Latest Homeschool Freakout from World Net Daily

14 03 2009

Doc is right. This is the latest homeschool freakout over parent rights and freedom to homeschool. It came to my local (primarily conservative Christian) discussion list this week, straight from World Net Daily. Here’s how it was posed, in italics, with JJ’s responses:

Before there is an emotional reaction to my posting something from WorldNetDaily, I am doing this for a purpose. Please read the entire article, focusing specifically on what is said about Germany, since this came up in recent postings. And then correlate to a judge in NC deciding he knows better than the mother, even though there is evidence to point to the fact that the children are flourishing. Now there may be more to this…if anyone can find out that would be great.

My question, especially to secular based homeschoolers, would it be worth it to you to homeschool in a place like Germany even facing this kind of opposition? If we have judges in FL that suddenly start deciding they know best, will you take it without opposition? What do you think about this?

Really interesting article, thanks for sharing. I did read the whole thing and think about the various policy and personal issues presented.

What I notice in comparing these NC, CA and German court cases, is that they all are mainly religious disputes, not education freedom cases. And there are concerns about the children’s (and society’s) actual care and safety and welfare. Education goals and methods like test scores or subject matter mastery, aren’t the central point.

The German cases especially are not about education, but religion:
“Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented previously on the issue, contending the government ‘has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.’ ”

I recall a case in NC or some southeastern state, that was more directly about education (of the mom, not the kids!) where the judge ordered a mother to learn to speak English, claiming it would be in the best interests of her children, who otherwise would be disadvantaged in having a caretaker who couldn’t fully engage in their community and help them grow up American. There was interest group outrage but from liberal individual rights types, who objected to the judge overstepping against the mom, not from conservative parental rights defenders — who tend to CHEER courts requiring English of immigrants, even moms not subject to compulsory attendance, and even though it clearly interferes with the mom’s autonomy.

JJ, how do you feel personally about this ruling? We have had a couple of local cases I am aware of, regarding divorces and custody, etc. and the fathers both won in these cases. There was no religious factor involved. The fathers winning meant the kids had to be admitted into public school, in spite of all the evidence showing the kdis were doing well otherwise with their homeschooling.

Tough question! How do I feel about such cases? Mainly that by the time a divorce and custody case is in court, there are no winners. Never the children, for sure. Everybody loses and much of the loss already happened, long before the court tries to paste some semblance of happy home life back together for the kids. Family court only deals with hard cases; it doesn’t create happy, healthy families no matter HOW it rules.

And that’s when religion and homeschooling aren’t even at issue. That’s even in Florida with our no-fault divorce, where adultery charges and mental fitness challenges etc. aren’t needed to dissolve the marriage and rewrite the parenting contract.

(There are conservative Christians gearing up to change that in Florida though, take us back to the bad old days and make divorce more difficult and wrenching.)

Add in outright child abuse under religious cover as in the CA case of the Long family (that case dragged over 20-plus years btw, using fringe dominionist dogma and homeschooling to claim freedom for serious ignorance and mental illness to inflict chronic child abuse.) I think the so-called “Octomom” looks like another example of child abuse via parental mental illness. It would not be moral or ethical for any of us to let our own parent rights concerns put us on the wrong side of helping such children, locally and all around the world.

Btw, I just saw this review of a psychology book examining how school shooters like Columbine are not about education or caused by school bullying, etc, but mental and personality disorders combined with complex social factors.
. . .”I think a lot of people like a simple answer,” [the author] continues, “because if there’s a simple answer maybe there’s a simple solution.”

Andrea Yates — not really homeschooling or parental rights but fringe religious dogma and truly tragic mental illness leading to the ultimate loss, for everyone including her. The husband certainly didn’t “win” by using his religion to isolate her at home to lose all human reason to “religious” delusion that she must slaughter the children.

Finally, see this from yesterday’s NYT, about how most of us aren’t really as “good” as we think we are. What are we really doing to help others instead of taking care of ourselves?
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

That’s not to excuse any of this, in or out of court. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of how I feel and what I think about all this, sorry. It’s not a simple question, more like a matter of ultimate human concern. That’s really how I feel, that what’s best for children and families is a huge, never-ending challenge for humanity to face, not just a handy partisan rallying cry for or against any particular device of law or policy.

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129 responses

14 03 2009
Doc

I really see no comparison between the German case and the NC case. In the German case, you have two parents, who agree how to raise their children, and want the freedom to do so. That case I agree is an affront to parental rights. In the NC case, you have a husband and father, who was NEVER on board with homeschooling, who should have an equal say in the raising of his own children, who agreed to give homeschooling a chance, and then claims his wife has drifted into a religious cult-like place that he’s totally uncomfortable with – these are his children too. He divorces said wife because they’ve become totally incompatible as to belief system. He has specific wants for his children’s education, which don’t agree with the mothers. They go to court. The judge really has only one choice that will satisfy both the state’s requirement that the children be educated, and the father’s right to see them educated in a more mainstream manner (he specifically states science as a concern). He has to choose a mid point to arbitrate what is best for these children. The mother still has the absolute option to afterschool them into whatever belief system she chooses, and the children get the social contact the father desires. On some conservative blog I clicked through to from google’s news search, the author states “the state will BRAINWASH the children, overriding what the mother has taught them as TRUTH”. I laughed. The same author also stated that the father had a lot of affairs so he shouldn’t have a say in raising his children.

14 03 2009
JJ

That last part doesn’t sound like a defense of parental rights to me!

In Florida we do have an anti-divorce movement gearing up, to extend the “protect marriage” laws further into family life. The idea is that the institution of marriage is more important than the actual people IN the marriage, apparently. (Like the “choose life” laws aren’t interested in the real human person whose life they are meddling with, just in the hypothetical potential human they can “represent”)

14 03 2009
JJ

Hmmm — extending that morality to its logical conclusion — so a pregnancy that results from an affair ought not give the father any say, but what about the mom? She was adulterous too. So any pregnancy arising from adultery should just go straight to the family courts for disposition, with neither biological parent allowed any say . . .

14 03 2009
Mrs. C

No, I think it should go right to the church, and the pastor gets to decide.

Kidding. I thought that would get your goat.

But here’s a mom and dad involved in a divorce. He is cheating on the covenant he established with his wife and into which the children were being raised. It stands to reason that you would want everything to continue to be as normal as possible, family-life-wise, after the divorce. As such, I think it would be unsound for the judge to allow the mom to pull her kids suddenly from public school to homeschool them if there is joint custody… and the opposite is true in this case with the homeschooling IMO.

The problem is, here we’re getting snippets and there may be more going on than one little article in the paper presents. :] It isn’t like the judge is going to sit down and tell you everything that was disclosed to him in the courtroom, and there may be other factors involved… What else is going on? We DON’T know.

14 03 2009
JJ

How is her joining a cult not at least as much changing their original agreement to establish this family, as his adultery?

There used to be something in divorce law called “alienation of affection.” Sounds to me like there was plenty of that going around in this family, and not much normal for the kids to remain safe and comfortable in!

14 03 2009
JJ

Mrs C, maybe you aren’t kidding after all. Between the church and the courts, private family matters including parental rights do get influenced. Which intervention from which source with what need or provocation and legitimate authority — that’s always the issue. And I agree, there’s never one blanket answer for all families nor should there be.

Homeschooling is not the be-all and end-all of happy family life, it’s no religion and we who do make it work in our own families certainly shouldn’t defend it like it was our cult. It makes us sound even more like the religious zealots that concern courts in the first place.

David Brooks had a column yesterday about how education is primarily about “relationships” and many kids have to go to school to find any supportive academic relationship with adults. Some don’t, and can homeschool with abundance in strong, supportive relationships. In nasty custody battles though, all the relationships in their home are imperiled. So judges who decide the changed environment is a good time to put kids in school rather than limiting their education relationships to just one troubled caretaker (say a mother newly converted to a cult whose mental fitness is in doubt, for example) or maybe two, so the adulterous dad has to pretend he cares about science experiments during his weekends trying to rebuild some kind of family relationship with kids whose safety he fears for, and who don’t trust him now? — good call on the relationship front imo . . .

14 03 2009
Mrs. C

I must have skipped the part about her joining a “cult,” but the fact remains that the kids had been homeschooled for four years. I guess I’d wonder why the judge ruled the way he did, although it may be as you say and the mother is unstable. I think whenever we see an article in the paper, we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions. Though I would have to add that the adulterous dad should have to attend the parent-teacher conferences and deal with the crap that is called homework each night if he was the one who wanted the kids to go to public school. I don’t think I would be a model ps parent under such circumstances. Which IMO means everyone loses… but once again, I don’t pretend to have all the information. :]

14 03 2009
JJ

LOL, good point about making the dad the school parent. 🙂

14 03 2009
COD

//…straight from World Net Daily//

I pretty much quit caring at this point.

14 03 2009
boremetotears

JJ:

Homeschooling is not the be-all and end-all of happy family life, it’s no religion and we who do make it work in our own families certainly shouldn’t defend it like it was our cult. It makes us sound even more like the religious zealots that concern courts in the first place.

Ah, yes. Homeschool apologetics: Starting with what you want to think, then working your way backwards. Knowin’ it when I see it. It’s like deja vu all over again. It’s making me downright irritable — and irritating, I reckon 🙂

Btw, JJ, I’ve been cheering your comments (here and elsewhere) about bringing long overdue credibility to discussions about homeschooling.

Just curious:
How are we defining “flourishing” or “thriving” that these terms are being used to describe the educational life of children “(taught) strictly out of the Bible”?

14 03 2009
christy

I am a conservative Christian homeschooler and I have had it up to my eyeballs the last couple of days getting more than a dozen Google alerts over this and the local homeschool nut scaring the crap out of younger homeschool families over this!

This is not an uncommon thing. It seem the WND exclusive was given to them by a friend of the mom who even started a blog to cover the issue.

It is not a homeschooling case. It is a divorce and custody case. I’d be willing to bet he never wanted her to homeschool in the first place. And if it’s true that he is asking for a psych eval over her beliefs then they were never on the same page to begin with.

This case and the attention it is getting is going to be 100X worse for those poor kids than being put in public school ever will be.

14 03 2009
JJ

Christy, you go girl! 🙂

I agree, either they never were on the same page and the family wasn’t going to be successful AS a family, at homeschooling or anything else about family life — or else they started out fine which would explain the good reports from past hsing, but then developed these “irreconcilable differences.” Whichever, same complex problem and same negative impact on the kids (educational and otherwise) no matter what the court does now.

14 03 2009
JJ

I feel we’ve had a sort of social compact as Americans too, agreeing that both the government and the church will leave folks alone unless they want help and seek help from one or the other. Even if we disapprove, even if we “evangelize” to parents about what we personally think would be better for them — we let each other parent and educate as each family sees fit, unless there’s the kind of major dysfunction we generally agree puts the kids at high risk and often not even then, as in the CA Long family case.

Now that compact is breaking down. Irreconcilable differences, or we’re cheating on it or whatever you want to call it! Just like a marriage gone bad. For whatever reasons, in my lifetime we’ve done nothing but meddle in other folks’ families through both Church and State, uninvited. Some of us see the Church as righteous and blameless and the State as the Big Bad Wolf. Some of us see it just the opposite. And some of us were trying hard to get both sides to shut up and leave us ALL alone, as the only hope that ANY of us could be long left alone . . .but we’re ready to go to court and formally separate, if that’s the only way to stop the fighting and figure out some way to get back in charge of our own private lives.

14 03 2009
JJ

Lynn, I’m just happy to hear you’ve found some places where anything said at Snook or by other Evolved Homeschoolers might be fruitful. (Heck, places where it would be ALLOWED!) I do the same with your good words and other bloggers’ every chance I get, just trying to keep the diversity sparked here and there. . .but I think it will take many more bloggers like Christy to really turn things around.

15 03 2009
Doc

The only place I’ve seen reference to the dad cheating is on a few conservative blogs. It’s sounding more like the mom went ultra conservative and the dad didn’t feel the same. With all the allegations flying back and forth between the parents, the stability of public school doesn’t sound too bad. It will insulate them from their parents inability to communicate with each other.

15 03 2009
Jenn

The German cases especially are not about education, but religion:
“Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented previously on the issue, contending the government ‘has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion.’ “

Surely you don’t take his word. Am in understanding you wrong? That is a poor reason to keep homeschooling illegal. I don’t think you can compare homeschooling parents in Germany being prosecuted with family disputes about homeschooling in the US. I agree that most being hsed in Germany are from a Christian perspective but Baptists are hardly “out there” and are certainly not going to teach their children to persecute others. The parallel society they fear so much? What if some wacko gets control again of their government. I don’t think Hitler seemed very dangerous to most Germans when he started out. Only a few “nutters” and Jews opposed him, he cared for HIS people.
Even a child that attended school most of her life and who’s siblings attended school was persecuted because she was home schooled to improve her math and latin, otherwise I think she would be forced to go to a trade school and not be able to get into a good academic school. Melissa Busekros. As far as I’m aware in a lot of Europe your destiny is decided around 15-17 whether you are worth to get a shot to go to an university or whether you have to pick a trade which you will probably be doing for the rest of your life.

15 03 2009
JJ

Jenn, you seem to understand correctly, except when you hear me saying fear of religion splitting the populace is good reason to make homeschooling illegal in Germany? I merely said it was religious reasoning, not necessarily that I agreed it was GOOD reasoning. . .

But — key point here — I don’t think religion is good reason for homeschooling to be legal, either. Never mind Germany, not in America! Unfortunately, perhaps because religious freedom is explicit in the First Amendment and seemed the safer harbor, homeschool politics originally confused religious freedom with educational choice, what I consider academic or intellectual freedom, freedom of the mind. Thus were education laws written all over the country with overt religious favoritism! Which can look uncomfortably UNconstitutional from the secular education separation principle, and in times like these even make home education look like a stealth form of theocracy. 🙂

All that can be avoided by understanding education and religion as distinct freedoms, despite how closely some families and politicians connect and even confuse the two. Academic freedom is itself secular and includes freedom FROM (anyone else’s) religion being imposed, even when exercised by devout theologians on campus, say, or Christian moms homeschooling — they are using both religious and intellectual freedoms at the same time in complement, but that doesn’t mean academic freedom needs religion to protect or justify it, make it legitimate.

Religious freedom historically and around our modern world is bigger than educational freedom, if you include freedom from genocide for one’s religious identity, for example, as Germany surely must — certainly that can’t be reduced to legalistic disputes over secular academic programs for children.

Finally, although I might agree Germany’s government and culture are indeed different from ours in its approach to both religious and academic freedoms, sorry to say that WE were the ones who most recently had “some wacko get control” of our government! And his supposed conservative embrace of religion and homeschoolers was no help!

Did you know Chuck Norris now wants Texas to secede, and he’s picturing himself as its president? Today’s NYT Magazine has a feature story about the Bush Freedom Foundation going into conservative Christian SMU in TX, alongside his planned presidential library, and how uneasy that is making university academics and historians, etc. who all realize objectively, that what this presidency now needs is to be studied with complete academic freedom and integrity, not to be insulated FROM real scholarship by its failed ideology. The story is ironically titled, “The Academic Freedom Foundation.” Freedom of religion and education aren’t always compatible, apparently!

So — to sum up, I think we sound ridiculous if not wacko ourselves, criticizing any western government for human rights violations before we investigate, repudiate and remedy our own recent past. I think it erodes whatever little high moral ground and credibility we have left, and therefore, I don’t think it’s actually being done to help Germans (or Americans) homeschool in freedom. It won’t. I think WND and HSLDA know that. I think they helped the last wacko get control of our government and they plan to rise again. it’s being done as cynically effective dominionist strategy in concert with the ID and anti-public, anti-materialism movements, to keep their wacko world-ending ideology burning in the hearts of all freedom-loving citizens Christian or not, by exploiting the love for our own children and freedoms that ALL home education families share.

My hope is that real education can stop them.

15 03 2009
JJ

Doc, again I agree. That’s what I was trying to say about the importance of “relationships” to learning and how if the kids can’t get those under the derogated conditions at home (whatever the cause) then maybe they can in school. Whatever happened between these parents isn’t helping their present ability to help their kids “flourish” or thrive with their academic learning.

15 03 2009
JJ

Doc — looks like both the adultery and the cult religion are in the record but the judge hasn’t formally ruled on either, or on what education to order starting in the fall. When he DOES rule, it will only be a temporary custody order; the permanent order will be another proceeding, maybe even another judge (if the mom gets another bite at the homeschool apple, which is what all this public pressure-generating publicity seems to be about?)

One other thing I noticed in this (blessedly non-World Net Daily!) legitimate news story — the reports about how well the kids are doing academically in home education should be taken with the caveat that they’ve only been homeschooling since about age 8, 7 and 6, presumably before which there wasn’t much real education rigor in schooling to compare the later hsing with, to claim as the mom does, “they’re doing better now academically than when they were in public school.”

Academics are only just getting high-stakes for these kids who will be 13, 12 and 11 years old during 2009-10. And that could be the dad’s concern?

15 03 2009
JJ

Also hmmm — I wonder where the kids are themselves, on mom’s new cult/religion?

“Venessa Mills has said the children are socializing with other kids. . .”
Are their new friends all coming from that pool perhaps? Is one or more of the kids privately conflicted about homeschooling that in the future would be limited to that orbit? (Imagine there’s a young science buff or budding feminist or reader of banned books or Christopher Hitchens fan among them, say, who mom hopes to redeem –)

15 03 2009
Doc

If the kids are socializing, it’s probably with a carefully selected group of children.

15 03 2009
Doc

The comments on the above linked story are great. If this IS a threat to homeschooling, where is HSLDA?

15 03 2009
Kinderlehrer

This website written by one of Venessa’s friends may provide more direct-source information about her side of the Mills case for your discussion ‽

@ Jenn. A child’s future in Germany is decided at 10 years old. At that point the teacher (not the parent) determines which type of secondary school a child may enter. Only one of those secondary schools feeds into the universities.

