“Believe it or not, some homeschool kids have been so severely neglected that they don’t have the skills to function on their own, yet staying at home perpetuates the problem. Additionally, when they leave their families, they lose what little support they may have had…”
I just received this letter on my FACEBOOK message page. I asked the author if I could share it. I’m withholding her (and several other) names for her safety. And yes, this is really happening right here in America.
Hi Mr. Schaeffer, I’m a huge fan of your writing. [WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace] I was homeschooled through 12th grade, starting in the 80s, when homeschooling first became popular. I have complex PTSD because of the spiritual abuse and general emotional trauma I went through as a kid. My parents were followers of Bill Gothard- that’s just one example of the kind of fundamentalism we were in. We were also in a quiverfull homeschooling group that I now consider to be a cult. We also voted Republican, once my parents got into these groups. My dad passed away in 2006, and my mom is now actually more evangelical, but still holds on to a lot of her fundamentalist beliefs.
I’m personally not religious. I can’t stand to be in a church, without having panic attacks. That’s just where I’m at right now, maybe someday that will change. But only when and if it is genuinely me.
I wanted to write and say thanks for your work to expose and explain why the religious right is so bad for our country. I’m really worried about Christian Dominionism and Reconstructivism, and the threat they are presenting to democracy and freedom and civil rights in this country.
I think there’s going to be an epidemic of homeschool abuse survivors in the next 10 – 20 years, if there isn’t one already. Most states have rolled back or completely done away with regulations to protect homeschool kids, in favor of supposed “religious freedom” and “parental rights”.
I’m a member of Homeschoolers Anonymous, which you may have already heard of. We’re on Facebook. This group has been a lifeline for me, providing a way to connect with other formerly homeschooled kids from fundamentalist backgrounds. There is a high rate of depression, anxiety, chronic illness, divorce, and PTSD in our group, because of religious abuse, isolation, control, and trauma from abusive discipline that we went through, some of us more than others. These methods should be illegal in an advanced society like the U.S. is supposed to be.
I’m really glad that you wrote your recent Salon article about homeschooling and the religious right. I’ve been aware of the problem because it’s been my reality, and something I live with very day. I hope you continue to speak out about it.
I’m hoping to open a shelter for kids coming out of abusive homeschool environments, kids like [name withheld], who was home schooled in a fundamentalist Christian family, and denied mental health counseling for gender dysphoria by her parents. A group of friends and I are working on starting a national peer network that can help our abused peers find support and counseling, job assistance, and help getting into college.Believe it or not, some homeschool kids have been so severely neglected that they don’t have the skills to function on their own, yet staying at home perpetuates the problem. Additionally, when they leave their families, they lose what little support they may have had.
I had a friend staying with me in the fall, after his uncle kicked him out for not agreeing to attend a weekly bible study- he was home schooled in the OPC, (orthodox Presbyterian church), married young to another homeschooled kid, and in their now mid-twenties, they are realizing they have changed and are no longer compatible. (His divorce led him to become homeless, which is how he wound up with his uncle.)Divorce happens a lot in our community, because when you’re a kid in such a controlling environment, how are you ever going to really know yourself? And in quiverfull, you’re supposed to marry ASAP. So this creates a situation where a lot of married people are finding that they no longer can get along, some years out from being under total parental control.
I’m also homeless, and staying with a friend. The PTSD makes it difficult for me to work, so I am helping around the house in exchange for room and board here.
[Name withheld], the home owner and my friend, also read your article, and encouraged me to contact you. She was also raised in a fundamentalist church, and has her own very interesting spiritual quest story. She is a former Green Party candidate, and recently ran again for congress here in the — district, as a Democrat.
To find more about homeschooling abuse, and the role of Homeschool Legal Defense Association in defending fundamentalist parents who abuse their kids, you may be interested in checking out Home Schoolers Anonymous, Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, and some of the affiliated HA blogs by former fundamentalist homeschool kids…
Once again, thank you for working to expose and explain the religious right. I hope people wake up before it’s too late.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace