real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

Texas cult’s behavior and implications for homeschoolers

Most of us have been following the stories as they are coming out of Texas regarding the polygamous cult at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, part of the religious group called the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. While I am certain that none of us know all the facts, I think there are three aspects of this situation that keep coming up on the various blogs I have been reading and I think they all have some implications for Christian homeschooling families.

The first concern is that this is a constitutional issue that involves the religious practices of individuals, especially in regards to how they choose to raise their children, their personal convictions, and their lifestyle choices. Well, my response to that is yes and no. While we do all have the rights and freedoms to worship as we choose, the Supreme Court has already ruled that US citizens are still subject to the laws of the land and their individual states as we practice our faith. All religious practices are not necessarily allowed just because they are part of a religiously held belief. So this group is not exempt from obeying the laws of the US or of Texas just because their religion calls them to practice polygamy as a means to get into heaven.

The sexual abuse of minors is the illegal behavior that brought law enforcement into the picture, not the fact that the children didn’t watch TV, that the mothers wore ankle-length dresses, that the kids ate fresh vegetables, or even that the women in this cult were being taught that a woman’s role is to be at home raising children. Even bringing those issues up in this context is ridiculous and minimizes the horror of child sexual abuse. Religious convictions or not, you cannot legally sexually abuse a minor child and that was THE reason for the investigation.

The situation in this compound has also brought to light one of the other by-products of the teachings of this particular cult, that of the treatment of the young men. Many of them are turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves when they are old enough to become competition for the older men who desire the younger women for their own wives. The parents who ceased to provide for these minor boys are also guilty of child abandonment.

Secondly, there has been some debate over whether or not a state should have some compelling interest in the matters of family and religion. The obvious answer to this question is “yes,” though some believers do not believe this is true. God has three jurisdictions that He has established…the church, the home, and the state, and each of them are given specific functions. However, when one jurisdiction fails to fulfill its duties, God often allows one of the other jurisdictions to intervene, indeed sometimes they must.

This is what I believe is happening in Texas. The parents within this cult were given jurisdiction of the oversight of their children according to God’s design and laws and when they didn’t practice this protection, the state was compelled to step in. While I do not believe it was done in the wisest fashion, I believe that the state has every right to do so when they believe a child’s life is at risk. Given the well-known beliefs of this cult, they had every reason to believe that minor girls were being sexually abused, which proved to be true given the young ages of some of the mothers of several toddlers. Both the mothers and the fathers who allowed the sexual abuse of minor children should be held accountable.

Last summer, a man in my town repeatedly tripped a little girl, causing her to bang her head on a wall. He did this until she dropped over, unconscious, and was rushed to the hospital. The next morning she died of massive hemorrhaging on her brain. The little girl’s mother stood by and watched the entire incident and didn’t intervene until she called the ambulance for the comatose child. Both the man and the girl’s mother were arrested and charged and that mom is now spending time in prison. Justice was served. Sadly, the man, after being sentenced for murder, committed suicide and has already had to meet the One who made that precious little girl.

I have thought of that case often as the reports have been coming out of Texas. How is it that the mothers in the Yearning for Zion Ranch are any less responsible for the abuse against their children? I don’t believe that they are. While I understand that this was the way of life for these women and that they had known no other lifestyle, ignorance is no excuse. The mother of the little girl who died was found to have an IQ of 60 and she was still accountable for her actions. Is this not what Romans 1 teaches us when it says “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” (Romans 1:18-19) ?

Finally, there is a lot of fear-mongering going on within homeschooling circles right now, which really infuriates me. Homeschoolers have every legal right to teach their children at home, though the laws vary from state to state. Simply homeschooling your children is not apt to bring a swat team to your door. Not watching TV isn’t going to do it either. But if you abandon a 13 year old son and leave him to wander the streets or you join a cult where underage girls are forced to have sex with and give birth to babies fathered by middle-aged men, you probably will be investigated, as well you should be.



  Corrie wrote @

Amen, Karen!

Finally, some common sense amongst all the asinine nonsense I have been reading.

The people who are saying this investigation is all about eating good food, no TV, modest dress and women being homemakers are LYING to their readers.

This is all about sexual abuse (slavery and trafficking) and child abandonment. Those poor boys turned out onto the streets were turned out because they were in direct competition with the old pervs of the cult for the young girls.

This whole thing is about sexual abuse. It has nothing to do with modest dress and the like.

Not to mention that the perverts are hiding behind their women and have maintained their lifestyle using those women who are drawing welfare checks.

If these men are so willing to take government money then why aren’t they willing to allow government to regulate their sexual appetites?

They want their cake and they want to eat it, too.

  thatmom wrote @

There are so many factors in all of this mess. I hope everyone is listening to Cindy’s podcast interviews as she addresses so many of the techniques that are used to influence people. It is interesting to note how the “language has been loaded” by some homeschooling gurus to frighten families. If you listen to her podcasts and then look at some of the statements about lifestyle choices that are being made, it is amazing!

