That Botkin Sisters Letter

That Botkin Sisters Letter February 7, 2019
Screencap from ‘Return of the Daughters’ on YouTube. Meme courtesy of

Yesterday I laid out Cindy Kunsman’s response to the toxic and downright bratty Botkin sisters, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth, who are claiming ten years on that Cindy’s blog has harmed them. Today I am publishing the letter they sent her. They are trying to claim that the letter is ‘privileged communication’, instead of what it actually is, an attempt to manipulate and guilt Cindy in retracting her very helpful words on toxic Quiverfull.

I had added italics to their quotes of Cindy’s words and direct quotes of psy manuals/information. There are a few sic spelling/grammar notations in italics too. But where the italics and bolds are that they placed in the original document are there. Grammarly puked and malfunctioned when I ran this through. Holy run on sentences Batman?

Cindy Kunsman had a MSW and DSW review her work before she posted it on the aptly named ‘Botkin Syndrome’ describing when parents are too enmeshed with their children. Funny too because Botkin Syndrome is a type of hepatitis.

I wonder if Cindy can sue them for harassment. The sisters apparently kept calling Cindy’s local post office trying to find out if the letter than been delivered. That is starting to sound a lot stalker like from here. They are claiming Cindy stalked them, but they are the ones calling around about Cindy.


January 10, 2019

Dear Mrs. Kunsman,

Greetings in Christ. We are writing, first of all, to thank you for your obvious desire to help the hurting, rescue those in bondage, and illuminate the way for those walking dark paths. The need for this is especially obvious as the reality of dysfunctional family dynamics, abuse and victim grooming within the conservative Christian world comes more and more to light. In fact, the more we read your websites, the more we’ve come to realize that we really are fighting some common enemies.

We also appreciate the helping hand and listening ear that you extend on your blogs to anyone who comes to you for help. We’re writing to you with the hope that that compassion will be extended to us as well, as we come to you with our own unusual story of abuse.

We grew up in a happy, healthy, functional home where Mom and Dad’s love for each other and the Lord formed the core of our family life. Boys and girls were respected equally; all of us were giving the choice to pursue the passions and opportunities that interested us most. We were each individually encouraged to develop our convictions and opinions from our own studies of Scripture, even when we came to conclusions that were controversial… and even when we wanted to write publicly about these controversial opinions.

When we did publish these controversial opinions, plenty of people disagreed with us both in person and online. We’ve been grateful for the criticism which has humbled us, sharpened us, and helped us refine our thinking (an ongoing work.)

But not every critique of our work was  objective or honest, or dealt with only what was truly factual. One complete stranger, who had never met us or made any attempt to contact us, projected the dynamics of her own childhood home onto our family, diagnosed us long-distance with a perverse psychological disorder, presented a speculative (and untrue) life story of our family as factual, attributing teachings to us that we actually teach against, and made our family name synonymous with a mental disease, sexual perversion, incest, and cult-ism.

Using our name as the trademark for the type of incestuous family dynamics she was trying to spotlight on her blog, she said, was a choice prompted largely by the increase in web traffic that happened every time she connected us with those dynamics. We would like to believe that she was motivated not by a malicious desire to hurt our family, but a genuine and noble desire to protect other families from pain and harm by getting her message out. But if this is the case, she needs to know about some very real pain and harm she is causing to the real people who are still paying the price for her decision. In short: No matter where any of the Botkin siblings go, or what we attempt to do, or who we meet, or who we marry, or who our children are we’re all just one Google search away from being labeled ‘cultic,’ (sic) ‘diseased’ or a ‘perverted family’ because of this one woman’s publications.

And after reading the disgusting mischaracterizations (sic) of who we “really” are, we don’t blame anyone who has decided over the last ten years to drop our friendship, cut us off, refuse to do business with us, shun us as people, or warn our neighbors, our community, and the rest of the internet about us.

Mrs. Kunsman, our parents have never abused us, bullied us, deprived us of opportunities, or used us in any ways for their own personal gain.

But you have.

And while we girls have been willing to live with abuse for the last ten years, we believe that we owe it to our brothers, their wives, and our three nieces and six nephews who all carry the name Botkin and have lives of their own, to appeal to you to end this. Yes, you’re harming us with your gross mischaracterizations (sic) of what we teach, but more than that, you are harming people who are not in any way responsible for what we teach.

To try to understand where you’re coming from, we recently combed every single page of “Overcoming Botkin Syndrome” and “Under Much Grace.” One thing we found there was a lot of helpful material about how to recognize when you are dealing with abusive and unhealthy relationship dynamics. Another was the story of your own painful abuse history, which gives us a lot of sympathy for where you’re coming from (and we are deeply sorry for all that you’ve gone through.) But here were a few more things we discovered. Please take these observations in the spirit in which they are meant – an appeal from your sisters in Christ to consider whether you have treated us as you would be treated.

  • You did not engage our actual writings, and words (or practices), but instead bore false witness about both our teachings and practices.

You do claim to critique our teachings (which you have every right to do, by the way,) but instead of finding your critiques full of actual quotes by us, we found none. Instead, we found you quoting others, many who teach things we have always taught against — such as unquestioning obedience to parents, women as lesser beings, woman as man’s natural enemy – and describing these are our teachings. This is no small error… especially for a website all about proclaiming the truth.

You also claim to tell our family’s life story and theological background, and furthermore, to have special insight into the inner workings of our family relationships due to your own family background (e.g. “What I can readily recognize is the pattern and the rules, both written and unwritten. …I did grow up with a devotion to my depressed and dysfunctional family that needed me to perpetuate it in order to survive the pains of life. I can spot the patterns a mile away. And I know well, along with every other adult child of a family trying to survive some pain of life, the destructive outcomes that the patterns produce. …I know well the role of the enabler…” What you present as historical fact and educated diagnosis, though, are total speculations about the private lives of complete strangers whose real history you have little or no real information about, and whose family dynamics you have no special insight because they are actually not at all similar to the ones you describe growing up with.

And the mistruths (sic) you publish are not inconsequential. Among other things, you accuse us of practicing a form of incest, describe us as having a mental disease, and liken our father to murderous cult-leader Jim Jones.

  • You did not care enough about either the truth –or us– to reach out, either to verify if any of the details you were publishing about us were true, or, to see if we needed help.

We believe the sincerity of your desire to see those in bondage set free, and the hurting comforted. But if you truly believed, as you profess, that we ourselves were in a cruel, painful bondage… why instead recklessly tar and feather us, without double-checking the facts, with such callous disregard for our emotional and spiritual health, our safety, our reputations, our opportunities and our future lives?

  • What’s more, you even misappropriated medical terms and abused the trust people had in your credibility as a medical professional by creating a “syndrome” to describe the dysfunction you thought you saw in people you had never met.

This goes against psychiatric and psychological codes of ethics. You don’t claim to be a licensed psychologist, but as setting yourself up as a teacher and advisor on psychological issues, you surely are aware that this conduct goes against the “Goldwater rule” (“It is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination”) and the APA Ethics Code, which exhorts psychologists to “provide opinions of the psychological characteristics of individuals only after they have conducted an examination of the individuals adequate to support their statements or conclusions.” You assure your readers many times that you are not making an official medical diagnosis, but these ethical guidelines aren’t about making a diagnosis, they’re about giving an opinion.

  • You exploited our names and faces for your own gain.

You rightly hate seeing others treat women as less than human, or exploit women for their own personal gain (a hot-button issue of ours as well,) but that is exactly how you have treated us. Our name is driving up your web traffic and while we (and others connected with us) in turn suffer a loss of dignity, privacy, reputation, opportunities, livelihood and relationships. Please consider: If you were engaging and describing our family’s teachings and practices honestly, rather than projecting onto us false teachings from your own background (e.g. Bill Gothard, the Shepherding Movement) — for instance, if you would simply quote us on our beliefs instead of using other teachers’ words to describe “our” beliefs — the use of our name would seem more sincere, less like a thoughtless bid for more online attention.

“I never intended for “Botkin Syndrome” to take off as a descriptive term for the enmeshment and dysfunctional family dynamics  that the followers of Patriocentricity describe in great detail! It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. But… I have been overwhelmed to say the least by the comments of people in favor of the term and the dynamics described that I think it is here to stay. Of ALL the material that I have posted online in the past concerning spiritual abuse, I have received more POSITIVE feedback about this Botkin Syndrome information than all the other feedback  combined.” html||more.

“I don’t exactly get it myself, but many people find them fascinating, and posts about them here on this site remain along the perennially popular.”

  • You have misappropriated the name “Botkin,” hurting even those Botkins who don’t share our beliefs  — and their friends and associates.

Our concern is not that you’re going to war against dysfunctional and destructive family dynamics. Our concern is also not that you are publicly disagreeing with our teaching. Our concern is that you used the real name of a very real family, full of real people trying to live their own healthy and productive lives, who do not represent the practices you’re describing… as the mascot of those practices.

The accusations are equally false for all of us — those of us who have written books, and those who haven’t. But it’s especially unjust that your defaming of our family name endlessly stalks the lives of those that have done nothing that concerns you. Did you  know there are people who call for boycotts on our brothers’ businesses on the grounds that they sexually use their sisters? And that they link back  to as their source for this lie? Did you know that even distantly-related family and friends run into major barriers in life on the grounds of being connected with a “Perverted family” –  and that you are the sole cited source for this? If you could have foreseen this sort of thing, and if the concern you claim to have for the welfare of innocent people is genuine, we can’t imagine that you would have pursued so heartless and thoughtless a maneuver to drive more traffic to your websites. 

