203 thoughts on “Don’t Turn Away: Trouble in the Homeschool Movement

  1. I appreciate your bold honesty on this topic. I, too, have been grieved by the seeming lack of concern for the victims in these situations and most abuses in general.

    With regards to the ministries themselves, I would ask my sisters and brothers in Christ to extend to them the very same grace and mercy Jesus extends to us. We don’t need to bicker about who is Biblical and who is not. There are many interpretations of Scripture. We will see clearly some day. 1 Cor 13:12 comes to mind.


    1. Thanks Cristy. Agree that there are many interpretations of Scripture. There are also some absolutes. But in areas of personal freedom, we must extend grace. Biblical teachers who say their interpretation is the only way and who reject others who don’t see it their way trouble me deeply. Thanks for writing.

      1. Can I just say, there are definitely absolutes in scripture…then there are areas where men say “Thus saith the Lord!!!” Often it’s a set of man made, external rules you have to follow to be ‘holy’ – and the majority of time, women end up being the ones with all the rules enforced upon them. Unfortunately, like the scribes and pharisees, the outside might look fine, but since God is looking at the inside, it gives you cause to wonder.

        We need to know God’s Word. I have only seen legalism breed rebellion…that makes me sad.

    2. There are many interpretations of Scripture that fall within the big tent of Christian orthodoxy, true.

      But it is not bickering about who is biblical and who is not to point out obvious and potentially spiritually abusive twisting of the Bible’s most essential messages (i.e. grace or the spiritual equality of women), which is exactly what many who have been wounded by these patriarchy “ministries” are trying to do. That is not bickering, it’s standing up for truth and advocating for the hurting, which what Christians do.

      I am appalled by the “let’s not judge” attitude that prevails in homeschooling circles and allows teachers who can clearly be shown to be far outside the range of orthodox interpretations on important matters of faith and practice to be welcomed into conventions, seminars, and book fairs where they are given a microphone. It is not unfair that people associate Vision Forum and ATI and related groups with all homeschooling. We have allowed them to pass themselves off as mainstream by our “live and let live” passivity. More people need to challenge them on their theology and practices.

      Nice post, Heidi.

      1. That is awesome Christy!!! I am totally all about challenging the theology of all teachings that come in the name of Jesus… We are all supposed to test the spirits …(1John3)…I just wish more Christians would start doing their part to keep the wolves OUT of the Church!

  2. I’ve never even heard of these guys—maybe because I’m a one kid wonder. Even stranger, I’m a homeschool-mom-one-kid-wonder. By choice. That’s almost unheard of! Although I hate to see people hurt, I find it hard to feel sorry for someone being deceived because they refuse to study the Scriptures for themselves. I’ve done so in the past, & believed things I no longer believe today, because it “sounded right” & it’s what I was being taught. But now I don’t take anyone’s word for it. Be a Berean is what I tell people. Make sure what your pastor, your spouse, your friend, your favorite televangelist is saying is true! You don’t have to have a huge IQ to study the Bible. Peter was an ignorant fisherman! No excuses. & in this day & age, it’s not optional. We WILL be deceived if we don’t dig into the Word for ourselves.

      1. I definitely DO feel for anyone sexually abused, regardless of HOW it happened. I realize my comment might sound insensitive to that. Definitely not what I meant.

        1. Lara, I just wanted to encourage you that many people DO study the bible for themselves but are still led astray. These men have a very subtle way of twisting scripture and making it sound biblical. It happens ALL the time. It’s also very hard to explain unless it happens to you. This is why smart, educated people end up in cults. And….I do believe this is a cult.

        2. @ Lara Thanks my sentiments exactly. as long as we remember to turn to God’s word and remember how fallible we are (Our righteousness = filthy rags) We can move forward with peace love and gentleness.

    1. Lara,
      I could have almost written your post for myself. I’ve never heard of these people, although I do know of the quiverful idea. Our child is only in first grade, so I’ve not been homeschooling a long time. I feel sorry for the people who have been hurt, and I also feel embarrassed whenever scandals like this come out. It makes me feel frustrated that people like this are in any kind of leadership position.

      Heidi–thanks for being open and frank about this topic. I totally agree that pretending or excusing it is ridiculous. Everyone around can see it, so why not just be honest about how it affects us, why it’s wrong, etc.


  3. Bravo, Heidi!! Bold, brave words. Thank you for sharing them. I have several dear friends entrenched in this “movement” with whom I have been working up the courage to share my concerns. Your honesty…spoken with love, gentleness, and concern has encouraged me not to be timid. God bless!! And thanks!

  4. Can I say, Amen!?!?! I think that was very well put. I won’t add anything further here, so as not to insert my own opinion, but I would state that while we only have 2 children, we believe they are the quiver the Lord has given to us. I would also say, I never associated homeschool with either of those persons. I believe homeschool has been in existence long before they were on the face of the earth. I also thank God for the opportunity to teach and train my children at home. It is an awesome responsibility, for which I daily need His strength and guidance. Thank you for your honesty. God bless!

    1. Keep thanking God for that opportunity, Anita—and keep being vigilant to defend it. We do need His daily strength and guidance. Blessings to you!

  5. AMEN! Heidi! I appreciate your taking such a strong stand in this area. I have been so bothered by the way we tend to “sweep the dirt under the rug.” I know you realize you may get some big negative feedback from this… but I for one, am SO thankful you took the courage to say the truth. Far too many things have been hushed and hidden, only to allow more people to become hurt. Thank you! You are quite a blessing to me in my journey.

  6. This is sad and pathetic. I don’t even pretend to know what really went on with those two men. I’m just wondering when in the world Christians are going to stop attacking other Christians and make a stand against the world? Christianity is growing weaker by the day because we’re too busy fighting amongst ourselves. Christianity is the only religion in the world with soooooo many factions! It’s unbelievable! Why aren’t we putting forth as much effort and condemnation against the evil of this world? Why aren’t we taking our fight to the streets to turn this world to righteousness and away from sin? When are we going to stand together and fight for the cause of Christ? Instead we spend our time throwing stones at the leaders because someone decided to make allegations of things that happened 20 plus years ago. Instead we decide to persecute the leaders that go forth to make a difference in other people’s lives. We stand back and hide behind our own self-righteousness and pretend that our sin is whiter than theirs. We condemn, ridicule, and judge when we have no leg to stand on. We demand things we have no right demanding. We blog and write and gossip, but do we lift them up in prayer? Do we stop to think that maybe, just maybe they are not guilty of the crimes they are being accused of? No, instead like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, we cry out “Crucify him, crucify him”. We take the word of someone we know nothing about. Someone who would have gone unheard of in this lifetime except they accused a well-known leader of a heinous crime. A well-known Christian leader. Why are not the Muslim leaders accused of this? Why not a Hindu priest? Why not an atheist? Because it is Christian persecution and we are too blind to see it for what it really is. Until we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what is being said is truth, I think we need to keep our mouths shut and pray.

    1. Jennifer, thank you for posting. I agree with you to a point. We do need to be exposing sin among our own. It’s being exposed by those who are watching and makes us ineffective and disingenuous, not to mention hypocritical. My message is not to an unsaved world, it is to those who claim to know Christ but who are leading God’s people astray. The Bible is clear on how we must address sin within our own body. Running is not the way. We cling to Christ. Everyone has sin issues but those in leadership will always be held to a higher account. So pray yes, but shutup and pray? Not in this case.

      1. I am glad you did say something. This article made clear thoughts churning in my heart that I have been processing for awhile.

    2. Jennifer said: “Why aren’t we putting forth as much effort and condemnation against the evil of this world?”

      When these self appointed man-made ministries are committing the evils of this world, it behooves all Christians to speak out against them.

      No one of those men deserves to have his sin covered up so that more innocent victims can be harmed.

      Trying to cover up sins and crimes of people within the church does no good to the cause of Christ and the cover-ups are what lead to a weak church.

      Why, I can not understand, why, and this is my hearts cry, why is anyone thinking that allowing these crimes to go unpunished and remained covered up is a good thing?

    3. Amen and we’ll said. Plus, people who choose not to believe or follow biblical truths are quick to cry legalism. Maybe…just maybe YOU are wrong. Everyone is quick to boast their beliefs as solid yet not all can be right. Bill Goddard has not been convicted of any acts, only accused to which no one knows whether or not it’s true. If he is, is his sin greater than any of yours? If he fell weak to a wicked spirit should we not pray for him. The enemy is working double time you snare as many souls as possible and rather than praying for and building up our brothers we’re tearing then down and condemning them. Shame on anyone judging these men. If there I’d judgment to be handed down, God will be just and doesn’t need our help. God will forgive him much sooner than many posting on here will. I pray for all involved directly and indirectly.

      1. We have to shine light on things, Dawn. We can’t sweep them under the carpet and pretend it is not happening. His organization removing him is enough proof for me. Now,the real work of healing and change…of relying on God’s spirit begins. Keep praying. Thanks for posting.

      2. Dawn and Jennifer, please imagine if you were a victim and you had your family of believers treat your allegations with such skepticism. How would you feel? Leaders in the church are absolutely held to a higher standard (James 3:1, Titus 1:7-9). They are in a position of power and trust. Of course we should pray for all involved, and only God and those involved know the truth, but let’s not dismiss bringing sin into the light as simply gossiping. Transparency is vitally important for not just the health of the homeschooling community, but the church as a whole.

        1. Hi, I just heard on the radio yesterday about Mr. Gothard and the allegations against him and am greatly saddened. I was very encouraged to read that Dr. David Gibbs from the CLA was asked to help in the matter. I question saying Mr. Gothard was asked to step down “says much”. It happens all the time in the police force or in business situations so why wouldn’t it happen here for
          investigation to happen to “get to the bottom of it”. Maybe Mr. Gothard fell, maybe not. But we know that the devil’s job is to kill, steal and destroy. May we pray aright.

          1. When over 30 women come forward, it’s safe to say something is terribly wrong, Connie. I have attended his seminars. Honestly, I’ve been wondering why it took so long. Sad, but time to watch who we are elevating. Man, or God?

          2. Actually there are more than 50 of us women now (me included) that have come forward as Bill Gothard’s victims, ranging from sexual harassment to molestation. and actually, No, we do not feel “encouraged” that the Gibbs law firm was hired by the IBLP board to help in this matter. Gibbs has a past history of representing Christian leaders and organizations which have had allegations of sexual misconduct. Plus, he has long been associated with IBLP/ ATI and has spoken at some of their seminars. This is an “internal investigation” (at best) with an obvious conflict of interest. We are urging the IBLP board if they want the results to be above board and respected, they need to get a 3rd party investigation team. Then we victims will feel more safe and be more willing to participate when we know our words will not be twisted or slandered for the ultimate protection of the man and institution.

      3. Dawn: of course we should pray for him. The question is, is that ALL we should do?

        There are many Biblical qualifications for elders, including these, in 1 Timothy 3:
        “An overseer, then, must be above reproach… prudent, respectable… And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

        If elders are not held responsible to be this type of people, then what has the church become?

        1. We think that the stories that are coming in are only scratching the surface of all the victims that are yet to come out. But folks…even if it is ONLY 1 or 2….isn’t that bad enough??? I am so shocked at how quick everyone is at praying and trying to protect Gothard– yet very little is said about the victims. My prayers are for THEM and for the believers who are willing to take a stand against this DARKNESS and confront it. Judgement MUST begin at the house of God. For too long…the Church is pointing its finger at the world and her sins (which is ridiculous…of course the world is going to sin!!!) but then they ignore the sin and darkness that is going on with-in the 4 walls of the Church. Yikes, but this is a crime against JESUS! His Church is to be without spot or wrinkle, not a place for predators to flock to.

    4. Where in the Bible does it say that Christians are called to expose the sin of the world? We are not called to expose the world’s sin; we are called to point the world to the love and forgiveness of Christ. We are not going to “turn the world righteous” by upholding “godly standards.” Only Jesus can do that. We ARE called to expose sin in the church, just as Jesus did when He called out the Pharisees and Saducees. Or when He drove the money changers from the temple. I didn’t see Him “lovingly lifting them up in prayer” first.
      And as for being innocent, Doug Phillips admitted that he had an inappropriate relationship with a young woman who was not his wife. So these are not all vague allegations from outsiders.
      And shame on you for saying that abuse that happened 20 years ago should somehow not matter and be swept under the rug. 🙁

    5. Jennifer, you said, ” I’m just wondering when in the world Christians are going to stop attacking other Christians and make a stand against the world?”

      In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, Paul tells the church, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person….”

      According to this verse, we are not supposed to be worried so much about the world, but about those who claim the name of Christ but are acting immorally.

    6. Jennifer sais, “Do we stop to think that maybe, just maybe they are not guilty of the crimes they are being accused of? … Until we can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that what is being said is truth, I think we need to keep our mouths shut and pray.”

      There is also a Biblical standard for how we know when to be concerned about allegations against an elder. (I think Gothard, Phillips, etc, should be regarded in the light of elders, don’t you?) This is in 1 Timothy 5:19-21. “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

      The Biblical number of witnesses has been greatly exceeded, in both cases.

  7. Thanks for being brave to speak out about this. I’ve seen so much of it and I have struggled with some disillusionment about homeschooling as a result though I didn’t get sucked into it too much. I started to see it as very cultic and nothing like the grace filled Christianity I experienced as a new believer.

    1. Marya,

      I’ve thought about that idea many times, and the truth is that God IS, regardless of what anyone else is or does. God is good and righteous and loving, even if every human around is evil. Trust in Him because He’s the real deal. That isn’t to say that there aren’t real believers who earnestly love God, but that even if there weren’t, He is Who He says He is, period. He loves us despite our sin, which is what we desperately need, right? 🙂

  8. I had no idea about the Doug Philips scandal. This is the first I have seen of it. No doubt if some other man had an affair and it was made public, Dougie-boy would not have been too easy on him. We used to be staunch followers of the whole vision forum thing, until they started getting all into guns. Then my hubby was like, something is definitely wrong here. We really did feel like we needed a rule book, something black and white to follow, and guys like these did that for us for a few years. How sad.

  9. I love what you wrote Heidi!! I took a lot of courage for you to write what you did & I’m proud of you! I agree with you totally!!! Good job friend.

  10. Thanks, Heidi, for tackling the difficult issues with wisdom and grace. You have a way of putting into words what many of us would like to say, but don’t know how.

  11. Hallelujah!!! Thank u so much for boldly going were few have gone before. You shared the truth with eloquence and passion. Thank you for speaking out for the victims who must surely feel abandoned if not castigated. Lord, clean your house, expose sin, break the hearts of your people, revive us, heal our land.

  12. Christy S. Said: “With regards to the ministries themselves, I would ask my sisters and brothers in Christ to extend to them the very same grace and mercy Jesus extends to us. We don’t need to bicker about who is Biblical and who is not.”

    1 Timothy 5:20  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

    Matthew 7:15  ¶Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    Christy S., the plain truth of the matter is that some ministries so-called are not Biblical. And the Bible calls out for them to be exposed.

    1. Pam,
      Of course sin needs rebuked. And both men are assuredly being rebuked. And of course we seek to be aware of false prophets, and I try hard to measure teaching against what I see in Scripture.

      But having seen (up close) the impact that personal sin can have on a ministry, my caution was that we should be merciful as Christ is merciful. *WE* do not know everything, any more than these ministries know everything. Their public sin needs to be called what it is, SIN.

      What of the women who have regained beauty and modesty as a result of teaching by VF? Do we dare say that the Lord did not use ministries like VF to restore that which was lost before salvation? I cannot. Actually, I dare not. I have personally seen good in the life of a close friend.

      And if we look at scandals involving televangelists? What of the many, many people who found Christ through those programs? Was their salvation then negated at the fall of mere men? I just counsel caution in wholesale judgement.

      There are many, many ministries that I steer clear of, that I do not agree with on minor points. I counsel individually against that which appears to harm women, case by case. A friend in bondage to man-made law received counsel from me that Christ frees the captive not keeps them abused and alone, by a harsh set of rules enforced at home.

      But to wholesale discount a ministry by which I have seen wonderful transformation, a life pointed towards the Lord, walking in joy and freedom, I can’t. And I cannot find Scripture that directly speaks against what they hold true. I believe the Lord grants liberty in these areas. I will not do what you say they do, discount what I disagree with, if I have no Scriptural basis. (She says as she sits in her Levi’s and short hair.)

      Also, I am reminded of our Lord’s Parable of the Weeds, Matthew 13:24-29:

      24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

      27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

      28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

      “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

      29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

      Would WE pull up wheat with the weeds? I’m hesitant, particularly in the case of VF, to wholesale disregard the good I’ve seen accomplished there.

      1. God can, and does, use many things that are objectively wrong, for the good of sincere seekers. It does not follow that we must endorse, support, or profess the wrong. People are saved in prison. It does not follow that we should go to prison to find God.

        Their teachings are wrong. Their entire ministry is based on a promise that if you follow their patterns of authority, things like this will NOT happen. This isn’t even about the abuse and sexual misconduct. This is about their entire system being based on falsehood. On top of that, they used this idea of their authority to spiritually abuse those who were under them, and countless girls were held back, men were permitted to be tyrants in their homes (even if they never physically harmed anyone). This is a damaging and dangerous belief system.

        That some were able to glean good from it does not mean that it is profitable to sift through the bad to get it. There is often good food thrown away in dumpsters. However, I’d rather get good food from a farmer or grocery store than sift through the dumpster to find the treasures.

        1. Ranee, I still have not seen anyone cite chapter and verse to their foundational teachings being Scripturally wrong. Their sin, sure. But their teachings, nothing yet.

          I’m the first to re-examine my beliefs when given Scriptural evidence that tells me they’re wrong. I would add that such evidence would go a LONG way in helping others if they’re being abused by any ministry. No avoiding the truth that the Word reveals. Your (or anyone else’s)) “say so” isn’t enough. That’s actually the argument others are making against these ministries.

          And I wouldn’t presume to know anything about what you believe in until you tell me. 🙂


          1. Cristy S., there are so many problems with the way Bill Gothard has twisted Scripture to fit his beliefs that it’s hard to know where to begin.

            I’d recommend you visit Midwest Christian Outreach’s website and read some of the many articles in which they have examined IBLP. Here’s one to start: http://www.midwestoutreach.org/issues-of-concern-bill-gothard-and-the-bible-a-report/ Don Veinot’s book, A Matter of Basic Principles, is well worth reading.
            Another ministry, Personal Freedom Outreach, has devoted a good deal of time to examining Gothard’s teaching. Here’s another article:

          2. I make no defense of Gothard’s teachings, I know nothing about them. My only experience is with VF, and I’m hesitant to throw the ‘baby out with the bath water.’ I’ve seen restoration through their ministry.

      2. Some good may have come through VF (although I think you need to question whether what they teach is really a heart change for Christ or a life spent living by externals), but that is only because God makes all things work together for good. But that does not mean we should gloss over abuses or false teachings just because a few good results may have come from it.
        Plus, you are discounting the many, many bad results that have come from the patriarchy teachings of VF. Churches have split, families and friendships splintered, all because some jumped on the patriarchy bandwagon and got upset when their friends didn’t follow them. VF teaches a brand of self-righteousness, externals-based Christianity that goes directly AGAINST the true grace and freedom that comes from a heart changed by Christ. VF did not “turn young women modest.” If a young woman chooses modestly because she is trying to live up to VF’s standard, then her heart has not truly been changed. She is striving to please man, not God. Christ should be the one turning our hearts toward godliness, not VF or Doug Phillips or anyone else.

        1. My last comment on this is an exercise in language:

          Tell me, can anyone see a pattern here?

          “you are discounting the many, many bad results that have come from the XYZ teachings of ABC. Churches have split, families and friendships splintered, all because some jumped on the XYZ bandwagon and got upset when their friends didn’t follow them. ABC teaches a brand of “$%^”, and “&*(” Christianity that goes directly AGAINST the true grace and freedom that comes from a heart changed by Christ…”

          Maybe I’ve been a follower too long, but there hasn’t been a church or a movement where I’ve not seen some scandal or criticism routinely ostracized or the followers ridiculed …

          Thank God for Jesus. Really.

        2. And it would be interesting to hear Heidi speak about this at a conference, if the Lord has really placed this on her heart.

  13. Wow. So sorry to hear this, but I appreciate your openness. My dh and I have homeschooled in the past, never under the influence of these two men, BUT, I am so grieved, as we know a woman who worked with Gothard as a 18 year old. I pray nothing happened to her, but she did go on to be unfaithful and divorce her hubby. :-(. We have also known MANY large families following Gothard. In SO many cases, the kids completely rebel. You were RIGHT ON about legalistic tendencies leading to either PRIDE or DISCOURAGEMENT. Wow. We must FIX eyes on Jesus alone. Even more as the Day approaches. Bless you for being bold!

  14. Thank you for telling me about this. I don’t know how I missed knowing about Phillips. I’ll be doing more research to know what happened. Thanks.

  15. AMEN and thank you!! In the case of Phillips and Gothard,we REALLY CAN throw the baby out with the bath water. Vision Forum was about selling a lifestyle. They forgot about the Gospel.

  16. Absolutely agree. Honestly, glad someone who has a platform has said something. I really think when you wrote “The trouble is false or extra-biblical teaching that has infiltrated large parts of the homeschool movement” that you hit it right on the head. We can’t ever add anything else to Jesus and it be good!

    1. I am a mother of eight. Ages 12-34…and yes, they are all mine. I don’t run a daycare, and I have one husband!!! Lol!

      This is my 27th year to home-school. I’ve had six graduate and only two left to finish.

      We were part of Bill Gothard’s ATI program for three years. Even in that short time, we came away with, “extra biblical teaching,” that has taken years to see as mis-use, or as totally twisted. We need to keep our eyes on Christ and what he wants for us and not follow any man!

      Home teaching isn’t the problem and after 27 years, I can see we all do it differently, and that is good! Watch out for the people who want to be copies of you! Tell them to run the other way!! We may ‘look’ like we are doing it right, but please! Don’t copy us! We are just following Jesus and trying to listen to Him and what he wants for us! We are all sinners!

      Keep teaching truth to your kids and lean on Jesus! He has the answers for us all!

      Mom (Sandy!)

  17. As an abuse survivor I feel for these women. I just want to ask a question however, (I am not familiar with these men’s teachings but) how is a man’s sin directly related to his teachings. I mean I am a good parent and teach my children plenty of good yet I sin and make mistakes everyday. No sin is any greater in the eyes of God than any other correct? So if one finds the teachings sound and Biblical then why should the ministry be a failure due to the leaders sin? Just a thought.

    1. Hi Amanda. Thanks for posting. I guess I’d say that if the ministry is built on even one false teaching .. it needs to stop.This is not about a “greater” sin, it’s about an unwillingness to address the weird teachings BEFORE it gets to the place where the sin can happen. That’s what failed to happen in this case.

    2. Because the true root of the problem IS the false teachings. The sin is just the outward manifestation of false doctrine.

  18. Thank you for saying this! God reveals all the evil that is hidden in due time. As a 13-year veteran homeschool mom, I had these teachings thrust down my throat for years by well-meaning “perfect-looking” homeschool families. Fortunately, my dh and I agreed it just didn’t feel “right” so we would politely smile and run our family as we felt God was leading us even though it caused us to be judged and confronted by many. I am so saddened to hear of the people hurt by this. May God heal the hearts of many.

