson, etc.) took the baton, added their spin to it and it has trickled down to the parents assuming the same negative and often skewed position about the government as evil.

    I believe I did put my thinking cap on long before posting this article. There are countless homeschool children, some are being abused in their own homes, some outside of their homes. Is the homeschool community doing due diligence about protecting and defending victims? Or would they rather safe face and not sabotage the homeschool name? I’m seeing too much of the latter and I’m calling it out.

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  14. Here is the link for the HA review:
    http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/why-i-cannot-support-frontline-family-ministries-abuse-prevention-week-part-two-kalyns-secret/

    “This unfortunately did not translate over into the best responses. The Cherry family “made visits to three different professional counselors” “before the Lord led us to be Kalyn’s counselors” (214). (Neither Lisa nor her husband are professional counselors.) Prior to committing to this, they called Focus on the Family’s counseling services (205). The Focus on the Family counselor asked Lisa, “Have you considered that perhaps, for right now, you and your husband could be her best counselors?” (206). This greatly encouraged Lisa, because she was not wanting Kalyn to go to outside counseling. Kalyn, however, was upset by this: “When we told Kalyn about our decision, she responded by getting angry and running away.” (206). Lisa, however, was undeterred: “We…had to reject the pieces offered that were not a part of our solution” (215).”

    Please note that this review was for the book, “Kalyn’s Secret” which was later renamed, “Unmask the Predators” (which Cherry mentions in the podcast).

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  15. This was not a typical parent offering a child advice situation. This was a family who did not want their homeschooled daughter to seek professional counseling.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. @JulieAnne:

    BB – I don’t recall HSLDA coming out right and saying the government is of the devil. However, they did and continue highlight the horror cases in the government (in the Court Report, on their FB page, etc).

    That just means they were able to say the Government = SATAN indirectly by implication, maintaining Plausible Deniability all the way. It’s the mark of a Manipulator. Very unbecoming the Body of Christ.

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  17. I have a problem also with the lack of a quality education that I have seen in many homeschool families. One mom I knew taught her son just two subjects every year…said the others were just irrelevant. Really? I felt he would have been better off in public school, getting all subjects. Why are the parents so afraid of testing being done by the state…if the homeschoolers are so far ahead of their public peers…what are they afraid of? never understood this……………….

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  18. My concern in bringing up educational neglect involves the full spectrum of problems in at least some sector of Christian homeschooling — and it’s not a problem in the whole. The distinction, for me, highlights the undercurrent of denial of problems and the denial of the need for assistance with those problems. I think of neglect on a continuum with abject abuse on the opposite pole. While unidentified sexual abuse might be the extreme and most damaging element on that continuum, and bad cases don’t make for good law. But as you venture down to the less extreme and damaging pole, you find more and more people.

    When you ask groups like HSLDA about oversight under the idea that if we police ourselves, then the government will have no need to do it, even that is seen as an invasion of this idea of the holy sovereignty of family. And what do they say? In a broadcast on Al Jazeera on March 20th, Mike Donnelley of HSLDA kicked it back to the oversight and laws of individual States and said, “We think it’s working quite well.” Libby Anne at patheos has pointed out that HSLDA also thought that parents who kept children in cages, sitting in their own excrement, to be heroes, too.

    I’m of the opinion that the tragedies that are chronicled at Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, the problems of sexual abuse, and the unmeasured problem of educational neglect stand as evidence that HSLDA lives in a dream world. One of the characteristics of that dream world of denial and what I might argue is the lynch pin in the whole system is this holy system of parental rights that eclipses concern for children. Christians as a whole had a great opportunity to enjoy liberty, but too many people took that liberty for granted. Why do some place the focus on freedom as opposed to safety and effectiveness?

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  19. JA, HSLDA continues to file the cases and report on them because social services departments around the country are continuing to ignore the law. And just as Paul told the magistrate to come get him out of prison in Acts 16, homeschoolers are insisting that social services follow the law.

    Nothing wrong with that. It’s what Paul did, it’s what Peter did, it’s what the prophets did, and it’s what millions of other Christians have done over the past two millenia. We have stood up and noted that Romans 13 requires Christians to follow lawful authority, but not every exercise of government power.

    And if you look at those cases, we are talking about cases where families have been destroyed due to anonymous allegations and such, and the burden is huge. I’ve got no problem with complying with a lawful order based on sourced evidence and put into a genuine warrant, or even in certain “emergency” cases as defined by 4th Amendment law.

    And really, let’s get down to brass tacks; following a century featuring Jim Crow (including in the North, BTW), incarceration of Japanese-Americans, and the Tuskegee Experiment, exactly why would one think that submitting to every demand of government is Biblical or American?

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  20. Long time lurker, first time poster here. As a former homeschool mom (until our oldest was 10, now all three are *gasp* in public school) this really hit home for me on multiple levels. I never attended our annual homeschool convention here in Colorado (Ugh-KS!) because its purpose was clearly so agenda-driven. And we never joined HSLDA: my perspective was that if I am doing something perfectly legal, why would I need legal defense to do so? Although I was young when we started our family and I still have a lot to learn in this life, it was clear to me from the outset that both organizations were in the market of selling something other than support for homeschooling families- they were in the market of selling fear. And so we felt that our money better spent on ballet lessons, art supplies, musical instruments, and books. I always felt like such an outsider in the homeschool community because, although we are Christ-followers, our main focus in homeschooling our children was academic in nature.

    Related– I have been shocked to see in homeschool groups, churches, and even in segments of the charter school community- how willing leaders have been to aggressively circle the wagons to protect the reputation of their self-built community rather than to support the children who have been harmed by that very system. And personally, I would like to thank JA and Brad for helping me heal through some painful experiences that resulted from my involvement in said groups. Thank you for your wisdom, it has helped this young mom very much over the last year.

