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February 22, 2019

Christian homeschoolers in California who kept their children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks” have entered a guilty plea to multiple felony charges of torture and other abuse.

David and Louise Turpin are expected to spend 25 years-to-life in prison after pleading guilty to multiple felony charges of torturing and abusing their children.

Associated Press reports:

David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty Friday in Riverside County Superior Court to torture and other abuse in a case dubbed a “house of horrors.” The charges included abuse of their 12 oldest children.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin says the couple will be sentenced April 19 to 25 years-to-life in prison.

Hestrin says the guilty pleas were important to protect the children from having to testify.

The children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29 at the time, were severely underweight and hadn’t bathed for months and the house reeked of human waste when the couple was arrested last year.

The Christian homeschoolers were placed under arrest in January 2018 after police found their 13 children emaciated and “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” in their family home.

Commenting on the family, James and Betty Turpin, the parents of David Turpin, and grandparents to the abused children, said that “God called on them” (referring to their son David and his wife Louise) to have as many children as possible.

The grandparents also report that the children were given “very strict home-schooling,” and that the children were forced to memorize long passages of the Bible.

The Washington Post reports:

The siblings’ grandparents told ABC News that during the children’s home schooling, they were made to memorize long scriptures of the Bible, with some memorizing the entire book.

Commenting on the horrific case, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said:

This is severe, emotional and physical abuse. There is no way around that. This is depraved conduct.

In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen. We are fully prepared to seek justice in this case and to do so in a way that protects all of these victims from further harm.

Hestrin noted that while the children were supposed to be homeschooled, they were so clueless about the world that “many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was.”

Note: While homeschooling can be a good fit for some children, often parents are not qualified either by temperament or by education to be homeschooling their children. Add to that the ignorance and bigotry associated with religious superstition, and one is left with a toxic brew ripe for abuse and neglect in the world of Christian homeschooling.

However, being shackled and tortured is not the only hazard faced by children forced into the secretive and sometimes dangerous world of Christian homeschooling. One need only recall the tragic life and death of Leelah Alcorn, or the tragic circumstances of the Duggar family, to recognize the dangers inherent in the Christian homeschooling movement.

Bottom line: Christian homeschoolers in California who kept their children shackled to their beds in dark and foul-smelling surroundings while forcing them to memorize Bible verses have pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges of torture and abuse and are expected to serve 25 years-to-life in prison for their crimes.

Christian Homeschoolers Plead Guilty To Torture And Abuse Of Their 13 Children (Turpin family image via Facebook)
Christian Homeschoolers Plead Guilty To Torture And Abuse Of Their 13 Children (Turpin family image via Facebook)
January 19, 2018

Christian homeschoolers in California accused of torturing their 13 children plead not guilty, and are held on bail of $12 million each.

David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were placed under arrest earlier this week after police found their 13 children emaciated and “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” in their family home.

ABC News reports the couple “face up to 94 years to life in prison if convicted of a number of charges,” noting:

The Turpins appeared in court Thursday afternoon shackled and in dress clothes and entered pleas of not guilty at their arraignment. A court conference was scheduled for Feb. 23 in Riverside. They were ordered held on bail of $12 million each.

The Turpins are charged with 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse on a dependent adult, 12 counts of false imprisonment and six counts of child abuse, each.

David Turpin faces an additional charge of committing a lewd act on a child by force.

James and Betty Turpin, the parents of David Turpin, and grandparents to the abused children, said that “God called on them” (referring to their son David and his wife Louise) to have as many children as possible.

The grandparents also report that the children were given “very strict home-schooling,” and that the children were forced to memorize long passages of the Bible.

The Washington Post reports:

The siblings’ grandparents told ABC News that during the children’s home schooling, they were made to memorize long scriptures of the Bible, with some memorizing the entire book.

Commenting on the horrific case, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said:

This is severe, emotional and physical abuse. There is no way around that. This is depraved conduct.

In more than 20 years as a prosecutor in Riverside County, this is one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen. We are fully prepared to seek justice in this case and to do so in a way that protects all of these victims from further harm.

Hestrin noted that while the children were supposed to be homeschooled, they were so clueless about the world that “many of the children didn’t know what a police officer was.”

Note: While homeschooling can be a good fit for some children, often the parents are not qualified either by temperament or education to be homeschooling their children. Add to that the ignorance and bigotry associated with religious superstition, and one is left with a toxic brew ripe for abuse and neglect in the world of Christian homeschooling.

However, being shackled and tortured is not the only hazard faced by children forced into the secretive and sometimes dangerous world of Christian homeschooling. One need only recall the tragic life and death of Leelah Alcorn, or the tragic circumstances of the Duggar family, to recognize the dangers inherent in the Christian homeschooling movement.

Bottom line: Christian homeschoolers in California who kept their children shackled to their beds in dark and foul-smelling surroundings while forcing them to memorize Bible verses plead not guilty to multiple charges of torture and abuse.

Christian Homeschoolers Plead Not Guilty In Torture Case (Image via Facebook)
Christian Homeschoolers Plead Not Guilty In Torture Case (Image via Facebook)
January 16, 2018

House of Horror: Christian homeschoolers in California kept their children “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks.”

A California couple is under arrest after police found their 13 children emaciated and “shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings” in their family home.

The parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are currently being held on charges of torture and child endangerment. Bail is set at $9,000,000 each.

Local police were alerted to the horrific crime after one of the children managed to escape the house of horrors and contact the authorities.

A press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department describes the horrific scene found at the home:

investigation revealed several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings

The release continues:

but the parents were unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner.

Police officers were later “shocked” to find that seven of the 13 children were actually adults between 18 and 29 years-of-age. Due to the severe malnutrition, reports indicate the adults being held captive actually looked like children.

James and Betty Turpin, the parents of David Turpin, and grandparents to the abused children, said that “God called on them” (referring to their son David and his wife Louise) to have as many children as possible.

The grandparents also report that the children were given “very strict home-schooling,” and that the children were forced to memorize long passages of the Bible.

In fact, the family home where the children were tortured and abused is also a registered private school called the Sandcastle Day School. David Turpin is listed as the principal of the school.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that registering a residence as a private school is a common practice among Christian homeschoolers in California who seek exemption from the California compulsory education law.

The fact is, while homeschooling can be a good fit for some children, often the parents are not qualified either by temperament or education to be homeschooling their children. Add to that the ignorance and bigotry associated with religious superstition, and one is left with a toxic brew ripe for abuse and neglect. 

However, being shackled and tortured is not the only hazard faced by children forced into the secretive and sometimes dangerous world of Christian homeschooling. One need only recall the tragic life and death of Leelah Alcorn, or the tragic circumstances of the Duggar family, to recognize the dangers inherent in the Christian homeschooling movement.

Bottom line: Christian homeschoolers in California kept their children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings, while forcing them to memorize Bible verses. One can only wonder how many other children are being neglected and abused by other unsupervised and unqualified Christian homeschoolers across the country.

And, as always, it is the children who suffer for the parents’ folly.

**** UPDATE ****

Christian Homeschoolers Get 25 Years To Life For Torture And Abuse Of Their 13 Children

Christian Homeschoolers Kept Children Shackled To Beds (Turpin family image via Facebook)
Christian Homeschoolers Kept Children Shackled To Beds (Turpin family image via Facebook)
July 13, 2017

Toby Willis, the father on TLC’s Christian reality show “The Willis Family” is sentenced to 40 years in prison for child rape.

Willis, father of 12 children, pleaded guilty to four counts of child rape on Tuesday. Before being arrested and charged last September with the rape of a young girl Willis starred in the TLC reality show “The Willis Family.”

Commenting on the story, Joe.My.God. reports:

Willis and his wife Brenda — like Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar — are Quiverfull parents, adherents to a Christian dominionist sect that encourages married couples to produce as many offspring as possible in order to raise an army of believers.

The word “Quiverfull” comes from the Old Testament Psalms of the Christian Bible. Psalm 127 says, “Children are a blessing from the Lord…happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.”

Indeed, before being pulled off the air, the TLC program about the Willis family was promoting the radical conservative Christian movement known as  Quiverfull, a movement where children are raised to be cannon fodder in the Lord’s army: culture warriors bred to promote an ugly, intolerant, sexist, and homophobic brand of Christian extremism.

HuffPost reports on the family’s background and rise to stardom in the world of Christian entertainment:

Willis, his wife, Brenda, and their 12 musically-inclined children became household names after they appeared on Season 9 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2014. The parents and their kids, then ranging in ages from 5 to 24, performed under the name The Willis Clan and were frequently compared to a “modern-day Partridge family.” The clan eventually landed their own show on TLC…

HuffPost goes on to note that since the criminal complaints were raised against the family patriarch, TLC has tried to erase their connection with the family:

“The Willis Family” has since been removed from all digital and social platforms on TLC.

Previously TLC cancelled “19 Kids and Counting,” another Christian reality show that promoted the Quiverfull movement, after it was revealed that Josh Duggar sexually assaulted four of his underage sisters plus an additional underage female victim.

People reports on the details of the sentencing for Willis:

Willis received 25-year sentences on two of the rape counts and 40-year sentences on the other two counts, according to Julie Hibbs, the circuit court clerk in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

Hibbs tells PEOPLE the four sentences will run concurrently and be served in their entirety — meaning Willis, a 47-year-old father of 12, will be in prison for 40 years.

Bottom line: Christian reality show star Toby Willis is sentenced to 40 Years for child rape. A man who was valorized by conservative Christians as a model father and a credit to the faith winds up being a sexual predator and a child rapist. Tragic, but not surprising. And, as always, it is the children who suffer.

Christian Reality Show Star Toby Willis (Image via TBI)
Christian Reality Show Star Toby Willis (Image via TBI)

 

July 7, 2016

Atheist Aron Ra schools leading creationist Eric Hovind at a protest outside Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter.

A video posted by Friendly Atheist and reported on by Raw Story shows creationist Eric Hovind getting into a debate about evolution with atheist Aron Ra.

At one point in the heated exchange Hovind asks Ra:

Do you believe we came from an ape-like ancestor?

An obviously annoyed Ra replied:

Yes. Apes don’t have tails — learn taxonomy! So yes, you are an ape, by definition.

However, Ra’s remarks apparently sailed over the head of the uninformed Hovind, who goes on to accuse Ra of making an ad hominem attack, failing to understand that human beings are considered apes from a scientific standpoint.

The conversation degenerates even further as Hovind’s companion then accuses Ra of sounding like Adolf Hitler, which is, as Raw Story notes, a surefire way to signal that you’ve lost an argument.

This is not the first time Hovind has embarrassed himself in public. Last year the leading creationist defended child molester Josh Duggar by arguing that if evolution is true, it wasn’t wrong for Josh Duggar to sexually assault little girls, “because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter.”

As for Aron Ra, he is the Texas state-director of the American Atheists, co-host of the Ra-Men Podcast, a public speaker, a video producer, and a blogger at Patheos.

Watch the exchange between Ra and Hovind below:

(Image via Screen Grab)
(Image via Screen Grab)
May 6, 2016

Busted: After negative media attention the Salvation Army has cancelled a conference to arrange child marriages for Christian homeschoolers.

The “Let Them Marry” retreat was planned for November, and was “designed to bring together like-minded families who are committed to young, fruitful marriage and to help them overcome the barriers which have kept their children unmarried.”

In essence, the conference was a gathering for parents to arrange marriages for their teen daughters without their child’s consent, while making a profit from the transaction.

After multiple reports about the conference dedicated to arranging child marriages, concerned citizens contacted the the Salvation Army of Wichita/Sedgwick County where the conference was to be held. As a result of citizen complaints, the conference was cancelled.

The Salvation Army of Wichita/Sedgwick County released the following statement announcing the decision to cancel the event:

The Salvation Army has denied a request by the Let Them Marry organization to conduct its event at Camp Hiawatha.

Our decision is based upon our long-standing concern for the welfare of children. At The Salvation Army, we work every single day to provide a safe, caring place for children, many of whom have been left vulnerable due to the actions of adults.

We remain steadfastly focused on our mission of advocating for and protecting children.

The “Let Them Marry” website issued the following brief statement:

Note: The November Get Them Married Retreat has been cancelled.

And the group, embarrassed by all the negative publicity, attempted to deny any wrongdoing:

Note: Contrary to vicious internet rumors we do not support or in any way condone child sexual activity of any sort, child marriage, or any other illegal activity. Nor do we support or condone forced marriages. We believe that parents should NOT seek a spouse for a child where that child has not actively sought for the parents to do so.

Yet despite the group’s denial, a glance at the the website’s Frequently Asked Questions shows that the group not only condones child marriage but actively promotes child marriage. Further, the group cites Biblical scripture to defend the position that children are essentially the property of the father to be sold into marriage without their consent.

For the record, the Salvation Army deserves credit for doing the right thing and rejecting the conference. However the underlying problem remains. The “Let Them Marry” group and philosophy continues to exist, and as long as that group and philosophy continues to exist, children will continue to be exploited.

For more on the group and the canceled conference see: Conference Will Arrange Child Marriages For Christian Homeschoolers.

(Image via Wikimedia)
(Image via Wikimedia)
January 12, 2016

Conservative Christian lawmakers in Virginia want authorities to inspect school children’s genitals to make sure they are using the appropriate bathroom.

A new bill introduced this week by Virginia Delegate Mark Cole requires that students strictly adhere to designated restroom assignments or risk being fined.

The legislation as filed requires that students attending schools designating restrooms for a specific gender be fined up to $50 if they use the restroom of the opposite gender.

A summary of HB 663 – otherwise known as “Use of restroom facilities; penalty” – states:

Use of restroom facilities; penalty. Requires the Director of the Department of General Services and local school boards to develop and implement policies that require, respectively, that every restroom designated for public use in any public building on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth and every public school restroom, locker room, and shower room that is designated for use by a specific gender to solely be used by individuals whose anatomical sex matches such gender . . . 

The bill defines anatomical sex as:

the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s anatomy.

As Crooks and Liars points out, under that definition, the only way for anyone to determine such a thing would be to examine each student’s genitalia as they enter the restroom.

And Peacock Panache echoes this analysis:

the legislation targets public schools where in order for the legislation to work, adults would be required to inspect children’s genitals before they use the bathroom.

Mark Cole, the Republican lawmaker behind the bill, is no stranger to idiotic Christian extremism. In February 2010 Cole sponsored a bill in the House of Delegates which would have banned the implantation of microchips into humans by their employers. At the time Cole was ridiculed by many after justifying the legislation by referencing the Bible:

My understanding — I’m not a theologian — but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times, some people think these computer chips might be that mark.

Christian conservatives expressing panic at the thought of transgender individuals using public bathrooms is nothing new. For example, Republican Colorado lawmaker Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt has repeatedly demanded that transgender people be prohibited from using public bathrooms.

Republican Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee recently mocked transgender individuals need to use public bathrooms while wishing he could have said he was transgender while in high school so he could have showered “with the girls.”

And before scandal rocked the world of 19 Kids and Counting matriarch Michelle Duggar, she was making robocalls describing transgender people as “child predators” while claiming that trans women are actually male sex offenders who want access to women’s locker rooms and bathrooms.

Bottom line: The proposed legislation to inspect school children’s genitals to make sure they are using the appropriate bathroom is yet another despicable expression of conservative Christian fear and hatred for the transgender community.

(Image via Flickr)
(Image via Flickr)
October 28, 2015

Toledo, Ohio mayoral candidate and devout Republican Opal Covey is on a mission from God “to bring the citizens out of slavery from the Democrats.”

Covey, a  self-proclaimed prophetess, spoke to Esquire.com earlier this week about her campaign for mayor, decalring:

God sent me here to bring the citizens out of slavery from the Democrats, they’ve been in power for 48 years. I came here to bring them out like Moses brought the slaves out from under this horrible Democrat government that we have in Toledo.

Covey told Esquire.com that she has given a blind woman sight, and says she’s healed deformed limbs.

In addition, Covey claims she can perform exorcisms and has cast out more than 30 demons, and she can also speak in tongues.

Covey said:

I perform miracles through the holy spirit. I have traveled, and everywhere I go people are helped because they know I am a woman of God. Everything I tell them comes to pass.

Earlier this month, Covey warned that if she is not elected mayor God will “visit the city in the greatest destruction” they’ve ever seen.

The self-proclaimed prophetess insists it’s God’s plan for her to lead the city, and if she’s not elected, God will be very angry.

Covey told The Toledo Blade:

I have to run until I become mayor. This is God’s plan, for me to be here and to be mayor.

Speaking with NBC24 Covey said:

God sent me to look upon Toledo…

Covey said she feels she has been robbed of votes as part of what she believes to be ongoing corruption in city government:

I’ve run four times, this will be my fifth. I won the election in 2013 – it might be a shock to you, but not to a lot of people because my votes have been stolen ever since I’ve been running.

NBC24 reports that prior to the conclusion of the interview Covey was asked if there was anything else she would like to add. After pausing, Covey said:

Great destruction will come upon… (speaking in tongues – much gibberish)…

Thank you, Jesus. That was a confirmation. If people don’t give me what I earned in 2013 back, and I’m not on that seat in November, then you’ll see God come and visit in the city in the greatest destruction you’ve ever seen.

Covey, a Republican, is making her fifth run for the mayoral office.

(Portions of this post were previously published here)

(Image via Screen Grab)
(Image via Screen Grab)
October 27, 2015

Creationist Ken Ham argues that people will abandon clothing if a literal interpretation of the Bible is rejected and same-sex marriage is accepted as the law of the land.

Right Wing Watch reports Ham joined the Point of View radio program last week to discuss his worries that younger generations of Christians no longer believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Ham warned that losing a literal interpretation of the Bible could threaten not just Creationism but also the concept of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, and even the wearing of clothing.

Ham wants pastors and others to drop the phrase “Bible story” and instead “emphasize that it’s a book of history because Christianity is based in real history, it’s a history you can trust.”

Ham said:

The doctrine of marriage is based there upon the literal history of Genesis. But if that history is not true, if there was no literal Adam and Eve, then what is marriage, why is it to be a man and a woman? It’s only a man and a woman because God invented marriage, and he invented marriage when he made the first marriage, Adam and Eve.

Ham added that “the origin of clothing is right there in Genesis,” so “if you abandon Genesis’ literal history of marriage and say marriage can be two men or two women or whatever you want, well why not abandon clothing?”

Ham’s reasoning makes no sense, but that is nothing new. Previously the confused and sometimes perverse creationist argued that without God, he would feel no moral prohibition against raping animals or children.

Indeed, for Ham it seems the only thing that prevents him from raping children and farm animal while running around naked is a literal interpretation of the Bible.

This strange and perverse idea that if creationism and a literal interpretation of the Bible is false, then everything and anything is morally permissible, including the rape of animals and children, is a common theme among Christian creationists and other Christian fundamentalists.

For example, recently, another leading Christian creationist, Eric Hovind, argued that if evolution is true, it wasn’t wrong for Josh Duggar to sexually assault little girls, “because what one evolved bag of molecules does to another bag of molecules just doesn’t really matter.”

The simple minded moral arguments (if they can be called arguments at all) made by creationists like Ham and Hovind are absurd obscenities that reveal a profound poverty of both intellect and character.

Bottom line: There is nothing wrong with being a nudist. However, there is something wrong about suggesting that nudism will follow if a literal interpretation of the Bible is rejected. Such assertions reflect a much deeper problem concerning the moral reasoning of Ham and other Biblical literalists.

(H/T Right Wing Watch)

Listen to the conversation below:

(Image via Facebook)
The Devolution of Ken Ham (Image via Facebook)
October 26, 2015

A conservative Christian website advises husbands that if the wife is resisting during sexual intercourse, the best course of action is to carry on and avoid looking at her face.

Claiming that men “should not tolerate refusal,” a post on the conservative Christian website BiblicalGenderRoles.com advises married men that they should not look at their wives’ faces during sex if she is engaging in intercourse “begrudgingly.”

The Christian website advises wives who do not enjoy sex with their husbands to “fake it” and offers the following advice to husbands when wives refuse to “fake it”:

Your beautiful bride’s face becomes ugly during this sinful time that she is grudgingly giving you sex as she grimaces wanting you to ‘just hurry up and get it over with’…

Focus your eyes on her body, not her face. Focus on the visual pleasure you receive from looking at her body and physical pleasure you receive from being inside your wife. You want to connect with her physically AND emotionally during sex. But your wife is the one refusing to connect with you emotionally, so you have to concentrate 100% on the physical side.

In other words, to maximize pleasure, a husband should try not to look at his wife’s face while he rapes her.

In essence, the author of the post justifies what amounts to marital rape by invoking “the Biblical concept that sex is both a gift and a duty in marriage” and referencing several Bible quotes.

This is not the first time the popular conservative Christian website has endorsed what amounts to marital rape. A previous post argued that “it is impossible” for a man to rape his wife, while patiently explaining to a distraught Christian wife why marital rape is acceptable from a Biblical perspective.

Reporting for Raw Story, Vyckie Garrison, a former adherent of the Quiverfull movement who also blogs at No Longer Quivering, offered the following comment on the conservative Christian website:

I wish I could say the teachings at “Biblical Gender Roles” are a rare and extreme interpretation of biblical manhood and womanhood in American contemporary Christian community, but while the anonymous fundamentalist writer lacks much of the subtly and sugar coating of more established and prominent ministries, his interpretations and instruction are not misrepresentative of the “biblical” advice which married couples who seek Christian counselling for relational problems encounter on a daily basis.

Garrison is correct. The feeling that Christian women must submit to their husbands sexual demands is more mainstream than some would like to think. Earlier this month, disgraced Duggar family matriarch Michelle Duggar had some awful advice for newlywed women:

Be “joyfully available” to your husband’s sexual needs at all times, whether you feel like it or not, because a wife must always submit to her husband’s sexual desires.

Of course, it should be noted that not all Christians agree that wives should submit to marital rape. However, as is usual with most forms of religious fundamentalism, it is the women who suffer the most, while men are given permission to treat their wives not as people, but as property.

Bottom line: It’s the 21st century, but for some women, the sick and twisted Christian patriarchy is alive and well.

(Image via Wikimedia)
(Image via Wikimedia)

 




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