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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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140 Responses

  1. samanthab
    samanthab September 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

    So they are allowed to be on tv but not to watch it? Ick!

    Egan Morrissey’s analysis is awfully classist- I guess “educated people” are the only people fit to determine right and wrong now. Good thing colleges don’t have dude dominated subjects and lady dominated subjects and a bizillion other barometers of sexism.

    EM also doesn’t convince me that the Duggars meet the standards of a cult. She does, for sure, have me convinced of the whole way fucked up thing, though.

    1. lemurknits
      lemurknits September 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

      samanthab, the Jezebel article doesn’t even begin to get into some of the most disgusting parts of that ‘lifestyle’. Quiverfullers believe they are breeding an army for God so that they make take dominion over the United States and create a theocracy. To that aim, the women are pushed/brainwashed/trained to believe their only worth is in the home they run and the number of children they create, even at the expense of their own lives or health.
      Many children of Quiverfull parents live in poverty and are crammed into homes suited to much smaller families( sleeping on metal shelving units for example) and often eat highly restricted diets. The oldest girls in the family often function as sistermom’s to their younger siblings, and their actual education falls by the way side as they take on more and more responsibility.
      If you are interested in learning more I would recommend you look up FreeJinger.org, and No Longer Quivering.

      1. samanthab
        samanthab September 5, 2012 at 9:43 am |

        Ick! I’m too creeped out to read any more right now. But I do find the arguments here convincing, as I say below.

  2. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage September 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    The hair rules in item 3 are jaw-dropping enough.

    The cult will crack the moment one of those kids gets a whiff of the outside world, or realizes hir feelings about hirself don’t quite match what Dad and Mom have been telling them is “appropriate”. Statistically, at least two of those kids are LGBTQ, and I would not bet that they’re learning acceptance and celebration of such differences.

    1. Kristen J.
      Kristen J. September 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm |

      Sadly, of my large group of friends who were in a similar movement very few escaped.

    2. Vi
      Vi September 5, 2012 at 7:37 am |

      The statistical likelihood of cis boys being gay increases if they have large numbers of older brothers, so the odds may be higher than two.

      If any of them are, I feel for them.

  3. LAMR
    LAMR September 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

    I disagree homeschooling is no different then an unaccredited privet school and I don’t hear anyone complaining about those or about the teachings at many Christian public schools.. I think home schooling is hard enough in many states it doesn’t need to be made more difficult. Many children don’t thrive in our current one size fits all public school system.
    Just because a few families abuse the system doesn’t mean we should punish everyone that is actually in average educating their children better then even the best public schools and more then 1/3 of privet school.

    1. EG
      EG September 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

      homeschooling is no different then an unaccredited privet school and I don’t hear anyone complaining about those or about the teachings at many Christian public schools.

      Then let me be the first. Also, there are no Christian public schools. Public schools cannot be Christian.

      1. Rhoanna
        Rhoanna September 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

        Then let me be the first. Also, there are no Christian public schools. Public schools cannot be Christian.

        LAMR might be referring to some non-American public schools, some of which are religious. But that’s just conjecture, since the article is about the USA, and no other places were mentioned.

        But I gotta agree with you about non-accredited private schools.

        1. Megan
          Megan September 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

          But what about privet schools? Those hedges deserve an education as much as anyone.

        2. Ashley
          Ashley September 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm |

          I’m guessing “Christian public school” was a slip and meant to read “private.”

          I’m a (liberal secular) homeschooling mom in a state that has literally no regulation for it whatsoever, and honestly I think there should be more oversight for homeschoolers in my state. The laws vary by state, with some being quite strict and some, like mine, having no rules or registration requirement whatsoever. I imagine it’s difficult to come up with a way to provide oversight, guidance, and support for homeschoolers while still maintaining the spirit of homeschooling. Portfolio review vs. standardized tests, for example.

          Anyways, it’s a complicated issue, not sure the solution. But I feel pretty confident that no oversight is a bad idea.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |

          Thank god I’m not the only one who caught the “privet” thing. Guess that’s my rocking public school education there.

          Should some people homeschool? Sure. …Should just anyone? Hell no! :p

      2. Lyndsay
        Lyndsay September 5, 2012 at 5:33 am |

        Unless you’re in England. At least children are required to learn about all religions though. Or unless you count Catholic schools as Christian. Or if you consider the public schools in America that don’t call themselves Christian but teach things only Christians and maybe other religious people believe.

        1. EG
          EG September 5, 2012 at 9:35 am |

          The context is the US, and in the US, Catholic schools are private. We do, as you say, have lousy public schools, and I am often to be found inveighing against them as well.

    2. Odin
      Odin September 5, 2012 at 9:38 am |

      Different states have different standards for homeschooling. According to some of my now-adult friends who were homeschooled, Pennsylvania has high standards, while Texas and South Carolina have such low standards that homeschooling can in practice mean “plays video games all day”.

      Different homeschool curricula — Christian and other! — also come in different levels of quality. Some are very good except when it comes to anything that might make kids question the religious views of the adults (so their high school math, physics and chem can be great, but their biology reads like bad bible fanfiction). And the history curricula can be… hella Problematic when it comes to the Why but pretty solid when it comes to What.

      In extreme cases, far-right Christian homeschool curricula can even brag about how they leave out fundamental mathematical topics (apparently Jesus hates set theory?) I’m sorry, but neurotypical homeschool students should not be able to be considered high school graduates if they have not seen Venn diagrams before. That’s basic practical-math literacy.

      1. LotusBecca
        LotusBecca September 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm |

        Odin. . .your post intrigued me because I’d never heard before that certain Christian fundamentalists had problems with some kinds of math. So I did a little follow-up research and found this article (if anyone else is interested) on the fundamentalist objections to set theory.

  4. nofearof0
    nofearof0 September 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

    I agree with the sentiments of my partner; “the indoctrination of children into religion is a form a child abuse.”

    Institutionlized religion is supported by the State; they are given economic, legal, educational and political privileges, so it no wonder our society keeps enacting reactionary policies. It seems the U.S.A missed the enlightenment.

    1. Lasciel
      Lasciel September 5, 2012 at 3:28 am |

      I’m sure abused children everywhere appreciate you for appropriating their experiences as a means to bash religion.

      1. Matt
        Matt September 5, 2012 at 4:18 am |

        Considering that I know at least 100 atheists who considered their parents varying levels of religious indoctrination to be child abuse, I’m afraid you are wrong. Child abuse survivors are not a monolith and one specific group of them does not own child abuse.

        I’m sure child abuse victims of religious ideologies everywhere appreciate you erasing their experiences.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 5, 2012 at 11:24 am |

          My parent’s weren’t actively abusive when they taught me to count on Jesus for my problems, but they sure were negligent. It turns out that praying doesn’t do shit for diagnosable mental illnesses …WHOULDA THUNK. And thanks to praying, any actual treatment or therapy took a backseat until I finally became an atheist and said “fuck it, I want to actually get better. Jesus is doing exactly nothing for my anxiety/depression/panic attacks/self-harm.”

          It’s the same with homeopathy and other woo; even if it’s not actively harmful, it encourages neglect by taking the place of things that could actually make a person well. And lot’s of times it is actively harmful, poisoning the minds (or bodies) of its practitioners until they can quite literally die of it — and then with religion they think they’re going to burn for eternity afterwards. Jeebus.

          And yeah, I just bashed woo and religion, like that’s not redundant.

        2. Lasciel
          Lasciel September 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

          You’re just being disgusting and you know it. Suggesting that simply being brought up in the Buddhist, Wiccan, Christian, or Muslim religions is the same thing as being beaten or starved or neglected–really?

          Matt, I don’t care how many atheists you know who want to compare child abuse to religious upbringing. Unless YOU were a victim of child abuse, (and not just, “I was brought up in a religious household and would rather not have been) do the respectful thing and don’t use it to make little metaphors to prove how bad religion is. Because unless you have been abused, you really have no place to sit there and tell a child abuse survivor that you know better about what child abuse is.

          Bagelsan, I agree with you that religious practice can be harmful to children. We have plenty of proof of that, with all the fundamentalists who have let their children die instead of turning to life-saving medical treatments.

          But there are many Christians and people of other religions who don’t deny medical care, and there are people who deny their children medical care for no reason whatsoever, not even the excuse of an invisible god in the sky’s ability to heal. (I, for instance, wasn’t told to turn to God to fix my mental problems; I was just told that I was being whiny and spoiled and just needed to ‘try harder’ because you know, depressed people are just those who need to learn to deal with the ‘natural lows’ of life or whatever /eyeroll)

          Saying religiously upbringing children is always the same as abusing children or neglecting them is just insulting and appropriating. The experiences of children who have been beaten and neglected do not belong to atheists to be used for winning cheap points in arguments.