A diagram and the pdf here may help.

15 03 2009
JJ

Little Green Footballs 2.0 gives us a quote making it clear this case is mainly about fringe religion, believed by one parent and objected to by the other, bizarre literalist biblical beliefs that contradict modern science as a matter of doctrine and thus require homeschooling of all its disciples, to inculcate those beliefs in all children in place of all academics. It also gives us for the first time the name of mom’s church-cult, Sound Doctrine:

In an affidavit filed Friday in the divorce case, Thomas Mills stated that he “objected to the children being removed from public school.” He said Venessa Mills decided to home school after getting involved with Sound Doctrine church “where all children are home schooled.”

Thomas Mills also said he was “concerned about the children’s religious-based science curriculum” and that he wants “the children to be exposed to mainstream science, even if they eventually choose to believe creationism over evolution.”

Oh, and about “Sound Doctrine” — there seem to be several churches and ministries using that name but this withering exegetical critique of “Sound Doctrine Church” sure seems to fit . . .if so, poor kids, poor mom, poor dad, poor us dealing with the fallout in a wacked-out electorate, sigh:

. . . this is as much as anything a pledge to hide one’s head in the sand when contradictory views rear their own ugly heads. And that too is a recipe for a future party with the Kool Aid, even if (as seems to be the case) many other doctrinal positions are completely sound (eg, Trinity, inerrancy, etc.). . . .I close this series of comments with notes on SDC screwiness that deserves dishonorable mention.

15 03 2009
christy

I believe it is HSLDA’s policy to stay out of custody cases. Sorry, I don’t have a link. I am too busy to find it right now, but I’m sure a quick Google search will solve that.

16 03 2009
Nance Confer

I love the part of the quote that calls Sound Doctrine wacko but says “many other doctrinal positions are completely sound (eg, Trinity, inerrancy, etc.). . . ”

LOL!!!!

Exactly the sort of line-drawing that dooms all of this nonsense. In the face of “inerrancy,” for instance, how can a judge honestly find that Sound Doctrine’s other, say, creationist teachings are so unsound as to be cultish?

Nance

16 03 2009
JJ

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? 😉

Well yeah. That website does parse doctrine by drawing all sorts of silly lines but imo the judge isn’t, if the specific belief he finds unsound and dangerous for these kids is not doctrinal but that parents must literally surrender their kids’ lives to cult control: “. . .a recipe for a future party with the Kool Aid”. . .

And think about THAT, which could apply to religious talk we hear all the time, if it’s meant literally — surrendering your will, repenting your sins, losing your life to gain your life, even the “born-again” phrase itself.

UPDATE — from Lynn’s blog, an article originally written for New Scientist, which I think touches on the larger story behind what’s happening in this case:

“”It is crucial to the public’s intellectual health to know when science really is science. Those with a religious agenda will continue to disguise their true views in their effort to win supporters, so please read between the lines.”

16 03 2009
JJ

And it looks like that same cult mindset thinks it should control our courts and judges. [shudder] The latest World Net Daily story says like the Octomom, this Sound Doctrine mom has a Christian publicist assisting her (as opposed to an actual lawyer, or could such stupidity possibly be with a lawyer’s approval??)
Adam Cothes
Phone: 360.802.9758

Do 25 calls constitute “public outrage” in bible inerrancy world?

I notice they haven’t issued emotional appeals for all SAHMs to support mom’s side of the dispute, just homeschoolers, hmmm. They must think we’re more emotionally kneejerk, less critical thinking than SAHMs generally? Today the publicity blog has a story about the kids having to drink powdered milk because dad and the judge are so mean and corrupt.

(My siblings and I grew up on powdered milk btw, also with much sounder critical thinking and communication skills than this.)

16 03 2009
JJ

Never mind the long and public campaign to Christianize public school governance and classes and textbooks, theocrats are in the belly of every beast now . . .

Did y’all know there’s something called the Christian Legal Society (CLS) now partnering with Christian Lawyer Connection to get more business, everywhere in our supposedly secular nation? They represent groups like the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International for example — free market lawyers and health professionals pressing the case not at church councils but IN OUR SECULAR COURTS, that certain legal formulations and medical procedures are unbiblical. Its journal is unabashedly called “The Christian Lawyer: Redeeming Law to the Ends of the Earth”, see fall 2008 issue for example:

Advocates North America (ANA), in
strategic partnership with AI [Advocates International] . . promote justice, sanctity of life, rule of law, religious freedom, peace and reconciliation and family life.

So much for strict separation of personal religion from our public system of secular governance. How Monica Goodling of them! And maybe it explains why they so hate the United Nations — it’s not from concern for personal American freedom at all, just that the UN is a competitor getting in the way of world dominion by THEIR guys!

If Armageddon is coming, this must be one of the far-along signs. . .

16 03 2009
JJ

Here’s one way to understand the problem. Start from the argument that lawyers and pharmacists and judges (schoolteachers, presidents, attorneys general, everybody) all have the individual right if not holy charge, to act publicly from their personal religious beliefs and governance ideals — not just as private individuals affecting their own families but in all things, from the professions and public education to governance (from the military to the justice system), commerce, sports and entertainment, science and research, journalism, health care, everything.

That is what certain Christians have been arguing, quite fiercely. And apparently acting upon, quite effectively!

Now — isn’t that what this NC judge is being ACCUSED of doing, by those same folks, so outraged that he didn’t act from the objective educational “evidence” rather than from his own convictions and beliefs and political ideology?

If you can’t or won’t think critically, it’s not possible to understand and resolve this fatal flaw in the Frankenstein’s monster they’re animating.

Contact: Adam Cothes

RALEIGH, NC, Mar. 12 /Christian Newswire/ — Venessa Mills is fighting a legal battle for the heart and soul of homeschooling in North Carolina.
. . . Even with abundant evidence showing the Mills children are well adjusted and well educated, Judge Mangum ruled overwhelmingly against Mrs. Mills on every point. He stated the children would do better in public school despite the fact that they are currently at or beyond their grade level. Evidence showed two children tested several grades ahead.

When issuing his verdict Judge Mangum stated his decision was not ideologically or religiously motivated. However, he told Mrs. Mills public school will “challenge the ideas you’ve taught them.”

What has emerged is a picture of a clearly liberal judge imposing his beliefs and striking down traditional values. Mangum, a Democrat appointee, disregarded the facts of the case in favor of his own agenda. Such anti-conservative prejudice is increasingly legislated from the bench, and appears to be encouraged by the Democratic Obama administration.

16 03 2009
Nance Confer

The UN! That’s what I was thinking about when you mentioned it.

So not only is their religion better than any other religion and better than the government. Their UN is better than the actual UN!

Still not seeing how it’s more or less cult-y than regular old religion but I suppose the judge trying to inject some sanity into these children’s lives is better than nothing.

Nance

16 03 2009
JJ

No, Nance, I think you’re right. Regular religion can be just this cult-like and frightening, and some “Christians” have been pretty busy taking it just that far while we were comforting ourselves that America would never allow it. . .

16 03 2009
JJ

Hopefully, the judge’s reasoning was something like this? Just dug it out:

Their idea of prayer is brandishing god’s will to prove that he wants them personally to win every battle large or small right here on earth. (And get rich besides.)

It translates to a form of self-deluding political power over other people including friends, family and of course foes, that simultaneously corrupts the believers into hurting the receivers — meaning that it literally hurts real Americans right here on earth in both human and divine terms.

I’d argue that if there is a god and he indeed has loving plans for his human creations, we’ve clearly been lied to and set up by sinful self-serving mortals from the beginning of time, about what it is and how it’s supposed to work.

In America this wicked reality used to be seen mainly in church, you know, corrupt televangelists and . . . cult child abuse, etc. So if you could stay out of that — and you weren’t in any [minority] class Church resented and terrorized — then you were reasonably safe in secular society with the Constitution and the rule of law.

But now this divine dominion, paternalist pugilist meme has amassed great secular power too, apparently generated from this same conviction that one’s power must be untouchable because it is divinely bestowed.
God obviously wants me to win, because I am winning.

. . .As I wrote, [Alberto Gonzalez’ hatchet-woman Monica] Goodling’s victims and what happened to Terri Schiavo [shamefully, shockingly fed by Christian control-meme men at the highest levels of government including Bill Frist and my state’s governor Jeb Bush] are recent example of secular power directly hurting individual humans.

Now look at the private Palin family fight and how it connected to her public power. . .

16 03 2009
boremetotears

re: Christy’s, “I believe it is HSLDA’s policy to stay out of custody cases.”

I’ve read that, too. Unfortunately, I gotta run w/o posting a link, too 🙂

16 03 2009
JJ

I’ve had friends and family members go through all this, two families going through it even as we speak, some Catholic and some conservative evangelical, also some religious yet liberal-academic rather than biblical literalist. It doesn’t matter; it’s all so personally devastating when it’s your own beloved child (grandchild-niece-nephew-godchild etc) being wrenched away from your active presence or daily life or beliefs or influence in any way —

16 03 2009
JJ

BREAKING NEWS Monday —

Home school mom misses deadline to amend custody order
Posted: Today at 11:59 a.m.

Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County mother protesting a judge’s order that her children switch from home school to public school failed to respond to a request for changes to that order Sunday.

. . .The couple had until Sunday to propose changes to a temporary custody order that the judge will sign.

Venessa Mills said she wanted to change the order, but had not filed her changes to the judge by the Sunday deadline. A spokesperson said Venessa Mills was busy observing the Sabbath and helping her husband move out of the house.

. . .In an oral ruling, Mangum agreed that the children should go to public school. The judge declined to talk about the details of the case until he has issued a written ruling, which is expected to happen in about three weeks.

16 03 2009
JJ

Wonder what position the mom’s side of the NC case, would take on parental rights to raise great kids while gay, despite any governmental or judicial bible-based concern?

And should the homeschooling community be outraged and take up their cause it its name, because if homosexuals aren’t allowed to parent a child in the first place, they also aren’t being allowed to homeschool it?

Oh what tangled webs we weave —

Hundreds of chanting, sign-waving demonstrators marched to the Capitol today to lobby for repeal of Florida’s legal ban on adoption by gay couples and passage of bills to include sexual orientation in civil-rights laws.

. . .”It doesn’t matter how good a parent you are, if you’re gay or lesbian, you cannot be considered for adopting in this state,” said Gill. “That is shameful.”

16 03 2009
boremetotears

…so, you’re riding the escalator to “less government” when all of a sudden you spot a flagrant homosexual! Thinking quickly, you produce a Bill of Rights (swiped from a godless liberal only minutes earlier) and jam it in the treads of the escalator, causing it to grind to a stop! Faced with the prospect of… (someone else can pick it up from here)…

16 03 2009
boremetotears

Venessa Mills missed the deadline because she “was busy observing the Sabbath and helping her husband move out of the house.”

Alas, so many jokes; so little time [sigh].

16 03 2009
JJ

😀
That was me too! I read that bit, and punchlines were flashing through my mind, and then I thought, no, no, that’s beneath you . . .

16 03 2009
JJ

Lynn, maybe we can figure all this out with a moral musical escalator then, instead of moral musical chairs?

16 03 2009
Doc

If the case is so friggin’ important to her, why can’t she have her crap done ahead of the Sabbath?

16 03 2009
boremetotears

re: “punchlines were flashing through my mind”

Honestly, it’s the one true reason I blog on “church and state”: the jokes just write themselves. It’s less work.

16 03 2009
JJ

Doc, looks like her underlying problem with being ready is that she doesn’t seem to have an actual lawyer, just a publicist and a BFF, both from her church crowd . . .from out here the whole case looks pretty strange.

17 03 2009
NanceConfer

“. . . helping her husband move out of the house.”

WTF!

He’s still living there?

He can’t move his own shit?

Was he moving the kids out too?

Are these people just too stupid to function in the real world?

Nance

17 03 2009
JJ

Nance and Lynn, when I first read that description of her “helping him move out until midnight on the Sabbath” I admit more punchlines presented themselves unbidden. After the adultery charges etc, I pictured her “help” as throwing his stuff out the upstairs bedroom window until midnight. 😉

But seriously, why isn’t household moving “work” and therefore impermissible on Sunday in her belief system, if writing about her faith-based plan to care for her kids is impermissible work? It’s all in response to the court, say her spokesfolks, so that can’t be the doctrinal distinction.

17 03 2009
COD

The thread at Spunky’s is either hilarious or sad, I’m not sure which.

17 03 2009
JJ

As always Dale offers perspective, even without meaning to address this case:

. . .the way I see myself in the culture affects the way I parent, so I need to know what’s really going on. If my worldview is being pushed to the margins, I might be forced to strike a dukes-up posture and teach my kids to do the same.

But if it isn’t true, I need to know that as well. It would allow me to be less fearful, more open, and more relaxed — and to encourage the same in my kids.

17 03 2009
Doc

Can Spunky please retire again? Please?

18 03 2009
Nance Confer

LOL– I just saw the video and comments at Spunky’s.

What I liked about the comments was the amazing Colbert-like inability to see race or gender. Fantastic! 🙂

Nance

18 03 2009
Nance Confer

From Dale’s blog:

“Nonreligious identification has increased from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008, including growth in all 50 states;”

Oh, that is encouraging! 🙂

Nance

18 03 2009
COD

//What I liked about the comments was the amazing Colbert-like inability to see race or gender. Fantastic! //

I thought lying was a sin?

18 03 2009
Mrs. C

http://dig.abclocal.go.com/wtvd/Mills_Custody.pdf

Swiped from Why Homeschool blog. If the testimony before the judge is correct, much more going on here. Very sad.

18 03 2009
JJ

This is worth reading in its entirety! It should be the baseline for any further discussion imo —

RALEIGH (WTVD) — In a case that’s gaining national attention, a Wake County judge ruled Tuesday that a woman must share custody of her three children with her estranged husband and can no longer home school them.

Click here to read the court ruling (.pdf)

Advocates of homeschooling have characterized the case as a challenge to parent’s rights to home school their children, but court documents released Tuesday show the woman’s family is concerned about her relationship with a small Washington State based church that critics characterize as a cult.

Venessa Mills has homeschooled her children – who are 10, 11 and 12 years old – for the past four years. Her supporters point out that the children have routinely tested 2 years above their grade level.

They’ve even set up a website called homeschoolliberty.com “Dedicated to preserving the freedom of homeschoolers in America for future generations.”

The website creator writes that after hearing about the case that “I suddenly realized that if I do not stand up and take action I will lose my parental right to teach my children according to my own beliefs and convictions.”

But according to court documents, the case doesn’t just center around homeschooling. Estranged husband Thomas Mills claims the couple began to grow apart after she joined the Sound Doctrine Church led by Tim and Carla Williams.

During court proceedings, Tina Wasik, a former member of the church, characterized it as a cult and testified under oath that “Sound Doctrine is not a healthy place to grow up. It is run by fear and manipulation.”

Other former members gave sworn court statements that church leader Tim Williams made inappropriate sexual comments about girls as young as 4.

Former member Jessica Gambill testified that “After I joined Sound Doctrine, Tim Williams told me that my oldest daughter (then age 12) was the kind of girl that men would take advantage of, that my middle daughter (then age 7) was the kind of girl that would sleep with any guy, and that my youngest daughter (age 4) was the kind of girl that would use her looks to seduce men.”

All the accusations against the Sound Doctrine Church and its leaders made by former members were denied in affidavits filed by Venessa Mills’ attorney.

In a temporary custody order issued Tuesday, Judge Ned Mangum found that Venessa Mills’ own parents were concerned for the welfare of their grandchildren because of her relationship with the church and testified that she was “very domineering” with her kids.

Dawn Lewis, Venessa Mills’ mother, testified how her grandchild looked fearful in Venessa’s presence. The court records also say that the children were in daily contact with Sound Doctrine church member via webcam during time set aside for school instruction.

In his ruling Tuesday, Judge Mangum says that Thomas Mills has the right as a parent to expose his children to other points of view, and that the Mills never agreed to home school their children indefinitely. He ordered that the children be placed in Wake County public schools starting next year.

For home school advocates who’ve said that Mangum is trying to strip Venessa Mills of her right to home school her children, the judge wrote that the court “clearly recognizes the value of home school – and any effort to characterize it differently is incorrect.”

“It is Mr. Mills’ request to re-enroll these children back into the public school system and expose them and challenge them to more than just Venessa Mills’ viewpoint,” he continued.

While he’s ordering the children into public school, he’s not ordering Venessa Mills to stop teaching them about her religion.

“Contrary to Ms. Mills’ requested belief, this Court can not and will not infringe upon either party’s write to practice their own religion and expose their children to the same.”

The order also says neither parent is allowed to leave the state and he ordered Venessa Mills to undergo a mental health assessment because of the concerns expressed by her family.
(Copyright ©2009 WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

18 03 2009
COD

And none of this will make one whit of difference to the true believers that will continue to view this through the filter of the evil liberal world imposing on their right to abuse their children in the name of God.

18 03 2009
JJ

Here’s more in a WRAL story:

Thomas Mills cites Venessa’s involvement with the Sound Doctrine Church for their split. “She became unrecognizable as the person I married, and, in the name of her religion, she distanced herself from me,” his affidavit said.

He admitted that distance led him to stray from his marriage. . .

Venessa Mills asked the court to order that her husband have no decision-making authority related to the children’s education or religion.

The majority of the testimony supporting Mangum’s ruling dealt with Venessa Mills’ membership in the Sound Doctrine Church. According to the ruling, her mother, father and sister said under oath that “they are concerned about Venessa’s involvement with Sound Doctrine and are particularly concerned about the effect on the children.”

A woman described as Venessa’s “life-long friend” who served as her maid of honor at her 1994 wedding said, “Because of my friendship with Venessa Mills, it is extremely hard for me to make this affidavit, but I want to make the court aware of my concern for the Mills children.”