This is why we can’t turn the other cheek any longer. You’re not just striking us; you’re striking the people we love, and with whom you have no quarrel. And we cannot allow this damage to them to continue.

Mrs. Kunsman, we’re appealing to you as a professing follower of Christ. (Editor’s note: Originally this had “Professional” It was a typo from transcription.) Scripture says if your brother sins against you, to appeal to him personally. You have sinned against us, and against people you don’t even know exist, by bearing false witness and slandering us. You have stolen from us – reputations, friendships, opportunities, business, sexual dignity and privacy, our very name. You have exploited us as your own profit.

We appeal to you, in the name of Christ, for His sake, for the sake of your sisters in Christ, and for the sake of your own cause: Please prove your compassion for the abused by not abusing us, our brothers, our sisters-in-law, our mother and father, or our nieces and nephews anymore. And please demonstrate your concern for truth by removing all libelous “information” and speculative accusations from your website.

We’re not asking you to stop trying to help real victims, but we are appealing to you to remove the name “Botkin” everywhere from your site except where you are honestly engaging our actual words –  and that includes every use of the term “Botkin Syndrome,” as well as all speculative “biographical” material about our family and our father.  Please inform us by January 22nd, 2019, of your plans for action, public retraction, and restitution. You can contact us at (removed email address for their own idiotic clamoring for “Privacy”)

We thank you in advance for doing the right thing. May God bless your endeavor to help set free those truly in bondage… and grant you healing from the hurts you have suffered at the hands of others.

In Christ,

Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin


Breathtakingly blaming, shaming, abusive, accusatory and demeaning. They just proved all of Cindy’s points about their lifestyle in this letter. This is Evangelical bullying at its finest. Clueless entitlement and bratty.

Here’s a thought. While there is a great deal I could say here let me just state I still hold a social workers licensure and challenge the Botkin sisters to allow me to examine them to see if Cindy’s words are true. Ball is in your court, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth. Are you strong enough to allow a real licensed mental health advocate to examine you?

Also, Cindy is not a psychiatrist. Those rules you oh so piously spouted do not apply to the personal opinions of anyone not a psychiatrist.

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 32 years. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jennny

    So much to upack, I’m sure many commenters here will do just that, I’m just bemused by Cindy being described as ‘..a professional follower of christ.’ Their ‘professionalism’ comes across to me as pathetic grifting, no more or no less.

  • SAO

    That was a hell of a lot of words to basically say, “you lied.” An awful lot of effort went into trying to sound nice and reasonable, but the content was “we’re nice and normal because we say so and you are wrong to have a different opinion.”

  • Mel

    ROTFL! That’s even more darkly humorous than anything I had hoped to hear!

    Ten years after Cindy described Botkin Syndrome – which I and many other bloggers including Hester at Scarlet Letters have demonstrated through the writings and podcasts of Anna Sofia and Elizabeth – the Botkin Sisters suddenly realize that people don’t like them.

    Not because the two of them are sweet as pie to people’s faces while mocking and disdaining the same people in their books and writing but because Cindy has written this series of blog posts about them!

    And now – the main financial power of the Botkin family (Noah and Lucas’ T. Rex Arms ) has had a lack of customers which is ALSO Cindy’s fault.

    Look, I have no interest in boycotting T.Rex Arms; I find it deeply amusing that the uber-spiritual Botkins are stuck earning a living building crap like most other humans do.

  • Mel

    I would like to claim the title “Female Botkin Syndrome” to describe sisters who are not twins whose personalities have been incompletely differentiated in a way that is usually seen in identical twins whose parents treat them as a single unit…..

  • Mel

    Why are the Botkin Sisters calling the local post office to ask about delivery? How did they reach adulthood without knowing about certified mail with receipt return? I knew about that as a kid – and I’m only a few years older than Anna Sofia.

  • Tawreos

    I get the feeling that they initially contacted a lawyer that told them there was nothing they could do so they decided to write a “lawerly” letter in hopes that it would work. Of course if a lawyer had written it they would have had the decency to back up the assertions with facts instead of backing up the assertions with more more assertions. Someone should also tell the Botkins that they are doing themselves a disservice as I had never heard of them until they decided to write this letter.

  • Nea

    I was wondering that too. Even if they didn’t know about it beforehand, if they went into their post office and said “How can we be sure that this is delivered?” they’d learn right then and there.

  • Nea

    A lawyerly letter or a Christianese one? They seem to be blending “hey, we’re all Christians together” with “but even though I’m not a member of this field and you’re not a member of this field, we can quote not-related things and make it sound like you’re unprofessional.” (The Goldwater rule, for example, pretty much only applies to politics.) They’re quoting psychology – out of context, just like the Bible – not the law.

    You’d think, since their complaint is libel and they’re supposed to be sooooooooooo educated more than anyone else, they’d at least quote some wiki page about what libel actually is.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    They sent it registers or certified so they would have received notification. The problem being that they sent it to an address that Cindy does not use.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    That got me too. What the heck is a professional follower of Christ? Fundytown royalty?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Is it wrong that I could not stop laughing the first time I read the letter?

  • Nea

    Isn’t that a gun company? Maybe relying on gun money in a country with multiple mass shootings and a new anti-gun wing of Congress isn’t the best business policy?

  • Nea

    Someone who’d get whipped out of the temple and secretly knows it.

  • I have to thank them a little for saving me some work. I explain often that the descriptive term came about in a discussion of their father’s model among laypersons. They pulled that out of the “pages” section of the blog that qualified the content and put it in their own letter for me and saved me the trouble.. I guess that they missed the ad nauseum repetition of the difference between covert emotional incest and sexual incest that the Addictions and Recovery literature defines. If they read every word that I’ve blogged, they would have read about Melody, Carnes, Adams, Stoop, etc., their descriptions of enmeshment, the damaging effects it creates for adult children, along with why and how exploitation of personhood and gender of a child by an adult is non physical.

    Have they heard of the “duck test” before? Maybe they didnt in the cloister. If it walks, talks, and looks like a duck, you can use whatever propaganda and Biblicalesque terminology that you want. People will look at it and say that it looks like a duck. They weren’t sexually molested, and I never said that they or any children in their movement were. I pointed out how the model that their Holy Father and other adults in their affinity group promoted was exploited their children, their chikdren’s names, and their photos. Among 1200 single blog posts, I believe that I displayed only a single photo that even showed the Visionary Daughters named Botkin? It was one showing their whole family. I think that the father of the then children was responsible for that. He wanted them to be the exemplars for “stay at home daughters,” didn’t he? It is a bit hard to refrain from mentioning one’s underage daughters when the father uses them as the foremost marketing tool for advancing his own ideas. I aspired to do so which is shy I used pics of their books and videos and not their faces. I’m not sure if I ever used their first names. Their father put their photo all over the internet and slapped the duck walk, squack, and feathers on them.

    Mel commented in the previous post that the family essentially stopped their female offspring from developing beyond the pre-teen level. Take a look at the family health material that Murray Bowen wrote in the 1960s. Mel described impaired Differentiation of the Self. What about daddy’s model that the girls promoted does not sound like what Murray Bowen describes. Sometimes, I wondered whether they read his material and borrowed it.

    The Apostle Paul named the names of people who taught false doctrine or had mistreated him. He also wrote that Christians should mark and avoid them. I wrote material that did not quote the daughters, I quoted their father, I wrote mostly about the writings or quoted from disciplines that described Geoff Botkin’s model, and I ‘connected the dots.’ That is marking and avoiding them. That is a very Christian thing to do.

  • Jen (*.*)

    Wow this is fascinating. Somehow I recently stumbled across the Botkins’ and Cindy’s sites, and ended up reading Mel’s excellent review of “It’s Not That Complicated.”

    The whole process has been interesting because I’ve discovered that many of the same teachings filtered into my family in the 80s, even though we weren’t associated with Vision Forum or anything QF (that I’m aware of anyway). Learning more about the teachings, surrounding issues, and inherent dysfunction of it all has been incredibly healing for me.

  • deleted and posted unde the appropriate comment.

  • Saraquill

    It’s clear they don’t have much experience with formal writing. I’m guessing they either couldn’t get a lawyer to write a letter for them, or have the hubris to think they can represent themselves.

  • I just deleted a stand alone comment I wrote about this which I wanted to hack down.

    All I can think of is that a professional is someone who makes money somehow by professing Christ. I once earned a ten dollar gift card from Amazon when I had a book widget on my blog, and I gave that away. Thinking of the big expenses in general, I’ve spent at least 10K in so many years including registration at conferences where I was invited to speak.

    Do they think that I make money because they make money? I spent money because the ideas that their family promoted and the people they ran with did real harm to people. They have names and faces, too. I felt a moral obligation and a duty to Jesus to give people access to the perspective that these ideas resulted in real harm for people. They may not have experienced harm, but others did. And I’m sorry. Most of it was no more Biblical than Reader’s Digest.

  • Nea

    They have the hubris to assume that their hothouse upbringing has left them better educated than anyone else, so I’m thinking the latter.

