HSLDA accused of turning blind eye to child abuse: you decide



Throughout the militant fecundity podcast series, I repeatedly asked listeners this question:

“Do you love children?”

Since most of my listeners are parents and many are homeschoolers and Christians, the answer ought to be obvious. At one time I might have thought the answer would surely be a resounding “yes!” but for some homeschoolers I fear the answer may instead be “Well, I love my own homeschooled children.” I am hesitant to ask that question any more, especially after reading recent reports describing Home School Legal Defense’s continual push for parental rights and their desire to fight against child protective services, even in the most extreme of child abuse cases if it involves homeschooling families.

Last week a former homeschool daughter, now a mom herself, wrote an article describing three examples she believes show that HSLDA has supported the rights of abusive parents to homeschool their children. One of the cases involved a homeschooling family who had adopted 11 special needs children who were reportedly being kept in cages.

“The Gravelles’ children told Sommers of punishments including ”spankings with a board, name calling and being held under water,” Sommers said. One boy said he had ”his face shoved against a bathroom wall until his nose bled,” Sommers testified. The sleeping arrangements for some of the children were homemade enclosures made with wood and chicken wire that had alarms on the doors. County authorities call the enclosures ”cages,” while the Gravelles say they were enclosed beds used to protect the children. The children would soil their beds rather than open the door and go to the bathroom because they did not want to trigger the alarm, they also told the investigator. Another boy told the detective he was forced to write ”in long hand” a book out of the Bible before he was allowed out of his enclosed bed, Sommers testified.”

At one point, an attorney for HSLDA described the Gravelles as “heroes” for caring for these children. I have not been able to find a retraction or valid explanation for this. In one of the other cases where HSLDA defended the homeschooling rights of a family, a child died from the abuse.

I would like to look at these claims from a couple different perspectives and then open the floor for discussion here. Please be sure to read the whole investigative report and the links provided in the articles for a fuller picture of the situation.

First of all, HSLDA has been promoting the Parental Rights Amendment which has been discussed here in the past. If you watch the video clip on this post, it is quite clear that the right to physically punish children is central to this amendment. I have no doubt that one reason so many parents have jumped on this bandwagon is because they believe Scripture requires spanking. The very thought that some of these parents have been followers of Michael Pearl and that to this date HSLDA has not publicly rebuked him is outrageous. (I have looked for any statement from HSLDA regarding Michael Pearl and cannot find one. If anyone has found this, please share it here. I would love to be wrong on this.)

Secondly, I am not surprised in the least that this has been the posture of HSLDA. In 2009 they co-sponsored the Homeschool Leadership Summit where one of the goals listed in their manifesto was to get rid of Child Protective Services which I discussed in this podcast series on august 15 and 21, 2010. From the first time I saw that on the list, I was dumbfounded. While I do not believe the government is the solution to all of society’s ills, I do believe there are times when it must step in to protect children who are genuinely being abused. I know many godly parents who do understand this and have become involved in the foster care system in order to provide good homes for little ones in these situations. But to me, the message HSLDA is sending is that protecting the rights of parents to homeschool trumps protecting children (any children) from abuse.

I can’t help but wonder if this is the same attitude Douglas Wilson recommends for those of us who believe saving the lives of the unborn, whether from believing or unbelieving parents, is important. He wrote in his book Mother Kirk: Essays on Church Life:

“The unbelievers are destroying themselves in a frenzy of child-murder and fruitless sodomy. Let them go. These are hard words. But Christians must learn to say them. Paul taught us that the children of God-haters are “foul” or “unclean” (I Cor 7:14). We must come to the day when the Christian can truly rebuke those who are “without natural affection” and say – “The ancient psalmist blessed the one who would take little ones of those who hate God and dash them on the rock (Ps 137:9). We see by your pro-abortion position that you clearly agree with this kind of treatment. And we in the Church, in a way you cannot truly comprehend, are now prepared to say amen.”

Appalling isn’t it?

I also have written about the importance for homeschooling families to police themselves, not by turning each other in to authorities, but rather, coming alongside each other and encouraging each other while respecting boundaries. And I am not talking only about one on one, family to family relationships but also being wise and discerning when we attend conferences and events. For example, too many conferences now screen their vendors and speakers, putting them through a patriocentric grid before they can teach or sell their products. Why do we continue to support those groups?

What will happen if we do not get involved personally? Well, it has already been suggested that some homeschooling families are in violation of the constitutional rights of daughters if they are not offered educations equal to sons in the same family.

I know someone is going to point out that Libby Anne who did this research is not particularly favorable to homeschooling. I know she, as do many others, believes there need to be more restrictions on homeschooling and that homeschoolers need to meet standards established by the government. But my response is “why?” Does anyone believe the government has been so successful at educating children that they should dictate to homeschoolers some arbitrary standards? And who decides what it actually means to be educated? If we want to scream “educational neglect” we had better do it in the direction of the government schools first!!!

So, this has been brief considering the topic, but what do you think? And how can homeschooling families find the balance between protecting our rights to educate our own children and still care for little ones who are abused, no matter what school they attend?

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  1. Yvonne says

    I think there is a tension between our rights as parents and the need for protection of the youngest and most helpless in our society. I think that tension is healthy and necessary. I wish we could save all children from abuse, but God is sovereign over all of it and what the enemy has meant for evil our heavenly Father will redeem for His glory. It is just plain hard. I have no ultimate answers.

  2. Christine says

    I agree with Yvonne; I have no answers, either. I do believe, however, that good homeschoolers cannot and should not be held responsible for bad apples. Everyone is responsible for their own sins. I help where I can, and ultimately that is what we are called to do.

  3. Pressing On says

    The balance is indeed hard to see.

    I used to teach local paid classes to homeschoolers, and I’ve seen my share of what I would call educational neglect because of lack of involvement on the part of the parents. Sometimes the children I teach innocently tell me how minimally involved their parents are in their education. I’ve taught a few who have told me that they’ve never been in a public library, and how their parent gave them the school books and then have never monitored/checked their schoolwork. So does that mean that those families shouldn’t be homeschooling? That is a tough one.

    And yes, there is indeed abuse going on in the homeschool community. I’ve had glimpses of it from both the children I’ve taught, and a few hints from some of the mothers that there was psychological and/or physical abuse going on in the home. And what should I do with that information? Ideally it is caught in the context of church relationships where it can be handled and monitored on an ongoing basis. I don’t think that is happening though.

    We dropped HSLDA several years ago, and I’ve seen nothing since that revises that opinion. I began to see how they used fear to whip up support, and how some of the causes they’re involved in don’t reflect our values. Admitting that you don’t support HSLDA is really looked down upon among conservative Christian homeschoolers though. It is taken as “not supporting homeschooling.”

  4. Gayle says

    I have such mixed feelings about these issues. On one front I have seen parental rights eroding in my own short lifetime but I have noticed that it is mostly happening because parents were lazy and not taking responsibility for their kids.

    I was homeschooled all twelve years while my experience wasn’t perfect my education was still superior to the local public school. But public school shouldn’t have been our measure we should have been shooting higher than the inferior local schools. I was never abused thinking back I don’t think I knew any other kids who were physically abused but I wasn’t around many homeschoolers after age 14 so I may have been too immature to see the signs. Emotional abuse is another story a good number of my homeschool friends suffered with that but again I would say the same of my public school friends. My own first cousins were emotionally abused ironically it got worse after they went to public school I think it was because my aunt was working and wasn’t able to be a buffer between them and their father. All this to say that just because a family is homeschooling doesn’t mean they are immune from all the problems that all other families have. Homeschool families should be treated equally with other families no more and no less attention from the government.

    I think CPS needs an overhaul simply because it doesn’t work very well. I don’t know what the answers are but we need to find better ways of helping families. I have seen children sent back to abuse and neglect repeatedly. I have known of children who should have been removed from their parents years before they were. I have seen innocent families put through invasive and nasty investigations just because a malicious relative or neighbor called CPS. It all seems to depend on what social worker you drew and which judge heard the case. Many social workers become so jaded by the evil they encounter so much they don’t know what “normal” looks like anymore. Oh and none of these families were homeschoolers.

  5. Ryan says

    Hey Karen,

    I have a question about the sentence, “In 2009 they co-sponsored the Homeschool Leadership Summit where one of the goals listed in their manifesto was to get rid of Child Protective Services.” I am curious about getting more information on that. Can you please email me at rlstollar@gmail.com?