        3. igglanova
          igglanova September 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

          Suggesting that simply being brought up in the Buddhist, Wiccan, Christian, or Muslim religions is the same thing as being beaten or starved or neglected–really?

          Thank you for confirming your belief that these are the only forms of child abuse that matter.

          In regard to the original comment, the key word is ‘indoctrination.’ This implies a more severe upbringing than simply reading Bible stories at bedtime or dragging the kids to church every Sunday.* The commonplace threat of Hell, for example, which has been particularly traumatizing to children who have experienced the loss of a friend or family member dubbed a ‘sinner'; or the practice of integrating religious nonsense so thoroughly into school materials and everyday life that the children experience no reprieve, or even unbiased exposure to ideas that their parents find threatening.

          Religious indoctrination is the willful teaching of lies to children in an attempt to truncate curiosity and maintain control. How could this be anything but mind abuse?


          *Replace Christian key words with the approximate equivalents of other religions as needed

        4. Matt
          Matt September 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

          For the last time, not all religious upbringing IS child abuse, although quite a lot more than you would think is.

          Religion CONTRIBUTES to child abuse for various reasons. Even liberal religion. It creates a culture that allows for abuse to happen, to go unreported, and to go unstopped/unpunished, and to be covered up or whitewashed over.

          Anyways I’m not diving down this rabbit whole again after what happened last time. I’m sure plenty of other people, with the required “credentials” that will satisfy you, and in fact some of those people are already here.

    2. Sarah Jones
      Sarah Jones September 5, 2012 at 7:33 am |

      Your partner is wrong, and so, Matt, are you. I’m an agnostic now, but I was raised evangelical (see my comment below) and though I most certainly did experience religious abuse, it wasn’t from my parents. Religion isn’t the root of child abuse. It can certainly act as a vehicle for abuse, but to credit it as the sole source of abuse is simplistic. That’s fundamentalism. It’s structurally no different from religious fundamentalism. It’s still prejudice. And it really needs to stop.

      1. igglanova
        igglanova September 5, 2012 at 11:20 am |

        Religion isn’t the root of child abuse. It can certainly act as a vehicle for abuse, but to credit it as the sole source of abuse is simplistic.

        Good thing nobody said this.

        1. Matt
          Matt September 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm |

          When you say mean things about religion, the straw men come fast and hard.

        2. igglanova
          igglanova September 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

          Straw Man and Sacred Cow make wonderful barnyard music together.

          /badum-tsh

      2. konkonsn
        konkonsn September 6, 2012 at 5:04 am |

        I do believe there are good things about religion, but I do want to point out, for the sake of adding another idea to the argument, that sometimes religion can be the sole abusive factor and not a motivator.

        For instance, my parents were not abusive. They weren’t even very religious, but because of my grandma’s wishes, I was sent to Catholic classes once a week so I could be confirmed into the church. I grew up terrified that I was going to hell. I couldn’t sleep at night for the thought of dying. I used to pray 50 Hail Mary prayers and 20 Lord’s Prayers every night before bed, and that was only if I did them correctly (if I messed up, I’d have to start all over).

        I understand that if it wasn’t religion, it would have been something else. But the more religious I became, the more I was praised by people rather than asked, “Is this what you really want?” I talked to priests about my fears, but they just said I was overthinking things. It wasn’t until I saw a therapist who said, “Describe the God you believe in to me,” that I felt like it was okay to say, “This is fucked up.”

        I mean, on really shitty days, discussion of sin/hell can be stupidly triggering for me.

        So, yes. The doctrine of many religions has plenty to scare the shit out of people. And I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be introduced to religion because of the off-chance they’re like me. But I do think it should be acknowledged that all the negativity in Christianity can be abusive so that we can at least look out for kids that would be hurt by it.

    3. annalouise
      annalouise September 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

      Every time I hear someone make this argument it makes me want to hurry up and have a bunch of kids so I can religiously indoctrinate them.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan September 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |

        Is that what you say on spanking threads, too? Charming.

    4. lemurknits
      lemurknits September 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

      The kind patriarchy centered religion the Duggars are forcing on their kids is child abuse. They purposefully isolate their children, neglect their education, and impede their children from becoming independent adults. In the case of the daughters, they are rigidly controlled, and do the brunt of care for their younger siblings. Jinger’s “I need to work on my contentment” remark is her parroting cult speak to avoid punishment ( check out A Journey to the Heart- its a brainwashing program for girls).

  5. Partial Human
    Partial Human September 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    Is LAMR a poe?

    Also, my privets do fine with just sunlight and water.

    1. xenu01
      xenu01 September 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

      Sorry, but what do you mean by “a poe?”

      I ask because that’s my name.

      1. tigtog
        tigtog September 4, 2012 at 7:50 pm | *

        Poe’s Law:

        Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe%27s_Law

  6. the fat nutritionist
    the fat nutritionist September 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

    I don’t know if they’ve ever come out and formally endorsed this, but the Duggars really do subscribe a specific, cultish strain of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. (I am not religious myself so apologies to anyone who is if I’ve misrepresented the identity of this specific faction of Christians.) I think Feministe had a guest poster a while back who may have touched on this. Anyway, the names to focus on are Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, as well as Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. I don’t fully get it myself, but apparently these two constitute much of the source of the Duggars’ (and other similar families) outlook on life and lifestyle choices. Including discouraging daughters to avoid college and be “Stay at home daughters,” to promise their “purity” to their fathers until marriage, for women to be submissive to a male authority figure (father and then husband when authority is “transferred” to him via marriage) and a bunch of other really delightful things!

    An interesting website about this subculture is http://rethinkingvisionforum.wordpress.com/ and they have links to lots of other resources for those interested in going down the rabbit hole.

    1. Charlotte
      Charlotte September 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm |

      I believe you are talking about the Quiverfull movement.

      1. the fat nutritionist
        the fat nutritionist September 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

        Yes, that is part of it, but I believe it goes much deeper than that, too.

      2. the fat nutritionist
        the fat nutritionist September 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

        Sorry for spamming the comments – I just thought of the term that best fits what I’m talking about – “The Christian Patriarchy Movement.”

        http://freemethodistfeminist.com/2011/01/22/vision-forum-the-giant-of-the-christian-patrarichy-movement/

        Okay I’m done now, promise.

    2. zuzu
      zuzu September 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

      Oh, they’re so deep into the millenialist Christian patriarchy thing that Jim-Bob started his own church.

      Which, by the way, is housed in the Duggar home and therefore the home is completely tax-free.

    3. samanthab
      samanthab September 5, 2012 at 9:39 am |

      Your arguments are more specific and convincing than Egan Morrissey’s, which are awfully vague. I don’t watch t.v., and, ick, I don’t think I’m inclined to anytime soon.

  7. the fat nutritionist
    the fat nutritionist September 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    *encouraging daughters to avoid

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan September 5, 2012 at 11:26 am |

      I was gonna say, I also actively discourage girls from avoiding college. :D

  8. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen September 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

    When I was a kid, some far-right evangelicals in Tennessee filed a massive lawsuit against their public school district, alleging their textbooks were filled with anti-Christian propaganda. Among their complaints were the books’ pro-sustainability themes — since God created Earth for humans to exploit, attempts by godless liberals to save the whales were anti-Christian acts against God, since God will make a species extinct no matter what puny humans do. The plaintiffs were supported by the usual far-right figures like Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum. The Duggars aren’t a cult, at least not anymore — they represent mainstream Christian Right thought, much like Rep. Todd “legitimate rape” Akin.

    1. William
      William September 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

      The Duggars aren’t a cult, at least not anymore — they represent mainstream Christian Right thought, much like Rep. Todd “legitimate rape” Akin.

      Just because the assholes are plentiful and have been vomiting their toxic brew of bullshit and shame for awhile doesn’t make them any less of a cult.

      Although, credit to the Duggars and Akin and the rest of their ilk, at least they’ve stopped pretending to be decent human beings and are now honest about their fundamental vileness.

    2. zuzu
      zuzu September 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

      The Duggars have actually toned down a lot of their presentation of their beliefs and practices for the TV show. I caught the very first special — five kids ago — and there were a lot of explicitly Christian-soldier fundamentalist things that Michelle and Jim-Bob told the cameras, and it was pretty disturbing. TLC later re-edited that to remove the most out-there religious overtones so that they could package this family as just a cute, wacky religious family.

      They even changed the way the kids dress for the cameras. They used to do the full “prairie muffin” look; now the kids wear polos and khakis (skirt or pants) and style their hair in a much more modern way.

      That’s for the cameras, though. I do wonder whether Jinger will make it out; she seems to be willing to tell interviewers that she’s not as pleased with the whole setup as she’s supposed to be.

      1. William
        William September 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm |

        That’s for the cameras, though. I do wonder whether Jinger will make it out; she seems to be willing to tell interviewers that she’s not as pleased with the whole setup as she’s supposed to be.

        Heres to hoping she figures out how to use her family’s money-generating public image as leverage.

  9. kungfulola
    kungfulola September 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    When I was a kid, some far-right evangelicals in Tennessee filed a massive lawsuit against their public school district, alleging their textbooks were filled with anti-Christian propaganda. Among their complaints were the books’ pro-sustainability themes — since God created Earth for humans to exploit, attempts by godless liberals to save the whales were anti-Christian acts against God, since God will make a species extinct no matter what puny humans do.

    This anti-Environmentalism attitude is known as “The Green Dragon” movement (dragons being a Christian symbol for the Devil). I had a classmate who wore a t-shirt to school that had a childlike drawing of Earth on the front, in green and blue. On the back was this poem, a jab at environmentalism; “The Earth is not my home, although it seems to be. My home is with my God, in the place he’s made for me”.

    1. FarmerStina
      FarmerStina September 5, 2012 at 1:12 am |

      The name Green Dragon Movement is interesting. Growing up Mormon, we always called the Jehovah Witness Bible The Green Dragon as a “joke” (though it was really an insulting nickname as they were our biggest competitors for souls). I wonder if the entomology of the two names is similar.

    2. Shoggoth
      Shoggoth September 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

      Green Dragon eh? I’ll take five grams.

  10. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen September 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    Wow, how on earth did I grow up with this stuff without ever hearing that term?! Or is “Green Dragon” a more recent neologism? Most references on Google seem to date no earlier than 2010. Either way, thanks for the keyword. :-)

  11. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. September 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

    Maybe television shows shouldn’t be whitewashing the reality of this particular family, and casting them as some sort of quirky, lovable clan?

    Yup. That movement and similar groups are very scary, not cuddly.

    The videos I linked to in that old post on the Evangelical Movement also has some further info on the creepy factor.

  12. librarygoose
    librarygoose September 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    1. librarygoose
      librarygoose September 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

      This was supposed to be a reply to Xenu01.

  13. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

    I remember reading somewhere that a vagina should not be a clown car.

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 4, 2012 at 11:21 pm |

      Surely the memory of the reading of a bad joke in dubious anatomical taste is the sort of memory best kept to one’s self.

    2. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl September 5, 2012 at 8:07 am |

      I remember reading somewhere that a vagina should not be a clown car.

      This sort of reductivist language has no place in feminism, regardless of whether or not the object of your criticism is herself a feminist.

      I disagree with the Duggars and other Quiverfull followers’ reasons for having so many children. There are myriad reasons to do so. But ad hominen attacks on anyone, even in a juvenile and sexist attempt at humor, are still ad hom, childish and sexist regardless of how wrong I or you may believe the Duggars to be.

      1. ellie
        ellie September 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

        Part of supporting reproductive choice is respecting actual reproductive choices. If I want to have no children, and Michelle Duggar wants to have all the children, those are both choices.

        Disagree with her reasons, sure; but call her out on her ultimate choice, I find that a little uncomfortable.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl September 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

        Calling a vagina a clown car is not questioning whether or not a body is capable of sustaining endless pregnancies. But it is reducing a person down to their sex organs, which is sexist and insulting.

        Also, it ignores the biology of pregnancy, wherein the uterus technically warehouses the fetus until it is born. The vagina is merely a sort of hallway or waiting area during the birth process, so not accurate really to analogize it to a car full of clowns.

        I was also upfront about how I disagree with the Duggars and the Quiverfulls, therefore I don’t disagree with criticizing them. However, I can’t see why anyone can suddenly be ok with reducing a woman down to her vagina simply because you disagree with her, when otherwise doing so would be objectionable.

        Or are you suddenly ok with using reductivist language against women to criticize them, Jill?

  14. Sarah Jones
    Sarah Jones September 5, 2012 at 7:28 am |

    Yeah, I was homeschooled for years using exactly the same textbooks. I did have to reeducate myself. But it’s not child abuse, sorry. It’s really offensive to those of us with Christian parents to insist that our parents abused us by using these textbooks. The books aren’t factual. I do resent that I’ve had to spend years reeducating myself about basic history. But my parents certainly didn’t intend to abuse me by using them and it cheapens the experiences of survivors of such abuse by comparing the use of an A Beka textbook to beating or incest. Please cut it out.

    1. Revolver
      Revolver September 5, 2012 at 8:27 am |

      Emotional abuse is still abuse. It certainly isn’t analagous to beating or incest in this situation. Abuse doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation either; I would certainly consider the Duggars; rigid control of their children abusive. You may have a point about the textbooks alone (although really, that’s pretty fucked up to only teach factually incorrect information), but this is not all about the homeschooling; it’s about their entire way of life, and their homeschool practices are one piece that make up the entire abusive situation.

      1. Sarah Jones
        Sarah Jones September 5, 2012 at 8:30 am |

        Oh, I don’t mean to argue that the Duggars aren’t abusive. I do think the Quiverfull movement is cultish. My issue is with nontheists who don’t distinguish between movements like Quiverfull and mainstream Christianity, and instead categorize all religious families as oppressive in order to bash religion.

        1. William
          William September 5, 2012 at 9:47 am |

          Don’t confuse everyone who recoils from Christianity for nontheists and don’t confuse “mainstream Christianity” for a force of good. You don’t get much more mainstream than Rome and their complicity in worldwide sexual abuse or the Evangelicals all over the country who actively campaign against human rights. Maybe you see something of value in Christianity, all I see is an ideology which generally argues against basic human decency in favor of sexual shame, repression, and patriarchal control at virtually every level of human experience.

        2. EG
          EG September 5, 2012 at 9:50 am |

          Seconding William. Mainstream Christianity does not have a whole lot to be proud of, historically speaking.

        3. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date September 5, 2012 at 10:09 am |

          Nonetheless, I hesitate to characterize all Christian parents as child abusers.

        4. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 5, 2012 at 11:34 am |

          I don’t think all Christian parents are abusers at all; I think that Christianity highly encourages abuse, and gives abusers an instructive text with which to abuse, but I don’t call parents abusive until they start indoctrinating their children and teaching them to be ignorant. If lying to your children about fundamental, vital things that will harm them in the future isn’t abusive then I don’t know what is.

          It’s like teaching your kid to drive in the US and insisting that “God” hates it when you drive in the right lane or use your blinkers or that all cops are secretly the “devil” so take off if one tries to pull you over; you’re setting your child up for potentially excruciating failure. You are damaging your child.

          (And that’s even aside from the whole emotional abuse angle of “here’s why you are a filthy sinner that will burn in hell” bullshit.)

        5. shfree
          shfree September 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

          I’m agreeing with William here, even though I didn’t feel my parents were abusive by dragging me to church on a regular basis. Christianity is, and has been the foundation for a great deal of abuse and abusive behavior. I just merely think that the individual largely gets to define whether or not their experience was abusive, and doesn’t get to determine it for anyone else. Hence, while I think my parents’ insistence that I go to church every Sunday and be involved in the church was irritating, it didn’t qualify as abuse FOR ME. I’m not going to step in and say it wasn’t for anyone else, and I sincerely apologize if my words implied it previously.

          The quiverfull movement wasn’t created in a vacuum. The same thing with Phelps, and a lot of the other cult offshoots that gleefully preach ignorance and threats of damnation for not toeing to their precise strictures and hierarchies. And if raising a child with the constant fear of eternal pain and torment if they didn’t behave in a particular manner isn’t abusive, I really don’t know what is.

    2. William
      William September 5, 2012 at 9:43 am |

      Yeah, I was homeschooled for years using exactly the same textbooks. I did have to reeducate myself. But it’s not child abuse, sorry. It’s really offensive to those of us with Christian parents to insist that our parents abused us by using these textbooks. The books aren’t factual. I do resent that I’ve had to spend years reeducating myself about basic history. But my parents certainly didn’t intend to abuse me by using them and it cheapens the experiences of survivors of such abuse by comparing the use of an A Beka textbook to beating or incest. Please cut it out.

      I’ll hop on into this. I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’m also a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of school personel and of the broader systemic educational abuses that disabled kids all over the country routinely experience. I do not feel that likening A Beka textbooks to abuse somehow cheapens the abuse I suffered. If someone had said “using a textbook like this is the same as beating or raping a child” then perhaps you’d have a point, but no one has really said that. What has been said is that using these kinds of textbooks is abusive.

      Abuse comes in many forms. One of those forms, one employed by virtually all of my abusers, is reframing an abusive situation in such a way as to normalize it so that the abused person does not question the abuse, reduce their resources for getting help even if they do recognize the abuse for what it is, and instill a deep sense of shame and betrayal if they actually manage to find help. That that process is practically the philosophy behind Christian homeschooling makes me disgusted. That the curriculum taught under such a philosophy robs children of educational opportunity is downright neglectful.

      I’m glad you were not beaten. I’m glad you were not scarred by your experience. That doesn’t change the fact that you were neglected, that you were robbed of your opportunity to have a real education, that you have been burdened with having to learn for yourself what should have been taught to you. Maybe your parents didn’t intend that to be neglect. maybe they did honestly believe that they were saving your soul and protecting you from the devil. Thing is, I could care less why someone abuses a child. Religion isn’t an excuse, especially not one with the history of horror that Christianity comes with.

      1. Partial Human
        Partial Human September 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

        This.

        Saying “Incest and beatings are abuse. If they didn’t happen then you weren’t abused, so STFU” is gross. It’s creepy, patronising gaslighting.

        I was abused. Not sexually, but I was beaten. The beatings were the least of it.

        The beatings weren’t what caused permanent mental and physical health problems.

        The beatings weren’t what caused the PTSD.

        The beatings didn’t leave me with a future ruined by an undiagnosed learning disability.

        It was all abuse, it all hurt, and I’m sick of people telling me that the religiously-inspired abuse I suffered isn’t “real abuse”. I’m fucking fed up of people telling me I’m being meeeaaaan to Christians, arbiters of oppression far and wide, for speaking up about what was done to me.

        Religion has caused untold harm, perpetrated countless abuses, and has blood on it’s hands. The blood of women like me, gay people like me, disabled people like me, non-NT people like me, and poor people like me. Not to mention trans people, people of colour, children, non-theists, the wrong-theists, sex workers, slaves, etc.

        Abuse != rape and violence. I wish people would stop erasing the hurt of abuse survivors by insisting on defining it that way. I’d have preferred 10x the horrific physical abuse instead of whatever else happened. Kicks and punches don’t hurt forever.

    3. William
      William September 5, 2012 at 9:43 am |

      Yeah, I was homeschooled for years using exactly the same textbooks. I did have to reeducate myself. But it’s not child abuse, sorry. It’s really offensive to those of us with Christian parents to insist that our parents abused us by using these textbooks. The books aren’t factual. I do resent that I’ve had to spend years reeducating myself about basic history. But my parents certainly didn’t intend to abuse me by using them and it cheapens the experiences of survivors of such abuse by comparing the use of an A Beka textbook to beating or incest. Please cut it out.

      I’ll hop on into this. I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’m also a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of school personel and of the broader systemic educational abuses that disabled kids all over the country routinely experience. I do not feel that likening A Beka textbooks to abuse somehow cheapens the abuse I suffered. If someone had said “using a textbook like this is the same as beating or raping a child” then perhaps you’d have a point, but no one has really said that. What has been said is that using these kinds of textbooks is abusive.

      Abuse comes in many forms. One of those forms, one employed by virtually all of my abusers, is reframing an abusive situation in such a way as to normalize it so that the abused person does not question the abuse, reduce their resources for getting help even if they do recognize the abuse for what it is, and instill a deep sense of shame and betrayal if they actually manage to find help. That that process is practically the philosophy behind Christian homeschooling makes me disgusted. That the curriculum taught under such a philosophy robs children of educational opportunity is downright neglectful.

      I’m glad you were not beaten. I’m glad you were not scarred by your experience. That doesn’t change the fact that you were neglected, that you were robbed of your opportunity to have a real education, that you have been burdened with having to learn for yourself what should have been taught to you. Maybe your parents didn’t intend that to be neglect. maybe they did honestly believe that they were saving your soul and protecting you from the devil. Thing is, I could care less why someone abuses a child. Religion isn’t an excuse, especially not one with the history of horror that Christianity comes with.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

        Abuse comes in many forms. One of those forms, one employed by virtually all of my abusers, is reframing an abusive situation in such a way as to normalize it so that the abused person does not question the abuse, reduce their resources for getting help even if they do recognize the abuse for what it is, and instill a deep sense of shame and betrayal if they actually manage to find help. That that process is practically the philosophy behind Christian homeschooling makes me disgusted. That the curriculum taught under such a philosophy robs children of educational opportunity is downright neglectful.

        I agree with this assessment in regard to the specific misinformation being discussed. However, I would be hesitant to prevent someone from teaching same misinformation to their children, especially if they sincerely believe it themselves, as I would want the same courtesy, e.g. to teach evolution to my hypothetical children without fear of arrest, if I was the only non-evangelical in the country. So, I wouldn’t say it rises to the level of ‘unlawful abuse,’ though I get your point about abuse.

        1. William
          William September 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

          I agree that it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal or reportable abuse (although, in my experience, thats a mighty high bar to cross in the first place today with the state of DCFS funding). That said, I think that if you’re going to homeschool your children there needs to be some kind of quality control. Not teaching your kids about evolution? Fine, whatever, its their loss. Substituting bible study for Algebra or teaching that communists shut churches down to stop Africans from reading? I’m thinking that might potentially be a breach in fidelity…

    4. Chataya
      Chataya September 5, 2012 at 11:01 am |

      I was abused physically, verbally, and mentally throughout my childhood, and I don’t see how this isn’t child abuse. Really I don’t know how else to frame a curriculum that teaches that the KKK were moral crusaders for Christ or that the Trail of Tears had any positive value, other than “supremely fucked up.”

    5. zuzu
      zuzu September 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

      I’d say that isolating and teaching your children things that are designed to keep them ignorant and dependent on you, and unable to function in the wider world, is abuse. As is keeping your adult children under your thumb and controlling their sexuality and educational choices so that they do not leave home (which is isolated).

      Jim-Bob and Michelle did not have such an upbringing. They haven’t given their children the same choices they had. Jim-Bob is so controlling that he won’t even join a church with other people in it; he acts as the pastor of his own church, which has only his family as members.

  15. Rachel W.
    Rachel W. September 5, 2012 at 11:01 am |

    I know various parents who do a good, bad and mediocre job homeschooling. I do think that there’s no reason on earth why homeschooled (and charter school) students should be exempt from high-stakes state testing.

    1. zuzu
      zuzu September 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

      Various Christian homeschooling groups pitched a fit a few years ago when California put in place standards of admission for its state universities that required an evidence-based science education in high school, effectively blocking anyone who’d had a creationism-based education from attending state colleges and universities. They lost.

      1. Matt
        Matt September 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

        Only in Cali. So jealous. I’m pretty sure here in Missouri they could probably get in to college.

        My mom had a kid whose parents didn’t believe in handwashing. Thus all the other kids were put at risk because she could spread those germs. But you can’t teacher her to wash her hands. Because Jesus.

      2. Shoggoth
        Shoggoth September 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |

        Speaking as a product of religious homeschooling who has, like others in this thread, had to spend years re-educating myself (Still am. I’m not sure when the re-education stops and turns into regular adult development, but oh well), I think that law is dumb as hell. College is one of the best ways to break that kind of conditioning, and refusing to admit those kids is cutting off a major chance for them to redefine themselves and learn the kinds of things their families wouldn’t teach them.

    2. Rachele
      Rachele September 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |

      As a homeschooling parent of a kid with pretty serious anxiety issues, I can tell you that one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we don’t have to deal with testing. Standardized tests are poor indicators of intelligence and learning, and one of the main criticisms of our current school system by educators and parents alike is the continuous pressure to teach to the test.

      Why go after the parents on this? Those who are interested in giving a good education to their children will find a way to do so. Those who are looking to indoctrinate or spread lies, will do likewise regardless of whether or not their children attend school. If you’re really against extremists teaching extremist views, and you are dead set on the idea that homeschooling is a big part of the problem – though I disagree with you on that point as an actual member of the homeschooling community – wouldn’t it make more sense to regulate the publishing of educational materials? Set standards for the curriculum writers instead of making homeschooling parents jump through hoops.

  16. Drahill
    Drahill September 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    The materials they are giving their kids to read, to me, aren’t abusive because they’re factually wrong (although that does make them pretty pitiful), its abusive in this context because the materials seem pretty straighfowardly engineered to create FEAR in the reader. They’ve got all the relevant buzzwords – “anarchists, communists, etc.” They’re particularly calculated to instill in the kids a sense of fear, that the outside world is crawling with bad people who will try to harm them and that the best, safest place for them is with their family. To me, that is why the stuff is abusive, straight up. Not because its religious or the factual wrongness, but because its so clearly calibrated to create psychological terror on some level and limit the kids.

    (And this isn’t limited to conservatives. I once observed a case when I was working pro bono in which the state was trying to wrestle custody away from crazy “Earth parents” who taught their children that there were pesticides in everything and that all adults but them were untrustworthy. That was abusive too).

    1. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen September 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

      from crazy “Earth parents”

      You might want to consider not using ableist language as a means of bashing people.

      1. Drahill
        Drahill September 6, 2012 at 8:52 am |

        Um…and I say this as a mentally ill person – I’m not seeing how applying the term crazy to people that clearly, uh, were is ablelist. By your reasoning, any descriptor of mental illness is ablelist by virtue of the fact that it describes mental illness. Crazy is a descriptor that decribes the status as mentally ill. The fact that the word to you carries baggage does not inherently make the word ableist. If you have spent any time here, you’d knopw that plenty of commentators here are PWMI and use the word frequently. So it’s not really our issue to work out, it’s your’s.

        1. henribemis
          henribemis September 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

          I also say this as a mentally ill person – describing someone as “crazy” (especially when you have no way of knowing their mental health status) erroneously conflates people with mental illness and people who act irrationally or illegally, and further entrenches the false idea that only people who are mentally ill could ever do anything bad. Sane people do horrible things all the time, but we’re more comfortable, culturally, blaming mental illness.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

      ” They’re particularly calculated to instill in the kids a sense of fear, that the outside world is crawling with bad people who will try to harm them and that the best, safest place for them is with their family. To me, that is why the stuff is abusive, straight up. Not because its religious or the factual wrongness, but because its so clearly calibrated to create psychological terror on some level and limit the kids.

      Again, like William’s comment above, I don’t disagree with your assessment of the literature. I am, however, struggling to see how that assessment doesn’t also apply to the major texts of all the Abrahamic religions.

      1. William
        William September 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm |

        Again, like William’s comment above, I don’t disagree with your assessment of the literature. I am, however, struggling to see how that assessment doesn’t also apply to the major texts of all the Abrahamic religions.

        I don’t think anyone here is arguing that the cult of stolen gods has some kind of monopoly on abusive, alienating, fear-mongering bullshit. I’ve no doubt that there are Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists of a similarly revolting stripe. I’m pretty sure that they don’t, however, have the kind of juice in American politics possessed by our eschatologically obsessed brethren of concrete thought and absolute obedience. I’m reasonably certain that they certainly don’t have slickly produced television shows which are selectively edited to make them seem more reasonable. The other Abrahamic failures have plenty of blame to be laid at their feet, but when we’re in the US its a safe bet to assume that we’re talking about people with Roman torture devices nailed to their walls.

        1. Matt
          Matt September 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

          This.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 5, 2012 at 11:44 pm |

          I’m reasonably certain that they certainly don’t have slickly produced television shows which are selectively edited to make them seem more reasonable.

          Ah, yes, my lack of TV watching is probably what keeps these people off my radar.

      2. Drahill
        Drahill September 6, 2012 at 9:03 am |

        Steve, I think the difference is intent. I think we can agree that we have no really good way of knowing what the intent was of any author of any part of the Bible. We can get some indicators, but we have no real 100% way of knowing. Were the texts written to inspire fear? Maybe – I have no way of knowing that, nor do you. You have your belief that they were, people of equal intellect will disagree. Two people of equal intelligence can read the same materials and one can feel great fear and the other can feel nothing.

        I also think it’s interesting that you grab onto the notion of fear in religion. Now, if I’m correct, the entire idea of fear in religion is predominantly linked to the idea of punishment for wrong actions – both supernatural and social (such as Hell and social punishments like shunning). Now, the trouble with the first is that not all faiths have the concept of Hell. More leftist Christians do not, most forms of Judaism has no concept of a Hell or post-life punishment, Islam accepts a Hell-like place but believes almost all are eventually freed from it. So if the faith has no concept of post-life or supernatural punishment, then that source of fear within it is largely removed. So now, let’s address the societal aspect. Many faiths do embrace the idea that communal or societal punishment is a good idea – but not all.

        But you addressed faith texts – and I think overall, your argument is a matter of opinion, because as I said before, there is little to no actual evidence of the intent of the writers. So I think you’re making a bit of a logical leap.

    3. drob
      drob September 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

      It’s not a case of abuse at all. In the end everyone is simply going to teach their child the values in which they believe, be they religious or otherwise. If you had a child, you would be inclined to teach them a liberal feminist perspective right? No parent gives their child a 100% balanced view and lets them make up there own mind.

      Children don’t have the ability to make these kind of choices; having to submit to the authority of an adult on these topics is an important part of a child’s development. They can make up their own minds later. I bet if we asked around here we would find that some people became liberals as a reaction to their upbringing, and vice versa.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 6, 2012 at 1:23 am |

        It’s not a case of abuse at all. In the end everyone is simply going to teach their child the values in which they believe, be they religious or otherwise.

        How does someone believe in a value?

        If you had a child, you would be inclined to teach them a liberal feminist perspective right?

        No, I’d be inclined to teach them math, literature, science, and history all of which would be based on fact.

        Teaching a child a perspective is as useless as teaching a child abstinence.

        Children don’t have the ability to make these kind of choices; having to submit to the authority of an adult on these topics is an important part of a child’s development. They can make up their own minds later. I bet if we asked around here we would find that some people became liberals as a reaction to their upbringing, and vice versa.

        They can make up their own mind about facts?

        NO. THEY. CAN’T.

        That is why these so-called schoolbooks are as much nonsense.

        1. Matt
          Matt September 6, 2012 at 1:57 am |

          History is not based on facts. History involves some facts. Facts which often change over time. But a lot of history is not based on facts. Its based on manipulating the transfer of information from one generation to the next to support nationalism.

        2. Lasciel
          Lasciel September 6, 2012 at 2:04 am |

          Science is debatable factual. Much of its facts are based on the idea that the natural laws that are in operation now have always been in operation, aka uniformitarianism. And the best part of that is–wait for it–uniformitarianism cannot be proven through science. You have to take it on faith that the same laws applied 4 billion years ago as they do today.

          Which is maybe not such a big deal, if you’re teaching certain specific things like animal biology, and not going into more long-term things like evolution and the geological past.

          Instead of simply trying to teach facts, I think it’s better to teach kids to question everything, including what’s often presented as “facts”. I really enjoyed being taught that Pluto was a planet, as an indisputable fact, and now it’s not.

          And especially what is presented as historical fact, must be taught to be questioned. Given how much of that is conveniently painted over and misrepresented for political conveniences… Anyone here get taught that the Civil War was about taxes?

        3. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date September 6, 2012 at 5:41 am |

          Teaching a child a perspective is as useless as teaching a child abstinence.

          Actually, I teach my children the feminist perspective all the time. Whether they learn it is up to them, of course — though I sure hope they do.

        4. matlun
          matlun September 6, 2012 at 6:05 am |

          I must object to some strange ideas about science, facts and epistomology here

          History involves some facts. Facts which often change over time.

          Facts do not change. Our belief as to what the facts are may very well change, but that is a very different issue.

          Much of its facts are based on the idea that the natural laws that are in operation now have always been in operation, aka uniformitarianism.

          No. Current scientific theories do typically use this as an element, but that is more along the lines of Occam’s razor. In the same way we assume symmetry in space and time as long as there is no reason to not assume this.

          uniformitarianism cannot be proven through science.

          Insofar as you believe that anything can be proven by science, this is also incorrect. In general, however, science does not prove anything. It is a process to create theories that work as models for reality, but nothing can ever be fully proven in the philosophical or mathematical sense.

          Richard Feynman’s explanation of the scientific method is still the best one I have seen.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 6, 2012 at 7:26 am |

          Teaching a child a perspective is as useless as teaching a child abstinence.

          Steve, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          A huge percentage of parenting is all about teaching one’s child various perspectives. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to teach a child things like empathy without teaching them about perspective.

          They can make up their own mind about facts?

          NO. THEY. CAN’T.

          Once again, you’re talking out of your ass.

          Of course children can make up their own minds about facts. Especially as they get older and gain greater intellectual capacity.

          Do you not realize that children are actually people too, with the capacity to learn and make connections and conclusions? Because that certainly seems to be what your saying, and that’s just a load of nonsense.

        6. William
          William September 6, 2012 at 8:46 am |

          How does someone believe in a value?

          The post-modernists have been arguing about that for over a century, but I’m guessing thats not quite what you meant. Everything, all cognition and opinion and experience, comes down to belief. Anything we “know” comes down to what we’ve built from assumptions which we treat (by necessity) as fact. “The bible is the inerrant word of God” isn’t really any different from “my perceptions allow me to draw meaningful inferences about the world.” Both are expressions of belief based in subjective values. All education comes down to pushing beliefs and the values upon which those beliefs are predicated.

          We’re not arguing about fact versus fiction here, Steve, we’re arguing about whose values will be allowed ascendency and whether or not we as a society are willing to tolerate the education which flows from certain systems of value. We don’t get the luxury of hiding behind Truth anymore than the Christians do.

          No, I’d be inclined to teach them math, literature, science, and history all of which would be based on fact.

          As other people have already pointed out, there aren’t really a lot of facts to be had. Even those we seem to posess come with caveats.

          They can make up their own mind about facts?

          NO. THEY. CAN’T.

          I’ve rarely been acused of having too much faith in humanity but…if people couldn’t make up their own minds in the face of oppressive dydactic systems Freud wouldn’t have turned his back on his father’s Judaism and his nanny’s Catholicism in favor of the newly born psychoanalysis, Nietzsche wouldn’t have gone after Kant (to say nothing of his treatment of the classical philosophers), Foucault wouldn’t have thought to treat knowledge like an autopsy, and on and on down through human history across every culture and time period we wouldn’t have seen questioning and iconoclasm.

        7. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |

          Of course children can make up their own minds about facts. Especially as they get older and gain greater intellectual capacity.

          No one can “make up their own minds” about facts, because facts are facts. Whether or not you believe certain facts is up to you, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean that facts are all a matter of opinion. Facts aren’t a popularity contest, where the most fashionable opinion gets to be a fact. :p

          This isn’t saying that only children can’t decide about facts; nobody can just “decide” whether a fact is real or not ’cause that’s not how facts work.

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

          Bagelsan, this whole discussion about children making up their minds about facts was started by Steve, who insisted that somehow that kids couldn’t do so. My impression was that he was somehow assuming that kids can’t figure out fact from fiction on their own, which is just ludicrous and untrue. Frankly, I found it difficult to really understand what it was he was trying to get at, and he hasn’t bothered to come back and clarify further.

          Of course facts are facts, although that doesn’t stop people from trying to play fast and loose with the truth all the time. The capacity to discern fact from fiction isn’t something that suddenly occurs once someone hits adulthood, and that was the point I was making in my comment.

        9. Donna L
          Donna L September 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

          And especially what is presented as historical fact, must be taught to be questioned. Given how much of that is conveniently painted over and misrepresented for political conveniences… Anyone here get taught that the Civil War was about taxes?

          I wish people on this thread weren’t so readily conflating historical fact and interpretations of historical fact.

          Facts: the Civil War took place. Battles happened at certain times and places. Etcetera. All while the President was Lincoln. Rather than, say, Ronald Reagan.

          People should *not* be taught to “question” historical fact. That way lies Holocaust denial.

          Interpretation: What were the causes of the Civil War? Not a “fact.” Question that all you like. (Although it was indeed about states’ rights. One “right” in particular, of course.)

        10. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

          kids can’t figure out fact from fiction on their own, which is just ludicrous and untrue.

          How are kids supposed to magically discern fact from fiction when adults often can’t do so?

        11. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

          Can’t, or won’t?

          Maybe they can’t, or are still on their way to gaining that ability. Kind of difficult to get down to it when lumping all kids in together regardless of age. Which was also why I pointed out that the ability and capacity for reasoning is something that is learned and improves with age and time in my first comment.

          In my experience, even fairly young children can discern if someone of bsing them. My 7yo’s truthiness meter went off wrt to Santa Claus et al over a year ago. He’s toyed with a fascination over various concepts of God/higher power for a few years now. I’m a lapsed Catholic Agnostic and husband is flat out Atheist, so we’ve taught him that different people believe different things and what those beliefs entail.

        12. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

          In my experience, even fairly young children can discern if someone of bsing them. My 7yo’s truthiness meter went off wrt to Santa Claus et al over a year ago. He’s toyed with a fascination over various concepts of God/higher power for a few years now. I’m a lapsed Catholic Agnostic and husband is flat out Atheist, so we’ve taught him that different people believe different things and what those beliefs entail.

          So, to be clear, your evidence that children can discern truth from fiction without being taught to …is that your child can because you taught him to? What?

        13. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl September 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

          Are you being deliberately obtuse?

          I was using my kid as an illustration of the point, not as proof. There are reams and volumes of psychiatric research documenting that children become able to discern fact from fiction somewhere around the age of 4-5yo. Here’s an article laying out when children become aware of the differences between truth and lies and some of the nuances in between.

          This is, of course, assuming you aren’t just pursuing this line of questioning to be either obtuse or pedantic.

        14. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve September 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

          Steve, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          A huge percentage of parenting is all about teaching one’s child various perspectives. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to teach a child things like empathy without teaching them about perspective.

          Lola,

          It would be nice if you actually read what I said before criticizing it. even nicer if you did so without the ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ and ‘you’re talking out of your ass’ nonsense, as I have had plenty of interactions with you and have never been so dismissive you (nor you of me, either so this is a surpsrise.)

          I never said anything about teaching a child ‘various perspectives’ or teaching a child ‘about perspectives.’

          I said

          Teaching a child a perspective is as useless as teaching a child abstinence.

          in response to someone who said that a person taught by a liberal feminist would be taught ‘a liberal feminist perspective’, NOT ‘about a liberal feminist perspective’ NOT ‘from a liberal perspective. The commenter merely said they would be taught a liberal feminist perspective, implying anyone taught by a liberal feminist would exclusively assimilate all the traits of that perspective. I argued against THAT and ONLY THAT.

          Your second objection to me (the bit where I was talking out of my ass) was a response to my comment of:

          They can make up their own mind about facts?

          NO. THEY. CAN’T.

          To which you replied:

          Of course children can make up their own minds about facts. Especially as they get older and gain greater intellectual capacity.

          Do you not realize that children are actually people too, with the capacity to learn and make connections and conclusions? Because that certainly seems to be what your saying, and that’s just a load of nonsense.

          The reason why I said they can’t make up their mind about facts is BECAUSE THEY ARE PEOPLE. If a person can make up their mind about something IT’S NOT A FACT.

          To sum up: the two points I made are:

          1. An individual’s perspective cannot be taught, only shaped.
          2. A fact is not an opinion and not up for debate.

          But, I’m obviously wrong because I just know nothing and am talking out of my ass.

        15. William
          William September 7, 2012 at 7:01 am |

          2. A fact is not an opinion and not up for debate.

          And yet they continue to be open to debate. Simply stating “it is!” hardly closes the door for discussion when all we have is language to express events. From my perspective the United States is involved in two wars right now, but from a legal perspective the United States hasn’t been at war in my lifetime. It seems difficult to question that George W. Bush was president for eight years, and yet a very good argument can be made that his occupation of that office was illegitimate for four fo those years. Even distinctly observable and provable facts depend on confidence in one’s perception and a base-10 number system. The current trend appears to be that the more human beings understand about a subject the less certain we can be about significant aspects of it.

          This isn’t just philosophical musing. Our values and beliefs are important because they set the stage for how we interpret our world and damn near everything comes down to interpretation. When you say facts are not opinions you assume an enormous number of things, things which I also assume in my daily life, in order to create those facts. Someone using a Bob Jones textbook doesn’t have the same assumptions, they don’t have the same facts. People do have to make up their minds about epistemology. Children do it, adults do it, scientists and philosophers do it.

          The writers of A Beka and Bob Jones textbooks understand this, they understand the influence that belief has on fact. Us on the other side of the table need to understand as well or we’ll continue to lose ground. Abstinence only education, school prayer, and equal time for evolution didn’t happen overnight. They happened as a result of a concerted effort to change the nature of the discourse. That shift in discourse contributes to the forced birth arguments, to attacks on reproductive rights more generally, to stem cell funding bans, to global warming denial. In case you haven’t noticed, sticking our fingers in our ears and shouting “but…THE FACTS!” hasn’t served us well over the past thirty years.

        16. matlun
          matlun September 7, 2012 at 8:57 am |

          @William: You seem to be having a different understanding of what a “fact” is than I do. Perhaps this is just a question of semantics?

          When you say facts are not opinions you assume an enormous number of things, things which I also assume in my daily life

          No. The only thing that is assumed in that statement is that there actually exists an objective reality.

          Many statement along the lines of “X is a fact” can be debated since our knowledge and understanding of the world is limited, but this is not the same thing as saying that we “create facts”. We are just debating what the facts are. Belief has no influence on facts – only on our own perceptions.

          Someone using a Bob Jones textbook doesn’t have the same assumptions, they don’t have the same facts. People do have to make up their minds about epistemology. Children do it, adults do it, scientists and philosophers do it.

          Epistemology is an interesting branch of philosophy.

          But in the end not all methods of forming beliefs have the same value and not all beliefs are equally well founded. Whether we can give a philosophically exact definition of knowledge has little practical impact.

        17. William
          William September 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

          No. The only thing that is assumed in that statement is that there actually exists an objective reality.

          And thats a pretty significant assumption. Its one we need to get through the day, but its still an assumption. My beef is with the “objective” part.

          But in the end not all methods of forming beliefs have the same value and not all beliefs are equally well founded.

          To you. Not all beliefs have the same value to you and not all beliefs are equally well founded to you. The sense of superiority is subjective. I agree that scientific secularism beats evangelical Christianity any day of the week, but thats still a belief. Its not a fact. It is a subjective assertion that I can only defend with sentiment and arguments based on subjective value judgements.

          That matters here because we can no more argue against the Duggars by appealing to the authority of some fact than they can argue against modernism by appealing to their god and scripture. Those are arguments against The Other which really only work from within.

        18. William
          William September 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

          No. The only thing that is assumed in that statement is that there actually exists an objective reality.

          And thats a pretty significant assumption. Its one we need to get through the day, but its still an assumption. My beef is with the “objective” part.

          But in the end not all methods of forming beliefs have the same value and not all beliefs are equally well founded.

          To you. Not all beliefs have the same value to you and not all beliefs are equally well founded to you. The sense of superiority is subjective. I agree that scientific secularism beats evangelical Christianity any day of the week, but thats still a belief. Its not a fact. It is a subjective assertion that I can only defend with sentiment and arguments based on subjective value judgements.

          That matters here because we can no more argue against the Duggars by appealing to the authority of some fact than they can argue against modernism by appealing to their god and scripture. Those are arguments against The Other which really only work from within. When we’re talking about people making up their minds, about people comparing data and deciding what they will choose, about education which is dominated not by objective fact but by subjective values, how we come to understand the world matters.

          Whether we can give a philosophically exact definition of knowledge has little practical impact.

          I care a lot less about our definition of knowledge than about the kinds of power which that knowledge breeds in order to advance itself.

        19. matlun
          matlun September 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
          No. The only thing that is assumed in that statement is that there actually exists an objective reality.

          And thats a pretty significant assumption. Its one we need to get through the day, but its still an assumption. My beef is with the “objective” part.

          Wow. I did not think anyone was actually taking that position outside of theoretical philosophical discussions.

          If you do not want to accept the existence of an external reality beyond your subjective beliefs, then I guess we do not have any common grounds to have a meaningful discussion.

          (What are we even discussing here? Do the Duggars actually exist? Do I?)

        20. William
          William September 8, 2012 at 9:55 am |

          If you do not want to accept the existence of an external reality beyond your subjective beliefs, then I guess we do not have any common grounds to have a meaningful discussion.

          Snideness (and apparent ignorance of 20th century philosophy) aside, I accept the likelihood of some kind of external reality, I just don’t have a whole lot of confidence in the ability of mankind to cut through it’s prejudices and make absolute statements. There are a lot of things of which I am nearly certain that I treat as facts because there isn’t much gain to be had from not. There are things which might as well be facts for my purposes (the fifth digit of pi is good enough for anything I’m likely to use it for, but its not quite right…). None of that changes my basic position that the vast majority of our lives are dominated by sentiment. Even in the world of science, what we seem to know is only keeping the seat warm for what we’ll one day discover (which, in turn, will eventually be upset for some new discovery). We’ll never really know, there is no limit to what can be observed, discovered, and interpreted. Even those observations will be directed by sentiment, filtered through sentiment, and expressed with sentiment. Thats what it means to be human.

        21. zuzu
          zuzu September 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

          The saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion. You’re not entitled to your own facts.

          So: facts are facts, but your opinion or interpretation of them can vary from someone else’s.

      2. EG
        EG September 6, 2012 at 9:07 am |

        In the end everyone is simply going to teach their child the values in which they believe, be they religious or otherwise. If you had a child, you would be inclined to teach them a liberal feminist perspective right?

        Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not comparable. Let me explain why. My parents were Marxists (my father still is). That mattered/s to them very much. They did indeed bring me up with a Marxist perspective.

        You know what else they did? They sent me to public school. They gave me free rein in the library. They let me mix with people who weren’t Marxists. They did not attempt to control every thought I had. That allowed me to experience and develop alternate perspectives.

        You know what they didn’t do? They never lied to me, by, for example, I don’t know, telling me that the Stalinist purges were actually a good thing in some way. They never threatened me with everlasting suffering if I didn’t become a Marxist.

        They actually managed to teach me values and give me their perspectives without treating me like a member of a cult in need of brainwashing. Go figure.

        1. EG
          EG September 6, 2012 at 9:15 am |

          I will also point out that my parents did not abrogate my life chances and opportunities in the name of some fucked up ideology. They wanted me to have as much of the world as I wanted. They didn’t hamstring me by making it impossible for me to pursue serious education from a very young age.

        2. William
          William September 6, 2012 at 9:47 am |

          I will also point out that my parents did not abrogate my life chances and opportunities in the name of some fucked up ideology.

          QFT.

      3. zuzu
        zuzu September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

        Children don’t have the ability to make these kind of choices; having to submit to the authority of an adult on these topics is an important part of a child’s development. They can make up their own minds later. I bet if we asked around here we would find that some people became liberals as a reaction to their upbringing, and vice versa.

        Children who are never exposed to other ideas or other facts about the world, and whose movements are restrained even after they become adults, are incapable of making choices, let alone informed choices.

        My parents were Republicans. Had they prevented me from ever seeing, reading about, hearing about, or otherwise being exposed to liberal ideas, then yes, I would consider myself to have been abused.

        The Duggars don’t just teach their kids their values and then send them off into the world; they prescribe and limit their world and narrow their worldview so that the values they’re imparting are the only values (except, I imagine, in contrast to the caricatured version of liberal values they use to scare the kids). You’re describing something that is not what the Duggars and those like them actually do.

      4. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve September 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

        Bagelsan, this whole discussion about children making up their minds about facts was started by Steve, who insisted that somehow that kids couldn’t do so. My impression was that he was somehow assuming that kids can’t figure out fact from fiction on their own, which is just ludicrous and untrue. Frankly, I found it difficult to really understand what it was he was trying to get at, and he hasn’t bothered to come back and clarify further.

        I didn’t notice this response Lola, and I hope my clarification shows you that my responses had nothing to do with children/adults and all to do with fact/opinion.

  17. onetinythought
    onetinythought September 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

    You’re right–my comment was silly and immature.

  18. LotusBecca
    LotusBecca September 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm |

    I’ve noticed a variety of commenters here discussing the idea that “religious indoctrination is child abuse,” and I thought I’d offer my two cents. It seems to me that living through child abuse is a very subjective experience. Particularly with emotional child abuse. Parenting styles that may look outwardly similar can affect different children very differently. One person could recount growing up in a strict religious home as the positive source of their current values, while another might say that the experience was so-so, while another might say they were horribly abused and are still recovering from the emotional scars. And these three people could all have family upbringings that to an outsider might appear pretty similar.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t agree with the statement “bringing up a kid religious is always child abuse” OR the statement “it’s awful to compare a religious upbringing to actual child abuse.” I think trying to raise a kid as a Christian (or some other religion) can be child abuse or it can not be, and the person who makes the specific determination should be the individual person who was raised in a particular family.

    Finally, I take serious objection to a couple posters above who seemed to imply that child abuse is not actually abuse unless the kid was beaten, molested, denied medical care, or something else suitably “extreme.” Emotional and psychological abuse happen and are definitely forms of child abuse. To define abuse in only its most widely recognized forms I find, frankly, to be disrespectful of some survivors and retrogressive.

    1. Matt
      Matt September 6, 2012 at 12:38 am |

      This implies that an abused child would be able to recognize that they are being abused 100% of the time. Which kinda conflicts with the whole point of abuse working because it is normalized in the victims mind.

      Besides we have clear examples of things which aren’t subject to this rule. 100 years ago it wasn’t considered abuse to smack or punch or kick your child and many children believed that they were not being abused. It was called discipline. Similarly sexual activities with one’s child are considered abuse, but there is plenty of evidence that many victims believed that that was normal or that they deserved it and that many abusers felt that way as well.

      This smacks to me of the typical progressive behavior of drawing the line around their own personal beliefs about acceptable behavior and of course given the power dynamics the decision is going to fall on the side of the religious. Anybody who doesn’t happen to be in the majority is just fucked.

      If a child believed that it was normal and okay for their parent to punch them in the stomach for say, spilling their juice, would that be okay because its up to the child what abuse is?

      What about screaming at them till they cried?

      What about forcing them to sit still for hours at a time in hot and uncomfortable clothes with no food or water or chance to move around in between and sex shaming them? You know, church.

      1. William
        William September 6, 2012 at 9:45 am |

        This implies that an abused child would be able to recognize that they are being abused 100% of the time. Which kinda conflicts with the whole point of abuse working because it is normalized in the victims mind.