  • Mel, I have one protest here. I mentioned that the Visionary Daughters had written a book, but I write about their family’s model. I suspect that less than five posts that i’ve ever written cite their book or their names specifically. I wrote about their family’s model as a whole, and per that model, Geoffrey Botkin would be the responsible party. I’m still not even sure of their individual names, and I always have to look if I name them. I know that one goes by two, and one of them is Sophia. Since it derives from wisdom, when I do see it written, I always pray James chapter 1 for them both. God gives true wisdom liberally to those who ask for it, and I pray that God pours it out on them. May every time it’s spoken be a prayer for them both.

  • Nea

    Second comment, because a thought just struck me: the main financial power of the Botkin family … has had a lack of customers– so maybe I was right, they’re trying to make a little money because their surprisingly high-maintenance lifestyle is being threatened for lack of funds rolling in.

  • One of the Botkins’ claims in the letter is that I cited other people from their genre of what they once called ministry. The Southern Baptists courted Voddie Baucham for a time, and he [and his daughter who I’ve never named in a blog because she didn’t write a book] then appeared in their ‘how to’ video. My husband was really offended by Voddie’s bit in it.

    Scott Brown and Baucham participated in the SBC seminary system, and many of the ideas that they shared were fostered by Baptists for years before men like Botkin branded it. I argue that little of what the hidden curriculum demanded by the Great Commission religious group which recruited Botkin in the 1970s had to be changed for the Vision Forum refit. And much of the set of ideas filtered into Evangelical Christianity in the US at large when the SBC started the big conservative reform efforts in the early eighties. A good bit was also Religious Right related, too.

  • My poor postman was a mess over it. He said that the two women called the local office when I didn’t pick up the mail in enough time to respond within the short, 3 day window that registered, restricted access mail (delivery to only me) gives for a response. I guess that they accused him of collusion or something. And I completely missed the deadline that the girls established.

  • nmgirl

    I like the term “professional Christian” WTF? And this only became a problem 10 years later after the BOYS were affected?

  • Mel

    I remember. Your discussions were essentially sociological in nature based on what you’ve seen in their relations and how they recommend living from theological concepts that survived from an earlier theological working group the Botkin family were members. My comment was based on the fact that the Botkins swear that you didn’t directly cite their personal works – which is true – but that statement is also misleading because there is a TON of support for an unhealthy dependence fostered by Geoffrey Botkins on his two daughters in their two published books and in their published free podcasts that Hester at The Scarlet Letters and I have discussed.

  • Mel, you do know that you’re one of my heroes in the whole discussion, don’t you? I get too upset to approach a good deal of the stuff you’ve tackled with grace and sanity. I just think about all that I know about the survivors of the Great Commission and what they did to children and adults, and I can’t seperate it to write only about their family model tripe. Even then, it’s all “Murray Bowen, Pia Melody. Patrick Carnes!” And I retreat into their writings because they add structure and help to humanize the abused and the abusers for me. Apart from that, it is sad stories of abuse that is done in Jesus’ Name. I can’t write about it.

  • Maybe it interferes with dad’s 200 Year Plan?

  • Mel

    That’s how I read it. The only detailed accusation they had was that some unnamed people wanted to boycott T. Rex Arms because it was owned by Botkin Kids and the reason for the boycott therefore was that the boycotters had read Cindy’s articles and assumed that the Botkin Family was dysfunctional.

    One – I doubt the people who are interested in buying specialty gun accessories from the Botkin Boys have much crossover with commentators on abuses in CP/QF land. This isn’t a morality statement; it’s just two small niche markets that are not directly related are unlikely to have much crossover.

    Two – there are some other reasons to boycott T. Rex Arms. General dislike of guns that can mow down children. Not wanting to give money to people who at one point recommended the Appendix carry – which I call the Genitalia Annihilator. The internecine warfare that can break out in any small niche market with strong beliefs. The Botkin Sisters’ rationale requires several assumptions where mine require none – so I’m ahead according to Occam’s Razor.

  • This is the Peacemaker International’s first step in having me “Matthew 18’ed.” You think that you agree to have an impartial party help you to resolve conflict that they claim is religious. People claim to critics that they were unChristian by not approaching them privately for love bombing, tea, and crumpets before the critics challenge them in public. I don’t see much evidence that they preach the same gospel that I know, but whatever. Then, critics are tricked into a process of mediation that is legally binding, and Peacemakers believes that rank and file (unprofessional?) Christians have to agree to submit to authorities, so there is never a recognition of a fair balance of power. The organizations then pedal away the statute of limitations so that the critic has no legal rights, or they sign them away in the process. That’s how Doug Phillips was able to seize that Allosaurus, way back when.

    Peacemakers also professes that their plaintiffs and Christians who read their writings can barrage a person’s pastors and Christian’s friends to get them to make a public statement that they are non-Christians that should be shunned. That makes the critic a non-Christian, so Paul’s imperative in 1 Corinthians 6 that forbids suing another Christian no longer applies. So the plaintif can then sue the critic, believing that they are righteous in doing so. And most of these people don’t have lives apart from calling padtors to overwhelm them with complaints sothat the pastor often caves in and sells their critic sheep down the river. They don’t have time or energy to do their real jobs, so many pastors disown the critic.

  • Yawn.

  • Nea

    their plaintiffs and Christians who read their writings can barrage a
    person’s pastors and Christian’s friends to get them to make a public
    statement that they are non-Christians that should be shunned

    Woooooow. Yeah, I get all my marching orders from total strangers harassing *me* to denounce my friends… not.

  • Nea

    Poor guy. He doesn’t need to be splash damage in their quest for… whatever. Relevance, one assumes.

  • Reading it reminded me of what it felt like to watch Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman whenever Martin Moll wasn’t on it. There may be much to unpack, but how?

  • Nea

    If they were affected. But who here would be remotely surprised if the boys decided to make their sisters the whipping posts when the boys’ business was subject to market downturns?

  • Nea

    Where *is* dad in all of this? Why isn’t he breathing fire instead of sending out these unarmed combatants for the honor of the family name?

  • Nea

    With the NRA exposed as up to its ears in Russian money/political influence and the NRA/ammosexual’s hold over Congress weakening in the face of multiple atrocities and a determined pushback spearheaded by the unquashed, unsilenced Parkland kids – well, it’s a bad time to be assuming that there’s a sustainable, much less infinitely growing, market for niche armament accessories.

    Frankly, the whole family might be better off pushing Pampered Chef or something. I’m a tiny bit surprised that they aren’t part of some MLM already, at least the girls. I mean, the pitch just writes itself: “When I need to have a healthy, tasty meal for my father while helping my brothers all day, I just roast a chicken on our patented pizza stone, with a nice side of stuffing in this stoneware casserole dish, which comes in several exciting colors!”

  • When I actively blogged, I held myself accountable to pastors across the country as well as my local one for decisions about the blog. Getting rid of the comments was one of the things that I did to comply with their counsel when my trauma therapist suggested it. She got her undergrad at Moody and her graduate degree at Concordia. When someone started this business with me in the past, all of the ministers told me to please not give out their names to strangers. This is not anything like the spirit of the intent of Matthew 18 anyway.

  • And Joseph is really good to me. I felt so badly that I created distress for him. It was very awkward.

  • Uh, he has no legal recourse, especially not at this late date. I probably helped them sell books a decade ago. There’s also this other problem of his decades of history with Jim McCotter. He sought status within the Great Commission and gained some level of name recognition there. It might be easy to deny his past affiliations and the way former members characterize their religious group and leader when Geoff talks to his children. I think that he knows that he cannot expect to do so outside of the Vision Forum bubble. McCotter is also connected to The Council on National Policy (private secret squirrel think tank) that Doug Phillips’ father helped to establish. Too many people know where he’s been. And his former mates from college know that he and “Vicky” dropped out.

  • Nea

    They’re the ones who decided to do this, they’re the ones who used the wrong address, and they’re the ones who decided to harass a neutral third player. You can tell him you’re sorry he got sucked into this but YOU created NOTHING here. NOT. A. THING.

  • Nea

    Nobody named Botkin has legal recourse at this point – but why are the girls deciding to throw down and not the boys? Not daddy? Everything the Botkins ever preached reiterates that the girls do not actually have agency and are mere adjuncts to the penis-bearers — but suddenly it’s up to the girls alone to “right” this theoretical wrong? Because you’re a woman?

  • Nea, you nailed it. That’s part of what cults do. When it’s expedient to be an expert, you are…unless it works better to deny it two minutes later. They equivocate which is exactly how they entrap people. You find out after you sign a letter of agreement with people you thought were pastors trying to resolve a disagreement among friends that half of the people there were attorneys, and the paper wasnt a church’s document. It was legal arbitration, and you’re screwed. Mike Farris and Doug Phillips exploited all kinds of people this way. That’s part of what happened to Cheryl Lindsey in the 1980s. Gregg Harris, I’m told, had to refinance his house to pay damages when HSLDA lost the case. That turned into equal opportunity exploitation on all sides.