  Lin wrote @

Ditto’s on the Amen, Karen. Thanks for this post. I have been worried about what I am hearing from many in Christendom. We seem to value our freedom over the freedom of the ‘least of these’.

  thatmom wrote @

I was also thinking of something else this afternoon. Do you all remember the long discussion we had here regarding the effects that the extreme teachings of women within the patriocentric culture may have on how homeschoolers are perceived? What do you all think of that in light of these “warnings” that some homeschoolers are handing out because of what has happened in Texas?

  Susan T wrote @

Thank you Karen! Very well said. Here is part of a comment that I left at one of those other/patriarchal web discussions of this case. “I disagree emphatically with anyone who does not see the clear and present danger to these children and that the gov’t social services are bound by law to investigate claims of sexual abuse. It is important to stick with that thought alone. The children- possibly abused. Forget every other argument and everything else that is wrong with the cult, media coverage, the gov’t… whatever. Think of the children. They ought not to be abused. Not physically abused, not morally abused, not mentally abused–> brainwashed. God allows things to happen for a reason. *If* in the end of this case, the charge is truly found to be false and the accuser truly made it all up and no witness(es) ever come fwd to verify the accusations of abuse, can ANY good come of this case? I believe good can happen. What if God puts Christian counselors, foster parents, etc… into the lives of these women and children? What if they finally read the Holy Bible for themselves? What if they learn/see that the world, while it is decaying thru sin, does still house God’s people and God’s people minister to others and to each other outside of their little community? What if the women and children learn that Jesus said to obey the gov’t and that our gov’t does not allow multiple wives and incestual marriages? What if they are educated with the best modern science and taught about genetics & history and shown why they ought not to intermarry? Above and beyond these questions are the opportunities for Christians to interact with others on what is a cult? Why is it errant? What does God’s Word say? How can we help these people? What percentage of homeschoolers are healthy, “normal”, culturally educated, good citizens? How and why does homeschooling work? (I was suggesting these rhetorical questions to help others be ready to give an answer, thinking that we could all easily point out the positive, but from the comment response to me, … he didn’t get it.)

Furthermore, confrontations with cults in recent Texas history, do not have a history of ending well. We don’t need another Waco. The men(Koresh et. al.) involved in that cult were absolutely aberrant. They highlighted for all of history that many cults have three common elements: men, power and sex. Other whacked out religious groups in recent history have men with the same three aberrant elements: men wanting power and using/abusing sex to get their way. Which brings us to another point. Why are the women usually dressed in pastel floral fabrics, such as a baby or young girl in our culture would wear, in a style that belies their womanhood? My theory, the aberrant men want them to remain childlike, just like little girls. It is truly disgusting. It has nothing to do with true modesty and everything to do with a cult attitude of men, power, sex. True female modesty is seen in many, many cultures around the world and in healthy cultures the women wear many different styles/colors of clothing that is “fitted enough to show they are women, and eased enough to show they are ladies” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss).”

  Corrie wrote @

What if the North American Man Boy Love Association started their own polygamist cult where young boys were forced to spiritually “marry” older men in the name of religion and “love”? What if NAMBLA was all about keeping women as breeding stock to provide the young flesh their own perversion demanded? What if this man/boy love cult turned out young girls to the street because they were deemed the “competition” for these young boys’ affections? What if these parents raised their young boys to believe that their purpose in life was to give pleasure to patriarchs?

Would it be wrong to break up a compound where older men had sex with young boys that ranged in age from 13-16? Would it be a violation of these older men’s rights under the Constitution? What if this particular cult decided that these young boys didn’t need an education past the 6th grade?

Would we say that these people had the “right” to do whatever they so willed with the children that they produced?

And all this talk about there being no abuse founded in the cult? They aren’t done with their investigation yet. They are still gathering evidence.

I would suggest that those who are so ready to defend the rights of pedophiles do some reading on this subject. There are many books written by women who were trapped in these polygamous cults and the abuse that went on in the name of God.

I just don’t understand why people don’t have a problem with the fact that young girls are forced to spiritually “marry” old men and don’t see that as child abuse? Surely these girls are not given a choice. Nor are they capable of saying “no” since they are told they will go to hell for not being submissive to the men over them. This process that pedophiles use to ensure that their victims are compliant to their sexual advances is called “grooming”. These girls are groomed from the time they are born and there is no adult who protects them.

  Lin wrote @

“What do you all think of that in light of these “warnings” that some homeschoolers are handing out because of what has happened in Texas?”

I think that ‘sane’ homeschoolers like you should make it known you do not agree and have common sense when it comes to underage sex and polygamous marriages to young girls. Just as you did here.

They have already found abuse…polygamous marriage and underage sex. And child abandonment. All of that is abuse. Yes, even polygamy, because it is illegal.

None of this has anythign to do with homeschooling, for crying out loud. I, for one, would love to see how these young girls would do on a standarized test for their age group. Let’s see if they are being educated at all. About 5 years before they moved to the compound, Warren Jeffs closed the school for the kids, btw.

What is up with parents refusing to tell the government who their kids are? Ya think it has anything to do with polygamy and underage sex and incriminating themselves?

  Shauna wrote @

Who’s defending the rights of pedophiles?

  TulipGirl wrote @

“Child Protective Services spokesman Darrell Azar says 53 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 were living on the ranch in Eldorado. Of that group, 31 already have children or are pregnant.”