  6. says

    The problem with no regulation is some kids then get basically no education at all. I was homeschooled and had friends in the boat. I don’t think we need strict regulations but definitely something.

  7. Pressing On says

    I agree with Lana. When we began homeschooling, I somehow thought that everyone was diligent and tried to meet the needs of their children to the best of their ability. I used to strongly defend the rights of parents to school without oversight.

    Then I learned differently. My first experience was with an 12 y.o. who couldn’t do multiplication past the 3’s. He told me that he hadn’t done any formal math work in several years, and that he didn’t even know where the math book his mother had bought him had gone. Then I taught a brother-sister pair who were 12 and 14 who came to class without the assigned short oral report on a book they read over the summer. They told me that they had never been to a public library and hadn’t read a book in a year or two because they were so busy working in the family business. Another kid I taught had just turned 13, and he truly could not read. It made class very difficult because all of the other students were of course so far ahead of him. When I talked to his mom, she told me that she had given up on trying to teach him to read several years earlier. I later found out that a friend had actually tutored him for a time, but when she expressed the need to have him tested for learning disabilities, they stopped bringing him.

    So it can be pretty ugly indeed. If there was some level of oversight, would these parents be more diligent? One would hope, but..?

  8. Ruth says

    This information makes me sick to my stomach. There is a need in our society for the “state” – in the form of child welfare workers – to intervene where needed. The problem is an overstep where “normal” spanking or other type of discipline are shunned, even when lovingly applied. I am glad for the system that advocates for abused children. HSLDA should outright condemn child abuse, and should never defend abusive families – we had a case here in Michigan where a “homeschooling” family killed their daughter, and she was not observed by the “normal” balance of school social workers or people outside the home. If I were a member, I would stop supporting HSLDA until they condemned this family, and spoke up about abusive homeschooling families, and also condeming the Pearls and their abusive teachings. GOD HELP US when the church justifies abuse!

  9. shadowspring says

    Thank you for your strong stand for righteousness, Ruth.

    And those who write that while they are saddened by child abuse, it’s not their business and ultimately God is responsible for all that happens, you mystify and horrify me. So we should turn a blind eye to the naked beaten person (child) on the side of the road (in another’s home) and keep to our own business of serving God, should we? Just like the Pharisee and Levite, who were the shining examples of how to please God in the parable of the Good Samaritan, right? Oh wait, they were not commended were they? Luke 10:25-37

    How could you come to be so hard-hearted? And why would you want to become like that?

    Home schoolers need to police their own community, there’s no two ways about it. I have spent my post-home school years helping home school grads recover from broken home school experiences. It would be really nice if there were no need for that anymore. I would absolutely love to see home school regulations in place that “commended those who do good, and punish those who do evil:

    Romans 13:1 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. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 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. 4 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. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

  10. Michelle says

    I hope I can shed a different perspective on this matter. It is a subject close to my heart, and even one that my husband and I disagree on. I don’t have an abundance of time and have spent the last few days chasing the various rabbit trails of articles posted in each of the blogs (probably not covering all of them.)

    I believe anyone’s initial reaction to reading the information, especially Libby Anne’s post, would be that yes, HSLDA is in fact overlooking child abuse to ensure the parents’ right to homeschool. I’m curious about any rebuttals by those who support HSLDA and/or HSLDA. I know last year we specifically prayed for the Jackson family mentioned in the article and were horrified the children had been removed. Are these scare tactics being used by HSLDA to cover real abuse going on? I don’t know which is scarier…the government or the people making us scared of the government.

    That being said…here is a different perspective. I was a CPS worker as well as the Volunteer Coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA). I am now a homeschool mom. While working for CASA, I told our Juvenile Court judge if DCS showed up at my door when I had my child, I would not let them in. Gayle’s comment sums it up so perfectly, “I think CPS needs an overhaul simply because it doesn’t work very well. I don’t know what the answers are but we need to find better ways of helping families. I have seen children sent back to abuse and neglect repeatedly. I have known of children who should have been removed from their parents years before they were. I have seen innocent families put through invasive and nasty investigations just because a malicious relative or neighbor called CPS. It all seems to depend on what social worker you drew and which judge heard the case. Many social workers become so jaded by the evil they encounter so much they don’t know what “normal” looks like anymore. Oh and none of these families were homeschoolers.”

    Amen. And amen!

    I did not have children during my tenure as a Child Abuse investigator. There are many days now that I look at my home and think about what would I have thought 6 years ago if I had walked in here? My 2 year old is running down the driveway naked because she just learned how to open the door AND take off her clothes, most of the time when I’m on the other end of the house changing the babies diaper or nursing him. (Remember the Stumbo story in Libby Anne’s original Child abuse article?) You’ll trip over the toys and clutter as you walk through because I’ve spent the morning changing diapers, solving squabbles, attempting “school”, disciplining, feeding them, nursing the baby, wiping bottoms, etc., etc. etc., etc. And add to that calling my husband in tears 4 out of 5 mornings. I can’t help but many days think…we’re a DCS case waiting to happen! As a CPS worker, I walked into schools without a parent’s permission and interviewed their children, most of these being innocent parents. Can you imagine how livid you would be to find out some stranger just did a sex abuse interview with your child?! It was under my subjective opinion as to whether I thought the home was clean enough or safe enough. Because we had a crooked and adulterous judge, anything us “pretty” DCS workers said was truth in his book. I worked with cops who tried to get me to remove children from homes because they had repeated allegations of LICE! However, none of those allegations were documented by the school nurse, just the angry father. I had cops tell parents they didn’t have to allow the cop in their homes, but they “had” to let me in. Big fat lie. I’ve read articles in the local paper about child abuse cases that I worked and/or was witness to…that were full of lies. I worked cases that left me in tears because I couldn’t remove them but they needed removed and cases that children were being ripped away from loving family even though I saw no evidence of abuse and neglect.

    The system is broken. My husband believes most if not all government involvement needs to be abolished. I’m left heartbroken because I know children whose only hope was in this broken system. (Even though ultimately it is Christ, but you know what I mean.) I know that if the right person knew the right thing to say, my kids could be ripped away from me this very minute without a shred of evidence. My heart is broken for these kids! My husband’s answer is this…we need a reformation. It may sound too patriocentric and my response is that’s not going to happen. He says it is not the government’s responsibility to take care of children it’s the parents. But the parents aren’t! The parents are the ones hurting their children. His answer is the church and the communities need to get involved and intervene. Again…but they’re not! And here these helpless children are that “need” government intervention. I believe we can pray and we can hope God will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers…but until then…what? What do we do?

    And how do we as a homeschool community not live in fear when all these “bad apples” are giving us these stereotypes? And our “leaders” are filling us with fear and stories of children being taken away from their families? Who do we believe the media and government that gives us “evidence of abuse” or the families who claim no abuse has been done? I’ve seen first hand that the judge, the cop, the social worker, and the reporter all can have their own version of what actually happened. It is truly a sad state of affairs.

  11. says

    Ryan, I will post this and then also reply via email to be sure you see my response.
    I have downloaded the Mp3’s from most of the speakers at the 2009 Homeschool Leadership Summit from Resounding Voice, which is run by the Erber family in the Chicago area. It has been available for many years but this morning when I went back to find a link to the conference for you, discovered that they have removed these workshop recordings from their catalog! You can find my review based on having gone through those recordings myself on this podcast series:
    And you can also read when John Holzmann from Sonlight had to say on his blog after listening to them. If you need a copy of those Mp3’s I might be able to copy them for you since they are “out of print.” My guess is that they have become increasingly problematic for HSLDA and other groups who sponsored and/or spoke at that event but just because they are no longer available does not mean the agenda has changed.


  12. says

    Virginia, the analogy of the hobo you shared is spot one. We cannot just blindly trust anyone and everyone who comes along claiming to have our best interest at stake!

    This is one reason it is such a sticky wicket. Even among homeschooling families we might trust there are those who may not have the same vision for education that we have. And, again, I ask “Whose vision of education is right for my family? Who gets to decide what it means to be truly educated or to have success?” The answer to these questions is just as scary if some other homeschooling families are answering as it is if the government is answering.