Since joining the Sound Doctrine Church, “Venessa has pushed her loved ones away,” Shanna Winkler-Hanson said. “From what I observed, it was apparent to me that Venessa has an extreme amount of control over the children,” her affidavit said.

I notice they married in ’94 and then had three kids in four years? Yikes, context ripe for marital stress and meaning of life mood swings and vulnerabilities imo. . .

18 03 2009
JJ

Chris, you’re right. I just wish they’d leave home education out of it!

18 03 2009
JJ

WHOA! What the hell is this supposed to mean?? From mom’s BFF at her “homeschool injustice” blog:

“She’s asking that the American legal system function, as it was intended to, not upon the laws of men but the laws of God. ”

The American legal system was INTENDED to function on the laws of God and not the laws of men? That’s the story they want to go with? Not for home education law, thank you very much!

18 03 2009
boremetotears

“At the weekend, (the father’s attorney) submitted an amended provisional order to Judge Mangum…”

Well, no wonder there’s been such a horrible turn of events: the other side works the Sabbath.

Hopefully the public face of hs’ing won’t jump on this bandwagon. I’ve always wondered if the general perception that homeschoolers are like this woman and her bff – as well as those hs anti-vax families out spreading measles – pose a greater threat to hs freedoms that all of our critics combined.

18 03 2009
JJ

I used to wonder that too, Lynn. I don’t wonder any more, I’ve made up my mind that’s the case!

Listening to the AIG hearing today, some media commentator said it’s like every corporate PR person working on all of Wall Street, was stricken by a deadly virus six months ago and all died at the same time, which was the only way to explain the completely counterproductive tone-deaf arrogance and stupidity since then.

Home education as long as I’ve been part of it, continues to hammer away about religious rights as if Christian homeschoolers were being persecuted, poor things, instead of seeing that they’re just pissing off the public against all of us, by vastly overreaching while the rest of us pay the price, keep picking up the PR pieces, try to make better arguments and try to keep the world working, keep the bad policy from hurting families and freedoms and kids too much — public communications in service of education policy progress was my professional specialty. Am I the only survivor homeschooling?? 😉

18 03 2009
COD

“Homeschooling is better off under the radar” used to be one of the reoccurring themes at ODonnellWeb, back when I actually gave a damn and wrote about homeschool issues.

18 03 2009
JJ

That reminds me, I like your latest blog tagline!

18 03 2009
JJ

And your singular development of The Evolved Homeschooler wiki endeared you to my thinking parent homeschool heart, no matter how you amuse yourself elsewhere from here on out . . . 😀

18 03 2009
Mrs. C

Just FYI, I was fully vaccinated against the measles and still got a medically documented case… and I was public schooled…

Anyway, yeah… the more I read about it… the more I wonder if this has anything at all to do with homeschooling. It just boggles me a bit to see the people who scream about parents’ rights are the same ones who think that a judge is obliged to rule in favour of homeschooling… sigh.

PS. Even as one of those religious nuts who homeschool, I also support your right to educate your children as you see fit 100%. Public school, homeschool, whatever.

PPS Reading the BFF website, sounds like money troubles are more paramount to this family than whether the children have to read secular books about woodchucks next year. Powdered milk, yeeewh. I’ll let my kids drink water with their dinners before we come to that.

18 03 2009
NanceConfer

What does the story about the measles signify, Mrs. C?

And re: powdered milk — like JJ, we were raised on it. It was truly horrible. 🙂

Nance

18 03 2009
NanceConfer

The Mom’s attorney resigned?

Hmmm. . .

Nance

18 03 2009
JJ

Again? Didn’t she just get a new one this week?

And blecchh, yeah, the powdered milk was why my sister and I each decided we preferred water with our dinners, as soon as we were old enough… But you know those Depression era babies, as parents they were HARD to persuade that what a child preferred mattered in the tough world of adult practicality . . .taste was irrelevant along with style. Land, Katie Scarlett, that’s the only thing that matters! 🙂

My folks were like the proverbial ants working their heads off and saving most of it for the indefinite future, lol, no wonder I’m not big on rules and schedules and discipline and chores and bedtimes and cleaning plates etc etc, with our kids now. 🙂

18 03 2009
JJ

Nance, I think Mrs C was responding to Lynn’s comment about fringe folks hsing and being anti-vax, spreading measles in a population that would likely grow increasingly exasperated with their beliefs infringing on our kids . . .

18 03 2009
Mrs. C

Yes! JJ got it. :] Thanks!

18 03 2009
boremetotears

I wonder if it’s the common perception of homeschoolers as a threat to the rights of others that drives critics. If it weren’t for the aggressive political involvement of fundamentalist Christian hs’ers (and their incessant, militaristic “take back the land from liberals” rhetoric), would liberals even waste time on us? (Would we be able to fly beneath the radar then?) Honestly, it’s why I sometimes “get” critics; in words swiped from Dale in a comment above: “If it’s true,… I need to know what’s really going on. If my worldview is being pushed to the margins, I might be forced to strike a dukes-up posture…” Of course, then we tell them they’re crazy, that we’re all so diverse, yada, yada, then comes the insults and name-calling… lol…

18 03 2009
JJ

Exactly! Gee, I feel like we’re really getting somewhere worth going together. 🙂

19 03 2009
Suze

Religious cult out of WA State, eh? That would explain the 360 area code for the spokesperson, then, wouldn’t it.

By the way, an acquaintance of mine recently had her third child in four years. If she ever joins a religious cult, I’ll eat my hat.

19 03 2009
JJ

Suze, you didn’t actually read what I said that way, right?

“Yikes, context ripe for marital stress and meaning of life mood swings and vulnerabilities imo. . .”

Andrea Yates had several babies in rapid succession AND was involved with cult-like rules and pressures, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest your friend will do what she did. And don’t get me started on the Octomom . . .probably we’d agree that most mentally ill women would still be mentally ill with or without having babies?

But healthy or already struggling, women who have babies in rapid succession are likely to share some relationship stresses with their partner and other adults, some significant physical stresses and some potentially life-altering identity challenges. Not every woman, not all of these stresses, not often with extreme manifestations. But a piece of cake? Not that either.

Anyone is free to disagree, of course.

One pregnancy and baby is a life-altering event (good and bad) we can’t ever fully predict the effects of. No one plans pre-eclampsia or miscarriage or post-partum depression or child abuse or self-abuse, birth defects, lost jobs with so many mouths to feed, lost love from husbands who escape colic and never come back, or are jealous of the mom-baby bond bubble, etc — and that’s just having one baby! Make it three babies under five, pregnant for the better part of several years, especially if you left an active life outside the home to stay home with all that motherhood focus, and yes, soul-searching can happen. And the “revelations” in response may not be healthy, for mom or her babies.

20 03 2009
JJ

Okay, there’s a new post up at the BFF’s site, “hsinjustice.” It compares changes through the three stages of the judge’s ruling to argue (rightly) that they got worse in wording against the mom and her chosen community of faith. But the point being made isn’t the one I see at all, so let’s take a look.

Here are “facts” the mom’s publicity has been putting out; wonder if the judge can read and was understandably affected, even awakened and alarmed? How arguments are framed really can make a difference, either way!

***************

Facts of the Case
On Friday, March 6th 2009, North Carolina judge Ned Mangum presided over the case of Venessa Mills, and gave the following orders:

1. Three homeschooled children, who tested at grade level and two grades above, must be sent to public school.

2. The children’s Christian beliefs, as taught by their mother, were to be deliberately “challenged” by their public education.

3. The children’s mother was not given enough financial support to allow her to continue homeschooling, or even to adequately survive in the family home.

4. The children were burdened with a visitation schedule of equally divided time, while the mother temporarily continued to homeschool them, creating a completely unworkable and disruptive environment.

5. (The judge’s intent from the beginning was to force these parents back together and out of his courtroom, acting like a liberal-biased marriage counselor instead of being a judge.)

6. The children’s father, a confessed adulterer, was given freedom to stay at the family home indefinitely while continuing to play tennis with his mistress. His crime of adultery was rewarded, rather than censured.

7. The children’s mother’s conservative Christian beliefs were deliberately attacked and slandered by the opposing attorney, and she was accused of being brainwashed for simply upholding the truths of the Bible.

8. Despite a complete lack of evidence, she was punished with a mental health evaluation – while the judge deliberately exposed her to the continued emotional trauma of her adulterous husband living with her and her children.

9. The children’s father was granted his request for the children to go to public school, the minimum level of financial support, and – with no official order to leave the home – was, in effect, given complete freedom to dictate property settlement and terms before moving out.

10. A home evaluation is to be carried out – most likely after the children’s public school starts, and still in the midst of their parent’s divorce, a disruptive visitation schedule, and their mother’s financial hardship. The judge knows this is a recipe for failure, for which the mother will be blamed.

This is a prima facie case of injustice and prejudice. It’s not about conservatives versus liberals – we wouldn’t even want liberals to be treated this way.