  19. I think you are brave and bold to write this post.

    False prophets are certainly nothing new, and I would like to think, that as homeschoolers, we are training our children to rely on God’s word as TRUTH. We cannot take the teachings of an organization or a man as gospel. Period.

    To be very honest with you, this has always been off putting to me in the homeschool community. I have had dealings with hypocritical homeschooling “Christians” who dish condemnation and judgment quite liberally on those who don’t share their beliefs.

    I’ve seen groups on Pinterest like “Awesome Christian Homeschool Moms” — which has always bothered me because NO ONE has an inside line on anyone else’s spirituality. That is between an individual and God.

    The most wonderful homeschooling mentors I have met are those that quietly and simply live their faith – it just radiates. It doesn’t take a blog post or a huge organization or a convention for them to proclaim that faith – they just live it day in and day out.

    I think the lesson for the homeschool community here is don’t let charisma detract you from God’s word.

    Again, I applaud you for writing this post. I wish more people who have influence in the homeschool community would write this kind of thing.

    1. “The most wonderful homeschooling mentors I have met are those that quietly and simply live their faith – it just radiates. It doesn’t take a blog post or a huge organization or a convention for them to proclaim that faith – they just live it day in and day out.”

      Amen, Mary…and might I add, that YOU are one of those who “quietly and simply live a faith that radiates!”

      1. You are sweet to say that. I have been criticized on few occasions for not aligning myself with a particular group or not accepting advertising from a particular convention on my blog. It even went to the point of email harassment.

        Why must we be pigeon-holed into a particular way of homeschooling? My desire is to love God and foster that love in my children as well. The rest just falls into place.

        Oh, I could go on and on, but for now I will just say I appreciate your comment.

  20. I’m a homeschool grad, class of 2001. My parents were heavily involved in homeschooling at the state level here in Louisiana. We’ve known the Phillips family for over 20 years now, going back to when he was on staff at HSLDA and helped our state support group draft some legal stuff while my parents were on the board.

    My heart aches for Doug and Beall. I’ve seen his heart in action. I’ve seen how much he loves his wife and kids. I’ve seen his desire to protect the family and nurture it in ways that honor God and honor siblings being best friends. If he says nothing sexual happened, I believe him. I also admire him very much for taking responsibility for not legalistically crossing the line, yet realizing he still screwed up. He’s made the right decision. God’s not done with him.

    What others have done with patriarchy theology saddens me. Yet I was raised with truly Biblically rooted “patriarchy” theology, and guess what? My family is intact, we’re close as can be, and my sister and I have chosen to live at home under our father’s protection because we’re single. It’s where we belong. I’m also divorced, through no fault of my own, and my parents didn’t kick me to the curb. They came to get me and bring me home where I’m safe again. Because my dad takes his responsibility as my protector VERY seriously.

    Gothard, on the other hand, I have no sympathy for. My heart aches for the people fallen victim to his power-hungry inner predator. I know many families shattered by his ideology. Shattered beyond repair too. Everything being said about him I believe without question.

    1. THanks for your post, Rachel. I do not agree with patriarchy as a movement—but I do appreciate my husband’s love and care for our family very much! I think the problems come when we expect all families to look and be the same. We’re just not the same. Having grown up in a very legalistic environment and see it destroy my family I can tell you, your story is unusual. Many women push their husbands into patriarchy (and all it entails) and secretly they really run the house; and conversely, many men overstep their roles and are abusive and controlling.

      Unless we read God’s word and follow it alone, we’ll continue to fall prey to this kind of thing. I don’t know about the heart of Phillips and my heart breaks for his beautiful wife. I just know that we’ve got to stop allowing this kind of teaching to become the main thing. It elevates the teacher over the Bible, making way for pride. And in the end, pride is what kills. Thanks again for posting. I appreciate hearing your perspective.

    2. Kelly, I have read Doug’s statements. If he’d had sex with the woman he would have confessed it. Inappropriate physical contact from a married man to a woman not his wife includes things like holding hands, sitting too close, etc.

      Heidi, true Biblical patriarchy is a beautiful thing. But it is SO rare. A true patriarch is a picture of Christ’s love for His church, and will sacrifice himself for his family without a second thought. It is required of him as a husband and father. My father is a patriarch, but I have not grown up in an legalistic environment, nor is my father abusive in any way.

      Men (and women) who are abusive within what is actually a Biblical system of the man being the head and protector of his family, are going to be abusive no matter what they profess to believe. I’m divorced because he became abusive and he twisted and manipulated things trying to convince me it was his right to do so.

      But I knew what marriage is supposed to look like, so it didn’t work.

      It saddens me how many men use what is a true Biblical model as an excuse for abusive behavior. A true man of God, seeking God’s heart and to be the husband/father God requires him to be, never engages in abusive behavior. For me this is the crux of the issue. The ideal itself is not the problem. The men who use it as an excuse for abuse are the problem.

      1. Rachel,

        Here are Doug’s own words:

        Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. (http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/news_and_reports/statement_of_resignation.aspx)

        A husband/father being the priest of the home is not Biblical. The kind of Patriarchy that was taught by Phillips teaches that men are spiritual intermediators for their wives/children. 1 Tim 2:5 dispels that idea completely.

        1. I would caution people to not judge what another person would never do based on his/her likeability or outward appearance of walking straight. I have no relationship with my father and none of my relatives would ever believe me if I told them about his “character” behind closed doors. To them, he’s the happy, goofy, everybody-loves-him kind of family guy. He knows how to use charm and humor and all the noble words in the world to cover his other side. We played the part in public and everybody is convinced we were a wonderful family and I somehow turned out to be the rotten, rebellious apple for refusing to be in contact with him under his terms. No one would ever believe he has a porn addiction, lies, manipulates, threatens, physically abused my brother (punching his stomach, dragging him up stairs by his neck), would yell at my mom to go to hell in front of me, that my parents hardly spoke to each other unless they were fighting. My mother died years ago, I have my own healthy, happy family now. But my dad will always be a family favorite at reunions, and I’ll stay away. These men are stunningly crafty manipulators and the “I’d never believe he could ever…” crowd is why I can never tell my side.

          1. Cara,

            At the right time, and in the right way, I pray you have the courage to say what you need to say. Never say never. One day you will be able to tell your side.

    3. Rachel,
      Please do not speak on behalf of someone else’s heart. Ever. You do not know anyone well enough to do so, only God does. Every single abuser in this world has a mother, friend, sister, wife, etc., etc., etc., that think they would NEVER be capable of molesting, abusing, manipulating and so on. It is statements like these from people like you that are at the crux of the problems for victims and keep many of them silent.

    1. It’s a hard stand to take, since we have many friends in the movement. Thanks for standing up with me as I’m sure you will face criticism as well. Give that gorgeous wife of yours a hug for me, Chris!

  21. Heidi,

    Thank you for having the faith and courage to address these issues.

    This article should be read and shared. I have personal thoughts that I have been working through to share ..thoughts based on my own personal experiences as a child and thoughts based on the hundreds of homeschool families I have worked with over the last 20 years but I’m not sure anyone will be able to address these issues as well as you have. We must always remember that the authority of Scripture should never be laid aside for the teachings of man.

    Thanks for reminding all of us of that need….and the need to talk about the “elephant in the room.”

    Faith and Courage,

    Lori Lane

  22. Thank you!!!!!!! I’ve been researching all of this for years now and wondered why no one was saying anything…..

  23. Perfect, Heidi! Well said. So very well said. I grew up in a church that followed those teachings, we went to seminars, bought and taught the curriculum, were just immersed in that mindset, and still…even though I have been out from under that teaching for nearly 2 decades, there are still wounds from the patriocentric, hyper-legalistic, hard-core fundamentalist mentality that I continue to battle. Guilt and condemnation being a huge force against me in my life, even for the smallest of things…not things God would be upset with, but with the man-made preferences that were taught as the gospel. The how to dress, how to sit, how many children to have, etc…

    Thank GOD my husband was a new believer when we were first married and read the Bible on his own without the law based filter I had learned to sieve it through. He has helped me so much and shepherded me out of most of that. When he became a pastor, he was so beautifully grace centered that all that could happen was that others were set free from the bondage that this type of ministry fostered. He has done what Christ has done for the church…he has empowered me, built me up, given me a voice, honored me, and given his all to me, without me having to subject myself to the doormat philosophy. Boy am I blessed!

    Thank you for being a voice for the homeschooling community, Heidi!

  24. Well said, and thank you, Heidi. As Christians we need to put the thoughts of men to the test, in the Spirit. I see folks get caught up in things like this and follow the men without any thought or prayer. I think as we home school our children this is even more important. Thanks again.

  25. I love to hear you say this. I have been grieved by these legalistic attitudes in the homeschooling community, too. They are divisive and hurtful and are often promoted through fear of the “what ifs”. It creates idolatry by living in their own righteousness and serving a God they put limits on. But God can use this to open eyes and change hearts.

  26. Heidi,
    This was a great post! My family and I are ex-ATI. For us we were looking for a sense of community and the sense that we were living for God. But what was once an exciting way to express our love for the Lord on the outside, quickly became an enormous burden on the inside. It became a way of life that was legalism and the God that I was in love with became nothing more than a to-do list! It was very difficult but I am thankful for the experience. Thank you for sharing

  27. Very good post, Heidi! We homeschooled both of our kids, and are now seeing the fruit of the Gothard/Philips mentality. Sadly, much of it is not good. There are so many confused and bitter kids, and disillusioned parents. It is very sad.

    Personally, I think that we as parents do need to take some responsibility for it getting to the point it did (in general…not the sexual abuse) Those men began a ministry to homeschool families, and we as parents are the ones who become followers. We are the ones who looked to a man. We are the ones who made them the experts. We put them on the pedestals….and they allowed us to. It ‘s very humbling!

    I would also say that homeschooling was the best option for our family…but I don’t think I personally can go so far as to say it is the best option, but that is my personal opinion. I respect that you feel that way. I know many who do. I just know of too many situations where it really wasn’t the best option for a family or a child.

    Regardless, I am thankful it was an option for us! Whatever option we do choose, I think it needs to be done with our eyes wide open, because all the options have their potential drawbacks, and we are so desperately in need of God to walk us through what He leads us to do!

  28. Thank you so much for posting this. I really respect your views on this. For several years, I would go to our homeschool convention and always feel defeated after coming home. I would listen to some of these speakers, think I had to follow the formula, and then come home to feel like a failure. That was until a couple years ago when you came to speak at our convention. Your message was like a breath of fresh air. That was the same year that Todd Wilson spoke, and the two of you had such freeing messages of hope. Thanks.

  29. I would like to add that I am concerned, as well. However, being a home school dad and husband myself, as well as a minister in my community, as well as a political activist and advocate to home schooling freedom, I have wondered at the short sightedness of the Christian home school movement for some time. Nobody wants to hear about the political stuff I talk about on a regular basis. Home schoolers don’t think it applies because they have had it so easy.

    I have watched the movement since 1986, when we first started home schooling. Over the last 15 years, home schoolers have been falling asleep at the wheel. Thirty years ago we fought hard for our ability to home school but we need to make sure our children have the ability to home school.

    The Romeike Family’s situation should be a wake up call for us in this country.

    Back to the topic: I don’t mind charismatic personalities. We all need those kind of leaders. But we all need to be fully dependent on a Savior that knows our instinct to raise our children the biblical way.

    I hope that home schoolers wake up and become so dependent on the Lord to lead us and stand up when it is required of us.