  13. says

    Michelle, I so appreciate your willingness to share your insights. I agree that it is hard to know the difference between genuine concerns and fears that are promoted to further agendas.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I can’t help but wonder if this is the same attitude Douglas Wilson recommends for those of us who believe saving the lives of the unborn, whether from believing or unbelieving parents, is important. He wrote in his book Mother Kirk: Essays on Church Life:

    The same Doug Wilson who runs that cult in Moscow, Idaho (and tries to dominate the town like the Rajneesh did Antelope) and writes and pontificates from his Kirk(TM) about the Godly Confederate States of America, defending their Peculiar Institution regarding certain Animate Property?

  15. says

    I just want to point out that the restrictions/requirements Libby-Ann and others advocate for homeschooling parents are essentially intended to ensure that homeschoolers receive, at the very least, a comparable education to public/private-schoolers. In other words, to ensure that families do not use homeschooling as an excuse to refuse to teach their children anything (or to teach them hogwash concepts like a flat earth, horrifically disfigured historical revisionism, etc.). And the only reason these are even being advocated is that this actually does happen. It is rare, but it happens, and it is currently protected by homeschooling laws HSLDA has helped to pass. In fact, educational neglect — refusing to put your child through any kind of school, including homeschool — is not currently considered child abuse in many parts of the country, despite the fact that it falls under the DOJ definition of domestic economic abuse.

    Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.

  16. says

    Scottie, I know of no state that requires any less that what you are suggesting. Even here in Illinois, which enjoys homeschool freedom, these are the requirements….comparable subjects taught in the English language. The glitch is how that will be measured.

    I also come back to what those basic requirements ought to be for everyone. Some people think advanced math and lab sciences ought to be required for everyone. Some, including some government school districts, don’t believe the arts are that important. (where I live, football is a sacred cow…art teachers would always lose their jobs before football coaches would!) Now that so many school districts are consolidating, parental and local involvement has taken even greater hits. A couple years ago I was looking at the state standards and realized how many requirements were not being met. And then there is the unfunded mandates debacle.

    How is all of this regulated and should it be?

  17. Thinking About This says

    And what about Raymond and Dorthy Moore’s philosophy of education? They recommend that children shouldn’t start formal education until 8 years old, and with some exceptions, 12 years old.
    How would that work in the regulations? Is that considered “Educational Neglect”?

    I think the Moore’s have a very valid argument against pushing kids through a formal education before they are ready. And wouldn’t it be considered abusive to push a child to “learn” when they are not developmentally ready to do so? My own brother was labeled as a “special ed” kid, and was just a normal boy who was “physiologically evaluated” in 2nd grade. His diagnosis? He was too wiggly and wouldn’t focus. To this day he thinks he is stupid at 40+ years old because he picked up on the attitudes of teachers towards his “special needs”.

    And my nephew recently graduated public highschool and still hasn’t memorized his times tables. And he isn’t a dumb kid either. Somehow he got through the system and “graduated” without learning them?

  18. Danae says

    I am a homeschool grad and a social worker who has also worked in child protective services, like Michelle. While I share the need for changes in the system, I am not sure I fully support her take on the scenario. It is true that families can be investigated for all sorts of little things (like a child running around naked outside, for example) that amounts to nothing. But an investigation is not the same as a founded case. When CPS investigates, they determine if a case is founded or unfounded. When it’s founded (there is enough evidence to support abuse or neglect), the social worker must show efforts to help prevent abuse in the future, whether it be parenting classes, a safety plan, referrals to community resources, etc. In extreme cases, they might go to court to try and remove the children from the home. But you have to have hard evidence that will show serious abuse or ongoing neglect impacting the health/safety of the child. You can’t go to court based on your opinion. I guess the one weakness here could be a bad judge, though; I was fortunate to work with some very caring, genuine ones. Corruption would definitely change the scenario.

    I do believe the system needs revisions, but I have no idea what they are. The biggest problem I observed was simply the mountains of paperwork and red tape required in every case. You spend more time documenting yourself and completing forms than you do in actual investigation. Beyond that, it’s simply not an easy job. It’s hard and it’s sad and even when it isn’t serious abuse, you see these children whose parents barely act like parents emotionally and it breaks your heart. Or when you believe something bad is happening and you can’t prove it.

    But I think what homeschoolers miss is that they are a tiny, tiny, TINY percentage among thousands of families. They talk in glowing terms about parental rights, but they haven’t seen the boyfriend sexually abusing the child, the drugs in the home, the children’s rooms so filthy they have nowhere to sleep and smell like urine. They have no comprehension of the mother with her fifth drug-dependent baby in the NICU or the children left alone in unsafe environments while the parents are out partying or gone or who knows where. Someone DOES need to step in. We live in a sinful world and you can’t trust that simply because a parent is the parent they will make the right choice. That’s not how it works. And it is all too easy to say that the church or the community can step in, when they have no authority and no means of investigating. All you have is superficial and a lot of the time you’re see what someone wants you to see.

  19. therealjg says

    Fifteen years ago, our youngest daughter was forcibly removed from our home over a spanking. She was quickly returned, but the damage to her and my wife can only be compared to forcible rape. In response, I ran a website, http://www.childprotectionreform.org for ten years. I’m pretty sure I can match horror story for horror story wrt victims of Childrens’ Services interventions. Caseworkers like to talk about drugs, abuse, and neglect. And sometimes, interventions do save or improve lives. But every single SCF contact is essentially domestic terrorism at work. Debonding efforts and systemic impermanence often give negative net outcomes. Perverse incentives and unreasonable protection for caseworkers abound.

    The system’s net benefit to children is more problematic than many might think. Those who believe otherwise should do some due diligence. Start by looking for clinical studies that compare socioeconomic outcomes of foster care children to well, pretty much any non-foster care cohort. Next, interview at least five former foster care adults, and ask if system intervention helped them a lot. Compare their responses to parents who were targeted even briefly by SCF.

    Does HSLDA sometimes go overboard in its defense of parents? I certainly hope so. That organization is outspent thousands to one by a taxpayer financed system which does the inverse.

  20. Kris says

    I have seen what CPS can do with kids as I grew up in a home where my parents took in foster kids and adopted kids. It was not always in the best interest of the child when they returned that child to a parent or parents or even other foster parents. The results continued to be devastating for the kids. I think some of this comes down to our culture and parents more and more not taking responsibility for the gift God has give them and many of these parents now have come from devastating backgrounds that are being passed along to the next generation and harming these kids. That is not always the case and you can’t make a blanket statement to that fact, because some families are taking care of their kids and being targeted by CPS. It is a broken system and I don’t believe it will be “fixed” by the gov’t. Where I live, supposedly they have done a massive overhaul of the system. I have my doubts whether it will work……

    I do not like the fact that HSLDA may be condoning child abuse because parents are home schooling. That is no excuse. Yes, they may be going overboard in protecting home schooling parents and in each state there are laws for home schooling, so if the gov’t oversteps those bounds, they need to be protected. But, that should not condone evidence of abuse in the home.

    This country is clearly falling away from God and it is only turning back to him that culture and morality will change. Christians are to be an example of Jesus. Being a home schooler we are still an example of him. It does not help the movement when this type of fundamentalism and hypocrisy come from these groups. It doesn’ t help the name of Jesus either.

  21. Danae says

    The hard part is that for every horror story, it’s almost impossible to know what is really going on. The state cannot release information about the case for privacy reasons, which gives the parent free reign to share the story as they want others to see it. This doesn’t mean that mistakes never happen, but sometimes a parent can use emotional and sensationalism to draw favor to their story without being transparent about what actually happened.

    And no, social workers do not receive “perverse incentives”. I’m not sure where some of these ideas originate, but a homeschooled friend recently mentioned to me that the more children they remove, the more money social workers receive. This is nonsense. The state is struggling under the financial burden of the foster care system and attempting to place more children with extended family instead of foster homes. Social workers don’t make that much money and they carry heavy caseloads. It’s not an easy job and it makes me sad to see the way people rip into them with sensational language. Yes, bad scenarios have happened and yes, there is the occasional social worker with a bad attitude, but most people do not see the ongoing hard work that goes into protecting children from abusive and unsafe homes. I don’t think they have any idea what it looks like. They hear a few horror stories and write off the entire system.

    Is the system perfect? No. Does the foster care system have ideal outcomes? No, not always. But just because there are poor outcomes doesn’t mean the outcomes would have been better if the children were left alone in the home. It’s a matter of the lesser of two evils. And a lot of these children are going into foster care with severe emotional and behavioral issues to begin with that won’t be helped overnight.

  22. Grandad says

    You wrote: “This country is clearly falling away from God and it is only turning back to him that culture and morality will change. Christians are to be an example of Jesus.”

    I must disagree with your basic premise. Christians lost the culture war decades ago. More importantly, however, we are not called to redeem the culture but to work to redeem individual lives by sharing the gospel. Only redeemed lives can change society. How exactly are Christians to be examples of Jesus? As I read through the Gospels I find lots of things he did that much of contemporary society labels as intolerant and judgmental. He made no bones about calling sin what it was…sin. Is that what I am to model? (That’s really a semi-rhetorical question.) I want no one to look at me in hopes of seeing Jesus because they will be terribly disappointed. I must point them directly to him.

    I do not “live the gospel”; I live in light of the gospel. The gospel is a declaration; it is good news. No one will ever learn the gospel by watching someone else. They must be told it – that’s basically the first 4 chapters of Romans. Bad news followed by good news.

  23. Granddad says

    If I came across harshly, I apologize. This issue of Christians and the culture war is a hot button for me.

  24. Granddad says

    Oh, boy….what confusion.
    My comment to Kris didn’t post correctly, so he has no idea what I’m “apologizing”for.
    Hopefully Karen can clean up this little mess I made.

    Sorry 🙂

  25. Kris says


    I realize the culture war was lost a long time ago. I realize full well that we direct people to Jesus and tell them about Him. But with many Christians judgemental fundamentalist attitudes whether fundamentalist or not I have seen that turn more people off towards Christ rather then turn them on and want to even know about Christ. I have family members and acquaintances and otherwise who don’t care to know about Christ because of individual attitudes. We don’t have to agree with the sin or excuse it, be we are still called to love the sinner. That alone can give us the opportunity to tell someone about Christ. What they see and how we speak even though we aren’t perfect and are all sinners ourselves but living in the light of Christ and how He would want us to live, guided by the Holy Spirit.

    By the way, I’m a home schooling mom 🙂

  26. says

    Thinking About This,

    I have had the same thoughts about the Moore philosophy floating around in my head since I first read these articles. I know some homeschooled children who are now college graduates who didn’t begin any “formal” education until they were about 12. Prior to that they spent lots of time reading and in self study. In more recent years there has been a huge swing in homeschooling circles away from the Moore philosophy and a gravitation toward earlier and earlier formal education. A case in point: the State of Illinois was on the bandwagon to get the mandatory attendance age here lowered from 7 to 5 in recent months. I didn’t see a single alert come through from HSLDA. (Of course they would benefit financially if parents started signing up with them 2 years earlier wouldn’t they?) I also saw very few homeschooling parents who even cared about this. They cannot see that this is just one step closer to having babies placed in early learning facilities. The past few years have seen a rise in college scholarships for early elementary ed and preschool teachers. They are preparing for what is coming. There is no evidence whatsoever that formal early childhood ed is good for children. In fact, some studies show it to burn kids out. So why are homeschoolers so disinterested in this movement within the public education system? I am really puzzled.

  27. says

    Danae, hearing the horror stories from both my son who is an attorney who worked in legal aid when he first got out of law school and one of the public defenders in my county, I know that we never hear the whole story. My heart aches for those who are caught up in the system and the lifestyles that get them placed in the system….it IS multi-generaltional. I remember suggesting at our local crisis pregnancy center that adoption is a good option for young teen moms who have no future apart from the welfare system. I was met with some pretty strong resistance from a pastor whose attitude was basically “they made their bed, they can lie in it.”

    What is needed is the Gospel message changing hearts and mature Christians to come alongside those who struggle. But that isn’t really relevant in many churches. (Biting tongue.)

  28. says

    An aside: I don’t know if any of you have read through the most recent issue of Home Educating Family Magazine or not but there is a great critique of Bill Gothard’s views of adoption. Highly recommend this article and the topic of the whole issue is adoption and abortion….some great reading.

  29. Ruth says

    Thank you, Danae. You hit the nail on the head for me. In a fallen society, we do need some help with abused children. Christians should appreciate the fact that we live in a society where there are agencies to assist children in bad situations. Not perfect, but still better than turning a blind eye to abuse.

  30. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    This is a topic that will not and should not go away! Instead of arguing which system of education is best, we need to recognize that in any group there will be parents who are neglecting or abusing their kids. Though I don’t think that the few who call themselves “homeschooling parents” ( who actually don’t “school” anybody) should give the government justification to over-regulate us, I also think there is a tendency on our part to immediately assume that the state social workers are always wrong and always acting on an anti homeschool agenda. As adoptive parents, we met many supportive and dedicated state child welfare workers. I would not jump to conclusions on some of these cases involving serious charges of abuse or neglect, until the facts are in.

    I, for one, hope to see a day when being a homeschooler will not lump me in with the patriarchal, anti-higher education for girls crowd. I have made many missteps as a parent but one thing that went right is that my sons respect and treat girls and women as equal human beings. Do you guys who instantly take the homeschooler’s side in HSLDA and other cases feel good about some of what you are sticking up for? Where do we draw the line? We need to have this discussion! Do you want to defend parent’s rights to forbid their daughters from studying beyond high school?

    It is a VERY tricky thing! I believe parents have the calling and the right to teach and bring up their children in the way they see fit. But what about if that upbringing is going to shut many doors of opportunity for those kids and teens and young adults? One thing that disturbs me is the fact that while homeschooling parents seem to remain staunchly pro-homeschooling, I am seeing many former homeschooled young adults either state they had some element of educational disadvantage or knew someone who did. I would presume that these kids came out of the more nutty branch of our ranks? We all suffer from a lack of honesty about how this homeschooling endeavor does not always go perfectly, and may not always be the best choice in every situation. (I wouldn’t have said that 21 years ago, but I’m saying it now 🙂

    One other comment that I want to throw out there – and that is about how it seems that alot of these cases involving accusations of neglect and abuse involve adopted children. I think that we need to look at this issue and dispel the fairy tales that seem to circulate out there concerning Christian families and adoption.

    First, adoption can be a wonderful thing. Certainly it is held up by God as the illustration of His love for us. BUT- there is a lot of pressure out there these days that to be a “perfect”, or “complete”, Christian family, you HAVE to adopt. I know from others in the adoption world that there is a need to look carefully at your family situation and your current season of life before plunging in headfirst. There are cases where biological children pay the price for their parents living up to what a minister or a parachurch tells them they should be doing. Also, if a mom is already stretched to the limit with many bio. children AND homeschooling, she should consider what will the cost be to them if the family suddenly grows by adopting a child or children with behavioral, emotional, and educational issues? It seems to me that some women are like the Jenga game- getting one expectation after another piled on. First, it’s the full quiver, then homeschooling. Then, maybe living the pioneer lifestyle, growing or raising your own food. Then, it’s pretending everything is perfect. Now, it seems like another block is being piled on…that of adopting 1 or more children!! And then, continuing to insist everything is STILL perfect!! In all that “perfection”, we lose honesty, and I am afraid some lose their perspective on what our walk with Christ is even about. There is some mighty strange theology being taught out there..such as if a woman is exhausted and depressed with her 3 kids, she needs to “obey God”, and have MORE CHILDREN!! (yikes) Or, adopt some children!!! (yikes again!!)

    This is not to give any excuse for the horrible and inexcusable ways that any children, biological or adopted, have been victimized. Rather, I am suggesting that some very unhealthy teachings can put already stressed out people in situations that they deal with in wrong and terrible ways.

    Sorry this is so long…I don’t comment much these days. I am nearing the last few years of active homeschooling, and I have to say I am not too pleased with the direction the movement has gone in recently. Karen, you are a light in the darkness, and younger homeschool moms need to listen to you!

    Blessings to all!

    I can hear people now, saying “Think of all the ministry that would be left undone if we were so cautious about what we think we should be doing for God.” And I hear you. But being a mom is a big calling to begin with, and be careful on this one, at least if you have young children. You don’t have to try to fit a model of what someone’s idea of the perfect Christian family looks like. You just need to be your family…no one else’s.

  31. says

    I’m a bit late to this party, and so many good things have been said. Here are my two cents:

    1. I do contract work for an Indian Tribe in CPS cases, and I fully agree with these two premises: a. CPS is absolutely necessary to protect children from legitimate abuse and neglect. I have seen too many awful cases to believe otherwise. b. In practice, CPS social workers are too often (but not always by any means) undertrained and inexperienced in the reality of poverty. This leads them to have unrealistic expectations regarding situations like those described by Michelle. (I too could be a CPS case some days, and it is obviously worse for single parent households of small children.) My favorite “blond social worker” story is the case where I spent 10 minutes trying to explain to a young social worker that a charter school is a public school. She didn’t believe me, until she finally asked her supervisor. Thus, the cure for insufficient education of the charter school student was not to badger the parents but to complain to the principal of the school. Also, I grew up in the era of CPS harassment of homeschool families. We knew some that had issues, although we never did because we lived in a poor neighborhood with lots of real truants. So yes, we can do better, but I think abolition of CPS would be a disaster.