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  21. Bravo, Joanna! Instead of buying fear (and you certainly would have been exposed in KS country) you bought your kids skills. That’s the way to do it. It’s comments like yours that keep me blogging.

    The circling of the wagons is disgusting to me and must continue to be addressed until we can overturn the fear mentality among the Homeschool Movement (and that’s a different group than general homeschoolers who are off doing what normal homeschoolers do – – teach and have fun with their kids, making every day opportunities teachable moments).

    I’ll make sure Brad sees your note. 🙂

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  22. Thanks, Julie. Brad’s “Agents of Damage- Agents of Healing” brought me so much clarity and light. I wouldn’t have found it without you!

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  23. Bike Bubba –

    What about the children who have been torn apart due to abuse by parents who have used the mantra of HSLDA and other homeschool leaders to hide what they are doing or what they are not doing? They (individuals) need protecting as much, if not more than, the family unit needs protecting. HSLDA seems to promote the protection of the “family unit” over the well being of an individual in a family. It seems the “family” has become the idol in the Christian worldview. The perspective needs to be balanced and even tipped toward the “least of these.” Jesus seems quite concerned with the least ofs.

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  24. Let’s take Christianity out of this altogether. I know a woman who home schools her large family. I don’t know her motivation but it isn’t religious. The problem is that her knowledge base is so poor. Her grammar is atrocious, she cannot spell, she can’t write a coherent paragraph, and math is a struggle for her. She can’t tell you the three branches of government or the name of our Vice President. She is a widow, there are medical problems in the family and money is very very tight. Her children need the best academic start they can get so that they can become independent self-supporting adults. They aren’t getting it. I care more about their needs than their mother’s rights. There needs to be some government regulation. Why should her kids be so disadvantaged compared to public school kids and homeschooled kids whose parents can teach and select good supporting materials?

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  25. BB – I’ve been clear that the government has flaws, but while defending HSLDA, you only perpetuate their agenda which is fear. Do we save the legal rights of the homeschool movement by not reporting or do we report and let civil authorities investigate and get a pedophile off the streets? How many children are sacrificed in order to not rock the legal boat of homeschool legislation? It’s time to throw away that nonsense. HSLDA did a great job making sure it is legal to homeschool in all 50 states, now they need to cool the fear mantra. Most homeschoolers have and will never need their “services.”

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  26. Joanna — thanks for the shout-out. Those kinds of occasional notes and nudges help us know that our blog is reaching people who benefit from it. Like Julie Anne said, it really does help keep us going.

    So glad you found that article on Agents of Damage – Agents of Healing especially helpful. I’ve been writing on spiritual abuse since 2008, and just now feel that I’m hitting the saturation point in both processing my own experiences as a survivor, plus input for research and reflection, and that particular post was an important point for synthesizing it all together. Good to know that God’s worked out a redemptive edge from what seemed like irredeemably harmful circumstances.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Julie Anne, the idea that the HSLDA agenda is “fear” is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that they keep ten attorneys busy winning multiple cases each month against overzealous social services and education bureaucrats. So it is not fear. but reality. There are enough bad apples out there who need a reminder from a judge about the law to keep them busy.

    You want to rein in the climate of fear, great. Get social services and education bureaucrats to obey the law, and that climate will dissipate. The HSLDA is not stopping valid warrants from being served. The cases they cover are when educators and social services workers unlawfully demand access to a home. Again, Acts 16.

    And with regards to the question “how many must be sacrificed?”, the question is whether increased regulation will help. Public schools are heavily monitored, but it doesn’t stop 20% or so of public school kids (e.g. Dexter Manley of Redskins fame/shame) from graduating while functionally illiterate, no? It hasn’t stopped hundreds of teachers from being arrested for sleeping with their students, or for that matter it hasn’t stopped schools for being hotbeds of illegal drug sales.

    I’m going to make a wild guess that the rate of functional illiteracy and drug dealing among home educators is far lower than it is at the heavily monitored public schools. So how many public school kids must be sacrificed before we rein in the NEA and DoEd?

    In the same way, no less than six social workers ignored sourced, credible allegations against Banita Jacks in that tragedy. So evidence does not support the idea that constructing a Panoptikon (Jeremy Bentham) for any group, let alone home educators, is going to help–as anyone who is watching the abject lack of success from NSA surveillance would figure out.

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  28. Love how the topic is switched to public school, BB.

    Obviously since you are still a paying member of HSLDA, you feel the need to defend that use of $$. It does not diminish the reality that some people within the Homeschool Movement are acting in fear and would rather forego turning in a child molester and handle it in-house rather than risk any dealings with the government which might have a detrimental effect on homeschool laws. Did you listen to the podcast?

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  29. “I’m going to make a wild guess that the rate of functional illiteracy and drug dealing among home educators is far lower than it is at the heavily monitored public schools.”

    And that “wild guess” is totally unbiased, right? Meanwhile, back in the real world, I actually know some daddies and brothers and uncles who molested their daughters and sisters and niece. I know dozens of “homeschooled” adults with a middle school education or less. I know some who were doing drugs.

    “as anyone who is watching the abject lack of success from NSA surveillance would figure out.”

    Nothing causes me to tune out faster than conspiracy theories. I’ve had it with fear-mongering regarding government agencies. I’ve had some up-close and personal encounters with government agencies, and, all across the board, I’ve found them more fair and kinder that the “church” I used to be a part of.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to report child abuse of any kind.

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  30. BTDT; of course I’m biased, but at least I’ve got data backing me up. You got anything resembling a 20% functional illiteracy rate among homeschool graduates?

    Those who doubt that the HSLDA’s response is reasonable really ought to visit the NEA resolutions from this year. That on home education is on page 38.

    http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/nea-resolutions-2014-15.pdf

    They’re asking for state licensure, school district approval (not just notification) , state approval of curricula, and the like. They spent eighty million dollars on the last election, I believe. It’s the Panoptikon I was writing about, it’s the reason the results of NEA-dominated institutions matter in this discussion, and quite frankly it matters because it’s all of our freedom at stake.