  30. Hi there – I have a sincere question to ask, as it has troubled me for quite a long time. We’ve been impressed with many of Vision Forum’s teachings, and they have challenged our perspectives on many things, though I would not say we’ve been “immersed” in it. We’ve visited several NCFIC-type churches and have had positive experiences. When I read many comments here and elsewhere, I get the sense that either I’m really missing something big, or that other people must have had other experiences with these groups that I haven’t had. I agree that legalism is wrong in and of itself. Abuse of power is wrong – pride is wrong – agree, agree, agree! But where is the line when something is biblical verses extra-biblical? For example, it is biblical for a man to head the family, it is biblical to value children as a gift from God, it is biblical to be modest and respectful, etc. If these things are Biblical, than is it not right to live them out? Did VF, Doug Philips, etc., go beyond these things, and twist them? I would really appreciate it if some of you could speak to this. Sometimes it seems to me that when someone “lives” out the Biblical principles, it is considered ünbiblical or legalistic, no matter what, and this is what I am having a hard time understanding. For example, if it is Biblical for women to be modest, how can we live that out without seeming legalistic? I mean, some things just aren’t modest, no matter how you cut it! Is this legalism, or adhering to a Biblical principle? I’d love your input.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Thanks for posting! This is a broad question that I am sure others will chime in on but I want to be one of the first. 🙂 I think the trouble comes when we direct people to live out scriptural commands under one man’s perspective. For example: the Bible does not mandate dresses over pants for women; that is MANS teaching. The Bible does not say we have to multiply over and over; it says “be fruitful and multiply!” Where issues of freedom are concerned,we have FREEDOM to live out the commands of God. Skirts or pants, 13 children or 1.

      When we say it is one or the other, we have crossed into legalism. I’ve seen this over and over in the homeschool movement. Who cares how many children we have as long as we are teaching them to follow and love God? It’s harder to be a Christian than these teachings would have us believe. To follow God is to read His word, the Bible and to discern His will for ourselves. Only then are we truly following God rather than man.

    2. Doug Phillips and VF absolutely go beyond those Biblical teachings. They teach that the father is the only one who can hear God’s direction for his family and children, even though the Bible says there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. They teach that children (especially daughters) should give their hearts to their father, as he is their protector. They teach of an “umbrella of protection,” and if a child or a wife should go against her husband in any way, the umbrella will rip and terrible things will follow. They teach that we as Christians must reclaim the Earth for God by having lots of godly children and living up to “true Biblical” standards. (Is not the earth under God’s sovereign will? How can our own efforts determine what will happen to the earth, when it’s fate has already been determined by God? Where in the Bible does it say we are responsible for the earth through our own righteousness and standards?)
      The teaching of the father being head of the house is Biblical. Most of our earthly fathers mean well and we should listen to their counsel. But elevating our fathers (who are, after all, imperfect human beings) is wrong. It also places an unfair burden on the father. We should be teaching our daughters to give their hearts to Christ first and foremost.
      I could go on and on. This movement does produce children who look perfect on the outside, but who have been taught that godliness is determined by what we do on the outside. They teach that we can earn God’s blessings through “right living,” even though the Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags to God. There is also subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) condemnation of other Christians who don’t live up to their standards. (They might not be REAL Christians, or they won’t receive “God’s best” because the wife works outside the home, they’ve been divorced in the past, they have a tv, etc).
      I’ve seen the astonishing and painful changes that happen when well-meaning Christians get sucked into these teachings. It is heart-breaking and we NEED to call out these false teachers for the tremendous damage that they do!

  31. Thank you for being BRAVE, Heidi, and saying what needed to be said with grace AND truth. I have a few decades behind me and I see in my life that the Lord will not be mocked. Sin does/will come to light. I’m grieved by all those who have “messes” to clean up because of these issues. Thanks for being such an honest, kind spokesperson for so many of us that agree with your words.

  32. Heidi – Thanks for speaking out on this topic. The core belief that both of these men espoused is an unbiblical Patriarchy that says that men rule over their wives and families even in a spiritual sense. The father of the home is elevated to a level that we do not see in scripture. In fact, in both of these men’s teachings, the father is “priest of the home.” This is wrong. Christ is our intermediator. Anyone who takes the place of Christ would be an idol.

    I noted that you have HSLDA affiliate on your sidebar. The founding and current leaders of this organization also believe this type of Patriarchy which stems from Reconstructionism. Some will say that only Gothard/Phillips were wrong because they personally sinned. But it goes much further than that – – it is a foundational belief system in Patriarchy (and Reconstructionism) which is still being permeated by HSLDA as they speak at Christian homeschooling conventions, in their books, Facebook, HSLDA newsletters. Doug Phillips was as attorney at HSLDA for a time. I pray that you will reconsider your affiliation with this organization because until this is dealt with head on, we will continue to have more stories like Phillips/Gothard as it elevates men to an idol status and they eventually succumb in their sin.

    For the record, I have been homeschooling for 22 years, have 7 children and my family has been harmed by this movement, so I have spent the last years studying it. You can find more info on my blog or feel free to contact me.

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for commenting! I know the men who run HSLDA personally. I have stayed with Mike and Elizabeth Smith in their home. I’ve had many conversations with folks there and I have never seen the spirit that I see coming from Phillips and Gothard. Note that Phillips was an attorney for HSLDA for a “time.” Why did he leave? I suppose we don’t know. Until I have proof that HSLDA is this same spirit, I’ll keep promoting their organization. I appreciate the work they do on behalf of homeschool freedom and I love the folks I know that are there. I’ve not seen anything that concerns me thus far. I’m NOT a believer in Reconstructionism.

      I do appreciate your comments and your willingness to come forward. Blessings! Heidi

      1. Heidi –

        A commenter above who knew Doug and Beall Phillips said they were wonderful people, too, and knew them for years and she still is not convinced that anything was wrong with Phillips. I’m sure Bill Gothard would have had a great spirit toward you. Please do not be fooled. HSLDA is not going to come out and show you their Patriarchal foundation.

        Being an affiliate usually means you support and endorse their core beliefs. You mentioned in your article “guilty by association.” Please research HSLDA and Reconstruction. If you look at the foundations of the “Homeschool Movement,” you will see HSLDA is a core part of this Patriarchy movement – the same movement that you shared your difficulties with in this article. A simple Google search will show you a lot. Until the root issued is dealt with, we will have more people like Gothard and Phillips coming up the ranks. That’s what Patriarchy does.

        Heidi, I greatly appreciate your willingness to post my comments that are of critical nature. Many would not have done so. Please know my heart. I love homeschooling. It is a wonderful way to educate children. I would like this patriocentric/full-quiver/hyper-legalistic stuff to be gone from the connection with “homeschooling.”

        1. Julie Anne,

          You are committing slander (don’t know if that bothers you or not). Neither Mike Smith nor Michael Farris hold to Christian Reconstructionism in their theology. They just flat do not.

          Michael Farris spoke against the abuses of the “Patriarchy Movement” when I heard his speak in September at the HSLDA leadership conference.

          I don’t work for them, and don’t even agree with them on everything, but what you are saying is slander.

          1. Israel:

            I have a good idea of what the legal definition of slander and defamation is because of having been sued. You are not using slander properly. And actually, I believe these statements presented as fact by you could be used in a court of law as defamatory against me:

            You are committing slander (don’t know if that bothers you or not).


            I don’t work for them, and don’t even agree with them on everything, but what you are saying is slander.

            Farris would rightly back peddle now as abuses have been coming public, but the history of HSLDA and Reconstructions connections and practices prove otherwise.

        2. Julie Anne,

          I know these men and have been to HSLDA many times. They are not Reconstructionists. I believe Doug holds to these beliefs, but I will not hold Mike Smith or Michael Farris responsible for something that someone no longer associated with their organization espouses.

          They have, in fact spoken against the patriarchy movement. Be careful that you do not accuse these men of things that they have not done.

          1. Heidi,

            As I’ve said before – please do your research. BTW, I visited a Reconstructionist church. They never identified as Reconstructionist. In fact, I don’t see many Reconstructions saying they are Reconstructionist – – – observing their actions/words gives them away.

            With this patriarchy topic becoming prevalent on the internet as quite a few bloggers/authors/news articles have reported it, it makes sense that they would now distance themselves from wording that identifies them as Reconstructionist/Patriarchal. However, you can find quotes from these guys from past homeschool conventions/conferences online. It won’t take you too long to find.

    2. HSLDA was leery of many of the teachings that Doug was espousing. I think it is a stretch to link the two together just because a search on Google makes a link. Having worked there alongside the names parties, I can say this with confidence. So, tread with caution in trying to make the link fit.

  33. I’ve learned a lot about the homeschool “movement” reading this article, and I suppose this is business as usual to hitch up one’s wagon to with movements. But I have always listened to my own mind and intuition. I am familiar with the Gothard Institute from many years ago when I participated in Campus Crusade for Christ when I was in college, but I’ve never been a big joiner of groups. Those groups have always been there to meet and serve my needs, not the other way around. Another thing that I’ve learned in my walk with God is that people who have “rock star”-like lifestyles usually fall hard eventually, so it’s best to keep a healthy, distant perspective. I’m not saying that is what happened here, people who get too big for their britches, usually end up with a whoopin’. Thanks for sharing. It was a sane blog.

  34. Thank you so much! This is so well put, and helps express what so many are thinking as we sort out all the things we felt so strongly were a problem but could never put our finger on!

  35. “If you ever listen to a teacher or minister who directs you beyond the grace and love of Jesus alone, run. Our hope is in Jesus. No where else.”


    I’ve experienced legalism. I experienced Gothardism. All in the 80s while in public school in a Christian family. Now as a pastor I have seen the same legalism in too much of homeschooling. I’ve seen too many self-proclaimed leaders promote it or act in ignorance of it. I rejoice that you and others are helping people face the issues.

  36. Predators of women, and predators of children must be stopped.

    The ways to stop the predation are to stamp it out wherever and whenever found. Teach children to be wary.

    Wouldn’t hurt for a lot more people and organizations to adopt the Two-Deep Leadership rules which have gone a long way towards making Boy Scouting safe from molesters.

    Wouldn’t hurt for a lot more homeschoolers to get involved in Scouting.

  37. So, I did not read every comment as my phone pushes them all over to one side and eventually they are all one letter to a line. So, I may be saying something already said – sorry.

    Why must we continue to connect things not actually connected?

    Let’s assume, for simplicity, that homeschooling is an educational choice parent make for children. It makes no difference *why* you choose to homeschool.

    Christianity has it’s own definition to so many people that I’m not even going to attempt a definition, but you know who you are, and you know what you believe.

    These men chose to do a morally, ethically, legally, wrong wrong wrong wrong thing. They used what all abusers use to keep victims complacent and compliant – familiarity.

    I hope that people can shift their view from seeing where these abusers come from – to what they actually are – sinful men.

    The only way to do that is to keep homeschooling if you homeschool, keep being an obedient Christian. Above all else raise amazing, well educated, healthy children. Strong and independent and with sound minds so as they navigate through life they can make the right choices more often than the wrong, and protect themselves from becoming involved in abusive situations.

    1. The problem is that homeschooling and patriarchy HAVE become intertwined in recent years. I personally believe it is by design. A few saw a way to cash in on the growing American homeschool movement and took a lot of people for a ride.
      You are right- it isn’t fair or right, but the connection is hard to ignore. It has actually made me re-think homeschooling my child, because of all the patriarchy-related false teaching that has latched on to home schooling.

  38. Thanks for telling the truth…To tell the truth also, I think we should all be combating what has been taught for years and what most likely many of us have also been teaching for years(stemming from a lack of a healthy, strong realtionship b/w parent and child) which creates kids, both boys and girls, who don’t know when to say “no”. Townsend and Cloud say it best in their book, Boundaries: “We have been taught that being polite, nice and compliant are seen as virtues, while honesty, confrontation, and limit-setting are believed to be selfish sins. The effects of this teaching is a belief that telling the truth is hurtful, and also creates a fear and avoidance of conflict.” This belief is FALSE! I say we begin now to teach our kids to stand
    up for what is true, and say “no” to what is not! (even if conflict is required to do so) Could it be we must change what we are modeling to our children and what we are “requiring” of them ourselves?