20 03 2009
boremetotears

lol at #5 🙂
“The judge’s intent from the beginning was to force these parents back together and out of his courtroom, acting like a liberal-biased marriage counselor instead of being a judge.”

Well, Jesus DID teach – quite clearly, actually – to forsake your family in order to follow him (“Let the dead bury the dead”…), which is just what this wife did (from the perspective of her husband). Further, according to the good Christian friend, the marriage should have been judged, not reconciled. Damn liberal judge. Uh, not that this is about “conservatives versus liberals,” mind you 😕

20 03 2009
JJ

I always wondered about Jesus taking his disciples off road-tripping with the boys, away from all work and family responsibilities. . .wasn’t much good for parenting their own kids either, obviously. So doesn’t that create a big doctrinal problem for current biblical literalists so focused on family values and everything based in the home, keeping the big bad world out? (That horrible story of Abraham commanded and ready to slit Isaac’s throat in sacrifice comes to mind, oh, and so many other stories you CANNOT take literally and still keep your sanity or respect in it others.)

20 03 2009
Suze

JJ, I understand what you’re saying in your follow-up. My reaction to your initial comment was that I couldn’t see 3-under-4 having much to do with pushing somebody over that particular edge (i.e., into crazy-religious, which is my take on what the husband, family, and judge all seem to be describing), and that I would think there would have to be something else, something much more significant and overriding, present in the person’s background or psychological make-up to make that direction even a possibility.

20 03 2009
boremetotears

Who need stories when you have family values according to the words of Jesus (from Matthew 10:35-37)?

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

…unless we’re not supposed to take Jesus’ words literally either.

…Oh, what a tangled web to weave when first we practice to deceive…

20 03 2009
Nance Confer

How come tennis is now adultery?

Or maybe it’s homosexuality if the players are of the same sex.

JJ, you used to play tennis…hmmm…very suspicious. 🙂

Nance

20 03 2009
JJ

For Lynn the biblical scholar — she shoots, she scores!
Thanks and a smile to Suze. I see we see it pretty much the same after all. 🙂

20 03 2009
JJ

Nance, damn you, now you’ve exposed me as unfit to homeschool! Er, or parent, or pray, or something . . .

22 03 2009
JJ

“Slut” is a worldview?

“Arrogant fool” is NOT namecalling?

And if only this were true: “Homeschooling will virtually guarantee that these three kids will grow into decent, moral adults.”

Evangelism can’t do that and the Catholic Church can’t do that, so why in the worldview does the author believe homeschooling can do that? Maybe this latest logic pretzel from WND sheds light on who sells and buys the story that the NC case is all about homeschooling — looks like the ones whose own worldview can’t see anything real at all, even about homeschooling and religion.

That’s what I meant in the original post, by saying:
“Finally, see this from yesterday’s NYT, about how most of us aren’t really as ‘good’ as we think we are. What are we really doing to help others instead of taking care of ourselves?
The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

. . .what’s best for children and families is a huge, never-ending challenge for humanity to face, not just a handy partisan rallying cry for or against any particular device of law or policy.”

22 03 2009
JJ

Here’s a more worldly and challenging Christian worldview with which to compare the above insipidity (is that even a word?):

(hat tip Voice of Reason blog)
AMERICA: Not a Christian Country | Thomas Fleming

I have lived 60 years in the United States, the first 25 of them as an atheist, the last 35 as an increasingly reactionary Christian. I have never witnessed the great piety and deep spirituality which I have heard described in 4 July addresses and in semi-scholarly tomes on American religion. We are a practical people, above all else, and, as I have heard repeatedly from business and political leaders, religion makes good sense: the man who goes to church also goes to work, takes care of his family, pays his taxes. This is religiosity, not Christianity. . .

In March 2003 Pope John Paul II, who described his opposition to the war as ‘unequivocal’, sent Cardinal Pio Laghi to dissuade President Bush from attacking Iraq. The President told Cardinal Laghi, ‘We’ll be quick and do well in Iraq.’ As Cardinal Laghi, who calls the invasion ‘tragic and unacceptable’, points out, ‘Bush was wrong.’

But warmongering Catholics are no match for the Revd Pat Robertson. Mr Robertson has gone beyond deflecting hurricanes and denouncing Ariel Sharon for turning Jewish settlers out of land that God gave them. Now he has called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the troublesome president of Venezuela. In defiance of both logic and Christian ethics, Robertson recently said: ‘If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.’

When foreigners speak of American piety, they usually have in mind some form of evangelical Protestantism. But that is a very broad category, which includes austere and disciplined Calvinists in the South as well as clownish TV preachers and the megachurches fitted out with rock bands and wall-sized video screens. Imagine a luxurious sports complex with Elvis, in his sequinned powder-blue Vegas jumpsuit, crooning ‘How Great Thou Art’ to a mob of hysterical middle-aged women writhing in the aisles. This is not ‘that old-time religion’, unless the ‘old time’ in question is the heyday of the Münster anabaptists.

Perhaps I am biased: as a pure-minded young atheist I was arrested for mocking a travelling evangelist who healed the sick and raised the dead with wirework that anticipated Hong Kong martial arts movies.

22 03 2009
JJ

Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog and comments:
“Cult, Not Homeschooling, at Root of Decision”

22 03 2009
boremetotears

Nance:

Still not seeing how it’s more or less cult-y than regular old religion but I suppose the judge trying to inject some sanity into these children’s lives is better than nothing.

Just want to throw Nance’s quote back in play as it seems to pertain to some recent assertions (mostly on other blogs) that this judge was reacting only to the mom’s “cult” — and not fundamentalist religious education a la many Christian homeschools generally. If I were a religious homeschooling mom teaching basically the same stuff as this mom – *though attending a church currently too big and popular to be labeled a cult* – I might be a little anxious, too. If she’s a “cult member” this week, why wouldn’t I be labeled as such next week?

I also understand the defensive reaction given the judge’s statement that her children’s religious beliefs should be challenged in a public school setting, etc.

…please, puleeeze jab me with a sharp stick if I’m making any of the same points as the WND article, which I didn’t read =:O

22 03 2009
JJ

Hard to keep straight, isn’t it? 🙂

I think you and Nance do have a point about all theism logically being thought of as on one continuum — shall we say from authoritarian cult to independent study, perhaps?

22 03 2009
JJ

Again though, the judge didn’t stop the home education for the kids specifically because of that. He did it because of the dad’s and other family members’ concerns for the kids being cared for solely by this mom, with the cult in control — and he thought the exceedingly alarm-raising quotes about girls as young as four being sinning sexual teases or whatever from the um, preacher? were important enough to include in his order.

I might have been a bit tougher on the threat posed by that than he was! Maybe the Christians should be grateful and back off fast, instead of ratcheting up this religious freedom issue any more . . .

So I would say if your church or cult or school, day care or boyfriend or father-in-law, or your job or neighborhood or whatever, is vulnerable in THAT way, don’t wait for a judge to order you to protect your own children from it! (And don’t claim religious freedom is being violated if he does.)

22 03 2009
Alasandra

First the judge isn’t pulling them out of homeschooling during the middle of the school year and sending them to public school. They will start in the fall along with all the other kids.

Secondly while Dad may have had the affair it was Mom who instigated the divorce and disrupted her children’s lives.

The Mother’s own parents were concerned about her behavior since she joined the cult and testified in the Father’s behalf.

To blindly champion that she be allowed to homeschool in light of that smacks of fanaticism. I have to agree with Principled Discovery “what if sending the kids to public school was the best decision the judge could make in this ONE situation”.

22 03 2009
JJ

And I agree with looking at each situation and seeing how our many principles fit each one, rather than taking one principle and making it fit any situation. 🙂
Good to see you hoisting the banner of reason particularly for religious homeschoolers, Alasandra. . . .you and Christy et al have your work cut out for you, I’m aftaid. The Christian media is working pretty hard against you.

22 03 2009
boremetotears

“Maybe the Christians should be grateful and back off fast, . . .”

🙂
Yes, the more I read, the more I see blurring lines: For instance, the Sound Doctrine pastor’s method of “breaking” children reminds me of Michael Pearl. (Do you suppose that SD folk also use PVC pipe for instilling discipline? It’s both effective and quite inexpensive, you know.) Remind me again which one is running a harmful cult?

22 03 2009
JJ

Oh NO. Not that again. . . When is Spank Out Day?

22 03 2009
Crimson Wife

“If it weren’t for the aggressive political involvement of fundamentalist Christian hs’ers (and their incessant, militaristic ‘take back the land from liberals’ rhetoric), would liberals even waste time on us?”

Yes, because of the money issue. Every child not enrolled in the government-run schools represent the loss of thousands of dollars of funding. Some of that would be eaten up by the cost of educating the additional student, but because of the economies of scale it wouldn’t be the whole amount received.

Plus there’s a perception that we home educators ought to be using our time and talents to improve government-run schools for all children instead of selfishly working only for our own kids’ benefit.

These have nothing to do with religion or political beliefs.

22 03 2009
JJ

But if ‘the liberals” (where is this quote from again, sorry I can’t place it) really think we homeschoolers are mainly creationist Christians who want to ban books in the library and evolution in science class, they can’t simultaneously believe we homeschoolers would be such an asset improving government schools.