        There has to be room for nuance, though. One-size-fits-all solutions do no one any good, and it seems pretty clear that LotusBecca was referring to that. Not all religious indoctrination is abuse, not all abuse is going to be recognized by the victim, but out in the real world life if terribly messy and there are going to be lots of intersections between the horrors of religion, the freedom of individuals, the perceptions of children, and the realities of abuse.

        I’m obviously no great defender of traditional faith and I do feel that, on balance, things like this could well rise to the level of neglect, but we need to be very careful about how we go about making our critiques and what kinds of policies are likely to flow from those critiques. The reality is that, in our society, the Duggars and their ilk wield an enormous amount of power and privilege. When we start talking about religious indoctrination as automatic evidence of abuse we can be all but certain that the Duggars will carve an exception. It isn’t “typical progressive behavior” to be aware of the fact that sweeping statements are more likely to hurt the disempowered who are included within them than the powerful at whom they are targeted.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan September 6, 2012 at 11:14 am |

          Not all religion is abuse, but I think all religious indoctrination is; that’s part of the point of indoctrinating someone, really, or abusing them — it’s a control mechanism.

        2. Matt
          Matt September 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

          In all of my experience with mainstream progressives its been pretty clear that they are not any less rigid than conservatives. They just draw the line a little bit farther to the left in what’s acceptable. Its not about sweeping statements.

          My main point was that liberals often claim to leave the decision up to the abused person but its not true. There is a large group of clear examples where its not left up to the abused person as to whether they are abused.

        3. William
          William September 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

          In all of my experience with mainstream progressives its been pretty clear that they are not any less rigid than conservatives. They just draw the line a little bit farther to the left in what’s acceptable. Its not about sweeping statements.

          Thats been my experience as well but…this isn’t MSNBC or Fox News and not everyone in this thread falls into neat little categories like “liberal/progressive” or “conservative.” Thats true of life in general, but (a handful of idiosyncratic hot buttons aside) the commentariat here tends to be pretty good about avoiding sweeping statements or “for me but not for thee.” Thats especially true when we’re having a discussion in which the label of abuse is being applied to (props for saying it so well, EG) the abrogation of life chances and opportunities. A feminist instilling feminist values into their child isn’t the same as creating an environment in which women are not expected/allowed to go to college.

          Leaving aside the destructive farce of political binaries like right/left, it seems odd to me that we’re talking about “OMG liberals can be oppressive too!” in the middle of a discussion about how religious indoctrination might be abusive because it attacks choice and autonomy.

      2. Past my expiration date
        Past my expiration date September 6, 2012 at 9:58 am |

        What about forcing them to sit still for hours at a time in hot and uncomfortable clothes with no food or water or chance to move around in between and sex shaming them? You know, church.

        All attendance of church involves

        1. sitting still
        2. for hours
        3. in clothes that are hot
        4. and uncomfortable
        5. without food
        6. or water
        7. while being sex-shamed?

        1. Angel H.
          Angel H. September 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

          1. false
          2. false
          3. false
          4. false
          5. false
          6. false
          7. in many churches, unfortunately

          Except for #7, I’ve never experienced any of those in any of the churches I’ve ever been to.

        2. Matt
          Matt September 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm |

          Not every church. But a lot of them. Church clothes and long services are common in several denominations.

          A lot of churches do have some standing for singing or psalms. But some don’t.

      3. shfree
        shfree September 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

        What about forcing them to sit still for hours at a time in hot and uncomfortable clothes with no food or water or chance to move around in between and sex shaming them? You know, church.

        You forgot to add “Those fucked up churches that indoctrinate people to precisely toe the line otherwise they are doomed to hell.” Because, again, whilst I have some baggage about christianity, and I didn’t appreciate having to sit for an hour and a half in my sleeveless, strappy summer dress on a smooth wooden pew with a comfortable back as the nice breeze wafted through the open windows, the pastries that we had before the service were mighty tasty.

        Anyway, you seem to always forget there is some nuance with this issue. Plenty of us atheists turn away from the church, but not all of us have it due in part to abusive treatment growing up within a christian community, but only due to a lack of belief in a higher power. If I could find it within myself to have some sort of christian belief, and I felt it necessary to return to a public display of worship, I would be pleased as punch to return to the sort of church I went to growing up. But, the belief simply isn’t there.

        But I digress, and this whole thing is way off topic. It’s about the massive amount of abuse the Duggars are doing to their children, and insuring their grandchildren are now experiencing by not allowing them to explore the larger world. Such insularity IS frightening, because to deliberately raise generations of people in ignorance while purposefully increasing their population means that they have larger plans.

  19. miga
    miga September 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

    I don’t watch the show so I wasn’t going to comment, but whenever I see the article title it looks like: Whether the Duggars are a cult or not, they are damn sexy.

    :(

  20. Link farm – seed planting edition « The Words on What…

    […] This is a cult, and a really creepy misogynistic one at that (via). […]

  21. Bill
    Bill September 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    I was raised in a similar way, and that experience has left me with major baggage. Was using A Beka books abusive? In the US today, I think it was, but I’m not sure how it could be prevented. Amish parents have the right to limit their children’s educations. How do we accommodate the rights of minority groups like the Amish or Hasidic Jews to maintain their cultural identities while respecting the rights of children to choose their own lives? One key might be to require a right to exit, which requires that children have the education and financial resources given to them so that they can support themselves if they leave.

    1. zuzu
      zuzu September 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

      The Amish do allow their children to leave after giving them complete freedom for a year (rumspringa), and they are required to provide them with schooling, though they are allowed to terminate that schooling at an earlier age than other groups because they are a separatist community. Those who stay (and most choose to) will remain within the community for the most part, which is culturally distinct.

      The Duggars aren’t sending off Jinger on rumspringa.

      1. Bill
        Bill September 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |

        It would be nice to know that Jinger’s membership in her community is consensual, but how can we as a society ensure that? Except for select Amish groups, most illiberal subcultures like the Hutterites or Hasidic community don’t offer an opportunity to freely explore the outside world. And even rumspringa fails to present a real opportunity to experience the range of possibilities outside:

        http://polisci2.ucsd.edu/rabarrett/ps108/Mazie–Consenting%20Adults__Amish%20Rumspringa%20and%20Exit%20Option.pdf

        As someone who grew up in a colonized and oppressed community that normalized physical and emotional abuse and unwittingly enabled sexual abuse of children, I don’t think their are any good options available to help those poor kids directly. Since there is no way to perfectly square the rights of toleration for subcommunities with the rights of autonomy for children, we need to keep cobbling together an imperfect response for the present, but for the long term, it is all that much more important that we fight to make our broader society more free from discrimination and just in terms of income inequality, access to healthcare and education. These abusive subcommunities are often created and fueled by problems in mainstream society.

    2. William
      William September 8, 2012 at 10:17 am |

      In the US today, I think it was, but I’m not sure how it could be prevented.

      You treat homeschooling like driving. Its relatively easy to get a driver’s license (with some notably odious exceptions), but if you start doing something wrong you’ll get pulled over and cited. Especially severe infractions (like driving recklessly or drunkenly) lead to a temporary or permanent loss of driving privileges all together. Basic rules of safety govern what you can and cannot drive around, so that monster truck that runs on jet fuel or that suped up racer that can clear 200mph are out. Expectations are clear, speed limits are posted, seat belts are available, unleaded gas is used because air quality is important.

      Create a similar system for homeschooling. The bar to homeschool should be low enough to provide access to all but the most demonstrably incapable. Create a system of suggested curricula, clear expectations, testing, and revue of materials to ensure that children are getting a quality education. Especially abusive or incomplete materials shouldn’t be allowed and the penalty for using them should start with a heavy fine and advance pretty quickly to a suspension or loss of homeschooling privileges. Focus punishments on negligent parents/schools/co-ops instead of students.

  22. Mztress
    Mztress September 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm |

    If they were to take any individual who was not their biological child, and keep that person in a rigidly controlled environment without access to the outside world’s opinions, would that not be considered (from a legal and/or psychological standpoint) to be kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment and brainwashing?

    1. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve September 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

      If they were to take any individual who was not their biological child, and keep that person in a rigidly controlled environment without access to the outside world’s opinions, would that not be considered (from a legal and/or psychological standpoint) to be kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment and brainwashing?

      Yes, but if they were to take any individual who was not their biological child and give them cupcakes and sandwiches while letting them watch MTV all day, that would also be considered ‘kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment and brainwashing.’

    2. Matt
      Matt September 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

      Yes but biological children are property.

      1. zuzu
        zuzu September 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

        Citation needed.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune September 8, 2012 at 11:14 am |

      If they were to take any individual who was not their biological child

      That’s about as far as you need to get to go into illegal territory, hm?

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