Spiritual, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse all in one package. . .

  thatmom wrote @

Doug Phillips says:

“”In my view, the very existence of Child Protective Services is improper because neither the Bible nor the common law give us a basis for maintaing a quasi-criminal law agency. Either the behavior of a parent in question is is criminal (in which case they should be prosecuted), or it is not(in which case no agent of the state has jurisdiction to evaluate the parenting decisions of the family), but to give unelected officials the perceived force of law and the right to harass parents even as they impose their own evolutionary-driven humanistic vision for child training on those children and parents, is pure tyranny.””

Note one of his keynote addresses at this years Whitherspoon conference is on the Eldorado situation.

  thatmom wrote @

How can anyone say there is no evidence of abuse when there are all those girls who are in their mid-teens who have babies ad toddlers. Is, perhaps, the reasons everyone has been so reluctant to give information about which child belong to which mother a ploy to protect the men who fathered babies with those young girls?

  thatmom wrote @

Here is something else I find interesting….Doug’s blog is advertising a conference that Scott Brown will be hosting in his church this summer. His video promo says that he hopes to bring back the Puritan views of marriage and the family and the government through his conference. He cites Calvin’s Geneva as a same of godly family life. Here is a quote the describes some of the things that Calvin’s Geneva experienced:

“There is even reason to believe that Calvin, as soon as he obtained increased authority, endeavored to sharpen by degrees the severity of the earlier laws, which had been received by the state; that they retained their original form till about the year 1560, but were, after his death [in 1564], thoroughly imbued with his sterner principles. Several cases of punishment illustrate this statement. Edicts exist, drawn up by him [Calvin] in 1556, “Sur les paillardises, adulteres, blasphemes, juremens et despitemens de Dieu;” but the council of two hundred found them too severe, and decided (Nov. 15th) that, because they seemed too rude to some, they should be moderated and revised, and après entre presentes en general. [Audin gives a date of 1560 and a translation for the above edicts: “On the 15th of November, 1560, they [the Genevan council] decided that the new decrees, `regarding debauchery, adultery, blasphemy, and contempt of God,’ added to his [Calvin’s] code, `seemed to some persons too severe, and ought to be revised and moderated, and afterwards be in general presented.'” — J. M. V. Audin, History of the Life, Works, and Doctrines of John Calvin, trans. Rev. John McGill, (Louisville, R. J. Webb & Brother), p. 357]

The overthrow [in 1555] of the “Libertines” [which was the name Calvin had given his major political opponents, though they called themselves “The Children of Geneva” — E.T.B.] had given power to the Consistory, and offenders could now be punished with more success than formerly. Adultery, which, before Calvin’s return [to Geneva], was [p. 359] punished only by an imprisonment of some days, or by a trifling fine, was now punished with death. An adulteress was drowned in the Rhone. Thus two citizens of the best families (Heinrich Philip and Jacques le Nevue) were beheaded. [p. 360]…

There is great beauty in the earnestness with which the authority of parents is defended. In the year 1563, a young girl who had insulted her mother was kept confined, fed on bread and water, and obliged to express her repentance publicly in the church. A peasant boy who had called his mother a devil, and flung a stone at her, was publicly whipped, and suspended by his arms to a gallows as a sign that he deserved death, and was only spared on account of his youth. Another child in 1568, for having struck his parents was beheaded. A lad of sixteen, for having only threatened to strike his mother, was condemned to death; on account of his youth the sentence was softened, and he was only banished, after being publicly whipped, with a halter about his neck. [p. 361]…

The military ordinance before alluded to declares that… the double crime of adultery should be punished with loss of life: simple adultery was to be punished with the iron-collar; witchcraft with only nineteen days’ imprisonment; but the states-register names a great number of individuals who were drowned for this species of crime…

The severity of the legislation thus established is evinced in some of the minutest points of discipline… The clergy showed themselves still more earnest in this matter than the council: they refused to tolerate many amusements [p. 362] which the council accounted innocent. In the year 1576 they excommunicated some young people, who on the day of the three holy kings were found playing at a game common to the festival, and one of the simplest among them was persuaded into the belief that his head would be cut off. The council considered that such a punishment would be too severe, and made their representations to the Consistory accordingly…”

  Lin wrote @

It scares me to think that some look upon Geneva in those days with longing. There is much to the history they ignore. For one, there was a big backlash against Calvin after Servetus was burned at the stake. Green wood was ordered to make him burn slower. And Servetus had come to hear Calvin preach and Calvin had him arrested!~ Leonard Verduin (from the Calvinist INstitute) quotes from Calvin’s own letters to a friend about the ‘persecution’ he was facing from the people in Geneva over the burning.

I have to chuckle at Calvin’s description of his ‘persecution’ which consisited of people criticizing him and him starting to lose his grasp of power. That, to him, was persecution. The bottom line is that people were starting to wake up and resist the cruel punishments by the church and its magistrates.

Even though I believe in the Doctrines of Grace, I would never align myself with Calvin in any way. I have serious doubts about his ‘fruit’.

My question is how could such a brilliant theologian not see that this persecution of ana baptists and heretics like servetus was SIN?

  Sandy wrote @

I agree with Corrie. If these were young boys being “married” to older men, none of us would have a problem with the state’s action. it’s a matter of perception. Girls are obviously made for sex and so this is okay.