    2. Unless you hold to the Douglas Wilson viewpoint, of course, in which case, it is better if the non-Christian (and largely poor and minority) children died before they could out-reproduce the noble (and mostly white, middle class) Patriarchists.

    3. I think pretty much everywhere the arts would be cut before football. (Booooo! says the violinist!)

    4. I believe that the root of the antagonism that HSLDA and Phillips have for CPS is their common roots in Dominionism and Reconstructionism. Rushdoony’s view that truth cannot be known, even in part, without a “proper” belief about God, combined with the idea that Christians are called to establish political authority here on earth means that ANY secular government is inherently an enemy of God, and cannot be trusted under any circumstances. Indeed, no one who disagrees with them can be anything other than an enemy of God, and therefore, the abusive but “Christian” parent will ALWAYS know better than the agent of the enemies of God.

    Just my two cents.

  32. says


    You brought up a great point……youth and inexperience in parenting could really be a problem for someone investigating. Also, age and experience could be! I remember hearing a state truancy officer declare that he could tell if a child was properly educated just by walking around a room and looking at the books on the shelves. How foolish was that statement and yet he was asking to be the one put in charge of determining whether or not children in his district were educated!

  33. Judith Martinez says

    A lot of the debate over the roll of CPS and home school regulation is like the one over the balance between freedom and safety. Where do we draw the line between protecting children and removing liberty. An example of this would be the vaccine debate. I’m very pro-vaccine and I think it’s important for children to get most of the vaccines. I think that in some cases un-vaccinated children are a public health risk. On the other hand I believe liberty is too important to require parents to vaccinate. I’m willing to accept the risk that a child with pertussis could make my infant sick rather then allow more govt over-reach. I take precautions knowing that we have a high exemption rate in my community. That’s something I’m willing to do rather then use govt force to make sure everyone in my community is vaccinated. We need to hold people we know accountable for how they discipline their children and make sure the people in our local homeschool community are actually educating their children but I think laws about parents and homeschooling should start with the assumption that most parents want what’s best for their kids. In most cases that’s true. Our legal system is based on innocent until proven guilty. Our social services system and our homeschool law should be based on that principal as well. I do agree that the justice system needs some sort of mechanism to protect abused children and prosecute the abusers but CPS should be held accountable for respecting the constitution. Parents should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

  34. Granddad says

    Judith, are you willing to let your infant die from pertussis complications in order to allow your neighbor the freedom to jeopardize the health of neighbors by refusing to vaccinate?

    The person who refuses to vaccinate and then takes few (if any) precautions to minimize (maybe even completely avoid) contact with other children is so very selfish I have no word to describe it.

    Putting other people at risk is simply not an acceptable option for any person who remotely considers themselves Christian.

  35. says

    So many good points made here. I know youth and inexperience in parenting greatly hindered my ability to properly investigate. Like I said earlier, I now understand why these moms couldn’t keep their house clean. Issues like environmental neglect is so subjective anyways…And yes…social workers are undertrained and overworked. I left with 55 CPS cases…I should have had 13.

    I also would agree with Judith. The way CPS is set up is the parents are guilty and must prove their innocence in many cases. It really is backwards to our legal system in any other area.

  36. says

    Granddad, there is much debate and discussion about vaccinating today, in part, because there are some people who are seeing a connection between them and Asperger’s and other types of autism. Homeschooers also recognize that many of the government school required vaccines are geared for children who will spend much time in daycare.

    Here is something I
    wondered: If you child is vaccinated to prevent getting an illness, how can they be at risk for catching it from a child who isn’t vaccinated?

  37. Thinking About This says

    Grandad, there are very valid arguments that a mom would not immunize their children. I don’t think Karen wants this to get in a vaccine debate.

    But did you know that vaccines are formulated with aborted baby tissue? This is a fact, and is documented by CDC themselves. For some moms, it’s a matter of conscience.

    There is also the very viable theory that vaccinations can cause brain damage, not from the disease itself in the vaccination….but the other ingredients that are used in the vaccination. I personally know of some medical doctors who will not vaccinate their own children.

    Not to mention the fact that people who vaccinate, can still contract the disease. I know someone whose children are not all vaccinated, with the exception of their oldest. When all of their children got chicken pox, her oldest child who had been vaccinated for chicken pox contracted it as well. It wasn’t as severe, but the child still contracted the disease. Vaccinations are not guarantees against the disease.

    These are the arguments for not vaccinating, and I find them strong enough to be a topic of civilized open minded discussion. I do not see it as spiritual issue that you are making it. And as one that has been through spiritual abuse, you saying that parents who do not vaccinate, and isolate their non-vaccinated from the rest of society to be selfish, and even question their salvation over it to be very triggering.

    And Karen brought up a good point. If you and your child are vaccinated against the disease, why are you worried about contracting it from those who aren’t? It would seem to me, that the un-vaccinated are more at risk if the vaccinations are truly safe, and truly do immunize against diseases.

  38. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    I have always found it odd that so many people that I know of who do not vaccinate their children seem to think it is a smart thing to vaccinate their pets. Any thoughts?

  39. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    And with reference to those who make a “spiritual issue” out of vaccines, I have had lots of experience with this- though it has always been those who do NOT vaccinate who assume the higher “spiritual” plane.

    In my opinion, some (not all ) of the anti vaccination rhetoric reminds me of the type of fear mongering and propaganda that you get at the seminars held at the homeschool conventions as of late. Can anyone really keep a straight face and say that vaccines have not helped to stop many of the fatal childhood diseases of a few generations ago?

    And yes, there is some increased tendency for diseases to pop back up again, if enough of the population remains unvaccinated- albeit with milder cases- unless you have a genetic disorder like two of my grandchildren, that prevents the production of disease fighting immunities in their bodies. For them, being around an unvaccinated child could be life threatening.

    I am not saying you should go for every vaccine that comes down the pike. We consider some of them unnecessary, being really unlikely that our kids would be exposed to that particular illness. And I respect the right of thoughtful parents to make their own decisions. I just hate to see a new 11th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Vaccinate”, being part of the Christian Homeschooler’s platform.

  40. Granddad says

    No, this should not turn into a debate about vaccinations. Here are my primary arguments against those who adopt a legalistic (i.e, do this and you are not really a Christian) dogmatic stance:
    1. Scripture no where discusses the topic. Just like Scripture does not speak directly to the manner in which you educate your children (i.e., homeschool, private, public)
    2. Because some vaccines are given in multiple doses over a period of time and because the child is not fully immunized the moment the vaccine is given, or because they have not yet received the vaccination, exposure to children who might be carriers (especially asymptomatic ones) should be avoided.
    3. Making the decision to not vaccinate is personal. Making the decision to not vaccinate and then to have a cavalier attitude about how that might impact other children is unacceptable. It’s like the parent who’s child has a cold and yet still sends them to Sunday School (NO! I will not get into that debate.) knowing full well it is quite possible that their child will infect someone else’s child. Callous disregard for others! That is the spiritual component in this discussion.

    Laura’s points are well stated.

  41. Thinking About This says

    Oh boy, I really don’t feel like delving into all of this.

    However, I will say this. As one that has come out of the crazy, patriarchy, homeschooling, IFB movement, I have seen what I have coined as the Pendulum principle. Maybe someone else coined that phrase, but that’s what I use.

    Those that “come out” of these situations, are still the same people on the inside. They seem to be intense sort of personalities and very driven in their passion. These people find out the lies in the one side of crazy, but then just as suddenly as they left the “crazy”, they switch to another “subject” that is just as crazy and full of lies as well.

    So same person on the inside, but different subject. Or, they traveled one line moving in one direction, and started drawing a “different” line, but it’s going in the same direction.

    I see the vaccination issue as one of those things. You can be crazy on one side of, and then crazy on the other side.

    Crazy meaning, My and your child could die if you do vaccinate, and I question your spirituality, and even your salvation if you do vaccinate.