  39. Hi, Heidi,

    Thanks for speaking up I am glad homeschool moms are speaking up about this.

    I am afraid the Farris’ are quiverfull, however. QF simply means that you think God should be in charge of your fertility. I’m pro-big family. But as you mentioned, any idealogy that says you must do this or that, and makes universal statements, is not a good idea.

    1. “Quiverfull” is more than just not taking steps to plan how many children you have—it’s an ideology that objectifies the woman and turns the child into a commodity. From what I know of Mike Farris and his family, I think they’re like my parents—they just decided that they weren’t going to try to control their fertility. I’ve seen the other side too, and it’s ugly. But just because Mike and Vickie ended up with 13 children or however many they have, doesn’t mean they’re adherents of that ideology. I think they’re more like the big Catholic families of yesteryear. This is pretty apparent if you have a chance to meet any of their kids.

  40. This whole dialogue is very troubling to me. Again I urge the reading of Romans 14. We cannot speak for the consciences of others as they make decisions regarding how to raise their families. These actions do not represent or indict the homeschool “movement” as there is not ONE movement. We have been homeschooling for 16 years, and I can honestly say that the only thing consistent about homeschooling is its inconsistency. We are by nature a very diverse group of people with as many methods of homeschooling, as reasons for doing so. We are called to seek godly wisdom and make the very best decisions we can in light of prayer and scripture. No one has it “right”…we will never all agree. Infant or believers baptism? Sabbath observance or not? Birth control or not? Communion weekly or quarterly? Sin has been exposed, so we must grieve and move on realizing we cannot put our faith in men…until the next time we do. Come Lord Jesus, come.

  41. It’s a good reminder that the only “pillar” we should depend on in any area of our lives is God himself. I do think it’s a shame that this is posted publicly. I’m sure it brought some measure of personal satisfaction. But I can hear evidence of long held bitterness and judgement in your words. Posts like this only serve to perpetuate pain. I think perhaps you could have made your point in a more gracious, loving way. I am sure these men and their families are suffering enough without us weighing in. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

  42. How sad to read the comments that people have not heard about the Doug Phillips situation. Sadly the sin is too well hidden and still being protected.

    There are many people out there that are still believing the lie that there is a formula to have the perfect family.

    Thanks for a well written informative post.

    1. Rhoda, it’s not really a surprise that everyone’s not heard about these ‘situations’. Many of us have just been quietly doing our own thing and chosen not to partake in homeschool ‘movement’. We’ve been homeschooling for ten years now and have always done so as led by God. Honestly, I haven’t felt the need to join groups or follow others. In my opinion, a healthy distance has always allowed for discernment and helped maintain our focus where it should be….what God has planned for our family.

      1. BP,

        I agree with you. I attended one home school convention and came home so discouraged I never went back. However, I continued to home school our four children without joining the local group. We have had other like-minded home school families that we have fellowshipped with from time to time. It seems some groups get so busy with activities that they forget to have school.
        I am somewhat familiar with both of these men and their ministries. I have found some of the teachings helpful, but have also dismissed many.

        The quote given earlier by Doug Phillips to prove that his relationship included sexual relations did not prove that at all. He said he had inappropriate physical contact. For Doug Phillips, that could include holding hands and kissing. You have to look at it from his point of view.

        I haven’t followed these stories because frankly, I don’t care. God will judge them as he sees fit. I have enough to do keeping myself and my family on track.

  43. Heidi, thank for bringing this situation to light. We used to be part of a Patriarchial church where the pastor and Doug Phillips were close friends. The church disintigrated after the pastor’s daughter eloped in the middle of the night with a Jehovah’s Witness. It took our family about 5 years to recover from being in this church and movement!

    I agree with Heidi that the theology of the Patriarchial movement is wrong! It was wrong before those involved in leadership fell into moral sin — and would be wrong if none of them had ever fallen into sin! Pointing out that the theology is wrong is NOT being unforgiving! Rather, it is sending out a warning to others: Don’t go that way! I appreciate Heidi sending out that warning.

    We still love homeschooling and we homeschooled our boys K-12. The older graduated from colllege a year and half ago and is enjoying the job of his dreams in San Francisco where he works as a software developer. Our younger son is in college and is very active in college ministries. I believe homeschooling gave them the best possiblie foundation for being successful in their current endeavors and for being the Godly young men they are.

    We didn’t walk away from homeschooling when we discovered we were part of a movement that was going the wrong way. But, we did have to make some big changes in our worldview and our theology. The Bible teaches that when we’re going the wrong way, we need to repent – to change course. I think there are probably many homeschool families who are now wondering what direction to go in. Let’s pray for them, that they look to God’s guidance through the Bible and by listening to the Holy Spirit so that their course corrections set them on the paths God has for them.


  44. Heidi: very good blog. Even though we’ve been homeschooling for 7 years now, I’ve never personally heard of these two men or their organizations, – I certainly hope they aren’t the “picture” of homeschooling others see! I think there are two important lessons to be learned from these men. One is whether or not you believe in the same tenets espoused by IBLP or VF, I always am concerned whenever I see an organization that is too focused around one person. I agree with an above post about “rock star” Christians – they are frequently bound to fall. Accountability, accountability, accountability! Whether you are a homeschool mom or dad, a parent with kids in traditional schools, or someone with no kids, or *the head of a major institution*, you need it or you are at risk to fall into serious sin. I operate under the assumption that I am never above any sin – so try to head them off at the pass. Clearly the accountability was not present in the above situations. Two has also already been mentioned above – be a Berean! Anyone who fails to dig into the bible and be wise about whatever group they associate themselves with is taking the risk of following the wrong leaders – whether they are a church leader, the head of your bible study, or the head of a homeschool organization. Thanks for your insight and boldness in posting this!

  45. A friend tagged me on Facebook with this link. I’m a former ATI student who long ago saw the ridiculousness of the teachings. I have struggled against the patriarchy mindset and tried to point out how bad the teachings are.

    But now I’m dealing with the emotional impact of betrayal. I devoted so much of my teenage years to Gothard’s “standards,” including foregoing college and hiding from an angry God. Thank you for seeing that it’s not Gothard and Phillips who need a voice.

  46. “There seems to be more concern for protecting these men and their “ministries” because it may have a negative impact on homeschooling than for the lives of the people who have been hurt and abused.”

    The issues raised in this post have nothing to do with homeschooling. The homeschooling movement will not be harmed by this scandal. Homeschooling doesn’t need to be protected in this instance. The issues here are sin, a misinterpretation/misapplication of the Bible, and the Christian response when a believer is abused by not just a fellow believer but by someone in a position of trust and authority. Unfortunately, sexual abuse by happens regularly in American churches, businesses, and political institutions. They almost always survive the scandal.

    It would not surprise me at all to see “more concern for protecting these men and their “ministries” than tending to “the lives of the people who have been hurt and abused.” First and foremost, the victims are always the last people about whom these men and their ministries will express concern. The victims are the enemy who must be silenced in an effort to protect against lawsuits and jail time. There is a lot to be lost when allegations of sexual abuse are made.
    A person left the comment, “we spend our time throwing stones at the leaders because someone decided to make allegations of things that happened 20 plus years ago.” Frequently, it’s the victim who is silenced in this entire process. They are victimized when they are abused and victimized again when they are treated as the enemy after coming forward. They are silenced when they are abused through intimidation and threats of retaliation if they speak out. They are shunned when they find the courage to speak up and speak out against their abuser. They are silenced again if they accept an out-of-court settlement that always includes a gag order on the victim and contains no admission of guilt. Most people do not understand that regaining their voice is a critical step in the healing process for an abuse victim, and it should be met with Grace and not condemnation, even if it takes 20 years to be heard.

    Prayer should be offered for all parties involved. May the truth be exposed to the light of day. Let healing begin.

  47. Thank you, Heidi for your thoughtful, biblical and balanced thoughts on this issue. God bless you and protect you and your family as you pursue truth! Also, thank you for all your encouraging posts…they have blessed me many times!

  48. Well said, Heidi! I applaud you for using your platform to bring attention to this issue; sweeping it under the rug helps no one. Thank you for all you do!!!

  49. God gives the church instruction on how to deal with sin. I don’t know much about these men but you are innocent until proven guilty. Lust makes a person fall not ones biblical beliefs per say. What needs to be applied here is this; The bible says a whisperer separateth chief friends. The devil hasn’t got so devastating a weapon as that anywhere on earth. A whisperer is looked upon in God’s eyes, beloved as a murderer. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strives, but LOVE-LOVE. The ONE thing God says men will know you are mine, the one thing from God’s lips, He says they will know you are mine IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER. God’s standard above every other thing, past this nothing else matters. This is what God says is damnable, men full of envy, murderers and then he says Whisperers, in the same sentence.You know what wore David out? Those who undermined him with the tongue. Psalm 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile. Proverbs 18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds (like as when men are wounded, they’re stabbed with a knife ) they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
    Tell me, what do you do when you see someone else failing? You’ve got ammunition? Then you have nothing of God. God says you don’t know where you are going. You have bitterness in your heart? If you do not deal with it through you others will become bitter defiling many. Where’s the forgiveness? Who’s seaking to restore? Tell me if you lived back in bible times, how would you of treated Paul? What he did was horrible, but when he changed they accepted him back in. Yes, sin has to be dealt with but it has to be dealt with the way GOD says to do it.
    What do I do when another Christian comes to me to slander someone? I would stop the poor soul and say , I’AM SORRY! But you have been given the wrong address to have come to me with this, for I am not a talebearer like you. And I dare not accept any information from one. I would never be able to repeat what you’ve just attempted to pass on to me about someone WHO IS NOT HERE TO DEFEND HIMSELF. And also I am fearful that you’ve come to me with this because if you find yourself capable of saying these things to me that could destroy another person, you one day are going to find yourself easily capable to say the same defaming, and damning things about me,your family,your spouse or whoever. And I’m going to be scared of you from now on sister/brother. And then you walk away.
    Your sin in God’s.eyes is just as bad as anyone else’s. Jesus was the only perfect human being on earth. Study anyone long enough and you will find them failing. What are your thoughts like? Jesus stooped twice, he who is without sin caste the first stone…. Again there is a proper way to deal with things like this

    1. You’re missing the point, Dianna. This is not about “talebearing.” It’s about finally saying that there is a plague in the homeschool community. The plague has been allowed to grow and flourish and much damage has been done. The only way to deal with it is to address it in the larger community. The accusation of gossip is what many people use to keep others from speaking the truth. It’s been used wrongly. And it’s time it stopped.

    2. Please get the story straight by going to http://www.recoveringgrace.org and reading the eyewitness testimonies. There are also records dating from 1980 forward of trying to deal with these issues in a biblical manner with Bill Gothard. I appreciate your blog here, Heidi, and agree with you that the homeschooling movement has been infected with dangerous, family-destroying doctrines. Just attend any state-wide homeschool conference and see. I’ve seen friends change from people filled with grace to hard, judgemental folks in short order.

  50. Thank you so much for posting this! I don’t know when I have been so encouraged by a blog. My husband is a pastor and we have home schooled our 3 kids. We have fought so hard to keep the doctrines of these organizations out of our church and family. It has been a heart wrenching battle at times,and we have lost wonderful friends and church members because we have taken a stand against this movement. Your blog has been such a confirmation that we are not crazy!!