I also believe that many home schoolers who are afraid of losing their rights have the same attitude of many Germans before the start of WW2. Instead of speaking out about the abuses in the name of religion, people are worrying about their own rights beign infringed. I heard many of these same arguments after Waco in the home school community and did not see an infringment on the rights of home schoolers after that.

If we truly are concerned about our rights, then it would be most effective to distance ourselves from fringe groups that abuse and cry out loudly against them. This would ensure that home schoolers are not seen as agreeing with this kind of abuse.

  Eric wrote @

Thank you, Karen.

Your analysis is quite right. This is an extraordinary situation, and, as a result, there really isn’t a manual the government can follow to make sure everything is done “by the book.” There will be mistakes. I think there will even be personal, Constitutional rights violated. I’m very sorry about that. But this isn’t an ordinary situation.

It is distressing when well-meaning Christians criticize this action as “excessive” or “unjust” BECAUSE the State does not persecute other teenage or unwed mothers like they are persecuting this cult. This is a comparison of apples and oranges! Ordinarily, women become unwed mothers after engaging in discrete, isolated incidences of sexual immorality. Yet in this case the entire community was organized, in large part, around the idea that a particular form of sexual immorality is not evil, but good. It was an organized, systematic problem within a community purposely isolated from the rest of the world so that it could carry out specific crimes without any intervention from the justice system. Naturally, the government deals with criminal compounds one way, and unwed mothers some other way.

It’s not that we shouldn’t hold the government accountable for its actions, but we should also give them some benefit of the doubt in the midst of a crisis.

  thatmom wrote @

But Sandy, these people are treating the mothers and fathers in this compound as though they are the victims rather than the children! They are even comparing these parents to the Jews and using the same analogy you are using!

  Julie wrote @

Some great discussion here. I’ve been thinking about how similar some of these homeschool Protestant groups are to the FLDS: al natural foods, self-sustaining, modest dress, homeschooling. I’ll write more later. Babies require attention. 🙂

  Corrie wrote @


“If we truly are concerned about our rights, then it would be most effective to distance ourselves from fringe groups that abuse and cry out loudly against them. This would ensure that home schoolers are not seen as agreeing with this kind of abuse.”


  Sandy wrote @

I’ve seen the incredible arguments where people switch things around. It’s important to follow the line of abuse and the line of responsibility to determine what exactly is going on. I’ve even been known to diagram things like this out in order to see what’s really going on.

this is very similar to many patriarchal home schooling groups. It;s important to make sure others understand that this is not really representative of home schooling in general.

  Cindy, the non-normative wrote @

Sandy wrote: I agree with Corrie. If these were young boys being “married” to older men, none of us would have a problem with the state’s action. it’s a matter of perception. Girls are obviously made for sex and so this is okay… Instead of speaking out about the abuses in the name of religion, people are worrying about their own rights beign infringed… If we truly are concerned about our rights, then it would be most effective to distance ourselves from fringe groups that abuse and cry out loudly against them.

This issue is so difficult which is why we as a collective group of Christians need to respond with wisdom and not react, siding with the perpetrators of this abuse in the process. It is one thing to say that we need to be sober in these matters, guarding and cherishing our freedom, and yet another thing altogether to lend any kind of legitimacy to these sick men who are ABUSING everyone’s religious freedom in order to abuse young girls. They are exploiting the welfare system (something these patriocentrics should be disgusted over), so we are essentially paying/rewarding these people to live this lifestyle.

Can’t we be mature enough to admonish people from taking their religious freedom for granted without in any weay legitimizing this abhorrent behavior that even the mainstream Mormon church finds to be aberrant? There are no easy answers or ideal solutions to this problem, but why can’t we (as the Evangelical Church as a whole) say that and be honest about it without swinging over into reactionary statements that sound just about as sick as these abuses?

Some things don’t have easy answers and man was made for trouble as the sparks fly upward. It’s sad to see these people (and many people that ought to know better at this point) make statements that range from unbalanced to culturally irrelevant to bizarre and dangerous. This matter is not going to be clean or “black and white.” It’s quite messy — that which the patriocentrics don’t like.

The “hard complementarians” and the patriocentrics have said that we should be at war with the culture and should become a “kingdom of freaks” (Russell Moore, 2007 Dif by Design audio). Not all of these folks and those associated with these groups are using this matter to do so, but some are sure making that case. It’s so sad.

  sarah wrote @

I don’t think everyone should be scared to death about this, but it is unusual for the state to remove all the children from a whole community like this. There is no legal precedent for it. From a law perspective, at least to me, it is disturbing how Texas went about all this. I believe several prominent family lawyers and ACLU leaders have made this point. I promise you these people do not support child abuse. Sometimes, there are clear cut cases of abuse. Sometimes, there aren’t, and a precedent like this is dangerous for minority groups who are not abusing their children to be at risk of erroneous removal of their kids. You never know when a particular person with influence will get a burr under their saddle and start going after a weird or unusual minority community. Many times, it is legit, but not always.

