Michael Farris, the head of Patrick Henry College and the Home School Legal Defense Association has suddenly decided that it’s bad to be associated with the Christian patriarchy movement so popular among conservative homeschoolers, now that two prominent leaders have been caught up in sex scandals. But he wants you to know that he’s sorry it conveniently took so long.
Two prominent speakers on the homeschooling circuit have experienced dramatic falls from favor due to admitted sin. Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips have both been accused of serious sins involving young women. The accusations are sexual in nature. Both men have admitted to some form of sin with regard to these accusations, although each has disputed some of the details. Gothard disputes that his sins were sexual in nature. Phillips admits to an improper physical “relationship” with one young woman.
Although some people want HSLDA to be the police force of the homeschooling movement—removing those who miss the mark in some manner—that is not our role. Even though I have been uncomfortable with the teaching coming from each of these men for several years, it is not my place to try to remove viewpoints from the homeschooling community just because the HSLDA board or I hold a different view. Our role is to defend the freedom of everyone to homeschool.
But with these recent scandals in view, we think it is now time to speak out—not about these men’s individual sins, but about their teachings. Their sins have damaged the lives of their victims, and should be addressed by those with the appropriate legal and spiritual authority in those situations, but their teachings continue to threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement. That is why HSLDA needs to stand up and speak up.Frankly, we should have spoken up sooner. How much sooner is hard to say. There is a subtle difference between teaching that we simply disagree with and teaching that is truly dangerous. While we did not directly promote their teachings using our own resources, we did allow Vision Forum to buy ad space to promote their products and ideas. We were wrong to do so. And we regret it.
What has changed our minds are the stories we are now hearing of families, children, women, and even fathers who have been harmed by these philosophies. While these stories represent a small minority of homeschoolers, we can see a discernible pattern of harm, and it must be addressed.
Yes, it must be addressed now that it’s become a public embarrassment. He goes on to detail the doctrinal disagreements he supposedly has with Phillips, not mentioning that Phillips worked with him at HLSDA for six years before forming Vision Forum. Funny how those doctrinal differences never came up all that time. And if you can find a distinction between the Christian patriarchy taught by Phillips and the Christian patriarchy taught at Patrick Henry College, let me know what it is. I don’t see one