Not to mention the whole assumption about how liberals covet our kids as such valuable FTEs, has never made much sense to me considering that:

a) I’m from an era and from regions of ever-expanding enrollment and overcrowding, capital outlay needs therefore paramount rather than rounding up more students, because there were always too many new FTEs to serve in existing facilities, and

b) immigration too has been blamed for flooding schools with MORE funding-generating bodies than “liberals” like teacher unions need and want for achieving their goals, rather than less, and

c) in my view liberals DON’T “waste time on us.” They use us quite efficiently and to good effect, when it’s convenient as a cause for raising their own political money (or the roof) and as a diversion or a front for other darker causes, exactly as “conservatives” like James Dobson and Rupert Murdoch do . . . so?

23 03 2009
boremetotears

Hi JJ & CW,

I was just thinking about CW’s comment, too (It’s one of my points that she is quoting, btw). I’m not sure I agree with the money aspect – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a liberal critic cite it as a concern. I also remember that some hs advocates (like Brian Ray of NHERI), claim that homeschoolers actually *save* governments billions each year. That said, I’ll have to give it some thought.

JJ:

“(liberals concerned about book banning and creationism) can’t simultaneously believe we homeschoolers would be such an asset improving government schools.”

Well, I can always go ask, hmm, Greg if his issue is that we’re selfishly witholding “our time and talents” from public schools, but I’d rather not (lol).

23 03 2009
boremetotears

btw JJ,

I’ve decided to just shut down my blog and record all my future thoughts – no matter how pointless and random – under this post. I’m confident that we can keep it going indefinitely 🙂

23 03 2009
Transforming Society: One Child at a Time?? « The Writestuff

[…] We’ve become so divided that I’m not for sure there is much common ground for us to stand on. This must be the fracturing of society that my son preached at me when we began homeschooling our daughter. He said it was just one more indicator. […]

23 03 2009
Nance Confer

The more pointless and random, the better! 🙂

As to the comment from me above about “not seeing how it’s more or less cult-y than regular old religion . . .” —

I think that was at the beginning of all of this, or at least at the beginning of my reading, and we/I have since heard about the strange sexual and separationist (is that the right word? not in the sense of separating from the nation but separating family members from one another) aspects of the cult-y religion.

So, yes, my atheist brain is placing them on the extreme wacko end of that theism continuum JJ suggests.

So, if your religion is indeed teaching the same thing this one is, you may be at risk. And should be.

OTOH, if you are simply teaching bad science and that there is a guy up in the sky you can ask favors of, I wouldn’t worry. But if worrying causes you to go ahead and expose your kids to real science, for instance, maybe that’s a good thing.

And maybe the money argument worked at one time. Not so sure it matters right now. They are closing schools and laying off teachers around here. Not because of hsers but because of the economy.

Nance

23 03 2009
boremetotears

To be honest, it was just this weekend that I read the actual court order rather than excerpted pieces; iow, I agree w/you, Nance 🙂 My heart breaks for these children.

Many of the blogs that I visit are written by people tuned into culture war politics; they oppose homeschooling because they associate it w/”darker causes”; the money thing isn’t even on their radar. And, they certainly don’t want these moms influencing public schools attended by their children! =:O

I’ve only heard the “money” and “time and talent” arguments made by homeschoolers refuting them, not actual critics. Are they straw man arguments? Or, maybe if the critics are out there, I just don’t cross paths w/them (I’m still waiting for infinite time to master all angles of every issue).

23 03 2009
JJ

Well, let’s see — the money argument was indeed reported as coming from not unions but some superintendent-finance officer types, notably in states with declining enrollment as I recall, during the Great Charter Wars. I think in OH and PA for instance, there were all sorts of turf wars over students between districts and between public-private-charter-homeschool etc, especially new virtuals that of course blurred and crossed district lines. So sometimes the administrators were protesting that the money did NOT follow the student, or they seemed to be recruiting or even raiding students from each other. That was the suspicion of homeschoolers who didn’t want to be targeted. I do think those relatively few state situations created, fed and blew into a monster, most of what the national homeschooling network has struggled to understand and address the past ten years.

So yeah, that’s a sort of, once upon a time and place but mostly not really, answer?

And the time and talent argument I think is a straw man as an actual policy threat, but rhetorically you hear it a lot. I’ve heard it from Obama in the last year I believe, but never as a proposal to legislate. More like his other bully pulpit themes like parents turning off the tv during homework time etc. It’s one of those things you say to represent a whole meme of parenting virtue — about the importance of parents and adult relationships to kids, and parent involvement in education, and education at home! 🙂

But it doesn’t actually mean he’s plotting to ban homeschooling any more than he’s plotting to ban tv sets in homes with kids. . .

23 03 2009
JJ

Thinking a little more, I guess if you’re someone whose politics opposes ALL tax money going into public schooling, then Obama’s other ideas to fund college for all and preK for all, must seem almost as bad to you as being raided. And since you plan to oppose them all and hopefully kill them all, you’d probably be left believing that he would surely have to come after your homeschoolers sooner or later. So you make yourself both outraged and scared.

What I’m thinking is that the homeschooler paranoia toward public school money raids may arise from conservative politics and tax begrudging in the first place, without liberal politics and tax coveting really causing it.

Take universal preK. Liberals want it funded universally, not that they will compel every child at home into a funded program, any more than they drag hsers into funded K-12 schools now, if they choose not to come. But try to get a conservative (especially religious) homeschooler to accept and feel comfortable with that!

23 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Perhaps the way the money issue is framed depends on how the particular school district is funded? If it’s by local property tax, then homeschoolers benefit the district financially because they pay taxes to fund the schools but do not use them. Here in CA, however, school funding comes from the state. So children who do not enroll in the district schools result in a lower total amount of funding received. Homeschoolers do save the state money but the individual districts lose.

Sandra Tsing Loh of NPR and The Atlantic is always blathering on about how affluent parents could dramatically improve the government-run schools if they only would enroll their kids and be PTA volunteers. Ms.
Loh typically rants about private school parents (Iike the Obamas in this New York Times piece) but I’ve heard the same arguments used against home educators.

23 03 2009
JJ

Right — I think they want the affluent prep and private school parents back. Not us scruffy, scary wacko hsers. 🙂

CW has a point about the financing schemes in each state making a difference in the politics that surround them. But in my career I never saw as clearcut a school finance scheme as either ALL local or ALL state. It’s almost always a purposely convoluted mix.

23 03 2009
JJ

Oh, and it changes with every budget. Gives the legislators plenty to play with. 😉

23 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Here are some more rants on the subject by Sandra Tsing Loh:

“Tales Out of School” from The Atlantic
“Who Will Save Public Schools?” from Salon.com
“Q&A with a ‘Mother on Fire’ for public School” from USA Today
“A Mother’s View of LAUSD” guest blog on LA journalist Ron Kaye’s website.

Those are just selections from the first 2 pages of a Google search on “Sandra Tsing Loh”+”Public Schools”.

23 03 2009
Crimson Wife

My local district revenues break down thus:
62% state general funds
17% other state funds (I’m not totally sure what these are, but I believe they are earmarks for specific programs)
12% local funds
9% Federal funds

So JJ, you’re right that it’s not ALL state money, just roughly 4/5 of the pot.

23 03 2009
JJ

Bet that fed funds percentage is about to go up! 😉

23 03 2009
JJ

But CW, here’s the thing. Where do you think the state GOT those funds to send to the districts? From local property taxes! All the districts levy it locally, then it’s sent to the state to be put in one big pot and used to fund all the schools on an “equalized” basis. So really — what you’re seeing as “local” in that breakdown is only
the amount of additional discretionary taxes the local district may choose to tack onto the amount prescribed by the state that they must levy locally and send in for FTE participation, which is the part (as you say usually around 80%) typically called “required local effort.”

I told you it was a convoluted mix!

23 03 2009
JJ

Shall we have the property rich-property poor discussion next? It explains a bunch . . .

23 03 2009
Nance Confer

From Loh’s first article above:

“That is, until we came along, the pushy, whitish, Type A middle-class poor! Economics has forced us to realize that we are indeed all in this together. We are compelled to play Lady Bountiful. We will bring unneeded extracurricular “enrichment” classes and speak English at them until they turn blue. We must invest in the poor urban school, not because any moral authority à la Jonathan Kozol exhorts us to, but because that school is our school.”

I’m not seeing the call in this article to affluent parents but parents like herself, which she describes as middle-class poor.

I see where she writes that she would like the rich to remove the sticks from the butts and join her kids in the real world but she gets the risk they see. And seems to have moved on to doing something about the situation anyway.

But I only read the first article. 🙂

Nance

23 03 2009
JJ

Maybe I’ll read them after all then. 😛

24 03 2009
Crimson Wife

“Where do you think the state GOT those funds to send to the districts? From local property taxes! All the districts levy it locally, then it’s sent to the state to be put in one big pot and used to fund all the schools on an “equalized” basis.”