    Paranoia? No, it’s reality, and the sooner this kind of thing is reined in, the sooner people will relax around social services.

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  31. Bike Bubba – – you seemed to have forgotten the victim somewhere in all of that.

    This is not just about social services – this is about reporting so predators can brought to justice. And what are you doing about those verses in Romans 13?

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  32. Bike Bubba,

    Your assertion was “that the rate of functional illiteracy and drug dealing among home educators is far lower than it is at the heavily monitored public schools.”
    So your statistics of “20% functional illiteracy rate” is pointless unless you have the corresponding data regarding homeschool graduates. You haven’t proved anything. So, yes, your bias is showing.

    Having seen the damage inflicted on individuals who were supposedly home educated, I welcome oversight on the entire social experiment. And I currently home school. I’m not afraid of it.

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  33. “They’re asking for state licensure, school district approval (not just notification) , state approval of curricula, and the like.”

    I fail to see why that’s a problem.

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  34. This issue has a tension to it that makes my head spin. On one hand, as a libertarian, I cannot stand government micromanaging my life and thinking they know better than I do for my children. (Most of the highly educated education gurus at state level I worked with had no children!)

    On the other hand, there are folks out there purposely not educating their daughters and even using freedom of religion to abuse their kids.

    On one hand, most of the public school system is an educational joke. I could go on and on with that one. A friend of mine was telling me just the other day that since the GED is now computer based in our city the percentages failing it have risen drastically. Why? No “accommodations”. The public school system is one big “accommodation” which is why GPA’s tell us nothing. A diploma tells us nothing. One can graduate from high school with a 6th grade reading level. And that is because of what our government measures as success. We are certainly not preparing citizens who are critical thinkers as we can see by what folks are ignoring and putting up with.

    The irony is that for a long time front line employers preferred GED people because they KNEW they had to pass a hard test. Now that the accommodations are gone, those who pass it are more likely to be better educated than those who graduate. What an irony.

    The motivations and measurements of the public school system are directly tied to state and federal dollars. Even attendance numbers.

    Colleges continue to dumb down entrance requirements because more stringent ones were not bringing in the state and federal dollars. (Has anyone seem Ivory Tower, the documentary? Or “Waiting for Superman” another documentary about the school system?)

    And with the advent of nothing but “visual” learners, young people are not exercising or expanding their brains. Just look at the problem with reading. The joy of reading a story and making your brain work to visualize the setting, characters, etc is just about gone. They watch movies and teachers are encouraged to use more visual techniques for learning. And every single behavior problem becomes a “learning disability” because the school psyches said so and there is a government check and tons of accommodations that keep them ignorant and feeling entitled. Do we deal with real learning disabilities? Of course! But it is so out of control as to make laziness a “learning disability”. Nobody can make little johnny do anything he does not want to do. And no amount of motivation lasts with little johnny. We have tried giving him treats, promising him time on the computer to play games, etc. Nothing works.

    I have been in way too many IEP meetings! And since I am an outsider that way of thinking has not become my normal. God forbid it ever does.

    So what to do? I am sometimes overwhelmed with the problems we are facing in this respect. We are not churning out responsible citizens so the problem is going to get worse and require more and more government intervention by those also so poorly educated and lacking in critical thinking skills. Good little comrades.

    I just see both sides. But I do think homeschool movement gurus want your money. I am big on vouchers for this reason. Make education a competition. We do know that even poor badly educated people want better for their children. Why do we prohibit choice in education for the poor?

    I was very impressed with how the liberals who started the Harlem school approached this problem with poor disadvantaged kids. Marva Collins in Chicago was the same. They have proven something the public education system would like to ignore.

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  35. Lydia,

    I have no argument with what you’re saying.

    The school district we currently live in is just awful. We’ve heard that from plenty of people who know the system. It was a good school 20 years ago, but no more. So, yes, I appreciate the option to continue homeschooling my kids. We’ve located another school 20 minutes away that we’ve heard wonderful things about, and it has a very good state rating. Hopefully it will work out for our kids to attend there next school year.

    I think many of the problems that come to light in the homeschool communities aren’t generally from parents who are doing it for academic reasons. Sometimes it’s to indoctrinate their kids. Sometimes it’s fear of “teh gubmint.” In my state the laws are so on the side of homeschoolers, that authorities sometimes cannot intervene even if the kids are receiving no education at all! Not always.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/texas-court-rules-against-homeschoolers-who-expected-rapture-and-stopped-teaching-kids/

    ““Tracy overhead one of the McIntyre children tell a cousin that they did not need to do schoolwork because they were going to be raptured,” the court document noted.”

    I would really prefer that homeschoolers be involved in the process of creating a system of accountability. So far that hasn’t happened. So these children will continue to fall through the cracks in a system that sometimes doesn’t even know they exist. Abuses will continue to happen without a single advocate to speak up for them. That’s just wrong.

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  36. Let me just say I can identify with Lydia here. There are real problems among Movement homeschoolers that HSLDA, NHERI, state organizations, popular “ministries”, etc. have been ignoring or downplaying for many years. The kind of sins that should never be named among those who claim the name of Christ. The kinds of bad theology that Michael Farris was content to ignore publicly until he couldn’t anymore. Certain movements dominating the homeschool convention scene. The push for particular kinds of legislation. And of course, the Fear.

    To an extent, I’ve been in that world. I’m now on the other side.


    “They’re asking for state licensure, school district approval (not just notification) , state approval of curricula, and the like.”

    I fail to see why that’s a problem.