    I don’t know what motive rests under it all for Botkin’s daughters. The generation before them used this set of tactics to silence critics and smack down their business competition. It’s quasilegal, quasiChristian spiritual abuse. Some like Karen “Faye” thought that they were God’s Sheriffs or janitors or something, making Christianity clean again. They differed little from the people the targeted. Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard wanted their followers to come out from among those they called “Canaanites.” Bill Gothard and Geoff Botkin wanted the truly godly, faithful, pure homeschoolers in the US to run away to New Zealand toescape the impending worldly zombie apocalypse. Because evangelizing the lost or the wayward fools like us is beneath them, I guess?

    Same BS. Different day. OutKast takes note of the problem of things called roses which Suzanne offered in the previous post.

  • I’m still shaking my head thinking, “Did they really write that?” Or did I think of a specific example from an inference I made because of what kind of seemed like a threat? Like gun holsters that I know about because Mel pointed out that one of the books that the girls wrote mentioned that business. And if I wanted to buy a gun holster, would I search the Internet for the propietor’s name first to see if I liked their theology?

    Upon reading comments here, half of the stuff I thought was something I inserted in retrospect was actually written in the letter. Mind boggling.

  • For a good bit of last year, my husband had to use horizontal crutches because his wrists are shot, and I had to use a walker because of herniated discs that aren’t bad enough for surgery yet. Neither of us can easily access the few pieces of mail that we get there when that happens. God bless the postman for helping us.

  • I I think i read a post here that Mel authored that showed that they were gun holsters. That might claim a fellow’s manhood if there’s a misfire while he’s wearing it.

  • Mel

    Cynthia, the people who are acting crazy in this situation are the Botkin Sisters – not you.

    Look at the situation as an omniscient fly on the wall. The Botkin Sisters decide to send a letter to a person they are not in contact with to an address that may (or may not) be correct. They get the letter certified with the receipt returned. The time line passes in which they should have received the receipt – but the receipt doesn’t return in time.

    What are some logical conclusions to assume when the receipt didn’t arrive in time?
    1) “Cindy must not live at 123 ABC St. anymore. I hope she left a forwarding address.”
    2) “Did I write 123 ABC or 321 ABC Street? Danged dyslexia.”
    3) “Was three business days counting the day I mailed it or not? I should look that up.”
    4) “Did the government shutdown affect the post-office?
    5) “Wonder if my mail had to pass through one of those areas in a polar vortex – ice storm?”

    What is a crazy conclusion?
    1) The postman colluded with Cindy to interfere with delivery of an unopened envelope. After all, no one ever WANTS to receive certified mail and everyone is against the Botkin Family…..

    Your postman got a new and great story of weird shit that goes down when you are a government employee. Believe you me, he does not blame you for the crazy ladies. Print him off a copy of the letter to share if you want.

  • Nea

    When it’s expedient to be an expert, you are…

    To the point of considering mere children to be “experts” at something they have never actually *done,* I’ve noticed. Toddler preachers. “I had one bad date so nobody ought to date either.” And certainly the unmarried Botkin girls who know aaaaalllll about how to be married and what men want, for realzies.

    You find out after you sign a letter of agreement with people you thought were pastors trying to resolve a disagreement among friends that half of the people there were attorneys, and the paper wasn’t a church’s document

    I would be very interested to know if a really good (or really slimy) lawyer could break that. But that has a high financial and emotional toll, from exactly the wrong people to be ready to pay – or tell them to fuck themselves and refuse to sign. But I’m not privy to the details of evangelicult* politics… so I’m googling some of these names and absolutely boggling. I see that Cherly Lindsey was supposed to “prove” her “repentance by refrain from public speaking, give up her beeper and her personal P.O. box, stop publishing …, stop answering her phone, turn over the contents of her business and personal bank accounts to a third party, agree to not defend herself, fire her attorneys — basically silence herself, bankrupt her family, AND waive her legal rights — and then I read that this was topped off by “If you don’t do all this and more, by the way, God’s going to kill your sinful ass.”

    That takes a hell of a lot of nerve, and that anyone would straight-facedly assume that the answer would be “yes” instead of “fuck you and then my attorneys will fuck you” shows a LOT about the abusive power that is casually wielded in the cult. I’m amused to read further and see that the judge had to constantly tell the defendants to shove their attempts to put biblical law over actual legal law.

    *not a typo

  • Mel

    I’m standing by option three: lawyers cost money. I doubt the Botkin Family has two nickels to rub together at this point so we get…this.

  • Mel

    Remember I have the luck of watching all of this from the outside. I’ve never been in a CP or QF church – or at least nothing worse than liberal Catholicism that looks askance at the hierarchy of the Church and anything with NFP. I often find the writings baffling, confusing, or disturbing – but the writings of SAHD are never triggering for me. I grew up in the standard “Yeah, you should be a virgin before marriage….but most of you won’t….wait until you’re out of HS….or at least avoid pregnancy or an STD, ‘K?” unstated message from most Catholics.

    The strongest trigger I’ve had happened on the Maxwell site when I ran into a letter from a mom who joyfully laid it on Jesus if her extremely premature baby would survive. The baby died due to prematurity. The mom rejoiced in the resilience of her faith. I cried hard for about an hour and wrote a post about how much that post threw me back to the night before Spawn was born and I was so terrified that he would die before I got to know him in any real way….

    So there’s a reason I stick mainly with SAHDs – they don’t bring up painful emotions for me.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I struggle to follow this as I am unclear what exactly it is that “Botkin syndrome” is supposed to be or what they are saying their family has been accused of. They keep mentioning “incest”: if there is an allegation that their family practices included permitting or encouraging their brothers to sexually abuse them on no other evidence than some weird (or even toxic) religious then this is a pretty mild letter in the circumstances, I would have thought? (Though it would make more sense if the brothers were writing.)
    It is true that the Botkin sisters come across as odd, but that wouldn’t be an excuse to make them against their will the poster children for a particular kind of particularly dysfunctional family involving abuse and incest without pretty clear evidence that their family was, in fact, like that at all.
    I am presuming that either in fact no such accusations have been made against them and they are going off the deep end, or such goings on have in fact been clearly proven. Or am I missing something?

  • For the longest time, someone who fancies themselves a critic of Botkin? I learned later that they were a part of the posse that set out to purify Christian homeschooling because they decided that Chery was a ho. They criticized Phillips for trying to purify the subculture, but they were just upset that their view of what the subculture should be was different than that of Phillips. Not until that mommy blogger claimed that their woes were also my fault did I come to see that they were not much different than Phillips. It’s all about sanitizing the culture.

    Another big part of it is that people drift from group to group, but they don’t do enough of their own recovery to change the dynamics that they learned in a not so healthy culture. That’s why so many “discernment bloggers” are often at odds with one another. Your worth comes, in too large in part, from what people think of you when you’re in your group. A lot of people leave, but they don’t do enough of their own personal recovery to develop a healthy locus of control. They shift their sense of worth from the stamp of approval of or inclusion as “leadership” in their cultic group over to how many blog hits they get. They’re still victim’s of circumstance, everything that they don’t like is someone else’s fault, and they’re usually compulsive about getting power and attention, and people well outside of their sphere of control still determine their personal worth. With finances, too. It’s the worlds fault that I was in this religion or I’m still in this religion, so people have a duty to keep me afloat.

    I will say this about the So Much More book. I have a copy but haven’t looked at it since 2008. To me, it seemed to be all about how to both get power and stay safe in a terrifying world without breaking the rules that seemed to me to be outrageous, self-imposed rules that the may have cribbed from Bill Gothard or the Independent Fundamental Baptists. But those systems say that personal power, especially for women, is sinful. What passes for Theonomy today deems the word ‘autonomy’ as sinful in any context, even if one understands God as sovereign. And it gets even more schizophrenic because on one hand, the Christian Reconstructionists who carry on about defending the civil liberty that the US Constitution provides, but personal autonomy as concept is somehow sinful for a Christian to think that they possess. There’s not much left to do except bully people who disagree with you if you all view power and autonomy in such a way.

    Everything is somebody else’s fault when you have no autonomy. All of that for them is all wrapped around what their national folk religion requires of them. If you don’t have the same construct as them, it’s not a different perspective on how religion and nationalism intersect in our free society. Those who have a different view are “cannanites” or heretics or what Bill Bright claimed was a lesser form of substandard Christian. All of it is Gnosticism.

  • I will. He has been so kind to us, and it puts a burden on him in his workplace that he has been nothing but kind about. What does his supervisor think? It’s weird shite for sure,

  • It wasn’t a common thing, and I only learned about it because I was approached as an herbalist to help a Gothardite deliver her unborn dead baby still in her womb at home to which I said, “Can I please drive you to the nearest hospital right NOW after call your OB to tell them you’re on your way?” People had babies at home and buried them in their back yards. It was all around the Chesapeake Bay, and I kept telling people that it was a public health problem to do that in a watershed area like Arundel County (I.e., illegal). People from the church looked at me like a deer in headlights, then just changed the subject. I didn’t attend there for more than six months after that.

    I could go on… All of the things that I heard that were child abuse, but I was like a deer n the headlights in disbelief. Until a kid goes into anaphylactic shock because their parents use a Pearlesque practice of punishment of a teaspoon of Tabasco.

  • They missed something. What Mel described as limiting the psychosocial growth and development of girls to what she called pre-teen is qualified a few ways in psych literature, especially that concerning addiction. Murray Bowen first described this aspect of adult development as differentiation of the self. In his model of family systems, a child first finds their identity and function in that of their family, and by adulthood, when they reach the age and the demands of adulthood, they should have their own identity that stands alone apart from the family. You can still be financially dependent on a parent, but your personality and your locus I’d self is your own. Bowen points out that incomplete differentiation produces problems in family systems and for individuals, and it might be a major contributor to a diagnosis of something like an adjustment disorder in family members.

    There are also other terms used to describe what is an assessment finding that can also be defined as enmeshment. Enmeshment specifically between adults and children that suppresses and alters that child’s growth and development is often referred to as COVERT or emotional incest because the parent uses the child to gratify some need of their own when that need should only be met by another adult. Every time I use the term, I clarify that it is non physical. It isn’t incest when adults use one another because adults are emotionally, physically, and financially sophisticated enough to set boundaries within that relationship or abandon it it they like. When a parent does this with a child, the child is bound to comply because they are entirely dependent on that adult for survival on every level of their lives.

    Another population of children who become enmesheecwith parents and are subject to covert (psychosocial, non physical) incest include the children of parents with physical disabilities and catestrophic diseases where the family and the adults don’t have enoug resources to survive without help from their children. Another population of children who experience cover incest include those with a mentally ill or addicted family member. Instead of parents providing for the array of needs that children have and cannot meet on their own, the family draws from the child to meet the needs of the family.

  • Maybe the whole of the Botkin Family could not understand the references or excessive number of quotes from both secular and Christian sources and that covert (non-physical, emotional) incest was qualified as something that is not synonymous with sexual activity among family members?

    I’ll claim Botkin Syndrome as a theological term describing a set of behaviors, and Ve been to seminary and am ordained, so if Geoff Botkin can make up theology, why can’t I? Observing an assessment finding (a sign or symptom) like the patterns of enmeshment, poor differentiation of the self, or the characteristic of covert (non physical) incest is well within the purview of a nurse. Saying that these finding are strikingly and obviously common and shared with the model that Geoff Botkin sold to people as a model for family that would keep their children safe and pure isn’t a medical or psychological diagnosis. The family wanted to be known and recognized for their family model and practices which the insisted were Biblical is not the only morally responsible way to raise a family. I thought that I did what they wanted. I just pointed out the similarities between their model and what falls within the body of knowledge shared by nursing, social work, psychology, psychiatry, and mediocre through health problems related to Adverse Childhood Experiences.

    Is that due to me connecting those common dots, or is Goffrey Botkin responsible for the fact that his family’s name, especially his daughters’ name, is bound to the model that he promoted.

    Botkin Syndrome is not a diagnosis that is found in any psychology text, an it is not a diagnosis as defined by the DSM. Patterns of covert incest, enmeshment, and issues of differentiation are assessment findings which diagnosticians use to arrive at a diagnosis. Only diagnoses listed in a past or present edition of the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual are diagnoses.

  • Here is a link to one of many books I referenced which the girls would have had to have seen if the looked at every post bearing the Botkin name. This is a later edition of a book published years ago. The author and the editor to this new edition are widely known, established, well credentialed psychologists who are very experienced in this area of focus. Look at the other books related to them that pop up on Amazon. There are Christian titles, too, which I also referenced.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The letter makes more sense now. I am guessing that the Botkins relied heavily on the sisters’ earnings as “celebrity Christians” and your concern – based on the ideas and tone of their writing – was that the rest of the family was keeping them infantilised to keep them under control and keep the cash rolling in?
    (BTW – While I appreciate it’s not your term, and it is I suppose a used technical one, calling what is described as “incest” seems to me a needless piece of prejudicial sensationalism by whoever coined it. It also sounds to me something easily misunderstood as implying some sort of sexual interest, where that’s not, or not necessarily, what it’s about. I think it a very badly chosen name for the phenomenon.)

  • I have an open question for the Botkin Sisters:

    If they think that I should have privately contacted them to discuss my critique of their father’s model for Christian families before I published my opinions and findings, why did they not approach Hillary McFarland to offer her the same courtesy before they critiqued Hillary McFarland’s Quivering Daughters book on a podcast with Chalcedon?

    Stacy McDonald who wrote to me more than a decade ago also claimed that I was remiss in my conduct as a Christian to not first make contact with her privately before I offered opinions about her religion of shame, blame, and Christian Gnosticism. Why didn’t she also extend that courtesy to Hillary before she participated in setting up a website to counter Hillary and her contributors/supporters?

    For the record, I have never reador listened to the critiques of Hillary’s book. I have stood by the strong opinion that the book was its own best defense, and it was scrutinized and the thesis honed in the preparation of the manuscript. I did read a review of the book in Christianity Today that asserted that the actions of Stacy McDonald and others did little else but prove Hillary’s thesis and it’s own impact on their subculture. I offer it here to demonstrate what Suzanne turned into a meme. They seem to have a problem with double standards when it comes to what they think is appropriate behavior for Christians in conflict. For some reason they are exempt.

    I am sad to see that instead of seeking me out in a spirit of genuine understanding and Christian grace, they’re not little girls anymore. It seems that they’ve chosen to follow in the footsteps of the quasiChristian thuggery that Doug Phillips, James McDonald, Mike Farris, and Kem Sande pioneered to use legal threats to intimidate people into clamming up about observing that what they claim is Christian is most certainly not. It is in their national folk religion, but it isn’t to anyone else. I bet that the Friendly Atheist here at Patheos can tell that without much effort.

  • Friend

    They’ve obviously read Paul’s letters and some Bronte.

  • Friend

    Streisand effect:

    Someone should also tell the Botkins that they are doing themselves a disservice as I had never heard of them until they decided to write this letter.

  • Friend

    I just roast a chicken on our patented pizza stone, with a nice side of stuffing in this stoneware casserole dish, which comes in several exciting colors!

    They should also include a patented instant-read thermometer to make sure foods are at safe temperatures. To prevent Botkintulism.


  • Friend

    A bit OT, but women are being arrested for not reporting stillbirths and miscarriages. It’s partly an unintended consequence of personhood laws (promoted by the Christian right). They are being charged with irregular disposal of remains, if not infanticide.

    I only learned about it because I was approached as an herbalist to help a Gothardite deliver her unborn dead baby still in her womb at home to which I said, “Can I please drive you to the nearest hospital right NOW after call your OB to tell them you’re on your way?” People had babies at home and buried them in their back yards.

  • My heart also breaks when I visit friends who followed what was a less stringent version of Quiverfull that was influenced by Gothard but had no clue about the next gen spinoffs including the Duggar’s. A small handful were Cheryl Lindsey and aware of the Patriarchs Path but were not acolytes.

    The adults that I knew well as children have struggled to transition out of homeschooling because of what I can only call educational neglect. Most of them have hard feelings about it, and more than a few took off as soon as they turned 18. I love them, but I think that their parents (my peers) are disappointed about half of their kids because they’re not good churchgoers like they dreamed for them. Then I see the names of kids that I knew of but were not close to when Sarah Hunt mentions them on social media. Lots of girls are now moms with three kids, what I’d peg as a fifth grade education, no math or science skill to speak of, and half of the boys, now dads, drive Ubers as their primary job. Some of the guys are gay and struggle to stay faithful to their young families, and you find out that the same church leaders that were matchmaking did so as a way to cure the young men so they wouldn’t be gay anymore.

    All of that breaks my heart because their lives seemed auspicious when they were just elementary school age bopping around at home group and when I’d visit their parents during the day. I taught the kids of our close friends all that I could during cross country visits, but I didn’t know how pandemic the problems were. Only a few were well educated and college bound. Most are approaching thirty and either postponed having families to catch up or are juggling college and family as they catch up.

  • Friend

    Well, I’m going to bust them for not understanding individual search results.

    One time I did a Google search of “pink heel” as a medical symptom. For the next YEAR, pictures of pink high-heeled shoes marched back and forth across my computer screen.

    Just now I searched for “Botkin.” These poor misguided little waifs did not even crack the top ten. The first reference to them was their own website. Absolutely nothing disparaging about them showed up. So if their search results are showing them as loonies, that probably has something to do with their own searching habits and terms.

    No matter where any of the Botkin siblings go, or what we attempt to do, or who we meet, or who we marry, or who our children are we’re all just one Google search away from being labeled ‘cultic,’ (sic) ‘diseased’ or a ‘perverted family’ because of this one woman’s publications.

  • Nea, if people have managed to turn the tables on the Peacemaker abritration and mediation processes, to my knowledge, they haven’t come forward to tell their sagas. The people that I know about had no money left and were so soul weary near the end of the process that they couldn’t or chose not to fight. One man who had all kinds of material became ill and needed money, and he was paid a pittance to sign a universal settlement which made any further discussion of his case actionable (gag order).

    What I have heard as a universal comment from everyone as they talk about their experience is , “I nerves would have believed that a Christian could do this to another I’d I hadn’t lived it.” People who get really wounded by a wicked pastor and church that actually do good recovery work and read literature about spiritual abuse say the exact same thing.

    I don’t see a representative cross section of the people who barely survive the process. (Some hired a lawyer and went back to Peacemakers or the local kangaroo courts that men like Doug Phillips organized for himself in Texas.). Some just wandered away after the first process and sought to survive and move on. I only know about the people who were left with little to nothing after the wealthy and powerful and people who were lawyers themselves chewed them up and tossed hem away.

  • Friend

    God bless all postmen. We’d be lost without them.

  • Mel

    Or their femoral artery. There’s some good anatomical reasons why people who want to conceal carry handguns do so in the small of the back, at the hip or at the ankle.

  • Mel

    My understanding of the Botkin Family is based solely on the published writings of the two daughters (two books and a mostly-dead blog) and their free podcasts which are actually recorded lectures from conferences through Vision Forum before it imploded.

    Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have been raised in a system that expects women to remain in a pre-pubescent state of mind and emotions. They opine that females should remain girls in a very literal sense until they marry. Girls idolize adults rather than peers. Girls obey their parents without question. Girls are marginally sexual – or preferably asexual. Girls are unable to adequately assess the motives of other people – but especially men outside their families.Girls are in a basic level of education that focuses on facts rather than analysis, synthesis or creation.

    Junior high is a hot mess for most pre-teens and young teens – and it’s mainly because the girls and boys are suddenly having major, jarring changes in their bodies and minds that turn their entire world upside down. Peers are fascinating; adults are boring. Every word that comes out of an adult’s mouth should be questioned. Sexuality becomes a much larger part of their lives. The obsession with peers brings lots chances to learn about the motives – good and bad – of others. Mentally, students begin to work at a much higher level; they can analyze, synthesis and create.

    Both of the Botkin Sisters’ books can be summarized as “Be a girl or else you will never marry or marry unhappily.”

    Where did they get these ideas? From their dad. I have a copy of “So Much More” somewhere and there is a terrifying interview by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth of Geoffrey Botkin that I assumed was a joke at first. Geoffrey Botkin discusses how much of a bride price he expects to be paid for the girls and then point-blank tells them that they are unable to determine if a man is honorable or just out to use them for sex – but not to worry because he’ll figure all that out for them. His daughters were in their mid and late teens during this interview; an age point where many US teens are dating their peers and doing a decent job of figuring out if a relationship works for them.

    To me, it’s a brutal form of crushing and deforming the development of your children not unlike the practice of binding girls’ feet to form lotus feet.

  • Saraquill

    I considered that a possible reason for not getting a lawyer.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    I wrote about that in more detail on my blog which will go back online after my new computer arrives. This letter catches me at a lousy time! I’m operating with an iPad, and autocorrect is no fun! I cant even scroll down to see a full blog post in blogger draft, so I’m waiting. Vision Forum taught women who dropped over from an already ruptured tubal pregnancy that they had an abortion when they had surgery to save their lives. He also told parents that their babies when to hell.

    We seem to be running the risk of some Latin American countries that passed similar prolife laws, and out of fear that they’d be prosecuted for murder, hospitals started leaving women die in emergency waiting rooms rather than treat them. Doug Phillips would rather see the low death rate for mothers (i think it’s around 16%) with tubal pregnancy with early surgical intervention go way back up to a better than 66% death rate, I guess. Mothers are of far less worth than their precious babies, even though the claim to be Calvinist. I’m grateful to the prolife arm of the ACOG for writing a statement for Christians to clarify that surgery for a woman with a tubal pregnancy is not in any way shape or form considered to be an abortion by physicians who are unspoken about their prolife beliefs.

    Vyckie was mad at me at the time, so she took my name off of the posts as the author, but they came from my blog and will soon be back online.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    It’s not actionable as libel after ten years. I think the cutoff is 2 years, and this stuff is ten years old. I thought it was yesterday’s news. For anything else, it’s not valid. There’s another problem…none of it is a lie. The ExGCM and other forums have been online for years, and former members know who the Botkins are Daddy had problems with people there, too, and they sought me out to tell me about it, but I will never publish any of that. And people I know went to hear them when Matt Chancey went with them to ask the NZ followers to sponsor Americans so that they could take their following there.

    Can they sue me for being observant?

  • Friend

    Wow, I didn’t know ACOG* had a pro-life arm! Maybe there can be some reconciliation of viewpoints at some point. Guess I can hope.

    *American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

  • Jennifer

    What those animals did to Seelhoff was appalling, sick bullying and abuse. I’m so glad those responsible have been named and shamed.

  • Jennifer

    You think so??

  • Nea

    The people that I know about had no money left and were so soul weary near the end of the process that they couldn’t or chose not to fight.

    I believe it. You don’t get to the point that you assume someone won’t laugh in your face at “shut up, give me all your money, and walk away from legal defense” if you haven’t been doing exactly that to the people least likely to be in a position to fight back.

  • Mel

    Could they sue? Probably. Could they win? Probably not. Especially since their lawyer has no reason to think you have a high enough net worth to offset the costs of the suit.

  • Nea

    It’s all about sanitizing the culture.

    I will argue that the verb here is “controlling.” I’m also going to argue that all the rest of it, from the drifting to the intra-fighting, to the reliance on external approval and most importantly the emphasis on power and control are all the natural consequences of accepting authoritarianism as a worldview. How will anyone know that you’re an authority if they’re listening to someone else? How will anyone see that you’re an authority if you’re not powerful? How will anyone accept that you are the authority if you’re not controlling them? So constantly battle, constantly blame, and most of all, constantly move around in an unending game of “You aren’t the boss of ME, I’m the boss of YOU.” Even those who loudly claim to not be the top of the food chain – Lori, the Botkin girls – are scrambling to position themselves as just below the bosses with their own downline to push around.

    It was easy for the Pearls to establish themselves as authorities in a pre-internet and early internet world – there were few, if any, ways to get an alternative message out to their adherents, and like all grifters and cult leaders, they’re excellent at charming the marks into not believing their lying eyes. But Lori has made her push to be just like them (in abuse, wealth, and authority) in a world where communications media can’t be controlled – which is why church scandals in all religions have gone from “GASP! Who could have thought this isolated incident could happen?” to “Must be a day ending in -y.” Poor Lori likely cannot grasp why she can’t ride the same gravy train to glory, much less grasp that it has already derailed for the Pearls.

    The Botkin family fortunes seem to be following the same trajectory. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Vision Forum and HSLDA rose to their heights of power when so many people didn’t trust or didn’t use that newfangled internet. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re now embattled or fallen in a world where they can’t silence MeToo or anti-homeschool abuse. Daddy Botkin threw his lot in with them, so has been dragged down with them. Does he have any authority/moneymaking ability left that doesn’t depend on the slender, slender reed of his prize cattle children? The children that he carefully taught unyielding mutant 19th century values while almost completely isolating them from the 20th century?

    The children who now find themselves trying to make a way in the 21st century, like it or not, understand it or not?

  • Nea,
    Word! True dat!

  • And anything in discovery can go public

  • No Botkin wants that.

  • I elected to use it because no one in Christian circles thought that this lovey family could be that bad. When you mention this term and explain that bigger names working at vision forum had done a do it yourself episiotomy when they threw the (female) midwife out of the room, people sit up in their seats.

    I used it legitimately. Pia Melody’s model calls various aspects of what they describe as biblical as covert (non physical) sexual abuse. So does Bradshaw and Van deer Kolk. I should be able to cite their literature faithfully to support that and make that case.

    Who cares is a critic says that their model for family is flawed. Who cares, especially if a woman says it? But is that woman can quote literature faithfully to demonstrate what professionals have written about it and those professionals use the term of incest to describe it? People suddenly listen like they should have before the term came up.

    It’s not my fault or my error if it’s offensive. If I had wrongly accused Geoff Botkin and Doug Phillips of sexually molesting children which is a felony, they should sue. But I didn’t quote literature that said that. I quoted literature that qualified it as psychosocial non physical incest by interfering with their healthy development and gender identity (which Melody and Bradshaw write many books about defining it as covert non physical sexual abuse). I don’t like it either. Why don’t the Botkins threaten them?

  • This kind of abuse is called covert sexual abuse of children and is associated with a 70% rate of comorbid addiction (more than one type of addiction) and chronic complex PTSD in adult children. It also has bearing on the emerging data of how this impacts lifelong physical chronic illness in adult children. Look up the Advese Childhood Experience studies at the NIH. Why don’t the Bokins try to tell those researchers that their data is flawed.

  • Jen (*.*)

    Ugh. That totally makes sense. There is a reason so many Evangelicals think/act/vote the same way. I’ve had to completely leave the church in order to broaden my worldview.

  • Also, Pia Melody teaches that enmeshment with children effects the gender identification of children. Clinicians who train with her are taught how to assess and treat adult clients per the law ve addiction and love avoidance model. Children learn how to bond with people of the same sex as the parent that hijacks their psychosocial development of the controlling parent. It turns most people into emotional caretakers and rescuers, and it sets the tone and norm for how to relate to people who are male or females.

    Do these parents want to raise their daughters to tolerate domestic abuse? Google why the SBC seminary system booted Paige Patterson. Google the info about victim blaming that Gothard taught homeschoolers and their parents about how to respond to sexual abuse and domestic abuse. What about
    Michael Pearl’s celeb status in homeschooling before the death of the schatz girls? Or google the criticism directed at John Piper on what constitutes domestic abuse.

    If homosexuality is a fear for parents, does it hurt or help to raise kids in a way that strongly effects how they bond with and relate to members of a given gender?