California has a handy-dandy budget website. I don’t see anything in there about local property taxes being pooled centrally and then redistributed back to the districts on an equalized basis. What I see listed under revenue sources are: personal income tax, sales & use tax, corporate tax, insurance tax, tobacco tax, alcohol tax, oil severance tax, and “other revenues” (these include DMV fees, fuel taxes and energy surcharges, unclaimed property, Native American casino fees, royalties on state land, business & professional license fees, etc).

24 03 2009
JJ

You don’t have to take my word for it but I do know what I’m talking about. Maybe you consider Lisa Snell of Reason (not a former school board finance officer and DOE official like me, but she has other qualities you probably do find more credible) a reliable source?

In California, local property taxes are aggregated in Sacramento and then re-allocated to school districts on a per-capita basis.

And she goes on to underline my other point:

As the Sacramento Bee stated in its recent investigative series on California’s school finance structure, the system “is so convoluted and obscure that not even the people who manage school budgets for a living can explain the finance system to taxpayers, who support it.”

24 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Ms. Loh is aiming her attempted guilt trip squarely at my demographic: “Ivy League-educated women leaving the workplace to stay home with their children”, “type-A parents with too much time on their hands” who “eat a certain kind of kale and put the Mozart headphones over the belly and have the right kind of sleep pillow” and live in “leafy suburbs and completely self-enclosed yuppie hives” . She excoriates us for rejecting government-run schools in favor of “all that ridiculous John Dewey nonsense about developing character…’building critical thinking and fostering democratic citizenship'”.

I could name over a dozen moms in my local homeschool support group for whom this would be an accurate description.

25 03 2009
JJ

Back to the direct topic of homeschooler freak-out with religion the underlying cause, here’s the latest on what shall hereafter be known as The Nance-Lynn Church-Cult Equivalency! 🙂

It’s meant as a strawman or to credit her with more brains and creativity, maybe some sort of Jonathan Swift “Modest Proposal” satire:

Before accusing anyone else of being in a “cult,” try using this handy “cult leader checklist” to find out if your relationship with others demonstrates “cultish behavior:”

[long list of behaviors]

Of course, should you wish to repent of being a “cult leader,” you should immediately abandon all rules and control and allow complete “freedom” in your home and workplace.

Funny thing is, it’s not satire or a strawman or reductio ad absurdum to me. As a radical unschooler who literally strives to “abandon all rules and control” and has reaped the family joys of that for a couple of wonderful decades, I can take her attempt at absurdity at face value, and agree!

See Is Your Love for Your Kids Controlling?

25 03 2009
JJ

(Also posted under “What’s Up with Fightin’ White Women?)

Feisty white woman Robyn at hsinjustice may or may not realize it, but here’s what white male leaders commanding such churches and cults — seriously, literally, no reductio ad absurdum here — mean by defending “religious freedom” in America. These white girls and women are “free” to submit to their agenda, “free” to follow one life only — to be kept home by coercion and force if necessary, even against their desire for a real education, serve and submit to men in every matter and marry young, raise, “home educate” and hold captive into adulthood in turn, a swelling multigenerational supply of soldiers (sons) and human breeders (daughters) all for their religiously-justified dominionist revolution.

That is not religious freedom but religious rule, and so NOT about academic education!

See Victory Through Daughters, cock of the snook to Lynn for the link:

. . .they are taking all the precautions they can to cut off the possibility of such defection in the cradle.
. . .children of the movement should have “little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives” as insulation from a corrupting society. Daughters shouldn’t forgo education but should consider to what ends their education is intended and should place their efforts in “advanced homemaking” skills.

Concretely, Geoffrey Botkin explains, this means evaluating all materials and media that daughters receive from childhood on as it pertains to their future role.

It’s this kind of separatist, radical thinking, advocating both physical and mental withdrawal from the world of public schooling, that informs the mission of E. Ray Moore, a retired Army chaplain and head of the homeschool ministry Exodus Mandate. Michael McVicar, who studies Reconstructionism, the hard right edge of fundamentalism, and has written about its founder, R. J. Rushdoony, sees Moore’s homeschool ministry as one of the most direct embodiments of Rushdoony’s ideas.

Exodus Mandate, as its name hints, expresses an explicitly secessionist ethos that aims for ultimate removal of Christian families from state rule—leaving “Pharaoh’s school system” for the Promised Land—but in the intermediate future, pushes Christians to remove their children from public schools as a ploy to collapse by attrition what they consider a wicked, humanist institution.

It gets worse. (If you are right-wing conservative Christian as many folks reading here are, but not one of these specific patriarchal disciples, then I am not talking about you. If you do want to defend THIS, not yourself and your own church or cult, as good for America, speak up, I’d like to hear it.)

The turning of daughters’ hearts to their fathers is the driving theme
. . . All three men explain what is at stake to the girls and young women in the room: they are daughters of Zion, of Judah, of Jerusalem. They are future mothers of Israel.

As such, they have no time to waste, or spirits to risk, by leaving home for college, work, or missions. They must instead make the revolutionary choice to “redeem the years” they have with their fathers and view their single lives as preparation for marriage: submitting themselves to their fathers and, to some extent, their brothers, as they will one day submit themselves to their husbands.

On a practical level, practicing being a helpmeet for a future husband with one’s father can mean anything from helping fathers set up or run home businesses to bookkeeping and research to running and beautifying the home.

In the Botkins’ Return of the Daughters film, graduated homeschooling daughters forego college in order to remain at home with their fathers, and their parents are quick to argue that the women are receiving Ph.D.-level educations at home, at least in the skills they will need later on as wives and mothers.
. . .it can mean fetching a father’s slippers for him in order to free the father up for weightier dominion tasks in reclaiming the world for Christ.

. . .God has given you fathers the opportunity to look at these girls and say, ‘You are mine. You are mine.’”

25 03 2009
Nance Confer

Yep, CW, there doesn’t seem to be any love lost for yuppies in Loh’s writing. But, so what? You are not in a beloved demographic — not news. Especially not recently. 🙂

Her thrust seemed to be (is it dramatically different in the other articles?) that all those Moms with kids enrolled in ps shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the yuppies (private schooling or hsing) to do anything but should do it themselves.

Does she say somewhere that I haven’t read that she can’t accomplish what she wants without you and your kind?

Nance

25 03 2009
Nance Confer

I’m pretty sure I am deeply offended by having my name linked with hers. Hyphenated even! 🙂

Her take on things is so far removed from my reality it would be impossible for her to understand how we live without all her rules and restrictions. Just impossible.

I only hope the children get some sort of normal life out of all of this. How many years will that take. . .

Nance

25 03 2009
JJ

Ack! I was hyphenating you with boremetotears, not the cult mom!

Maybe I’ll rename my new theory. I’m very often misunderstood . . . 😉

29 03 2009
JJ

More opinion, cock of the snook for this to Daryl:

Did NC Judge Ned Magnum Go Too Far in Homeschooling Case?

Reading what can be found in most blogs, I can only conclude that most reporting on the case is very biased, because a part of the home schooling community sees anything that stops home schooling as an attack on its principle.

It is strange that many religious bloggers also see this as an attack on religion. Obviously, it isn’t. The judge clearly states that he cannot and will not interfere in this matter. This judgement is completely neutral from a religious standpoint.

29 03 2009
writestuff444

Sounds pretty cut and dried and fair to this homeschooling mother. I concur, for what it’s worth, with the judge’s decision. Thanks for sharing.

5 04 2009
Why Germany and Homeschooling Don’t Mix « Cocking A Snook!

[…] 5 04 2009 If you’ve been following the HSLDA-World Net Daily campaign against the German view of homeschooling as socially dangerous deviation from the public interest, you might want to read this for context: The Lines a German Won’t […]

5 04 2009
JJ

The latest from the friend’s biased blog:

. . .this is not just a case to make money from – it affects the lives of real people and children.

As opposed to what case that doesn’t?
C’mon, even you can do better than that . . .

14 06 2009
The Case of Whole Truth v. Holy Truth « Cocking A Snook!

[…] and brimstone, original sin, prophecies and prayer and punishments, commandments and damnation, belief lacking all evidence as proof for the biggest stories of […]

21 06 2009
Power of Story Behind Homeschool Regulation Psychology? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Latest Homeschool FreakOut From World Net Daily […]

7 07 2009
Remember That Michael Jackson “Homeschooled” His Kids « Cocking A Snook!

[…] See also Latest Homeschool Freakout […]

9 07 2009
JJ

Good post from Dana, continuing the conversation via a new custody case.

16 10 2009
Never Mind That Using Kids Is Immoral in Any Belief System « Cocking A Snook!

[…] of the Child versus HSLDA “Parent Rights” claims and petitions and controversy. More here and […]

12 11 2009
Cocking A Snook!

[…] Latest Homeschool Freakout from World Net Daily […]

8 11 2010
Homeschooling D-I-V-O-R-C-E With Children « Cocking A Snook!

[…] think about. Some examples are seared in my memory, most recently Unity-n-Diversity and there was the North Carolina cult classic, remember that […]

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