  51. It grieves me so deeply when these things happen. The devil is having a hayday, with Christians sinning publicly, and even more Christians falling out over it.
    Sin is sin. It’s even worse when it’s public, as it harms the name of God to unbelievers. I don’t know all the facts, but this I know. I homeschool. Why? Because WE believe it is right for US. I have a big family. Why? Because we believe that is what God has for US. I wear skirts rather than pants. Why? Because I believe that is right for ME. I can tell you why we do these things, but would never tell you you were wrong not to do the same. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
    The moment you start making these SECONDARY issues, into primary and divisive issues, then you are on a slippery, slippery slope. I dearly love and respect people who do things differently, because they won’t get you into heaven!
    Following a man is a BIG mistake. We need to only follow GOD. Sadly, many, many get caught up with following a man, without ever being personally convinced from their own study of God’s Word.
    I think you are brave, and wonderful for saying your piece. God cannot tolerate sin, so we shouldn’t either, and we need to be aware, if for no other reason, than to make sure we commit ourselves more fervently to prayer, so we ourselves do not make shipwreck. There but for the grace of God go I.
    Keep faithfully sharing, m’dear. Love you from across the miles. x

  52. Thank you, Heidi for your well-written and wise blog. Just saw it for the first time today via Facebook. I am one of the 50+ victims of Bill Gothard who has come forward recently (My story is written on http://www.recoveringgrace.org – Rachel’s Story).
    Too much for too long has been covered up (and believe me folks, it hasn’t even all been revealed yet!) in the name of not “giving a bad report” or “submitting to your authority” or “do not judge lest you be judged”, etc. It is downright spiritual oppression and abuse and although some truth is in the mix (as in every cult or false teaching), it is the hypocrisy and double-standard that have caused countless homeschool students growing up in this to leave the faith completely.
    Heidi, I just want to challenge you in one thing – Your quote, “My husband and I believe that homeschooling is a wonderful option for families. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we believe it is the best option” I wish you would have added “for us”. Because although I see and recognize many benefits from homeschooling (both my husband and I were homeschooled K-12), I do not believe it is the best option for everyone. I believe statements like that above are what lead us slowly into a legalistic or judgmental mindset toward other believers (I’m not saying this is you. I don’t know you personally.) Every family needs to earnestly seek God what would be best for their own family (or a particular child within the family). For some, what is “best” might change every year depending on the circumstances and situation. But this is a whole different blog post perhaps…
    Anyway, I want to say thank you for your focus on Jesus and not mere men and supporting those of us who have come forward. Believe me, it wasn’t/isn’t easy to find our voice and be publicly vulnerable. But so freeing to let the fascade go and find true healing.

    1. Rachel, I absolutely agree. I was homeschooled beginning in the early 1980s, and eventually I worked on staff at Bill Gothard’s headquarters in the 1990s. I am now a parent with school-age kids, and after encountering countless homeschool families over the past 30 or so years I am disappointed that so many homeschoolers still believe that homeschooling is the “best option” for families. It isn’t. Some parents are abusive. Some are neglectful. Some are unqualified. And frankly, for some families private or public school simply is the best option.

      1. Please note, I said I believe homeschooling is the best option—and I was not implying I meant to judge those who choose another form of education. That said, I think it’s short-sighted to take one experience, even if it’s yours, and lump all homeschooling in one group with that experience. Parents don’t need to be better “qualified” in order to be successful at homeschooling. They need to be willing to get the help they need and to do the work required to give their child a good education. 99% of those parents I’ve met who homeschool do exactly that.

        1. I think it’s disingenuous to say “homeschooling is the best option” and then claim that you don’t judge those who don’t homeschool. If homeschooling is best, then I am not doing what’s best for my children. It’s really that simple.

          I, on the other hand, make no such sweeping judgments. If you think homeschooling is best for your family, fine. I don’t know your family, so who am I to judge? Do whatever you think is best for your family. I am perfectly willing to accept that homeschooling actually *IS* the best option for your family. Can you take the same position toward me as I send my kids to public school? It sounds like you can’t, and for that reason I consider myself judged by you as a parent who is not doing what’s “best” for his kids. Which, because we have never met, is outrageously presumptuous of you.

          1. I do believe it to be the best option based on the horrible things that kids are being taught in schools today, but I have plenty of friends who send their children to schools. I have neither condemned them nor judged them. My best friend has sent her kids to school our entire friendship.

            It sounds to me like your struggle goes beyond any presumption you may have about me and where I stand.

            We can hold to opinions without being condemning. Education belongs to a category of personal freedom. You are free to choose—and while we may disagree, I don’t think it means you’re sinning. That’s the difference between the two schools of thought.

          2. Thanks, I appreciate you clarifying your view. I have been careful not to presume anything about you beyond what you have plainly stated.

            My struggle does go beyond you in the sense that your comments are so characteristic of the majority of (primarily) religiously-motivated homeschoolers. And I say that as someone who was homeschooled my entire life by religiously-motivated parents and as one who worked in the Christian homeschool industry for a time as an adult. My hope was that you would qualify your statement or at least admit that homeschooling could not possibly be the “best solution” for every family.

            You say you don’t condemn or judge me, but frankly I do feel judged. Not just by your “best option” comment, but also by “the agenda that most public schools are pushing on children” and “the horrible things that kids are being taught in schools today.” If that’s not judging, I don’t know what is.

            I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree. But thanks for humoring me, as I am clearly an outsider here on your blog.

    2. Let me clarify to say that homeschooling very well may be the “best option” for SOME families. I don’t presume to believe there is any one best option for everyone. My wife and I have been very happy so far with public school for our kids, but we live in an area with great public schools and we have other dynamics specific to our family that factored in our decision. I’d like to see more homeschool parents limit their proclamations about homeschooling being the “best option” to their own family. If it’s the best option for your family, good for you. You do what’s best for your family and let me do what’s best for mine. Without passing judgment.

      1. I appreciate your comment, Scott. No judgment here, although I do have serious concerns about the agenda that most public schools are pushing on children.

  53. Heidi,

    Thank you for your blog on this subject. I am an older mom of a toddler (only child) and not yet “officially” homeschooling although that is our intention when our son is school age. Since I’m not homeschooling yet, I have never heard of any of the men or the scandal you mentioned. However, I enjoyed the blog post and I do have more of a parenting question that relates to what I think you are saying about these ministries.

    Regarding “formulaic teaching”, are you referring to a specific type of parenting philosophy such as Growing Kids God’s Way or Shepherding the Heart of Your Child? I’m not saying you are calling these ministries into question. I am using them as an example because they are the only parenting ministries I am familiar with. Are these the “type” of ministries you mean when you say “formulaic teaching”? The reason I ask is that we are having a hard time following a formulaic teaching and I never knew what to call it but that’s the perfect phrase! Our son is adopted through foster care and we were not allowed to follow some of the standards such as spanking. We learned other ways to redirect and discipline our son, some of which still don’t work because he is a toddler and still learning. Although we believe God’s Word regarding age-appropriate spanking, we have found that this does not work with our son and even makes his behavior worse. We feel that this is because of the types of behavior he was exposed to in-utero. Sorry for the long explanation as I get to my point. I am feeling pressured from other friends/parents at our church to follow a “formulaic teaching” to train up my child when we feel this isn’t the best way to discipline our son. While it may work for many families, it doesn’t work for our family. I don’t want my son treated differently from other kids because he is adopted, and we feel strongly that we will do what we feel is best for OUR son, and not strictly follow a formulaic teaching. I hope I am making sense. Our goal is to train up our child to become a believer of Jesus Christ and hopefully teach him to be loving, compassionate and caring and to be a child that other people enjoy being around. Whatever parenting philosophy we choose to use shouldn’t matter. Whether it’s a specific Christian parenting ministry or tools we learned in secular parenting classes on how to deal with specific toddler behaviors, if the end result is that our son is a follower of Jesus Christ and becomes a Godly man, we will thank God for His wisdom, guidance and answer to our prayers.

    1. Theresa,
      You aren’t the first one to feel this way about formulaic parenting for little ones, especially the GKGW series. Raising an adopted child is very different in many ways than a biological child, and trust issues can complicate almost every aspect of parenting. While mine aren’t adopted, they are all three out of the box kids, and one size fits all approaches just don’t work for us either! I would really urge you to check out ezzo.info and whole story of his programs, and I would point you to the Mothering By Grace community as well for lots of other great resources.
      I have been so blessed by the ministry of home-schooling mom Sally Clarkson as well and her grace-filled approach to raising her out of the box kids. She blogs at Itake joy.com and has written a number of books as well.

      1. I am not a fan of GKGW. It’s got good things in it but again, it’s formulaic in nature. It’s not directing parents to Christ, it’s directing them to a man’s opinion and interpretation of Scripture where parenting is concerned.

  54. Thank you so much fo pointing this out. You not only said it exactly as it should have been said, but you said it well. Thanks for your ministry.

  55. Thank you so much for such a clear article. We have seen so much bad fruit from the error of dogmatically following and promoting teachings from so much of the home school movement. When any man or movement defines legalistically how many children we should have and how we are to raise them beyond what the Bible CLEARLY teaches, it is very likely to produce bad fruit including pride, judgement and division. It becomes a DISTRACTION from the simplicity and centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and from following the leading of the Holy Spirit in each of our families.

  56. I think you are viciously broad-brushing an entire movement that has been used of God mightily. Whose side are you on? I’ve home-schooled for 34 years and I don’t even know who Bill Gothard is. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I’d have never been able to place it in the homeschool movement.

    I do know a little of Doug Philips and appreciated Vision Forum, but he’s just a man. And a man that God was using, so, of course, the devil steps in, tempts him and he falls and pulls down much good along with it. But the devil doesn’t have to bother with the majority, that he has in his power already.

    The “home-school movement is made up of individuals and these men’s sins are not my fault and I don’t appreciate your attitude.

    1. Laura, no one is being “vicious.” I’m on the side of following God. If you have not had experience with these people then consider yourself very blessed indeed. They are hugely entrenched in the homeschool movement. I have personally spoken with many, many women who have been hurt by Phillips teaching and while God can work through anything, this teaching was largely man-centered and rooted in pride.

      The homeschool movement is made up of individuals, that’s true. But to refuse to hold them to account is not only foolish, it’s unbiblical. Much of this would have stopped years ago if people would have been willing to call it what it was.

    2. It is so painful as a Christian to listen to fellow Christians excuse the sins of another by making the devil the perpetrator and the man just a vessel. He chose to sin. Stop it, please.

  57. May I also add, many people in the UK Homeschooling arena have never heard of any of these men – we are so limited in many ways, that it positively impacts in some areas! Being sheltered isn’t always a bad thing!

  58. We homeschooled our 3 munchkins K-12, graduating our youngest some 10 years ago. I had concerns with Gothard well before he started ATIA (as it was called initially). Forbidding long hair and beards? Seriously? Women wearing pants designed for women is transvestism? Really? No rock style music? Where does the Bible say ANYTHING about music styles?

    Anyway … shouldn’t we learn from the recent scandal in the Catholic Church? And maybe from 1 Corinthians?

    First, Christians sweeping evil stuff under the rug only gives “the world” JUST CAUSE to call Christians hypocrites!

    Second, having a circle-the-wagons mentality protects evil-doers, enables them to do more harm, and disarms future victims by withholding knowledge of potential danger.

    Catholics who have been paying attention – lay and leaders – have had those lessons pounded home by the past several years of scandal. BTW, I’m not a Catholic, but a believer in Christ is my brother or sister in Christ, regardless of the sign in front of the building in which they worship.

    Third (but not of third importance!) re-read 1 Corinthians. A significant part of the letter is Paul calling out the moral sins of some members of the church at Corinth. And what he said would quickly have become known outside of the church, possibly from the first time his letter was read aloud in a meeting of the church. So what he wrote was not insiders-only at the time, and, of course, it is there to be read by anyone in modern times who picks up a copy of the Bible.

    It was a rueful proverb in the 1970s when I was a young believer that the Body of Christ was the only army that shot its own wounded. The women who were the victims of these men need Christian love and support and counsel, not condemnation for exposing evil-doing. Gothard and Phillips earned the consequences of their sin they are starting to experience. Those consequences won’t do much for the healing of their victims, but at least it limits their potential for doing future harm.

