By now, a lot of people around America, secular and non-secular, have heard about the darker side of homeschooling, the Christian Patriarchy Movement. These have come from websites where the homeschool generation speaks out, such as Recovering Grace, Quivering Daughters, and NoLongerQuivering as well as personal blogs of many homeschool alumni.
Yet the homeschool leaders and many parents still under the Patriarchy spell would insist that either 1) that we, the homeschool alumni, are crazy, and nothing ever happened 2) something did happen, but it was the result of a few parents taking these teachings to the extreme 3) we are just whining and making it out to be worse than it was.
The truth is a lot happened. And a lot of bad happened just by following the homeschool leaders Bill Gothard, Michael Pearl, and Doug Philips’s rules to a godly marriage, godly parenting, godly courtship step-by-step. (Some people may have taken it a step further than Gothard said, but that’s incidental to the fact that the 999 previous steps directed by the leaders were insane.) And truth is, we aren’t exaggerating.
So to give a sample of what I mean, here is a photo of Gothard’s Newsletter instructing ATI (then ATIA Advance Training Institute of America) students not to go to college. (I was a toddler back then. My family joined when I was in 2nd grade.)
Epic homeschool Patriarchy in this. Gothard’s ideas in black.
1. Don’t go to college. Also, we need to teach our kids how to have an answer for “why we aren’t going to college.”
2. If you get strange looks, remember, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. Try telling that to my friend who played the piano good enough to get into Julliard, but whose parents wouldn’t let her leave home. Everyone said she should go to Julliard, but she had it drilled into her that it didn’t matter what everyone else in society thought.
3. Purpose of your lives is to strengthen the family. What if someone doesn’t want to get married and is instead an international news reporter? What about a non-traditional family with no dad? What if someone’s job in life is to hold babies in Africa as they die of AIDS? (I do not disagree that building the family is important, only disagre that its more important than many other important things.)
4. Rome fell because it wasn’t a family unit, or godly. This is another example, like evolution, of where the homeschool curriculum just decided to reinvent reality. I quote Libby Anne.
I grew up hearing America’s “decline” compared to the decline of the Roman empire. The argument went that declining birth rates, the rise of homosexuality, and increasing luxury and decadence were present in the Roman Empire and brought about its collapse, and that our nation today is at risk of collapse due to these same forces (I should note that historians no longer accept this interpretation for the Roman Empire’s collapse). Religion, though, was something that was rarely mentioned when making this sort of comparison.
The greatest Roman persecutions of Christians occurred during times of great instability and threats from outside the borders. The leaders argued that these terrible things were happening because the country had turned from its foundation – its faith in its national gods. They therefore responded to the calamities by ordering everyone in the Roman Empire to sacrifice to the national gods in hope that they would return their favor to the empire and restore peace. When the Christians refused to sacrifice to the national gods, they were persecuted.
I think the reason I never heard religion mentioned when comparing the decline of the Roman Empire and the (supposed) decline of the United States is that it erodes the particularity of Christianity. Whenever a nation faces challenges or violence, it’s a natural tendency for those of the majority religion, or the historically dominant religion, to blame these problems on the religious minority, or on religious change.
In other words, today we blame the economic decline and violence in America on people not believing in our God. The Roman empire blamed their problems on Christians not believing in their god. Suspicious, huh?
Homeschool parents following Bill Gothard and others simply followed the rules when everything went wrong. The rules said don’t go send your kids to college, don’t let your kids date, dads approve who your kids marry, don’t let rock music in the house, and many others. When suddenly, a kid wanted to go to college, a duaghter wanted to marry a guy dad didn’t like, a son listened to rock music, etc, the result was family dynamics. Don’t look at me. Look at articles like this.