The best argument I can think of to support the Texas action is the fact that they can’t get anyone to admit what family they are part of. That fact does lend credence to the decision to remove all the kids at once – I mean, how would the state do family specific abuse investigations to identify at risk children and abused children if no one will tell them what family they are in? I haven’t heard anyone taking the “Waco II” perspective on this situation address this point.

I think most people are appalled by any child abuse. But that does not mean these parents have no legal interest in their children anymore. In order for that to be the case, there would have to be a termination of parental rights proceeding (which is no doubt coming in some of these El Dorado cases). Further, the existence of abuse in this case does not eliminate the concern that a precedent is now set that could harm parents in minority subcultures that do not harm and abuse their children.

I know you all will flame me, but legally, anyway, it’s not just about child abuse in this one case.

  Corrie wrote @

Hi Sarah,

Why do you say that you know you will be flamed?

“I don’t think everyone should be scared to death about this, but it is unusual for the state to remove all the children from a whole community like this. There is no legal precedent for it. From a law perspective, at least to me, it is disturbing how Texas went about all this. I believe several prominent family lawyers and ACLU leaders have made this point. ”

You are right that we should not be scared to death about this. I think this is a very important reminder. I am disturbed that some Christian homeschool leaders ARE using this situation to be fear-mongerers. There are many Christians who do get afraid by loaded language and such and who do not look into researching what they are being told.

I have been researching this to death, btw. I have been researching polygamy before the whole Eldorado deal came up.

Cynthia Gee made a good point on another board when she said this was a homogeneous religious community not some neighborhood or apartment complex or even community. All of these people believe the same thing and if they are not involved in forced child rape and forced marriage and the expulsion of minor males, then they sit idly by which makes them complicit in the crimes committed within this cult.

If this were a case where a call was made about a certain child being abused in a downtown apartment building and CPS went in there and took ALL of the children who lived at that apartment building, that would be very wrong. If CPS came into my neighborhood and took ALL the children into custody when only one family was suspect, then that would be wrong.

But, this is a CULT, where people are in lockstep agreement about its doctrine and practices and if you are not, you are abused or harshly deprived of food and other things or your children are taken away from you or you are sent away. This call may have turned out to be bogus but the practice of older men forcing very young girls to be their sex partners is NOT uncommon. Over half of the teenage girls are pregnant or have given birth and some have given birth 4 times at the age of 16!

Who are the fathers of these children? Who are the mothers?

I think this is a hard situation and there are no easy answers but I am not going to automatically think that those involved in Texas are not doing this for any other reason than the safety and welfare of these children until it is proven to me otherwise.

Could you explain what you mean by saying that it is not legally just about child abuse in this case?

I think the only precedent that is being set is to warn these cults that they cannot hide their child abuse under the guise of religion any more. Their child abuse will NOT be tolerated.

If they were out living in my neighborhood as single families, the men who have taken 13 and 14 year olds as their sex partners would have had their butts thrown in jail and their children would have been taken away from them and their wives if the wives refused to protect their children from their pedophile father. That is reality. It is about time these cults live under the same laws that the rest of us have to live under.

What is stopping NAMBLA from going full force forward and using these cults as evidence that having sex with 13 year old boys is perfectly fine?

The Law is finally being consistent, imho.

  sarah wrote @

I think the best example would be a minority ethnic group – I am thinking undocumented workers of Hispanic descent. I could see this being used as precedent, in Texas, to remove the children from these communities. In Mexico, the laws about age of consent are different (hence NAMBLA has a lot of meetings there). So, there could be a similar case of abuse alleged or real. I could definitely see a raid happening even though most of those parents do not abuse their kids. I am thinking it would be because of the political climate.

Interestingly enough, in TX, you used to be able to marry at 14 with your parent’s consent. When the cult moved to El Dorado, they raised the age to 16. So, if any of these girls are 16 and married with parental consent – well, it’s not abuse in the state of TX. And it is possible some were married at 14 with parental consent before the law changed. Whether or not these girls were taken as “legal” wives is outside my knowledge. If they were, horrifying though it may be, then their marriages would not be abuse in the eyes of the law.

The difference between NAMBLA and the polygamists. For NAMBLA it is all about sex. I am not saying it isn’t all about sex for some of the polygamists, because clearly some of them are criminals and sick (just like the rest of us, BTW), but for the most part these polygamists have sex to get pregnant. And then they don’t have sex again until they can get pregnant again. I mean, look at how many of these teen girls are pregnant or moms. If it was all about sex, they would not be procreating this way.

I don’t know about the YFZ strain of FLDS, but for some of these FLDS groups, a righteous woman is one who gets pregnant as many times as she has intimate relations with her husband.

