Farris Conveniently Condemns Homeschool Advocates After Sex Scandals

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

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  • raven

    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.

    1. Michael Farris will change his mind on this and probably soon. Whenever it is useful and especially when it is profitable!!!

    It’s just business, after all.

    2. Fundie xian leaders are famous for not being held accountable or accepting the consequences of their actions. As they themselves say, xians aren’t better, just forgiven. Forgiven over and over again.

    Jim Bakker is out of prison and back. Hovind will be out of prison and back. Fundie churches hire ministers with known histories of child sexual abuse. And are always surprised when it happens again.

  • Larry

    I’m surprised they didn’t blame the young women for being slutty tramps, leading the upstanding and moral mentors into sinful ways.

  • raven

    Farris:

    Frankly, we should have spoken up sooner.

    He doesn’t mean this. Hypocrisy is one of their three main sacraments. These scandals are perfect for getting in some credit with their Sky Monster god.

    It looks like the Hypocrisy Sacrament is colliding with another sacred duty, that of making lots of money.

    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.

    This is a feature not a bug.

    Fundies set their kids up to fail. Then the kids fail.

  • eric

    Perhaps this will be a good thing. The report seems to indicate that Farris is being forced to walk back from some of the most conservative, theocratic positions. So, for example, Gothard and Phillips said they didn’t think women should be able to vote. Now that they are persona non grata, Farris has to come out and say he thinks women should be able to vote…something he might have stayed silent about if not for this scandal.

  • Trebuchet

    “…and even fathers…”

    Oh, the horror! It’s alright if it’s just wimmins and girlz being harmed, but fathers! No wonder he spoke up now.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I’m surprised they didn’t blame the young women for being slutty tramps, leading the upstanding and moral mentors into sinful ways.

    Well, at least not in general-circulation channels.

  • anubisprime

    @ OP

    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

    The difference is quite glaring looked at from a certain angle…and that is who got caq

  • anubisprime

    @ OP

    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

    The difference is quite glaring looked at from a certain angle…and that is who got caught diddling and who has not!

  • lorn

    Funny how the fundamentalists have been accusing homosexuals of teaching kids how to be gay. A popular joke includes hypothetical gay curriculum that includes cock sucking and buggery.

    Now we find out that two of the biggest names in the Christian patriarchy movement may have been doing exactly what they had been accusing the gays of doing.

    This is clearly no a one-off kind of event. It has become a regular event that a fundamentalist who accuses others of wrongdoing is revealed to be doing what they accuses others of. This is kind of like the used car salesman who compulsively jokes about ripping you off or the date rapist who needs to joke about rape so they can, in the back of their minds, tell themselves that they warned the people they took advantage of. Are the preachers who scream of demons speaking of their own demons?