    I do hope some folks have remembered to pray that Gothard and Phillips would repent – TRULY repent, not I’m-sorry-I-got-caught FAUX-repentance – and be restored to fellowship (and after time to show fruit in keeping with repentance, possibly even to ministry) in the Body of Christ.

    1. It was a rueful proverb in the 1970s when I was a young believer that the Body of Christ was the only army that shot its own wounded. The women who were the victims of these men need Christian love and support and counsel, not condemnation for exposing evil-doing. Gothard and Phillips earned the consequences of their sin they are starting to experience. Those consequences won’t do much for the healing of their victims, but at least it limits their potential for doing future harm.

      Amen, Pete. Thanks for posting.

  59. It troubles me to see Christian believers using guilt-by-association “reasoning”. I knew a homeschooling family who looked into ATI, at the invitation of another homeschooling family. This family that was checking out ATI was new to homeschooling, and had been helped considerably by the other, more experienced, homeschooling family. Does that mean the family I knew was of bunch of Gothardites? Of course not! As some of you may have guessed, the family who checked out ATI was mine. When we found that Gothard was as legalistic as ever about extra-Biblical stuff, we walked away, literally and spiritually.

    Also, homeschooling folk need to be VERY cautious about what they “learn” from critics of HSLDA – I mean this generally. I would not be silly enough to say they’re perfect and have never erred. Nor would they. But I learned long ago (over a decade ago) that some of the claims made against HSLDA are deceptive and/or simply false. I won’t go into details, but my experience was first-hand: with the deceptive accuser; finding the truth for myself. Don’t be hostile, but if a criticism matters to you, find out: if it happened at all; whether the criticism omitted critical facts; whether the criticism hinges on the opinion of a hostile “witness”.

    As Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:19 (NET), “Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”

    1. Pete, in the same way that my silence about abortion equates to support (which I am not silent about BTW) my silence about something I have seen to be wrong and hurtful does equate to “guilty by association.” I’d say that over 30 women and even more with regard to Phillips far exceeds two or three witnesses.

      1. Heidi, first, let me say what I should have this AM. Thanks for an excellent, thoughtful article! It can be difficult, when disappointed by somebody one respects to maintain balance. Humans – men and women – do sin and will disappoint, And there’s no convenient time to be disappointed. God’s work in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ ultimately won’t disappoint. In bad times and good times (sometimes the latter is more difficult!) we need to rely on Jesus, not men or women (however much they may be used by God).

        I’m not a fan of, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” reasoning. Sometimes it’s used to bypass thoughtful consideration of alternative explanations. In the case of Gothard (to whom I assume you referred) I really do not see alternatives that aren’t beyond outlandish. That IBLP’s board took action against IBLP’s founder also suggests to me that they saw that there was substance to the accusations. So there probably was much fire that caused this smoke.

  60. This message is so timely and near and dear to our hearts!

    What I took away from this article: The end result of formulaic, legalistic, patriarchal ideologies produces waves of pride then discouragement in parents and leaves a wake of vulnerable, hurt hearts in families and in the children we tried to ‘protect.’

    Oh how Satan has his ways to distract us and bog us down in non-essentials! I pray we can learn to love and bless our children and be free to do so in ways which the Lord leads as they are his! Additionally, I pray love and patience will abound in our hearts-that we will love others who embrace convictions which differ and be the body we are called to be without fear of division or judgment.

    If only we could get back to the essentials of loving and truly depending on Christ, not looking for shortcuts, we would be a blessing to each other and to the Lord and, I believe, the body would be much more effective in reaching more for Christ!

    1. Oh how Satan has his ways to distract us and bog us down in non-essentials! I pray we can learn to love and bless our children and be free to do so in ways which the Lord leads as they are his!

      Amen, Jelaine! Thanks for posting.

  61. Adam was our first example of not speaking up when sin was about to occur, then did occur, joined in the sinful activity, and then tried to hide the sin. I agree-we should neither tolerate sin or hide it.

  62. People are by nature, flawed. I believe many of the problems arise when flawed people put other flawed people up on a pedestal instead of having God as their highest authority. I have found many good things in the teachings of both of these men or those affiliated with their groups, but after hearing their opinions on scripture, I checked it out on my own before praying and deciding how the Lord wanted us to use this insight.

    Sadly, Americans (and perhaps other cultures, though I can’t speak for them), have gotten into the habit of taking what someone else says as gospel instead of looking into the true Gospel for answers. In my opinion, there is good in finding Biblical teaching, but we have to find a balance between listening to teachers and going to the Author of All Things for our answers, especially when it comes to our families.

    I am sorry these men were fallible and made mistakes. I am shocked by Gothard’s errors, especially, and heartbroken by Phillip’s poor judgement after hearing so many seemingly heartfelt messages completely to the contrary of what he did.

    But we are all sinners, and there are Christian sinners and non-Christian sinners, and we need to be careful that we don’t throw out the good in the ministries because of the mistakes of one part of the ministry. Anyone who idolized the ministries of these men has certainly had a much needed wake up call and hopefully will emerge with a newfound understanding that couples, singles, etc. need to go to God for their answers, not for men. Men can give advice, iron sharpens iron, but they should not dictate how God is leading you. That is the Lord’s job, and when people start realizing that they must evaluate information in the light of what God specifically is calling their family to do instead of following along like lemmings, there would be fewer opportunities for things like these to happen.

    I still like a lot of what Vision Forum has to share. I never felt undermined as a woman when hearing most of the men speak and I appreciated the concept of guiding and sheltering our children, though my husband and I together decided the degree to which we felt called to do those things. I appreciate many of the teachings on goal-setting and marriage on the IBLP web site. I don’t listen to every sermon as I don’t agree with every one doctrinally, but we have to know what we believe to know what is good to listen to and what can hurt us…we must always be prepared to defend (and understand) our faith.

    To sum it up, I feel the problems arise when people turn off their brains and follow blindly…how can you know if you are following someone who is travelling the correct path if you are not looking ahead yourself? I pray these men will repent and be granted grace from the church community so that as a group of Christians, we can move forward with the common goal of preaching the Gospel to the nations, raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and having strong marriages…united, strong, and with no appearance of evil.

    Please, pray for these men and their families and ministries. Learn from their mistakes, and move forward from it. And let us pray that we are not ensnared by the evil ones temptations and cause our testimony to weaken the world’s already biased view against our Lord. Thank you for the interesting article.

  63. I have a question, and I believe a fair one, given all the conversation on this topic.

    Heidi, will you be speaking out on this topic at the GHC conferences this year?

  64. It never ends well when we follow man’s principles (even if somewhat associated with scripture) and make them a measure of spiritual maturity vs following Christ and trusting in His completed work. I think the Pharisees were accomplished at that. Thank you, Heidi, for your brave insights and perspective. This is a hard message that needed sharing. This grieves the Lord, but it should not truly surprise us that the deeds that are done in darkness are eventually shouted from the rooftop.I think there are some readers here who have not followed this story and seen the numerous attempts many have made through the years to confront Mr. Gothard biblically with his sin and sway him toward repentance. So sad that even today, the stories of these abused young girls are not believed in the name of not judging. Many young people have turned away from the Lord in disappointment at the double standards he held and the harsh manner he treated those who did not fit his mold. I think the Lord refers to believers as living stones- not identical bricks.

  65. I can relate to so much of this. We are a new homeschooling family and have 5 little ones, and we’re often asked if we follow certain teachings or movements. The bottom line is that we love the Lord and we love our children, and we’ve been convicted to homeschool them. We’re striving to follow God and God alone. 🙂

    1. Jessica, Homeschooling gives you, DH, and your munchkins INCREDIBLE freedom and flexibility – methods, teaching materials, schedule, being able to pursue interests. Make the most of it and make the learning fun!

  66. Heidi,

    Thank you for boldly stating what needs to be stated. You are biblically correct in calling out those who are stumbling blocks in the body of Christ. We need not be squishy when big players and loud voices hold sway in a movement. Paul was not shy in naming those who were leaven in the body.

    We must be on alert — encouraging, admonishing, warning and guarding the flock. This is usually the work of overseers. But when the overseers have gone astray they must be exposed in order to protect the flock. Part of demonstrating grace is exposing sin in order to restore.

    Finally, homeschooling (or any movement in general) should not be governed by one or two entities because of their size or sway. As Bible people we must always look to the Word, be in prayer, and joyfully teach our children with all diligence. Grace to all of you — stay strong; do not grow weary.

  67. Heidi,
    Well spoken Heidi! A friend of mine posted your article today and I had to read your perspective. I can so relate to your frustration about being judged as a homeschooler and a larger family! It can be frustrating knowing that many people do associate us with people of those movements simply because we have felt called to receive a gift of a child or choose the option to homeschool. Amen. 10 times over. I am going to write a similar post on Leaving a Legacy today and share this post in it.

  68. I agree that to put our faith and trust in a formula or our own efforts will backfire in our face. Voddie Baucham gave a great sermon after National Bible Bee one year on how Adam and Eve had the perfect Father, the perfect environment, the perfect education, the perfect companions (all wise things we should strive for) and yet they still sinned, so we need to beg Jesus to save our children because He is the only One who can.

    I think you are wrong to disparage their ministries by putting the word in quotes. Should we start referring to “pastors” because they are sinners? Would you appreciate being referred to as a “homeschooler” or “mother” just because you are not perfect? If James Dobson’s sins became public would you take the “opportunity” to disparage the ministry he started?

    Should I be called a Jeubite since I read and agree with some of what Chris Jeub writes? A Visionforumite because I own some of their materials? A Bauchamite because I love the way Voddie spins things? An Ohlmanite? A Dobsonite?

    Go to your bookshelf take a good look. You won’t find any books that are perfect or not written by sinners even the one we agree is the inspired Word of God. Should we toss out all our books because they are not perfect and written by sinners? Should we excise everything written by David that adulterer and murderer?

    There is not a single perfect human, church, ministry, organization, or book on this planet. We joined ATI because the families we met said the character studies and wisdom booklets were wonderful. Even a lady we know whose husband ran away with a younger ATI staff member said the materials were excellent. We have learned a lot from them, the seminars, camps, sermons, and of course they are not perfect and we don’t agree with everything they teach but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater as you said. Sad that is what happened with VF instead of someone else taking over.

    We need more people to join the “quiverfull movement” as you call it, but not as how you define it. “Quiver full” to us are two words that comes straight from the Bible, a metaphor that many children are a blessing that bring happiness and also impact our not being put to shame in our courts of law. Wouldn’t that be nice! I invite everyone to read http://www.righttome.com/2014/01/18/a-key-reason-why-evildoers-reign/ and other posts there.

    Actually the “quiverfull movement” would never have needed to exist if the “birth control movement” had not first infiltrated the church and government. Amazes me that birth control used to be illegal along with abortion and porn see the movie at http://bywhatstandardmedia.com/ it is free to stream, also lots of historical quotes at http://www.righttome.com/2013/12/20/birth-control-quotes-from-yesteryear/

    Though I am sure there are sinners out there who say they are quiverfull yet “objectify the woman and turn the child into a commodity” I have never met any nor have I ever seen any teaching that comes anywhere close to that. When I read “commodity” I think of “something that is bought and sold” not as “something or someone that is useful or valued” because of course we value our heritage, our blessings, our gifts, our rewards from the Lord.

    I enjoyed Darnell’s perspective on these recent events at http://www.perseveronews.com/of-men-and-megalomaniacs/ and ask you to please read it. I find the idea that “each accusation by an alleged victim must be corroborated by two or three witnesses to the same event” interesting because it brings perspective to your statement that “over 30 women…far exceeds two or three witnesses”. Of course it would not surprise me were the allegations were true, Gothard is sinner a like every man, but if it were true based on his own words I imagine he would have a hard time sleeping at night until he asked forgiveness.