There is a big difference between the how the law works in a situation and our gut emotional reactions. That is why people are concerned. I am no fan of these crazy patriarchs, but I am sure it grieves Kevin Swanson, Doug Phillips, James McDonald, and etc. to think of any child being physically assaulted or abandoned. They are just having their own emotional reaction based on a fear of their own kids being taken. If you were in the home school movement in the 1980’s, as I suspect most of these leaders were, you would understand that the fear isn’t completely unfounded. Things were difficult back then.

  thatmom wrote @

Sarah, I well-remember homeschoolers across the border in Iowa going to jail. But that was before there was a law that allowed homeschooling in that state. Now that homeschooling is protected under the law, they no longer fear going to jail. But these children in El Dorado were not taken into custody because they were being homeschooled. No one called and made an anonymous call saying that the children were not allowed to watch TV or that they had to wear old-fashioned clothing. The authorities went in because of reported sexual abuse of minors. Sure, I suppose that anyone could make the same threat against anyone, homeschooler or not. But what is the reason these homeschool leaders are so concerned about this and are feeling threatened? On a personal level, I feel no more concerned about someone investigating my family than I did before this situation. I think a big part of it is because we haven’t sought to live in isolation within our community. I have lived in the same small town for just a little longer than we have homeschooled. But I think if I started a cult at the edge of town, it would be a different story. There would be suspicion. I guess I don’t understand exactly why these people thing this is about homeschooling.

  sarah wrote @

I agree with you – I don’t think home schoolers need to feel threatened as a general rule. But, I do know that some of these patriarchal leaders remember the old days. I also think fear/anti-government mentally helps their pocket book and blends well with the Americana aspect of the patriarchy movement. I don’t think their fear is totally without basis in their personal experience. And I don’t think they support child abuse either. I’m just saying I see their point of view and why they feel the way they do about it.

You never know what will raise suspicion to law enforcement or authorities. It is safe to guess that certain things, like living as a cult in a compound, will probably do it. In other cases, it can be as simple as your skin color, or the fact that your brother-in-law ran for office against a certain person. Just because we think the government is in the right this time, doesn’t mean we will think the government is in the right with the same actions next time.

  Corrie wrote @

” I am no fan of these crazy patriarchs, but I am sure it grieves Kevin Swanson, Doug Phillips, James McDonald, and etc. to think of any child being physically assaulted or abandoned. ”


None of these men were in the homeschooling movement in the 1980’s. McDonald didn’t even marry Stacy until 12 years ago and after that they started homeschooling. I started homeschooling years before they married and I didn’t start homeschooling until the early 90’s.

Phillips’ oldest child is about 6 years younger than my oldest. I doubt he started homeschooling in the 1980’s. Same with Swanson,

“They are just having their own emotional reaction based on a fear of their own kids being taken. If you were in the home school movement in the 1980’s, as I suspect most of these leaders were, you would understand that the fear isn’t completely unfounded. Things were difficult back then.”

But, I was homeschooling BEFORE these leaders and I still don’t understand the fear. Well, I do but I don’t think their fear is coming from the place you say it is. They are afraid because their beliefs closely mirror those of the FLDS.

I have also yet to see any strong statement against this cult by these patriarchs or against its practices or against its views of women as chattel and baby-making machines. In fact, I have been very disturbed the utter LACK of emotional reaction to the very real plight of these young girls.

  Corrie wrote @

“The difference between NAMBLA and the polygamists. For NAMBLA it is all about sex. I am not saying it isn’t all about sex for some of the polygamists, because clearly some of them are criminals and sick (just like the rest of us, BTW), but for the most part these polygamists have sex to get pregnant. ”


The grown men in NAMBLA want to experience “love” with young boys. They believe they should be free to do so. I hardly believe that the polygamists intentions to young girls are any more noble than those of the men in NAMBLA.

It is the same thing. Old men having sex with very YOUNG teenagers. Not to mention all the men in the FLDS that are molesting their own little daughters and having sex with their sisters. Colorado City is said to be a hotbed of incest and that is coming from the reports of those who have escaped that cult.

The young girls are no more married to these older polygamist men than the young boys are married to the NAMBLA men. Since there is NO legal marriage, it is ALL the same in the eyes of the law. Old men having sex with very underage children. The law could care less if the parents consented to that kind of sexual arrangement. In fact, if the parents do willingly give out their underage children to older men, then they are guilty of breaking the law, too. The girl would have to be the first wife in order for this to be a legal arrangement, as sick and twisted as that may be (ie. a 55 year old man getting married to a 14 year old girl).

Also, we are not all sick and criminals. Yes, we are all sinners. But we are not all pedophiles, preying on children for our own sexual gratification; exploiting children for our own pleasure for sex, power and control. Jesus warns against causing a little one to stumble. Also, we are not all criminals, are we?

I don’t understand the inference to all of us being “sick and criminals”? Maybe I am just not understanding your point.

I am thinking about that teacher who had sex with her 14 year old male student. Why should she go to jail and that student protected from his perpetrator and all the FLDS perps get a pass and the kids not protected?

These cultists are very sneaky and they have been evading the law for decades. There are former cult members who have been pleading and begging their government officials to DO something on behalf of the children who are being abused.

No where else would the government have let this wholesale sex trafficking go on….NO WHERE.

  sarah wrote @

Kevin Swanson was home schooled himself.
Doug Phillips worked at HSLDA long before he had kids.
I don’t know about the McDonalds.

Home schooling has an institutional memory. I was home schooled in the 1980s and my parents were the subject of a CPS investigation back then.

Maybe the patriarch leaders are afraid partially because their beliefs are similar to the FLDS. That is a reasonable argument. But it is also reasonable to assume that these men share the institutional memory of home schooling and the difficulties when it was first emerging as a modern movement. It could be partly both.