    The other Crazy meaning, My and your child could die if you do not vaccinate, and I question your spirituality.

    Me…I since I was totally immersed in the one side of crazy, I am trying my best to be cautious and following the Holy Spirit’s leadership, and not move to another side of crazy.

    I think there are valid points on both sides of the vaccine debate, and I leave the decision up to the parents. I will not question either side’s spirituality over a vaccine.

  42. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    Oh, I totally agree. As I said, we are very selective about what we vaccinate for, certainly not all the newer things.

    Interestingly, we always vaccinated our children, so we were not card carrying back to nature homeschoolers even way back then.

    Though the “pendulum principle” is a valid observation, and common to all human nature, I think that it is insensitive and dismissive to state that people who are concerned about the health risks of not vaccinating are on the “other side of crazy”. In this case, I will repeat that I do have family members with an inherited immune system abnormality that prevents their ever building an immunity to certain illnesses, including pertussis.

    You probably were speaking in general terms here. Some of us who have left the fringey kind of Christianity can sound a bit rude at times, myself included.

  43. Thinking About This says

    I am not saying those that are concerned about the health risk of not vaccinating are on the other side of crazy. People have a right to be concerned, and question things and discuss things. But please reread what I did say….

    “My and your child could die if you do not vaccinate, ****and I question your spirituality****.” I starred what I saw as the issue as the “other side of crazy.”

    And Granddad saying, “Putting other people at risk is simply not an acceptable option for any person who remotely considers themselves Christian.” is what bothered me.

  44. Granddad says

    And Granddad saying, “Putting other people at risk is simply not an acceptable option for any person who remotely considers themselves Christian.” is what bothered me.

    Would you explain why, please?

    If I willfully, and with total disregard for anyone other than myself, placed my neighbor in harm’s way I have quite clearly violated “love your neighbor as yourself.” Making a conscious and deliberate decision to disregard this commandment is intolerable…in my opinion.

  45. Thinking About This says

    Granddad my challenge to you, is to thoroughly and with an open mind study the vaccination debate for yourself. (Because I do not want to get into it on here) Then come back and inform me how every family across the board, who does not choose to vaccinate their children are doing so out of pure selfishness? And regardless, after your studies you should decide that you were right all along about the vaccine issue, tell me how it is fair for you to judge someone’s walk with the Lord over a vaccine after you find out the reasons why people do not vaccinate their children.

    Because if the love your neighbor as your self commandment applies to our own children, then these parents believe (regardless if they are correct or not) that they are putting their child (their neighbor) in harms way by giving them a vaccination. For them, and their conscience it would be a deliberate decision to disregard that commandment. And add to the fact that certain vaccinations are manufactured with aborted fetal cells. Where does the love your neighbor commandment come into play there?

    And the Bible says that whatsoever is not done in faith is sin. If they can’t give their child a vaccination in good faith because they are not yet convinced it is indeed safe, or that the Lord does not mind that aborted fetal cells were used, then to them it is a sin to do so.
    “Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin.”

    If you refuse to study the other side of the vaccination issue for yourself, and then boldly make statements about those that do not vaccinate as selfish, and not a Christian, I will take that comment as legalistic, self-righteous and Pharisaical.

    And after your studies, you find you are truly correct about the vaccination issue, then you should have compassion on those people who are living in a fearful state because of the lies they are believing. You should pray that the Lord would open their eyes to the truth through proper education of the issue.

    As one that was “stuck” in lies myself, it is possible to be freed. And I will tell you I ran away from people that told me, “if you do this and that then you aren’t really a Christian”. I listened to those who saw through my fears, and they were willing to listen me out and talk to me about these issues with the motivation of love and compassion. They let the Lord work in my heart, and eventually, I saw what they had been trying to tell me.

    But those who knew they were right about everything, and informed me I was wrong about everything, I did not listen to them. And I still do not listen them.

  46. Granddad says

    You have misunderstood me.
    It’s not the to-vaccinate-or-not-to-vaccinate that is my concern. If a person has studied the available science and come to the conclusion that they do not want to vaccinate their children, then that’s fine. It has no bearing whatsoever on whether they are a Christian or not. It’s akin to taking different approaches to eschatology. We can agree to disagree over the topic and still regard one another as brothers & sisters in Christ.

    My problem is this: (you is a generic you)
    1. You do not vaccinate your children.
    2. Your children spend time with other children who likewise are not vaccinated.
    3. Your children spend time in close contact with children whose parents do vaccinate.
    4. Your children contract pertussis and before you realize it they have come in contact with #3’s children who have not completed the immunization course. Children #3 now also contract pertussis.
    5. If I know that you do not vaccinate, and that many of the children your kids come in contact with are likewise not vaccinated, I may make the choice to keep my children away from yours during certain times. I have a responsibility to my children to keep them out of harm’s way.

    Why should my children be put at risk because of your stance on vaccination?
    Are you taking any extra precautions with your children so as to minimize the risk they might pose to others?

    Again, it’s not whether you vaccinate or not, it’s how you view your responsibility to my children. . .and act it out.

  47. Aly k says

    Granddad: not trying to perpetuate the vaccine debate but couldn’t resist :)… Most infants/toddlers who haven’t completed the 5 rounds of pertussis vaccine and contract whooping cough get it from a parent or another adult they are in contact with on a regular basis. I’m basing this on my doctor’s info and all the add campaigns promoting adult whooping cough vaccination that are put out by the cdc. Many of these adults don’t even know they recently had whooping cough because it can be pretty mild for them. I know my husband, myself, all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents in my children’s lives have not had a whooping cough vaccine as an adult. Would you make the choice to keep your children away from their aunts and uncles, teachers, grandparents (parents… ) who have not received the vaccine as an adult like you would keep them away from unvaccinated children?

    My purpose is not to defend those who don’t vaccinate their children but rather to point out that you need to hold the majority of (un-revaccinated) adults in this country to the same standard of acting “unchristian” if they do not keep themselves away from small children. I would conclude since you are outspoken on this issue that you have received your pertussis vaccination as an adult so you don’t expose the children in your life to the disease but I also assume from the information I’ve been given that most adults around you have not done the same and therefore fall into the category of acting “unchristian” and irresponsible as laid out in your post above. So now what do we do to solve this problem?

  48. Granddad says

    @Aly k
    “I would conclude since you are outspoken on this issue that you have received your pertussis vaccination as an adult so you don’t expose the children in your life to the disease”

    Ouch and touche’. Point well taken. I surrender.

  49. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    Granddad, you are a gracious man. I am not always so gracious, however.

    You do not have to prove out your opinion on vaccinations by getting yourself vaccinated, any more than the anti vaccination crowd needs to prove their position by deliberately exposing their children to full blown pertussis.

    It is true that many cases of pertussis are contracted by adults. It is also true that some are not.

    But this isn’t really about vaccinations. This whole subject has been beaten to death, but the debate gives a fairly good illustration of those who have left the patriarchal crowd and have therefore a new conviction- the belief they are better informed than the rest of us. Anyone who hasn’t thought through things exactly to their conclusions must still be either stuck in their old way of thinking, or overreacting to the new. They know our thinking, in other words.

    To pronounce that many of us former fundie/ patriarch types are suffering from the described “pendulum” effect, when the writer has no idea what our varied church backgrounds and experiences are, is a bit sweeping, to say the least.

    But I have to say that I have also noticed a phenomenon among some of us who have left legalism and patriarchy behind. It is the tendency to assume an intellectual elitism over the rest of us poor souls that are perceived to still be slogging through the mire of faulty theology and false assumptions. Perhaps we should consider that we may all have learned something along the way, by the grace of God.

    Granddad, you go ahead and be gracious. We need people like you 🙂

  50. says

    Can I just say how much I love you all who post here? A more gracious and kind bunch would be difficult to find! Thanks for being my friends!!!

  51. says

    Since it’s legal to graduate from public school virtually illiterate, I don’t think more government regulation of homeschool is the issue. But I do think CPS should stay in place. I’ve had them at my door and they did the right thing. They do not just “snatch” children. They investigate. Their goal is to keep families together. They may visit for something as stupid as poor drainage. Usually parents are required to fix the problem and the case is closed. Yes, we’ve all seen the horror stories of kids in cages missed by CPS but on the whole they do their job. HSLDF, of which I was once a member, does a huge disservice in trying to terrify homeschooling parents. They need to be called on the carpet for lies and scare tactics.

    Good post, as always!