    God bless you Mrs. St. John, “Holgrave”, Mr. Jeub, and anyone else who might read this.

    1. Hi Nelson. Thanks for posting. I will have to disagree with you with regard to the materials that VF and ATI put out. If there was just a bit of yuck in a batch of brownies someone gave me, I would not serve the brownies to my kids. I’m sad to see kids being served materials that are full of man-made, prideful teaching. I’ve watched in relative silence for years as family after family has bit into this bitter fruit and ended up with a disappointing harvest.

      VF and ATI (I know from first-hand experience) bring with them both legalism and formulaic teaching that is not only anti-biblical in nature but harmful as well. Even though they use the Bible to justify much of their teaching, the vast majority that I have seen virtually enslaves women and elevates men to levels that are almost god-like. Jesus said “Take MY yoke, learn from ME, I am GENTLE and HUMBLE.” This is opposite of the spirit I’ve encountered from these “ministries” and yes, put the name in quotes because a true ministry would not leave even one family devastated or enslaved.

      The quiverfull movement does not need to exist, no matter what they are reacting against. The over-reaction does not make the problem better. It simply creates a new, yet equally damaging problem. I do not think more people need to join it. I think more people need to see children as a blessing, no matter how many we have or don’t have. Having tons of kids won’t solve the issues of our day. How many families have you known that had children just so they wouldn’t be seen as “sinning” only to struggle under the yoke of someone else’s personal conviction? I’ve seen many.

      I agree that all folks who write and speak are sinners just like the rest of us, but I’m not saying other people are without sin. I’m not a Dobsonite, although I do appreciate his teaching and ministry. I’m a follower of Jesus.

      1. We have to separate Christ from Christianity, and all 50,000 variations of it. Christ is far beyond religion and He is for freedom, love, grace to all. We have missed the simplicity of loving Father with our heart, soul, and mind, and loving others in His love through us… most times I do not even call myself a Christian, because of the foolishness of religion. I call myself a Christ follower, and that is a huge difference. Thanks Heidi…

      2. I too follow Christ the way the truth and the life; the same claim is made by the men and ministries you disparage. I am sorry you have had bad experiences but for many others it is quite the opposite. Should we tear all churches down because some have bad experiences in them?

        Pride is a deadly enemy and we each should root it out, but as the lady above mentioned it seems you are broad brushing. If the Lord has called you to reform, your tool should be more like a scalpel not a brush so broad it is painting the neighbors house.

        Your yucky stuff in a brownie analogy makes no sense, as I wrote before every man or work of man has something “yucky” in it, even the Bible.

        “Quiver full” is not extra-biblical. I was thinking to state that birth control was extra-biblical, but then I realized that is not true as the Word of God has lots to say about the subject. I notice you do not mention Darnell, or the movie, or my blog posts. If you or your husband get a chance to read them I welcome discussion.

        “Quiver full” to us is only about children being a blessing. That is all the metaphor really can mean. Attaching other things you don’t like to it only causes confusion.

        Blessings to you and yours.

        1. Paying attention to people like Darnell and Ohlman is like turning over a rock to watch the creepy-crawly things that hide out beneath it scatter for cover.

          But maybe it’s time to salt the slugs that are destroying our garden.

          1. Do you really wish to murder your brothers in Christ? Nevermind, I’ll assume that was just another analogy gone bad.

            “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

            “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

            I would be glad to discuss what the Bible says about birth control but insults will not help anyone learn anything.

      3. My wife showed me some things I missed in your response…

        How can children be a blessing if they don’t exist (i.e. Childfree by choice)?

        If they were having “children just so they wouldn’t be seen as ‘sinning'” doesn’t that make their motive pride? Especially if it was “someone else’s personal conviction” and not their own? “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

        You seem to be implying you have seen many people hurt by having too many children? How is it that someone can be hurt by too many blessings? And how exactly are they “hurt” anyways? Did they starve? Did they just not have enough of “this world’s goods”? If having too many children is hurting them why don’t they just get rid of them, cull the herd so to speak? Murder most likely being too legalistic for them they could still put them up for adoption or give them to the state. That they keep them seems to indicate the benefits outweigh the “hurt” and I imagine they are glad for their children after all.

        Perhaps the real hurt is caused by those who put their faith and trust in birth control and their own wisdom and strength. The hurt is not seeing a real God who is a faithful Provider for all their needs. Of course missing out on blessings hurts in more ways than we can imagine.

        For me having a personal conviction that “children are a blessing” is mutually exclusive with birth control. The very definition of the word blessing being “help and approval from God; something that helps you or brings happiness; a thing conducive to happiness or welfare” makes it insanity to refuse, or I suppose I could choose to profane it like Esau.

        In my experience the families I have seen put their faith and trust in God have not been disappointed because as He gives the blessing of children He also meets their other needs. “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”

        A friend said birth control is a taboo subject in the church so I do appreciate and thank you for the polite discussion.

        1. No, Nelson, the “real hurt” is caused when people force their beliefs on issues such as birth control on others. Until you witness this up-close-and-personal, I would ask that you refrain from judgment about who may be hurt by someone else’s ideology.

          1. Forgive me if it appeared I was sitting in “judgment”. I honestly don’t understand. It is not like Nancy Campbell or anyone ever put a gun to my head and said “you die if you use birth control”.

            Birth control is not a rational choice for a Christian given everything the Bible says. If you want to turn away and not discuss what the Bible says then that is your choice.

  69. Great job Heidi! You spoke for so many that have been abused in the name of Christ who are speaking and participating in activities that have nothing to do with the love and grace of God. This is not even speaking to the criminal and immoral behavior that comes from these ideologies.

    You said much right here, “My heart breaks for the families, especially the women who have been hurt by the patriocentric, hyper-legalistic, hard-core fundamentalist mentality”

    Thank you for speaking out, people are people regardless of what they believe and no one should be protected from their wrong doing based on their beliefs or their influence.

    Thank you….

  70. Personally I am glad that educating your children at home is growing beyond the Christian realm and is being chosen by all kinds of people whether they are religious or not. I’ve been educating my children at home since 1985. I’ve seen a lot over the years. We were part of ATIA back in the 80’s and I’m glad we got out. We never did fit. We just about got sucked into the Patriarchal movement, too, and got bit and backed out. With children from 37 to 12 and now grandchildren, too, I can tell you there is no magic formula.

    If we cannot be honest about the problems in any movement, then we have chosen to put blinders on and we will be hurt by that movement and contribute towards keeping a system in place that will hurt many others, too.

    A couple of my daughters have had contact with quite a few young people who have come out of the abuses of ATI and of the Patriarchal movement. What is really sad is how many of these young people have no faith and are opposed to home education and are fighting for more regulation and some even for the end of homeschooling. Some of them have horrible stories of the abuses they endured so it is no wonder that they are making those kinds of choices.

    If your intention in educating your children at home is to control their lives and to produce a perfect “product” then please don’t even start. Children are not our products and they aren’t our property. They are a trust that we have been given and we need to treat them as people in process just as we are. We need to treat them with respect and teach them healthy boundaries. We need to be real before them so they know we struggle, fall and get back up because there is One who is faithful and keeps us. I can certainly tell you that I have made many, many mistakes with my children and I have not arrived. I am far from perfect. I wanted my children to learn to think for themselves and to know how to learn whatever they need to learn and I know they do that. It is not my job to keep them but the job of the One who made them and gave them breath.

  71. Thank you for posting this. We escaped a legalistic “Christian” cult/church 6 years ago. And it was scary, they tried to bully us into staying with fearful tactics. For two years, I couldn’t visit a church with out crying when a hymn was sung. I cringe when people assume that we’re like certain groups because of family size or the choice to homeschool. Thank you, thank you! What you said, needed to be said, especially to the homeschooling community.

  72. Unfortunately, Christians are not perfect. None of us. I believe that Mr. Gothard and Mr. Phillips had many very good teachings. I didn’t agree with everything either one taught though. We do need to check everything that is taught by anyone with the Bible. And I do believe Satan works the hardest on those that are doing him the most harm. I feel very bad for people who can’t think for themselves and may have looked to these men as if they were almost God himself. We should never do that with anyone. I don’t want to throw away the good things I learned from them either. Mr. Gothard’s “Anger Resolution Seminar” was a huge blessing to me and I have one daughter who really loves the “Johnathon Park” series on creation, which someone has purchased and will continue. We must all be careful lest Satan tempt us. I do appreciate Heidi’s article, because those who have been hurt need a voice.

  73. Wow…great article! I couldn’t agree more. I will say, yes…my first thought is you were part of the “have as many kids until you die” movement. It unfortunately comes to mind because of the crazies. I did plan to see you at the latest convention in Greenville, but wasn’t that sure about you. After a friend said you were awesome, I ordered 2 MP3’s of you. Now, that I’ve read this, I’m glad I did. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve also seen the abuses first hand also. It’s so sad and worthy of our discussion and claiming the Word of God as our standard, not man’s word. Thanks again for the great reminder that we are to all be good Bereans…Acts 17:11. Bless you and your ministry Heidi!

  74. This is the first I’ve heard about either of these men and what’s going on with them as we finished home schooling our girls (two of them, through high school) a few years ago. After skimming through the post and responses, it would be difficult to cover everything that came to mind. Here are just a few.

    We’re LCMS Lutherans, a main-stream, conservative Synod. When we began home schooling, almost everyone we met was non-denominational and had more than two children. We also didn’t use a specific curriculum for most subjects; I did the curriculum myself. I went for some time to a support group where although no one was overtly mean, I always felt on the outside because of the things I mentioned. At least one person in the group believe that the Bible said everyone was supposed to home school. I finally left that group and stayed away from support groups after that. Why can’t we (home schoolers) realize that there are many different people who are all Christian? We aren’t all required to have more than two children or wear jean jumpers or whatever else. There is plenty of diversity, in the good sense, in Christianity.

    For us, our church beliefs weren’t intertwined with the curriculum we chose. Of course we didn’t use anything that was against Scripture. But everything we do and hear, whether from pastors or others, is to be held against what God says, not what a person says. I think that helped us steer clear of any problems like this. We choose the best things we could find so long as they didn’t have an anti-Christian bias or teach against Scripture. But they didn’t have to be “Christian” or endorsed by a group or person. It seems to me that’s the best way to try to avoid getting involved in the sort of issues I see being discussed above.

    Of course that doesn’t have anything to do with how leaders conduct themselves. They are innocent unless shown to be guilty. True. If someone admits to inappropriate behavior and steps down, we need to believe that person and forgive. There can be consequences, however, just as there were for David. I take great comfort in the fact that David, a man God says was after His own heart, was in no way a perfect person, yet God loved and forgave him. Still, there were consequences just as there can be for all of us.

    Yes, we’re all sinners. Yes, that means we all need forgiveness. That also means that when others sin, especially Christians, they need to be held accountable.

    I hope this isn’t too rambling. 🙂 I appreciate that most of the comments have been polite even in disagreement, something that’s not true for the vast majority of comments I see.



  75. I appreciate the no nonsense approach to these horrific situations that have rocked the homeschooling community. What is your response to allegations that the Suarez Family of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine have been covering for sexual predators in their community including their own son?

    1. While I have no personal knowledge of several of the issues being tossed about and am unable to speak to them directly, there are a few issues that I can address with confidence. I have known Gena Suarez for approximately 6 years and I have always known her to be a woman who tells the truth, even when it may be personally costly to do so.I have been on record as clearly against any ministry that practices, perpetuates or protects any sort of sexual sin within the homeschooling community and based on my knowledge of the situation I have no reason to believe Gena and Paul Suarez are guilty of any of the charges being leveled against them in this troubling inter-family drama. I can testify with 100% confidence that much of what feely circulates in the semi-anonymity of the internet these days is based on innuendo and outright lies. Just because you read it on an internet blog or website in no way makes it true.

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