Depends on the FLDS cult re: marriage. Some keep first wife as legal wife. Some divorce the last wife and then marry then latest wife legally. I don’t know what they do in El Dorado.

Re: sick and criminals – well, a whole lot of non FLDS people are sick and criminals, too. I don’t mean all of us. I’m just pointing out that the fact that some FLDS members are child molesters doesn’t make them special. There are plenty of non-FLDS child molesters in this world. And they should all be punished appropriately.

  Sandy wrote @

I just got settled into our hotel room in Durham, NC where we are meeting our son and his family. Our younger granddaughter has serious health issues (would really like your prayers).

Anyway, the first thing I saw on the news tonight is that the authorities now suspect many of the young boys have also been molested and 41 children have evidences of prior bone fractures – some of the kids have multiple ones.

This is not about home schooling. This is not about healthy eating, modest dress, TV, crayons, etc. This is also not really about freedom of religion. No one is asking these adults to worship a different god. No one is asking them to refrain from expressing their beliefs.

This is about child abuse in every form possible. This is about the state making sure these children are safe. I’ve worked with DCS as a therapist and, though I’m not a big fan of taking children from mothers (understatement), there are times when it truly is in the best interst of the child. I also know how hard most of the judges try to keep kids in the families. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s not only usually best but cheaper for the state.

I remember home schooling way back when. I’ve been there, done that, thank you very much. I remember the worries that DCS would step in and take our children. Part of the scare, BTW, came from HSLDA, as we would receive newsletters that told horror stories time after time. But then I saw and knew of people who home schooled and were caught and nothing bad happened. basically, they had to show the children were receiving a comparable education.

When we were finally “legalized” people from the state department of non public education came into our home once a year and eye balled the kids. After a couple of years, we just received a letter and had to turn in achievement test scores and attendance forms. The kids didn’t even have to do well on the tests.

Where I grew up, there’s always been home schooling. It just wasn’t called that. There was even distance learning. My grand mother worked her way through a teacher’s degree and became certified through a distance learning (correspondence) program in the 30’s. Many of my older relatives learned at home.

My point is that this is not about the state exercising its muscles just to take these kids because they live differently. The state is trying desperately to sort it out in order to see what’s best for the kids. Someone needs to do this. The mothers will defer to their husbands, and I do not think that child molesting older men who have married multiple teens are the best ones to think things through and do what’s best for the kids.

  Cindy, the non-normative wrote @

What a royal mess.

  Lin wrote @

Sarah, I doubt very seriously if any of the men will be prosecuted for rape (sex wiith a minor) or for polygamy for that matter. Probably won’t even be charged with abandonment of the ‘lost boys’.

Hopefully, the children will NOT be sent back into the compound. And I pray the mothers will stay OUT with their kids. But I doubt they would make that choice, to tell you the truth. They can just go back and have more babies.

However, I doubt they will be charged with any crimes. There are just too many people like you who want to look the other way and dumb down these crimes against women.. Sorry, but you have been defending the behavior of this cult for a while now. You always want us to see them as ‘not as bad’ as they are. Or give them a pass because the old leacherous men are brainwashed. Nevermind these are crimes. That is ok as long as one is brainwashed and doing in the name of God.

Yes, there are pedophiles out there and we hope to catch them all. but with attitudes like yours, it will be harder. And to make it even harder, they don’t do it in the Name of Jesus as to give them a pass with ‘religious freedom’. but, who knows, they may start using that if it works here.


  Corrie wrote @

Hi Sarah,

Yes, I knew that Swanson was home educated (his children are much younger than my oldest) and I also knew that Phillips worked for HSLDA for about 6 years.. I thought you meant actually being the responsible adult in charge of homeschooling one’s children. 🙂

Surely, HSLDA does not defend cult members against charges of child rape?

Prior to 2000, not much about James McDonald is known. He and his first wife may have homeschooled, I do not know, but I doubt it since Stacy shared how even though his first wife bore him 4 children in 12 years, she only lived with him a total of 3 years because she was so adulterous or some such story. This is their side of the story, no one knows anything about the mother/wife who has been dragged through the mud or her side of the story.

Why was your family investigated? Because you were homeschooled? Was that because it was not legal to homeschool then?

This is my opinion but I cannot fathom how the pioneers of the homeschooling movement and their fears of being investigated simply because they homeschool even begin to translate to this situation because this is not even about homeschooling or whether it is legal or not.

The FLDS compound is NOT being investigated because they homeschool. They are lawbreakers in many ways. One should worry if they are having sex with underage girls and turning out underage boys on the highway and defrauding the State by taking welfare fraudulently and living in a cult compound where people have to ESCAPE in order to gain freedom. Other than that, I do not see any legitimate reason why any homeschooler needs to fear and if there is real fear because of some flashback to the early 80’s then I sincerely hope these people step out of leadership until they can get a handle on the situation.

There is a deep underlying agenda, as always, to these things.

  Corrie wrote @

“Part of the scare, BTW, came from HSLDA, as we would receive newsletters that told horror stories time after time. But then I saw and knew of people who home schooled and were caught and nothing bad happened. basically, they had to show the children were receiving a comparable education.”



And the time is ripe for HSLDA to whip people up into a fearful frenzy and make it a matter of utmost urgency that homeschoolers join HSLDA in order to be protected.