  • Jennifer

    I was stunned when I read how they reacted with the postman! It’s pure paranoia and sounds like they were cracking over this, making me wonder again what brought it on after ten years.

  • Nea

    The more I read about the rapid unravelling of the evangelicult and the speculation of foundering Botkin fortunes in particular, the more I think that they did it to Cynthia in an attempt to revitalize their failed brand. And they did it to the postman because they have always been taught by dad to/seen Daddy behave in this manner to “underlings.”

  • Nea

    Jesus had Opinions about monetizing religion.

  • Nea

    Were you searching in regular Google or family safe net-nanny mode, though?

  • Nea

    Whenever I hear of someone holstering anything in the small of their back, all I can think of is Mad-Eye Moody asking “Both buttocks still on?”

  • B.E. Miller

    “Do these parents want to raise their daughters to tolerate domestic abuse?”

    Feature, not a bug. (To these folks, I mean.)

  • B.E. Miller

    “Better wizards than you have lost a buttock.”

  • Friend

    Regular Google.

  • Nea

    I think the homeschool-Duggar-approved net nanny version may be inflating the importance of members of the evangelicult.


    I’d put a link to the statement but I’m impaired by my iPad only. My computer is in the mail and won’t get here until Wednesday. I couldn’t get them to write a statement about contraception, but they wrote a really nice one to explain why any surgery for a tubal and most ectopic pregnancies are not abortions. In mst situations involving tubas, the woman’s symptoms are usually hemorrhage which means that even the malnourished and malformed embryo is already long gone.

    Not all of the participants there share the same opinions on oral contraceptives, and they also have a section where many different doctors present writings of pro and contra.

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    I looked up T. Rex Arms because I thought it must be a joke (you know, T. Rex having little useless arms). HOLY CRAP do they sell thousands of holsters, holster holders, holster holder holsters, etc.

    “T.REX ARMS specializes in providing conventional and unconventional
    equipment for preserving human life. The products we manufacture are in
    service with citizens, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and
    members of the special operations community.”

    They look like they’re providing weapons for John Wick.

  • I want to let everyone here know how grateful I am for the thoughtful words, questions, and comments you’ve taken tome to post here about this. It’s helped me process all of it and re-examine my motives, past and present, for my choices about how and what to write about a topic that I find very troubling and sad. I fumbled over Luke 2 today when I was explaining why I named two of my cats Simeon and Anna. I burst into tears when I read anew that Simeon tells Mary after noting that many in Israel will rise and fall, that it will feel like a sword through Jesus and also through Mary’s on heart. It will reveal the hearts of many.

    Many have risen and fallen among this whole bunch of Christians who have embraced and/or made a living because of homeschooling. I feel pretty run through, and I’ve lost count at how many times that so many aspects of all of thes matters have hurt my tender heart. More people who share my opinions about the Botkin model have hurt me far more deeply than the accolytes. Even so, this letter has been quite painful primarily because I sought to help the Botkin daughters and many others like them.

    Thank you for challenging me with questions and creating a place that has helped me look at my own heart honestly. I know that many of you understand and also keep me accountable, because all daughters are important, no matter what they believe. And I felt like the King of Heaven came down to whisper right into my heart that He sees and knows well, and He knows that my tender heart hurts for these girls. But if they did indeed read every post that bore their Surname, I know that it hurt theirs to consider something so hard for them. I never aspired to hurt anyone, particularly not the children who have no other choice about what to believe.

    I didn’t need any of that, but I am very grateful to all of you.

    The splashes of levity, not meant maliciously, have been a much needed break in the heaviness, too. We need it when considering such a painful topic. I’ve also been moved to be thankful for the many blessings that my parents gave me, their great love for me, and a husband who is the finest man I know. My dad is close on his heels, too. I hope that through all the discussion that the truth shines through that we are all flawed, figure out much about life as we go, and especially when thinking about parents, we know that nearly all of them do the very best that they can for their children with all that they have to give. Parents tell a part of their own story if all that they had to give involved their own fear which too many have in abundance. If they had dysfunction to give, it tells something of the injustice that they suffered themselves. May God have great mercy on all of us as we figure all of that stuff out.

  • I have a copy of a Dilbert strip that says that!

  • Jennifer

    Ugh I bet that’s true; he even built a freaking dollhouse for them with servant’s quarters, I think. I imagine it’s also bc they’ve been taught to believe the world’s against them.

  • Jennifer

    You’re a hero to me 🙂

  • You must not get out much!

  • bekabot

    It’s always been hard to acquire fame, and it’s always been close-to-impossible to change its nature once it’s been acquired. The Botkin sisters aren’t Cynthia Kunsman’s victims but the victims of a law which has been in place so long it might as well have been instantiated by the Lord Himself…Who isn’t likely to repeal it for their benefit…and that’s all there is to that. (Too bad for them.)

  • Friend

    I wouldn’t know about that, as I just use plain ol’ butt-scratchin’ Google. ;^)

    But it’s not just the prominence of results. They are claiming that searches will yield negative results.

    If I search for “john doe” I will get one set of results. If I search for “john doe cultic diseased perverted family” I get an entirely different set of results. Bad publicity causes bad search results. People can unwittingly spread bad publicity about themselves by obsessively searching for the very thing they don’t want people to think about them. Once you do that, your own devices will be the last places the bad stuff disappears from.

    The cure,* by the way, is to put new good stuff about yourself out there and let the bad stuff drop from sight over time.

    *ETA: a remedy that does not cost money

  • persephone

    I don’t believe it was unintended at all. It keeps women living on a knife’s edge of insecurity, which is exactly what they want. Fear is part of the control.

  • Friend

    That might depend on the way each law is written, and who knows about the pregnancy. Unfortunately we are failing to have calm discussions about bills on the topic. I guess my other point is that people who promote these laws often also want home births without interference by medical and government authorities. Then an unreported stillbirth brings exactly that attention.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You can also pay to be bumped up in Google, or down. I suspect they don’t have the dough for that.

  • Friend

    Good point. There are also services like Reputation Defender… No idea how good they are or what they cost.

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    James MacDonald learned that the hard way, scant weeks ago. Think the Botkin sisters noticed?

  • mirele

    I’d just remind the Botkin sisters that they put themselves and their lives out there for emulation. And when they did that, the criticism can also come. As far as all this is concerned, the Botkin sisters are public figures. If they didn’t want their lives to be criticized, they should have kept their lives private. But no, they put out books and videos and went to conferences promoting their lifestyle as one that young women should engage in. Maybe the person Anna Sofia and Elizabeth should be blaming is their father, Geoff!

  • I I guess that the lesson from a decade before didn’t take very well.

  • Things like this don’t help, and often, the people who are zealots about these matters don’t have a sense of humor, so it’s intent to point out the irony falls on deaf ears. I’ve seen Doug Phillips do a lot of smiling, but it seemed like a spontaneous smile would cause his head to explode. He thought that the Bard’s Taming of the Shrew was a how-to manual. (That’s not satire.)

    That said, this not very helpful bill which aimed to point out the irony of their sexism with levity was initially pretty funny. To realize the stark lack of appreciation for humor in these very circles as they seem to take it seriously, it only demonstrates how truly sad this state of affairs has become.

  • B.E. Miller, when I read your comment to my husband, he asked me whether you worked for Agilent or whether you own one of their instruments. Their lab instrumentation doesn’t have problems. They seem to claim that they’re really features. He was impressed!

  • Delilah Hart

    To me, Botkin sounds kind of like “botulism.” I only bring this up on account of the fact that there really is a Botkin syndrome.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    New thing that just struck me when I popped over to copy the link to this post…

    They call me a medical professional. I’m not a medical professional. I’m a nurse, and at my level of education, the American Nurses Association classifies me as a “professional nurse” (BSN). I don’t practice medicine and don’t answer to anyone as a medical professional. I’m a nurse and am governed by the laws, statutes, and practice standards set by nursing and the States wherein I hold licensure. Medicine doesn’t supervise the profession of nursing, though nurses work with physicians as part of a multidisciplinary team. Advance practice nurses , nurse clinical specialists, forensic nurse specialists, and those with graduate degrees in the vast areas of specialty practice including administration who are appointed to the governing board of the ANA set standards of nursing practice. Individual states also have their own separate counterparts to the ANA at the state level which governs legal practice of nursing through licensure.

    Dunning Kreuger…. I just keep catching new elements of all this. It’s really pathetic in a very sad way. While it doesn’t demonstrate anything very positive about their characters (Christian thuggery), I think that I’m just now beginning to fathom what so many others have noted here. They have a very false sense of grandiosity and apparently really believe all of their own press. They think that they operate at a very high level of sophistication without any real clue of how unprepared they are and how ignorant they are about the person to whom they’ve written. Add it to the list of the awful ways this whole subculture has disenfranchised them.

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    When I first started writing on this topic, I’d think of both Shakespeare and PG Wodehouse, and their blood stained bodkins. He that keepeth his tongue keepeth his life. But when youre taught to be stabby….

  • Delilah Hart

    Speaking of bodkins, Google John Bodkin Adams. He was a doctor who was suspected of being a serial killer. I don’t think he was too “stabby,” though, unless you count injections.