    When the NEA asks for state approval of curricula used by homeschoolers, I can tell you right now that is a problem. My kids are in public school, and in certain subjects we are still dealing with just asinine stuff as a result of Common Core. My husband and I are practically having to do some homeschooling on top of what they get in the course of 7 hours on a weekday. We cannot assume that what is on their quarterly reports is actually reflective of their skills. My overall point here is that I would never want the State having the ability to dictate or approve curriculum choices. I can see requiring a list of subjects, or even some kind of quarterly testing, although even there it would have to be done in such a way that any educated child could pass it, not just those who had been through a particular curriculum, method, or order of instruction.

    Regarding creating structures of accountability between homeschoolers, I wish I could propose a fail-safe system of some kind, but I doubt it’s possible. Home educating by its very nature is individualized, without having anyone from a state agency hovering over the parent’s shoulder. After notification, regular outside testing might at least ensure that educating was happening. Unfortunately, when it comes to abuse of any kind, the families where it is most likely to occur are also those most likely to ignore any such laws to begin with. If HSLDA came out with a series of formal statements on these troublesome issues, and began coordinating with the organizers of state conventions to keep out certain materials and speakers, and all local support groups began monitoring one another, there is a subset of the population that would just yank their memberships, pull out and go underground. I hope that folks like the ones at HARO understand this will be the case no matter what legislation gets passed.

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  37. 1. After watching friends go through a year long nightmare with DCFS over what was a verifiable accident, I would have to have absolute proof of abuse before I would ever even consider calling social services.

    2. Someone commented about homeschoolers’ unwillingness to give their students standardized tests. I have not given them because I don’t want to waste time teaching my kids how to play the test game & then waste even more time giving the tests. My kids will be taking standardized tests for the first time in the next couple of weeks, but I greatly resent losing time which could be spent doing things which are actually educational.

    3. In these sorts of discussions there’s always all this anecdotal evidence re: homeschoolers who teach nothing. Homeschooling is very, very popular where I live. In other words, I know *many* homeschoolers. I can think of ONE family who seem to be doing nothing. Of course, one of their older children has a PhD and at least two other children have advanced degrees, so perhaps that appearance is misleading.

    4. In my state I’d say the public education system needs to have its own house in order before it starts worrying about mine.

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  38. Libby Rose – -One thing I’ve noticed about homeschooling parents (and I readily admit I did the same thing when I was homeschooling), is that we primarily cared ourselves and our own families. What went on “out there” didn’t affect me and so I blew it off. I’m not sure that is the right response to make. What happens is that there are still victims – children – – who have no one defending them or ensuring there is a system in place that will catch those who slip through the cracks. I think we as Christians should be concerned about those who have no voice.

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  39. I see your point, but after watching my friends’ family be harassed by DCFS, after listening to my public school teacher family members & friends talk about what happens in their schools & in the lives of their students, and after hearing stories re: abused children being returned to their abusive families from friends in the medical community, I have no faith that government oversight is the answer.

    (Btw, I didn’t realize that this was an old post until after I’d already commented. I apologize. I would have refrained had I noticed!)

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  40. Julie Anne, I’m not forgetting the victim; I’m just pointing out that the fear of interaction with social services is completely logical, and that telling people not to be afraid is going to go over as well as telling black people to forget Bull Connor and his dogs.

    So if you want to help people, you need to address why there is a climate of fear. I personally campaign for:

    1. Routine 4th Amendment training for all social workers (and police) and punishment of those who abuse its limits. More or less, threaten to take a child away without a warrant in your hand or clear evidence of imminent danger to someone, and you’re looking at demotion or finding a new career.

    2. The NEA and its supporters must agree that regulations on home educators must be evidence based, not simply an attempt to crush the competition. What they’ve got now is actually negatively correlated with student achievement, and thus can only be considered in the latter category.

    Get a few years without restrictive bills filed and a big drop in abuse by social services, people will start to trust. Not until then.

    And what do I do? Well, I remind people who don’t teach their kids that the penalty for not teaching them (no matter where they go to school, really) is kids who live in your basement until they’re 40. I have personally confronted fellow home educators on certain programs they’re using. And in the case of someone being victimized, yes, I’ll tell people that just because other people aren’t reasonable (Adrian Fenty/Banita Jacks case) doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the right thing.

    Fear? Yes, but the HSLDA has some darned good lawyers, and reporting a crime places a person on the right side of the law.

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  41. BB,

    I know why there is a climate of fear. I experienced it in the Homeschool Movement and it started from HSLDA and their rhetoric. It also extends beyond HSLDA and I hope to do a blog post soon sharing what I have found which will prove my point.

    Again, there is no perfect system, but where are the safeguards for those children who slip through the cracks?

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  42. “◾An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.”

    It would be in this section where the author, if being candid, would include public school teachers, bus drivers and coaches. I guess it didn’t help her agenda to point out the rampant sexual abuse of children in public schools. Go read your local paper each day to see how widespread this sad phenomena is and ask yourself why the writer didn’t point this out.

    “Either these verses are in the Bible or they are not. Is God’s Word truth, or is it not?”

    This is from the same writer and her followers who will spend a multitude of words telling one that certain passages of the Bible are no longer valid because one has to truly understand the cultural or historical context of the verse to see whether or not it applies today. For instance, female pastors. “Is God’s Word truth, or is it not?”

    Homosexuals and Muslims have quite successfully labelled their enemies as “haters” or one with a “phobia.” It would appear that this writer is employing the same tactics against parents who homeschool and have a healthy mistrust of government. Because one doesn’t trust someone doesn’t mean they hate them or have an irrational fear of them.

    Perhaps the next article on homeschooling here, and why homeschoolers are foolish to not trust the government, can be about the democratically elected government of Germany and how they treat homeschool families. I wonder if that article would point out how the United States government, after careful deliberation, sought the extradition of a German homeschool family from the US back to Germany knowing the German government would fine or imprison the parents if they didn’t enroll their children in German public schools. But, sure, let’s trust the US government when it comes to homeschooling in America. What is there to “fear”?

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  43. A Christian Father/Husband:

    There are plenty of articles bashing the government not only on Christian sites, but secular sites. When I get a response like yours, I notice that once again, the victims within amongst homeschoolers still do not have a voice or someone defending them or making an attempt to ensure your safety.

    The German situation is completely irrelevant to this discussion and in my opinion, the German family made very poor choices for their family. Why should the US govt bail out foreigners for their poor choices?

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  44. OK: The comment about the Romeike family got me to come back. What was their “poor choice”? Or were you writing about another German family?

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  45. Welcome back, Keith 🙂

    Other countries offered to house their family (in Europe) so they could continue to homeschool their children, but they came to the US knowing that it was a big risk. If you have a large family, you play it safe with your family. You don’t put your family at risk of having your children taken away from you, even if it means you send them to the local public school. Basically it’s as simple as this: you need to abide by the laws of your land or go to one of the countries who generously extended an invitation. The US did not extend an invitation to them to live here and homeschool their children.

    If you are German citizens living in Germany, you don’t get to adopt American laws for yourself and expect your government to support your choice. American laws apply to Americans, not Germans.

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  46. Julie Anne: In the case of the Romeike family, please note the following:
    1) They came to the USA legally.
    2) They sought asylum, which was granted, but that Court’s decision was appealed by DOJ.
    3) The precedents of the Meyer, Pierce and Yoder cases are the law of the land, and must be obeyed pursuant to Romans 13, which I take to mean that Christians must obey laws which do not require them to sin.
    4) Said precedents predate the Romeike family’s attempt to legally immigrate to the USA by decades.
    5) DOJ cried “uncle” and let the Romeike family stay. Perhaps they realised that the law of the USA supported the position of the family.

    What were the ‘big risks” they were taking? They actually reduced their risk of losing their children by coming to the USA. If they went back to Germany, the risk to the family would be necessarily greater.

    As regards the offer of unnamed other countries in Europe to accept them, do you know which countries or have details?

    Given that freedom of education is the law of the USA, why do you take the position that they were not welcome here? Who would have done the “inviting”?

    Can you identify any illegal activity by the Romeike family regarding their immigration to the USA? It looks like they followed the legal and well-trodden path of other asylum-seekers.

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  47. Julie Anne, at the root of it, anyone’s protection relies on the ethics of those responsible for the situation. And really, let’s face facts; the children will have better protection if the government agencies follow the law, because that implies the very accountability we’re talking about.

    I realize that many think that giving people more authority–that Panoptikon again–may help, but if it’s a departure from the law, it doesn’t work that way.

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  48. “Can you identify any illegal activity by the Romeike family regarding their immigration to the USA? It looks like they followed the legal and well-trodden path of other asylum-seekers.”

    And it appears the Board of Immigration Appeals “followed the legal and well-trodden path” of vetting such asylum-seekers.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/04/why-hslda-is-wrong-about-romeike-v-holder.html

    “On May 4, 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals overruled the immigration judge and denied the Romeikes asylum. The Board of Immigration Appeals needed to answer these questions: (1) Have the Romeikes suffered persecution? (2) If they did suffer persecution, was it because of their religion? (3) Alternatively, if they did suffer persecution, was it because of their membership in a particular social group? The Board of Immigration Appeals answered no to all these questions. First, it wasn’t persecution because the anti-homeschooling law was one of general application (not meant to target a specific group, but rather something that applied evenly across the board). Next, because there were secular reasons for the compulsory attendance law, even if it had been deemed persecution it wouldn’t have been persecution suffered because of their religion. Finally, the Board of Immigration Appeals found that German homeschoolers are not a particular social group within the meaning of the act. To be a social group, there must be “social visibility” and “particularity.” Homeschoolers are simply too “amorphous” to constitute a social group eligible for protection under the asylum law.”

    IMO, this should never have been an asylum-seeking situation. There was no persecution in Germany. The Romeike’s simply disagreed with the laws in their own country.

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  49. On the general issue of fear in the homeschooling community, I think one should not confuse it with vigilance. it is neither a sin nor impolite to be vigilant about protecting one’s rights.

    I read the anecdotes that people post about alleged abuse and am puzzled. If you have evidence of abuse, just report it.

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  50. “I read the anecdotes that people post about alleged abuse and am puzzled. If you have evidence of abuse, just report it.”

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but in regards to my former cult the abuses have been reported time and time again. The county sheriff has investigated, but has had little success in getting victims to cooperate. Many people have worked to get the media involved with limited success. It is widely known in the local area that the “homeschooling” that the children receive in this community are paltry at best.

    “Beenthere: So why did DOJ cave?”

    My guess would be public pressure. It happens. Again, that’s just my opinion. I have no beef with the Romeike family. I just believe they had other options (even applying for legal citizenship if they wished) rather than crying persecution and asking for asylum.

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  51. I read the anecdotes that people post about alleged abuse and am puzzled. If you have evidence of abuse, just report it.

    That’s the problem, Keith, which is why I did this post. HSLDA would want you to report to THEM first before placing any calls to any civil authorities. Churches and other Christian organizations have done the same thing: go to the pastor/leader first and let them take care of it, do not report to civil authorities (Sovereign Grace Ministries sex abuse cases, anyone?). This is at the point it often gets swept under the rug for fear of tarnishing an image/reputation.

    I don’t have time to get into details on the Romeike case, so I’ll let others respond if they want to. I find it to be a diversion from the topic of discussion and is really not helpful to what I view as a serious problem in the Christian homeschool communities: fear to report to civil authorities when there is known or suspected abuse.