  52. susanne says

    Also, concerning aborted fetal tissue, the Vatican had the correct response. They basically said, we can’t save those two babies whose cells are now part of the process of culturing some vaccines (it’s their *cell line* btw. The vaccine developers aren’t using new aborted babies every time they make more vaccines), but we can save the millions of children around the world (RIGHT NOW)with vaccines. That’s what being pro-life is all about – saving lives…ALL lives.

    Vaccines are not 100% effective which is why we need herd immunity. Check out what is going on in England, right now because herd immunity fell to 50% because of the Wakefield paper.

    And yes, get your pertussis booster shot! I went to the funeral of 6 mos old who died from pertussis (family did not vax) and my third baby had a nurse who had pertussis. Thank God he didn’t get sick. She didn’t realize she had pertussis and just thought she had a mild cold. Because so many people in my area don’t vax, I actually keep my babies home as much as possible for the first year.

    Voicesforvaccines.org is a great resource for the open-minded and gives you a chance to read the stories from the other side.

  53. Judith Martinez says

    Granddad, in answer to your question. Yes, I’m willing to risk my child’s death rather then mandate vaccination. Freedom comes at a cost. I take precautions to protect my little ones while they are too young to be immune and leave the rest up to the Lord. Would I be angry if someone refused to vaccinate and got my baby sick? You better believe it! Nonetheless I’d rather have liberty then security.

  54. Thinking About This says

    But this isn’t really about vaccinations. This whole subject has been beaten to death, but the debate gives a fairly good illustration of those who have left the patriarchal crowd and have therefore a new conviction- the belief they are better informed than the rest of us. Anyone who hasn’t thought through things exactly to their conclusions must still be either stuck in their old way of thinking, or overreacting to the new. They know our thinking, in other words.

    To pronounce that many of us former fundie/ patriarch types are suffering from the described “pendulum” effect, when the writer has no idea what our varied church backgrounds and experiences are, is a bit sweeping, to say the least.

    But I have to say that I have also noticed a phenomenon among some of us who have left legalism and patriarchy behind. It is the tendency to assume an intellectual elitism over the rest of us poor souls that are perceived to still be slogging through the mire of faulty theology and false assumptions. Perhaps we should consider that we may all have learned something along the way, by the grace of God.”

    I wanted to come here and address this. I have deliberately stayed away from discussing this because there are a lot of logistical things going on in my life right now, and doing an internet debates properly, is hard for me to do. I usually think through my answers more, and thus it takes more time.

    First I want to apologize if I came across as rude. I have a lot of triggers…and saying that someone is “unchristian” because of certain actions, whether it is because a woman wears pants, or because a mother chooses not to vaccinate her child triggers me.

    But the above comment, I think was a passive comment towards me, and I want to address that. I do not believe I am better informed than the rest of anyone, and if I came across that way, again I am sorry. In fact, since leaving legalism, I am not quite sure what I believe about many things like I once believed in, and therefore I can see both sides of the vaccine issue, and again, calling someone unchristian because of certain actions was a trigger.

    I am not making a sweeping comment, for the sake of sweeping comment. I know we are all individuals. By God’s grace, I have purposed to make every decision for every new thought or idea that is presented to me a matter of prayer, because I know the tendency in my own life is to swing. I know the tendency is there, because I am human, and because I have several friends from my “old life” that has done such a swing. However, I have many friends who have not, and we are trying to figure this out by God’s Grace.

    The purpose in the comment about swinging was not directed towards anyone commenting on this post. I can see how it came across that way. I believe something happened in my real life, that caused me to get off the computer and I could not address what you said about the swing statement I had made. Then when I got on again, Granddad asked me a question, and I responded to his question, and bypassed yours and forgot to readdress it.

    That comment I made was an observation I have made in my life, from experience with real people and many online.

    I have noticed many with the legalistic mind frame strongly attack a certain side of a controversial issue, did a “swing”, and started attacking the other side of the issue just as strongly. It was more of a muse than a point. Again, I should of just kept my thoughts to myself, as I didn’t have time to make a proper comment.

    And the last paragraph, I feel was a sweeping statement towards me, and it’s not true of me, and I feel no need to defend myself over it.

    I will say this sincerely. I am not perfect. I am not very intellectually smart, and I very much know that I am a sinner, who needs Jesus, and need Him desperately. And I have become painfully aware of the knowledge that I know I have blindspots in my life, that may come across as “unchristian” to others.

    Before, in my legalistic life, I did not believe I had blindspots and tried to be the perfect Christian, with the perfect testimony.

    Now that I come on the other side, I see I did have blindspots,(And really big ones!) and I know now, because of my previous blind-spots, that I still have other blindspots. And everyday almost, I learn some new ones, and have to repent of them.

    Because of Jesus showing me where I was blind in my past life, I do have compassion on those that are still entrapped in legalistic lives, and who live in fear of everything.

    I have family that is in this lifestyle still. They say mean and hurtful things to me because I am now “ungodly”. But I realize what is driving that behavior, and I realize that I was once where they were, and worse! I remember how I felt, even in my pride. Always afraid, and anxious that I was going to do something wrong. I do not know why, but I have compassion on them. I know that if God can pull me out of that type of fear, then He can do the same with them, and I pray that the come to understand his beautiful, sweet, and comforting Grace that I have come to experience.

    Again, it is late, I have a long day tomorrow, and this post will probably be misunderstood. Again I apologize fore being so Trigger shy.

  55. says

    Thinking About This,

    I so appreciate your transparency in these things!

    One thing I have tried very hard to differentiate between in these matters are the teachings/teachers coming down on others via “religious leaders” and those who profit from them vs those who are learning and being influenced and trying to simply do what is best in their own lives. That always seems to make a difference to me and as I have said before I think this is how Jesus approached these matter of legalism,.

    One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and we sing it fairly often at church. That stanza that says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love” pierces my own heart each time I hear it because that is me.

  56. says

    Speaking of triggers and how they jump out at you without notice.

    It seems like I was the last one in my family to see the movie The Village and my husband kept asking me to watch it with him so I finally agreed. He rented it and we were all watching together when the scene comes on where the the identity of the scary creature/guy in the woods is revealed and I covered my face and screamed “Its an elder!” My husband has never forgotten that….it just came out of seemingly nowhere but really that tells you what my level of fear and spiritual abuse had been.

  57. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    To “Thinking About This”- I certainly hear you. I thought that you were being specific to those of us who choose to vaccinate in your discussion of the pendulum effect, and I apologize if I misunderstood you.

    This is most certainly true in many cases. I always think of a former Bill Gothard mom who now is running around like some MTV babe, embarrassing her kids and making sad choices. This would be humorous except that it is true and involves real people and real heartbreak. NOT funny at all…

    I am also sorry if I was offensive in my paragraph about former fundie know it alls. I think there is a tendency for those who thought they knew better than everyone else when they were in the patriarch set to think they still know more than everyone now that they are not! I have to watch this for sure! I can think of various writers on the internet who are almost hateful in this attitude…..as though what you eat, where you have your babies, how you choose to educate them, if you work outside the home, etc. etc. are matters of where you stand in God’s kingdom. This takes place on both sides of the issues.

    Clearly, you are like the rest of us who are loving Jesus above all else and throwing away all this junk that we had piled on us. I often say that I know much less now than I knew before (or so I thought), yet know Jesus much better. And I have learned, as I believe you have as well, that there are a lot of things that we all made big deals out of that are not even worth worrying about. I heard a wise Christian once say that it is a holy thing for us to say “I don’t know”, and your words are very moving in this way. We have all come from the land of men (and women) who know all and can explain everything, and I don’t think that is a safe place to be.

    Anyway, sorry if I seemed really testy. I guess one of my triggers is when I perceive that someone’s relationship to God is being analyzed or critiqued based on the choices they may make that aren’t in line with our own. I think that I misunderstood where you were headed with your comments on this.

    Over my kitchen sink I have a quote by John Newton. Paraphrased, it says “when I was young, I knew everything. Now, all I know is that I am a sinner and Jesus is my Savior. That is all I need to know.”

    Thanks for answering so many points.

