“Teach Them Diligently”

This weekend is the “Teach Them Diligently Convention” in Spartansburg, South Carolina. According to the website,

The Teach Them Diligently Convention was born out of a recognized need for more events celebrating the focus of Christian Homeschool Families—which is to disciple their children to glorify God.

It’s not surprising that the “about” section on the website would begin with the following Bible verse:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:6-7).

These are the homeschoolers who are homeschooling specifically to make sure their children grow up to be Bible following Christians, echoing their parents beliefs to the minute detail. These are the homeschoolers who are trying to raise clones of themselves, and to raise up a new generation to “retake the country for Christ,” not merely by bringing new converts into the church but by influencing the nation’s politics, culture, and education. These families are trying to raise “shock troops” for Christ, and when that doesn’t work out, the “straying” young adult children bear the consequences of their parents’ unmet expectations. 

The Speakers

A news article on the convention listed its key speakers:

The convention will bring in well-known speakers, including Ken Ham of Answer in Genesis, Voddie Baucham Jr., Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and Stephen Kendrick, writer and producer of the films “Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants” and “Courageous.”

State, local and federal leaders also are expected to preside over the event. U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint will speak at 11:30 a.m. today.

It’s interesting how often Ken Ham seems to speak at the same events as Doug Phillips. More than that, the two organizations – Answers in Genesis and Vision Forumhave endorsed each other. And as I pointed out in discussing Kirk Cameron, you also see Christian film stars and Christian film producers working hand in hand with Vision Forum. J. Michael Smith, the current president of HSLDA, will also be speaking, which is unsurprising given how interconnected these groups end up being.

Phillips and Baucham believe and teach that women are never to be independent of men, and that adult daughters are under their fathers’ authority, which includes absolute obedience. This emphasis on every woman having a male head she must obey absolutely conveys ideas of ownership and slavery. Here are a couple of quotes to illustrate this:

Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’ – Doug Phillips

A lot of men are leaving their wives for younger women because they yearn for attention from younger women. And God gave them a daughter who can give them that. - Voddie Baucham*

Another point to mention is that Senator Jim DeMint will be speaking. Yes, speaking at a conference alongside those who promote what amounts to female slavery, alongside HSLDA which uses fear mongering to keep homeschoolers in a state of panic,  alongside one of the primary promoters of Young Earth Creationism in the country, if not the world. The point I think that can be taken away from this is that these movements, whether it be the Christian homeschool movement, the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, or Young Earth Creationism, are far from being politically isolated and impotent. Indeed, the reverse is true.

The Beliefs

For the families attending this convention, raising their children to be Bible believing Christians means raising them to believe in young earth creationism and Christian Patriarchy. Like I said before, it’s more than just teaching their children to “love Jesus,” but rather an attempt to raise ideological clones. Creationism, Biblical literalism, “purity” teachings, Christian Patriarchy,  Quiverfull, and Christian right politics become intertwined into a toxic soup of rules and expectations.

It’s not at all uncommon for Christian homeschool groups and Christian homeschool conventions to require their members, speakers, or vendors to sign a statement of faith of some sort, and this convention is no exception. The “about” section of the website also states that all vendors who sell material that has to do with science or the Bible must sign a statement agreeing with two theological principles:

1. Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ, and the days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation.

2. The Bible is the plenary, verbally inspired Word of God. It is our final authority for faith and practice and is without error.

These are the Christians for whom “loving Jesus” is never enough. Rather, “loving Jesus” becomes just part of a wider net of beliefs that is drawn tight to exclude any who object and to reward questions with veritable excommunication. It’s a mindset that is closed off, brittle, and unresponsive to other information or perspectives. And it’s within this mindset that many homeschooled children are being raised today.

Conclusion

People often wonder just how many people are involved in the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. Kathryn Joyce estimated in her book that there are 10,000. This is clearly a vast understatement given that there will be 1,300 families in attendance at this weekend’s conference, and assuming each family has four children (which is probably a conservative estimate), that means there will be nearly 14,000 people there. And that’s just people who had the time, money, and desire to make it to the conference. The number you put on it also depends on just how you tally those who are influenced by these movements, which spreads far beyond those who self-identify. And again, I think it’s important to note the political clout these groups often employ. Even if their numbers are small, their influence is big.

Another point to make is that it is conventions like these that pull people into the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. The website’s bio of Doug Phillips mentions nothing about his teachings on the patriarchal family order, or his insistence that daughters should not be allowed to attend college. The same is true of Voddie Bucham’s bio. Christian homeschooling families attend conventions like this because they talk about “discipling” children in Christ and because they use Biblical language that gains their trust. Then, at conventions like these, receptive and listening for “the Lord’s leading,” they come in contact with new ideas, the ideas of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull.

This is how it was with my family. When they began homeschooling they did want to raise us to “follow the Lord,” but they absolutely did not hold the extreme beliefs of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull. They were in many ways simply ordinary evangelicals living ordinary evangelical lives. But then came the Christian homeschool groups, the Christian homeschool conventions, and the Christian homeschool literature, and their beliefs were fundamentally changed. My heart aches for the children in the families attending this weekend’s convention, children whose lives may be turned upside down by the new ideas their parents encounter there.

* Voddie Baucham insisted when asked afterwards that his comment had nothing to do with incest. His talk was on love, but a platonic, emotionally-fulfilling sort of love. His argument is that middle aged men need the love and admiration of younger women, in a non-physical sense, and that this is why the have affairs, and it is this need that teenage and young adult daughters are meant to fulfill. The problem, of course, is that even without physical incest this sort of thing quickly devolves into emotional incest.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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