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    I just finished reading the story you linked to, about Cheryl Lindsey and how the homeschooling bigwigs tried to put her out of business. Never knew about this until now — this story happened long before I’d even heard about Christian homeschooling, let alone the various abuses involved in it. “Revolting” is the only printable word I can think of to describe their treatment of Cheryl.

    Boutot’s “comply or you’ll die” nonsense disgusted me as well, all the more because he added, “and if you don’t die, it means you were never One Of Us”. What really jumped out to me, though, was this indefensible false equivalence from Mary Pride:

    In her posts, Pride went as far as to compare “remarried persons” to child molesters and serial murderers, concluding that, if one could forgive divorce and remarriage, “you should be willing to have a child molester run the nursery and a serial murderer stand there with a knife in his hand slicing the bread for the fellowship meal.”

    And then there was Phil Lancaster’s open letter:

    The Patriarch publisher described Cheryl’s influence as greater “in the lives of many women than their pastors or elders…you are a leader/teacher among women.” And continued by expressing his fear that, because of Cheryl’s example “many women who also have hard marriages will feel justified to make ungodly choices like divorce.”

    There it is. Lancaster let the cat out of the bag. They had to make an example out of Cheryl to keep other wives obedient to their crappy, abusive husbands. And all to the glory of God!

    Anyone else reminded of Queen Vashti’s husband, and his pathetic advisors?

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    From the end of the Botkin ladies’ letter: “Please inform us by January 22nd, 2019, of your plans for action, public retraction, and restitution.”

    Well, that date has come and gone. And based on her comments here, I assume that Cindy hasn’t complied with a single one of their demands.

    So…. what happens now? Does anything happen now? It sure doesn’t seem wise for these two women to set stipulations and a deadline (with an implied threat of some kind of action), when they obviously can’t do a thing to back up their demands. Did they really, truly think that vague threats and overblown verbiage would be enough to scare Cindy into compliance?

  • IIf it works, threatening to sue is free, and if you manage to scare and manipulate your critic into clamming up by writing a few letters and calling a few pastors to whine about your critic of interest, you don’t need a lawyer. You can save the money for buttering up your lawyer friends to get tips about how you can screw your creditors so that it’s too expensive and too complicated for them to sue you. If the Botkin daughters actually wrote this letter under their own steam as opposed to following someone’s directive to see how far in the process that they could get with me, they would have been wise to have saved the $20 that they paid to the USPS. Not only would I have given them the best address to reach me via delivery receipt, I could have given them the names of their predecessors (numbered along their former friends who were affiliated with Vision Forum who failed in their past attempts at this bullying with me. They could ask Phillips why he didn’t try.

    I don’t think that the SBC seminary deans would have admitted the truth to them, but I would have given them those names. They poormouthed me in such a ridiculous way and with such fury, maybe they would have learned something. I’d ask them to ask Voddie why he lied to his own parishioners, claiming that I was a liar. I could give them some of those names, too. I know that they would be thrilled to talk to them. Several people who I didn’t know from Adam wrote to me to offer to help me raise funds because Voddie claimed that he was suing me. I could quickly make a list for them, and there is more than one pastor on it. They chose to threaten the wrong chick.

    They could talk to my husband when we learned that people in high places claimed that I was a lesbian. If it were true, it would be one thing. My husband came home from work the day that I told him what I’d learned about that rumor, and he said, “Why am I always the last person who learns about these things?” He loves to recall it and tell his punchline himself.

    There are plenty of people to whom I could refer them to learn about how I generally respond to this kind of thing. I only pended material because I know what it is like to be subject to bounded choice and how powerful a parent’s influence can be when you live at home with them, even as an adult. I also put the material into draft (it’s all just a few clicks away) because the discussion was never about them. I only discussed their father’s pirated BS which is pieced together from all sorts of other self-proclaimed Christian experts in how to raise the right kind of family the right way. Geoff Botkin is like his other peers in what I see as Generation #2 of this tripe.

    None of them created new and original ideas which applied Christian principles anew. I could show the daughters from whence he cribbed a good bit of his material. They use anachronism to try to use elements of an idealized, fantastical views of those who applied Christian principles in their own eras as they lived their faith in cultures and societies that have come and gone. While you cal learn about what worked in 200 AD and in 1000 and 1300 and 1880 may inform your wisdom, reviving what those Christians did in their day only pulls you further over into the fringe.

  • Many of the players in this and other kinds of infighting will claim that I’d you don’t do what they want, they will claim that you will die. The ecclesiocentrists (I was shocked to learn that there is a term to describe it) like Bill Gothard is known to teach, if you go against the wishes of those above you in the chain of command, They believe that God will crush you.

    It may be cited here as something of a figure of speech, but the Calvinists and the Theonomists of today believe it to be a real possibility in the literal sense.

    Doug Wilson who is named in the most recent post here at NLQ is notorious for condoning the use of I precatory prayer — when you pray to God specifically asking for Him to punish those you don’t like by name. They are so sure of their own special status in God’s eyes, they think that it’s the Christian thing to pray and take joy in the misfortunes of their “heathen” critics.

    Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries offers a “church covenant” which he encourages churches to have members sign. His organization can then appeal to these signed documents to bully people by threading them with it. They think it’s a Christian duty to use the covenant against people as a legal tactic, as well as encouraging campaigns against individuals with the goal of having their church denounce them as non-Christians. That allows them the loophole to sue other Christians against the Apostle Paul’s imperative forbidding Christians taking one another to civil court.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yep, a real thing they think. Once Vyckie and I got emails from a women’s prayer group telling us that they were praying for us to get uterine cancer and die. I had to point out that both of us have had complete hysterectomies so they better pray for miraculously regrown uteri for us and for a reversal of menopause for me. It’s so damn silly and not at all Biblical.

  • B.E. Miller

    No, but my dad’s been into computers since the days of fortran and punch cards. Sort of like with Star Trek. Dad’s also a big fan of the original series. I’ve not watched it, but I sort of absorbed some stuff just from hearing bits of the series while he was watching.

    Dad’s babbled on about computers and other such things before. I’m not that expert on them (just an user.) So I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere before.

    Plus I’m not the only person posting “feature, not a bug” when it comes to some ‘flaw’ on CP fundamentalist Christianity. Just go read the comments of some of the articles on NLQ.

  • Nea

    Nothing makes an authoritarian piss their pants in fear faster than an intended victim showing other victims how to fight back.

  • Jennifer

    ..Pride was an unbelievable tool in her heyday, and Lancaster a pig so arrogant I could hardly ever believe any group published him. This just puts two more nails in their coffins.

  • Jennifer

    The utter, Godless pride in such VIOLENT thinking is horrific! I’ve been flaming angry at these people and never wished, much less prayed, cancer on them. There’s got to be a rusty cork in the mental springs somewhere, but I LOVE your response!

  • Jennifer

    Which boorish James Mcdonald is that? The mega-douche pastor, or Stacy Mcd’s hubby?

  • Jennifer

    Oh never mind, caught the spelling.

  • Jennifer

    Oh yeah, just amazes me they’d think that remotely applies to Cindy.

  • Jennifer

    That’s what makes me think so much of this was based on pure emotion, likely without seriously consulting any legal expert. And that in turn caused me to wonder if their apparently recent visit to Cindy’s blog was actually the first one ever. They were sheltered extremely as teens, with their imbecile father even promising in their first book to protect them “when the critics landed on them with spurs” or some nonsense. It’s possible they were fully exposed to Cindy’s blogs for the first time recently, and imagine seeing all those dates and details about their father’s cultic insanity. I’ve always wondered how much he’s concealed from them about his past.

  • Jennifer

    Ok, this is getting creepy..

  • Jennifer

    That would be a grand, grand day.

  • Jennifer

    That story was the VERY first time I ever heard of the idea of wives obeying their husbands (I had to be close to a preteen). I scoffed at the men’s idiocy and Mom had to explain some people used to believe that. Am I blessed or what with the family I was born with?

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    Yeah, the first one you mentioned. If you’re interested in the details, here they are:

  • Lancaster published himself. The mystery is why anyone bought it. But I’d say the same thing about Mary Pride’s rag about HELP for young families. That was the epitome of awful pro life propaganda.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I lost it when the semophore flags came up from the cradle. ;-D

  • Astrin Ymris

    When I Googled “appendix carry” one of the first autofills was “appendix carry accidents”. I would imagine that is enough reason for T.Rex Arms to be losing sales.

  • Aloha

    Even this long and very specific letter was supposedly composed and signed by both … How can you even do that? To think exactly the same thing?

  • CindyatUnderMuchGraceDOTcom

    Epiphany of the day: They call me Mrs. Why am I not Dr to them?

  • keepitreal

    Welcome to free speech, enmeshed stay-at-home sisters. You’ve both been living in such a bubble that it must be
    a real shock to realize that some see your situation for exactly what it is: sick. You’re as free to disagree as Cindy is to analyze you and speak her opinion. Your parents were such control freaks over what you said and thought that now YOU both are projecting THAT onto the rest of the world.

  • Now that I’m no longer held hostage by an iPad thanks to my shiny, new $200 reconditioned apple, I’ve taken screenshots of the scanned pdf of the Botkin letter. I’ve displayed them here.

  • LyndenTree63

    If “Botkin syndrome” is really having so much of a negative impact on their entire family (brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, parents), why is this letter just from Anna-Sofia and Elizabeth?