  58. Lydia says

    Since its inception, HSLDA has defended the “right to home school” for its member families. To fail to adequately defend that right for one member family is to fail all member families. You might as well ask all defense attorneys to inadequately defend their clients in favor of the prosecution. If enough evidence was presented by the state to confirm abuse in the homes, then the children would have been removed from the home indefinitely, and the right to home school would have been a non-issue. Blaming HSLDA for the failures of government bureaucracy is, quite frankly, ridiculous!
    (And as for LibbyAnne, judging by her “crusade” to defame HSLDA, she is obviously harboring deep seated animosity toward her upbringing, and that, is most unfortunate…)

  59. Thinking About This says

    Thanks everyone for being gracious with me. Glad to know things are cleared up. Again forgive me for jumping to conclusions myself. ♥

  60. Tracy says

    Hello to ThatMom and all the commentors here. I just discovered this blog site last night and I believe I will be returning! I don’t have time to say much this morning, but I can relate to the background of many, minus involvement in a fundamentalist or FIC church. After 17 plus years in the home schooling movement and legalistic Christian education, I have spent the last year reevaluating the theology that permeates it and the degree to which I have bought into and acted out of the philosophies that come out of it. I have most definitely jumped off the bandwagon mentality, but as someone wisely warned here, I am struggling to not swing to another extreme as a knee jerk reaction to the pain my family has suffered from the false teaching in the home school environment as well as the legalistic Christian school my two oldest kids attended for several years. That all said, I want to make a brief comment on the subject at hand. I am most definitely in agreement that our government must have a safety net to protect children, and that the current safety net needs an overhaul. While I am sad to hear some of the insights into HSLDA, whom I think we do owe a debt of gratitude for the work they have done on behalf of home schooling, I have learned in this past year that I cannot blindly trust any Christian organization or leader, so I will be more discerning as I evaluate things promoted by HSLDA. I wanted to mention a concern though, and that is as shocked as I was to hear that HSLDA would advocate to end all child welfare services, I do believe it is unnecessary and dangerous for our country to sign-on to the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child. I most certainly do not want to be held to the standards of a “world government” so to speak (international treaty) when it comes to parenting or any other domestic issue. So with that in mind, do you all have any insights as to why someone like me should have concerns about the parental rights amendment itself, regardless of
    areas where one might not agree with HSLDA on other issues, or in their choices of teachings they promote? You all may have tired of this discussion last week, but your thoughts would be appreciated if you have time to share:)

  61. says

    Hi Tracy and welcome. I am so happy you found us!

    Here is a link to a discussion on the PRA and Christine Field from HLA weighs in on the topic so there is a lot of really good information.


    I agree that there are many good things that HSLDA did in the early years of homeschooling but m concerned on a number of levels today. One i the scare tactics that seem to be used by the group and also how some things that affect homeschooling families are completely ignored. I also see the groups they are tied in to and that is alarming. I believe that homeschooling should be the right of any parents and not just one who pursue homeschooling for religious reasons. I am unsure where HSLDA stands on that and also I believe it would be much better if homeschooling families learned to interface themselves with legislators and school officials rather than depending on some outside group to come in for them. I think I hold a minority position on this one.

  62. Laura (old OR vintage) says

    Hi Karen! I agree with your “concerns” about HSLDA 100%! I have seen it morph from what seemed to be a grass roots type, freedom minded group into what seems to me more of a high powered political arm of people who I don’t agree with on many levels. The worst thing is that although I certainly know that there are and have been cases where our rights as homeschoolers have been infringed upon, often HSLDA seems to be adept at stirring up paranoia and a sense of isolation from everyone outside a select circle of conservative folks. They seem to try to run conventions as well, maybe indirectly? Maybe I have changed since the early days, when I assumed that everyone involved with homeschooling had the same simple desire to freely teach and learn with my kids, but this has just turned into politics as usual. I am not interested in demonizing other types of education, shunning non Christians, or defending parental neglect. I like your idea that it would be healthier if parents themselves dealt with some of these issues directly.

    I could say more but I will resist. I am just naturally suspicious when fear is used as a tool by people in Washington or anywhere else!

  63. DebbyJG says

    I have been following your blog for a long time. My mind isn’t personally made up on HSLDA yet – they are still doing quite a lot of good things for our homeschooling community, even if I don’t support everything they say and do

    Are you aware that your blog, and this post in particular, is being used as a reason for “why we must stop these homeschoolers” using a bill just released here in Ohio yesterday; people are linking to it and pointing it out as being a good example of someone who has pointed out how “extreme” homeschooling is and why it must be stopped? The bill is being called “the worst homeschool law ever proposed” and it is truly vomit-inducing. It proposes all e-schoolers and homeschoolers be put through a guilty before proven innocent (proven not by a jury of peers, but by CPS) homeschool “application” process, in which parents and children are forced to submit to interviews (children separate from parents) and home visits and searches by CPS before CPS will approve or deny the family’s application to homeschool.
    It’s unconstitional. It’s disgusting. And it was written by opportunistic anti-homeschooling politicians after a 14 year old boy was abused and eventually killed by his abuser. The boy had been in public school for 5 years and the teachers had reported signs of abuse to CPS, which they ignored for five years. Then the mother pulled the boy out to do e- charter school with him, and the abusing boyfriend continued to abuse, and he was killed. So instead of faulting the CPS agency who failed to do their job for 5 years, the politicians are blaming homeschooling and actually proposing to put the very agency at fault, in the position of authority over all alternative school families!

    I didn’t know if you were aware of this bill or not, but I thought you should know your blog and this page specifically, is being used as ammunition for their cause.

  64. says

    DebbyJG, here is what I posted to the FB page promoting this bill (and run by the little boy’s father.)

    “Teddy’s Dad, let me begin by saying that I am so sorry for your grief. I cannot imagine the pain and loss you experience every single day. I had not heard this story until last night and I will be praying for your comfort and healing.

    As the author of this piece, let me say that those who should be held accountable for your son’s death are your ex-wife, her boyfriend, and the workers at CPS who did not efficiently respond to the concerns expressed to them. I have watched this very same thing happen in my town in recent years. Both children in both situations also died and in both cases the CPS workers did not respond even though there were numerous requests to do so. And in both cases, the children attended public school and the teachers were the ones who reported their concerns. In the case of your son, it could just as well as happened had he been in public school.”

    In the case of your son, it was not a situation where a homeschooler abused a child. Rather, it is a case where someone used the freedoms we homeschoolers enjoy to try to cover over abuse of a child. All your efforts ought to be to bring accountability to the system that let this situation go unaddressed rather than to give the same system that failed your son even more power! Your efforts are really placed in the wrong place and, frankly, you’re being used by liberal politicians and educational bureaucrats to further their own agendas which include thwarting homeschooling families.

  65. says

    I really do feel bad for this little boy’s dad. He is a pawn in the hands of educational bureaucrats who only care about keeping teachers in their jobs, nothing more. Homeschoolers are the biggest threat to public education and they will use anyone and everyone to further their cause, including grieving fathers.

    HSLDA really hurt their credibility, imho, in the story I reference in this article. I don’t know if they have ever apologized or owned up to their words and actions; I haven’t seen it if they did but hope someone posts something here if they see it. Just liken the Doug Phillips nightmare that seems to be unraveling more by the day, homeschoolers need to demonstrate their disapproval for they]se whacky teachings and behaviors. As longs we have some of these people presuming to speak for all of us and saying crazy stuff, we will see more of these threats within the legislative system.

    Isn’t it ironic, btw, that the CHEO convention planners had s hedged a questionable speakers that give us such bad press while all this other stuff is going on?

    Wake up call time.

  66. Debbyjg says

    Thanks for your thoughts and for adding your words to the discussion on the Teddy’s Law page.
    I myself was banned from posting on their page last night after I dared question a supporter who said “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” from CPS and governmental/police searches, house visits, approvals, and investigations.
    Apparently asking why they are so quick to throw out the 4th amendment because of a tragic circumstance unrelated to homeschooling was verboten.
    (And yes I use the German usage of that word purposefully.)
    The answer,before I was banned, was “if it saves one child’s life it is worth it”. And then I was banned, and therefore after I couldn’t defend myself, my name kept being drug through the mud saying I was calling people “ignorant” and that it was obvious I hated Teddy and his family.


    I appreciate everyone who helped us in Ohio stand for our rights the past couple days. As I mentioned on your Facebook page, as of this afternoon, senator Cafaro has agreed to withdraw her bill, and has promised that when she drafts new legislation for “Teddy’s Law”, it will not include any language concerning education.

    We do hope she keeps her word. And we will stay vigilant.

    Thank you!

  67. Me says

    I came from one of those homes HSLDA will protect. They are basically unstoppable. Michael and Debi Pearl are also involved. They are bigger than people realize


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