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  52. Beenthere: I think there are a couple of possibilities as to why DOJ took the course of action they did 1) They were wrong on the law, and new they would lose 2) They were fearful of public pressure 3) They feared that SCOTUS would simply restate that the cases i have cited remain the law (this would be bad for them, because it is my understanding that DOJ does not recognize freedom of education as a right.) i am sure there are other possibilities, e.g. how this looks within the larger framework of the immigration issue.

    I would like to see a case similar to the Romeike case

    In any event, the Romeike family proceeded within the law at all stages and eventuallly prevailed. “Crying persecution”? Minimise it all you like. I won’t.

    Julie Anne: I understand your point. To me, one sure sign of a cult is that they discourage members from reporting a crime. Homeschooling could be made illegal today, and yet abuse would continue. I think the better approach is to make people aware of what abuse is, and what resources are available. Attacking homeschooling never be successful the real target is abusers. Homeschoolers will retreat to their laagers and no progress will be made. In fact, i think attacking homeschooling is counterproductive, as it tends to reinforce the “fear”. I noticed on the FB page that there is a group trying to provide this type of information without judging folks for homeschooling. I hope they are genuine and successful.

    Thanks for the welcome back. This blog never fails to be of interest, but it also makes me extremely angry.

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  53. “it is my understanding that DOJ does not recognize freedom of education as a right”

    Freedom of education regarding the Romeike case is a red herring. There is no *international law* ensuring freedom of education. I know some Americans think the rest of the globe should acquiesce to our obvious superiority. However, there was no religious persecution of the Romeike family in Germany, and that was the basis of their appeal for asylum. It’s that simple.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. “I think the better approach is to make people aware of what abuse is, and what resources are available. Attacking homeschooling never be successful the real target is abusers. Homeschoolers will retreat to their laagers and no progress will be made. In fact, i think attacking homeschooling is counterproductive, as it tends to reinforce the “fear”. I noticed on the FB page that there is a group trying to provide this type of information without judging folks for homeschooling. I hope they are genuine and successful.”

    Agreed. And I believe this is the whole point of JA’s post — that the problem needs to be addressed and dealt with in the proper manner. JA’s twitter feed had a link a few days ago to pdfs that HARO put together to be used within Homeschool groups. So far, it looks really good.

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  55. Julie Ann: it was actually off-topic re female genital mutilation and asylum-seekers. related but way off-topic, but thanks!

    Beenthere: Asylum seekers have been granted asylum with great regularity based on persecution which did not constitute a breach of the law of their home countries, e.g. eastern bloc refugees during the time of Communism, etc.

    What is simple is that they won, and your ( apparent) side lost.

    And no, i don’t think the rest of the world should follow American law. Do you want me to tell you some ways that education is better in Germany?

    BTW, Article 26 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that the parents have the “..prior right to choose the kind of education given to their children.”

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  56. Keith,

    I have no “side” in this. I am neither for nor against the Romeikes. I believe HSLDA used them as part of their agenda.

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  57. That’s exactly what I believe. They have a history of pushing stories that will say, “watch this story, look at how this case was handled in the US. Be afraid of your govt – this is why you need to be members of Hslda so we can defend you and your right to homeschool your children.”

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  58. I wish just a fraction of the folks championing the Romeike’s cause would stand up for the abused and under educated children among their own ranks.

    This isn’t much different from “christian’s” decrying the culture at large while allowing abuses to continue within their own church institutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Beenthere: Do you think there is some inconsistency in both supporting the Romeike family and opposing child abuse? I don’t see any problem with having both views.
    If you are personally aware of child abuse you should report it to the appropriate authorities.

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  60. “Beenthere: Do you think there is some inconsistency in both supporting the Romeike family and opposing child abuse?”

    Can you point out where I stated that?
    Frankly, I’m befuddled that the homeschool community turned that case into a national issue. But when addressing abuse among the homeschool community we hear this: “Now I know that there’s some places online that are saying we need the government to step in, we need more regulation, we need to protect our kids, we need to have more rules, we need to have more laws. Karen, I don’t believe that’s the answer.” And this: “I don’t believe the government will be able to protect from these kinds of very sensitive things.”

    “If you are personally aware of child abuse you should report it to the appropriate authorities.”

    It was reported and investigated. But this post shows just how many in the homeschool community are against government involvement in abuse situations.

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  61. Beenthere: I asked you if you thought there is an inconsistency. Either you do or you don’t. Perhaps you have no opinion.

    Are you saying I don;t want government involvement in abuse situations? Just say it, if that is what you mean, please.

    To whom did you report the abuse? What type of abuse was it?

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  62. Keith,

    I think we have crossed wires here somewhere. You and I have different opinions concerning the Romeike case. That’s neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned.

    “Are you saying I don;t want government involvement in abuse situations? Just say it, if that is what you mean, please.”

    No. I don’t believe you ever stated that.

    “To whom did you report the abuse? What type of abuse was it?”

    5 or 6 men from my former “church” have already been convicted of molesting children. The “church” claims they never cover up the abuse of children. At the beginning of this year, another abuse report was called in. (Btw, I was not involved in reporting any of these situations.) The sheriff’s dept. investigated, but someone tipped off the perp and he fled. In the meantime, the deputies got an earful from the victim and some other kids. They said the situation was worse than they’d been told. The victim’s mother and minister tried to play down the whole thing. Within a matter of days, the kids stopped cooperating. There wasn’t much else the authorities could do without their cooperation.

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  63. Beenthere: Child molestation cases are often difficult to investigate and prosecute. The fact that there were convictions is a good thing.

    Have any charges been placed for the suspect who is on the run?

    As far as the Romeike case goes, I just would like for the spiritual abuse community to be charitable towards them. My impression is that the views of some towards HSLDA are bleeding over to this immigrant family. Just because HSLDA represented them does not mean that they have the same views as the HSLDA.

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  64. Oh, and the victim was being punished for her “immorality” even though she was underage when the abuse began. The abuser was her own uncle, and he was married with two kids.

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  65. “Have any charges been placed for the suspect who is on the run?”

    I believe there is a warrant out for his arrest.
    The criminal justice system is an interesting animal.

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  66. I don’t know about the jurisdiction you are in, but if there is a felony warrant out there, odds are the defendant will be caught.

    As regards the church taking this bizarre position of labelling a victim “immoral’, i must say that is nauseating. There is a whole subculture of bizarro world sexual practices and ethics hiding behind “churches’, from FLDS to Ernest Angley. Really sick stuff that I previously thought was limited to a few groups. I am surprised the abused child’s father did not exact some informal justice on him.

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  67. “I am surprised the abused child’s father did not exact some informal justice on him.”

    If he did I didn’t hear about it. Both the victim’s father and the perp are brothers. They are also both sons of the founding elder of my former “church.” You may be familiar with some of their literature. Have you read the book, “Who Owns the Children?”

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  68. I read parts of the book a long time ago. Somewhere, perhaps on this blog, someone wrote that he was involved in some kind of commune-type church in Texas. Perhaps i have that wrong. It may have been on another blog.

    So convictions have been obtained? I think that is at least something of a win. If my brother molested one of my children, I would be cooperating with the prosecution fully. I know it sounds a bit uncivilised, but I think most men and women would have a violent reaction towards a family member who did such a thing.

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  69. Keith,

    I thought it was you who left a comment about the book on another blog, I promise I’m not stalking you. 🙂 I recognized your name, but I hadn’t “seen” you on SSB for a while. I’m also still mostly anonymous.

    Yes, the “church” is a community. They’ve adopted a lot of Anabaptist ways which gets them mistaken for Amish or Mennonites of some kind. They are Oneness Pentecostals. Blair was a minister in the UPC at one time.

    Convictions were obtained for 5 or 6. The men turned themselves in. But there are other stories that may never be told. One of my best friends was also victimized and punished for her “immorality.” I didn’t find out until we were both out of that “church.”

    There’s a lot I’m not comfortable putting “out there” just yet. The authorities have a close watch on what goes on, I’ll let them finish their job.

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  70. Exactly why is it wrong for parents and the HSLDA to protest children being taken away by a government that (a) acknowledges the children are well cared for and educated and (b) admits in court, and repeatedly so, that the point of the anti-home education law is to suppress religious minorities?

    Let’s think about this a minute; every one of us here is part of a religious minority for the simple reason that we have no denomination to which a majority of Americans belong. That is what Romeike is about, and why it is significant to Americans. A President who sues nuns to force them to buy contraception just might pull a similar stunt with any of us. Religious liberty is threatened here, too.

    And regarding the reality of abuse being hidden in some circles by people who ought to report it, yes, that happens. Circle the wagons is not rare in any sector of American society.

    But that said, there are remedies. First of all, bad actors get bad reputations. That’s part of why this site is here–to give bad actors a bad reputation. Second, there are civil and criminal remedies in many cases. Even where pastors are not mandatory reporters, imagine going before a jury and explaining that you were refusing as a matter of principle to report suspected child abuse. Odds are your wallet will be lighter when the trial is over.

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  71. Beenthere: My interest is piqued.

    Bike Bubba: My laager statement was not meant perjoratively. There are powerful interest groups that want to end educational freedom. All I am saying is that if the issue really is addressing child abuse, the groups that are advocates for abused children will get nowhere if they are also pursuing a hidden agenda, which is a shame, because the abuse won’t be stopped.
    I just read a statistic yesterday that surprised me. 9.6 % of students report some sexual misconduct from an educator in school. Shakeshaft, C (2004)(Department of Education Study) Almost no one is arguing for abolition of schools as a method of addressing this abuse. Similarly, those who wish to address abuse in the homeschool setting should avoid advocating for aboliton of the institution. It is counterproductive.
    I am in agreement on the Romeike family. Plus, I like Germans.

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  72. Beenthere:Ministers not reporting molesters makes me want to puke. These were little kids. No real pastor would let this go on without reporting it, even absent a legal mandate to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. Keith,

    I don’t know where to start. I believe the sexual abuse is closely connected to their Patriarchal beliefs. Even the wives/mothers were aware of the abuse, and said nothing. One little girl kept trying to tell her mommy what daddy was doing, and the mother wrote her off as lying. In their own words “a child’s word should never be taken over an adult’s word.” It violates God’s order of authority.

    The “church” told my husband’s mother she could stop teaching him math after Saxon 76. So, we figure he’s got about a sixth grade education. It’s commonly known in the local area that the “homeschooled” kids here are grossly uneducated. One man, who was married and had a child, tested at 3rd grade level before he studied for his GED.

    It would be too easy to just write this all off as happening in a cult. But, Thanksgiving weekend, thousands of visitors will show up here for their annual fair to support them. Some of those visitors will be homeschooling families. I am not anti-homeschooling. I still home school. All five of them. I just wish people would care. This hurts.

    Like

  74. Beenthere: It is really creepy that folks would be fooled by exterior appearances like that. Do they really get that many people at Thanksgiving? Did the article and the prosecutions have any effect on the turnout?

    Like

  75. The article I am thinking about was in Texas Observer.

    As far as the patriarchal nature of the group, I can see how abuse could flourish under such conditions. But it also happens in quite different contexts. The Green Party in Germany, a non-patriarchal institution, had an association with pedophilia in its earlier years. Really creepy. I don’t think I can post a link to the article, but if you google “Green Party Germany sex abuse” you will see some pretty thorough articles. One of their prominent politicians Daniel Cohn-Bendit has talked about it.

    Like

  76. Keith,

    Yes, the Texas Observer article came out first in early 2012 followed by a two part segment on WFAA. I think only part of the WFAA segment is still online. I’m not sure why the other half has disappeared. The “church” launched their own rebuttal to the whole thing. In Alex Hannaford’s (author of the Observer piece) opinion, it was a character assassination against everyone involve in the stories.

    There was a slight drop in numbers attending the fair — a couple thousand less. Still, likely over 10,000 (according to their counts) will show up. It’s a pretty big deal.

    As far as exterior appearances . . . well, I fell for it too. They can be VERY friendly to visitors. The women’s dress, long dresses/skirts, uncut hair, no make-up is part of the Pentecostal holiness standard. Before I married, I cleaned houses for a living. I experienced quite a bit of cognitive dissonance when some of my women customers wearing pants, cut hair, and make-up were kinder and more generous than the people I went to church with. 🙂

    I have listened to some of the ministers contradict themselves and even tell bald-faced lies in meetings. Their primary goal is to preserve the reputation of the “church.” They have no problem throwing anyone under the bus to achieve that– even a sexual abuse victim. They continue to fool a lot of people, but our current sheriff isn’t one of them.

    I know that abuse flourishes in so many different contexts. I guess I’m just trying to explain why is stays hidden and covered up there. Even the mothers won’t go outside the “covering” of their husbands and ministers to protect their own kids. It’s so sad. Sometimes I think if people realized how prevalent abuse is within some Amish communities they wouldn’t assume a community like this is peaceful and safe.

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  77. BTDT, I’d slightly modify your comment about the abuse occurring as a result of patriarchal beliefs; yes, inasmuch as the patriarchy did not seem to recognize a higher authority than the human patriarchs. My family just left a church where the deacons and pastor could not figure out that if a popular Chicago area teacher played theological footsie with prosperity theology and modalism (Elephant Room 2, you can look up the perpetrators, they’re “well loved” here), then he was going to make other big theological errors as well.

    It almost suggests, per our hostess’ desire, another way of ferreting out problems in a church. Specifically, does the church and its leaders describe ways that the members can and ought to reject the counsel of the leadership?

    If I am in a situation where the pastor says “my authority begins and ends with whether or not I am teaching according to the Scriptures”, I am very comfortable. If he starts to claim the authority of his own will, I get very uncomfortable. And I would bet a nickel that if we looked at the churches with abuse problems hidden by leaders and others, you’d see a lot of leadership by people and not a lot of appeal to outside, higher authority.

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  78. “BTDT, I’d slightly modify your comment about the abuse occurring as a result of patriarchal beliefs”

    In this Patriarchal environment having the proper appendage between the legs gives one a certain entitlement to the harem. Much of the abuse that has come to light has been incest.

    My father-in-law actually said to me, “When you married my son you became my daughter.” Ummmm . . . no. If he ever tries that again we will have a comin’ to Jesus moment. I am no man’s property, and neither are my children. But the women are expected to submit or face church discipline. I stand by my statement that the abuse in this community is connected to Patriarchy.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. I just read about the Hagan case in Missouri. It involved a warrantless entry. It is alleged that the father was tasered and the mother pepper sprayed and smacked. this occurred in front of the children. Has anyone heard about this case?

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  80. I only saw it on the HSLDA Facebook newsfeed. I’d like to read it from another source, but this is a typical story we’d read from HSLDA to show people that we really need to be members so HSLDA can protect us.

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  81. I would like to get a copy of the court decision to see if we could find out more about what prompted the interest of CPS. Clearly, the Sheriff was in the wrong to force entry without a warrant, especially since a social worker had inspected the house just a few days before and found no problems. There was no emergency to prompt immediate concern for the children.

    The press release talks about a messy home as prompting CPS. How was CPS calked in? What exactly did that mean – toys all over the place, clean laundry still in baskets and not put away, dishes in the sink? Or animal feces, dirty sheets and clothes, and spoiled food?

    Is this another example of the militarization of the police and unwarranted force or was this family deliberately targeted for a reason?

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  82. I just looked up a few articles and in each article, it is HSLDA doing the talking. It sounds horrible and obviously the court agreed that CPS and police had no right to enter without a search warrant. I do not ever doubt that there are cases where people get on their mighty high horse and use their position of authority inappropriately. Those who do so need to be severely reprimanded.

    My problem with HSLDA is they use these stories as if they are commonplace. I’d like to see statistics of how often this happens in homeschooling families. (Maybe my stats class next term will help me figure things like this out.)

    This is a great case for HSLDA advertising, that is for sure. I wonder how many new members sign up because of this hoopla.

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  83. One of the issues that CPS workers are educated about in my state is the difference between a house that is just messy (no intervention needed) and one that is unsanitary and/or unsafe and puts children at risk for disease and injury (intervention needed).

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  84. i think that at least in this instance, better training for both the LEOs and the SWs would have prevented the situation. The idea that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to social workers is not unique to this county in Missouri, but I have no idea if there any statistics regarding the prevalence of such illegal entries.

    Imagine how this couple views the “government” now. Even more so the children. This was no doubt a great trauma to them.

    “Messy House” can be fairly subjective, as Marsha points out. Still, I wish some other news sources had covered this case.

    Like

  85. Julie Anne, the stats are simple. About 1-2% of members contact HSLDA for any reason during the year, about a third of those are “interesting” cases that show up in the court report. In scope, it’s about what we see with IRS audits, and hopefully we can agree that people rightly fear those and rightly consult with H&R Block and others to avoid them. No?

    The big issue, though, is the auditor’s question; what would social services personnel be doing if they didn’t know that someone was watching? Prior to the legal cases that won the freedom to homeschool, the answer was that they’d aggressively remove children from homes for truancy and put people through a living Hell.

    Which is what any auditor worth his salt will tell you. The big reason for him coming to a company or agency (ISO, Baldrige, GAO audits, etc..) is not because of what he finds. It is because things will go south quickly if people start thinking that nobody is watching what they do.

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