Except, if one’s husband is accused of having sex with underage girls, HSLDA doesn’t handle those issues.

I also know homeschoolers who have had CPS called on them several times by neighbors and I can understand. Their children are constantly running around the neighborhood half-dressed in very cold weather and constantly unsupervised, their homes are FILTHY and it never seems like school gets done.

There are some false reports but many times these reports are filed for a reason.

People like to cry “persecution” when they are 99% to blame for their own “persecution”.

  thatmom wrote @

From the end of James McDonald’s blog entry on this matter:

“For the Christian homeschool family, if you are not members of HSLDA, I encourage you to join!”

  thatmom wrote @

Sandy, we will be praying for you, your granddaughter and your family. Keep us posted.

  Lin wrote @

“For the Christian homeschool family, if you are not members of HSLDA, I encourage you to join!”

This explains a lot. What Sandy and others have said about HSLDA fear mongering. I am hearing a panic from other Christian homeschoolers I know over this event and wondering why they don’t see the obvious. It is NOT about homeschooling. Someone is making them think it is.

Almost every organization starts out in an altruistic manner but over time, they exist to exist. And sometimes you can see it in their fundraising appeals. It becomes about bringing in dollars more than the original charter. There may be some of that at work with the HSLDA. After all, if the government threat against homeschoolers is not growing, then they may not have a reason to grow.

  sarah wrote @

Sexual abuse is a serious charge. If these people are guilty, they should be prosecuted. If there is not enough evidence to pursue prosecution, it’s a he said, she said, situation about a serious allegation of depraved child abuse. I do not mind children being removed, per usual processes, on a by family basis, pending investigations of serious abuse. But this wholesale removal of kids on an anonymous tip is disturbing to almost everyone I know with a law degree – liberal, conservative, etc.

Even the sickest criminal is entitled to representation in our legal system. I would be happy to represent any of the polygamist parents in order to ensure a fair process for them in the court system. I would be just as happy to represent the minors involved to ensure that they receive a fair process. That’s our the rule of law and our legal system works in this country. When fair processes are not followed, and something unusual happens to a group, that undermines the fairness and the legitimacy of the process for everyone. I want child molesters to have their children taken and I want them thrown in prison. A questionable process casts doubt on the whole situation, and that doubt could lead to the children being returned or convictions being overturned.

For the record, it was legal to home school at the time my parents were investigated. It was a baseless anonymous tip from a person with whom there was an unrelated dispute. My parents were 100% exonerated but not before a very uncomfortable and unneeded intrusion into family life.

I have worked with CPS as legislative staff. I have had any number of CPS folks make derogatory statements about home schooling to me (not knowing I was home schooled). To this day, many state officials engaged in education or CPS see home schooling as per se suspicious regardless of its legality. I don’t think you have to be a member of HSLDA, and I agree that there is some fear mongering out there, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the truth about what many in the system still think about home schooling. You never, ever know what will raise suspicion.

To argue that home school grads don’t appreciate or understand home schooling and the history of the movement is absurd beyond belief. Further, many older students do plenty of home schooling for their younger siblings. Home school students are the ones who truly live with the choice their parents make to home school.

  Lin wrote @

“Sexual abuse is a serious charge. If these people are guilty, they should be prosecuted”

Sarah, how can you say IF? What is is about this you don’t get? You really do not think what has happened there is ABUSE? My goodness, what do you consider abuse? Do you consider 50 year old men having sex with 14 year olds normal activity?

If everything is so innocent, why don’t the moms freely tell them whose kids belong to whom? Or who is married to whom? Because they are NOT stupid. They know it could mean statuatory rape charges. If that ain’t abuse, I don’t know what is. How many were pregnant between the ages of 14 and 17? Was it 31 of 50?

Sarah, it is not IF abuse…it is how extant is the abuse.

A dear friend of mine is a national trainer for CPS and she loves homeschooling and plans on doing it if she can ever get pregnant. She refuses to send a child to public school. She knows what is there.

Government is made of people like us. Some are liberal and some aren’t. We paint with too broad a brush sometimes.

  sarah wrote @

I can say “if” because all I have seen is commentary on the news and various reports from those who claim to be escapees. Does abuse exist in this community? Statistically, yes, probably at least in proportions similar to the rest of the population. But speaking of broad brushes . . . are you saying that you know that every parent in this group has committed abuse and neglect to the extent that it demands, legally, the children be removed? Are you saying that you know every single adult male in this group is a perverted pedophile?

There have been no definitive court decisions in this specific instance, in terms of custody. The abuse, legally, I believe is still “alleged.” There are no convictions of abuse, in this particular situation – yet, anyway.

I’ve know home school grads, much less people planning to be HS parents, who are social workers, too. But there aren’t too many folks I’ve encountered in agencies and government that are all gung-ho for home schooling. I should also say that in many cases I am very supportive of CPS and the work that they do. As Sandy pointed out, they do try to keep families together in most situations and often offer training and counseling to that end.

  thatmom wrote @

Just wanted to note that I found some good comments buried in my spam folder this evening and I didn’t want anyone to miss them. Eric has some really good points and I appreciate what he said. (keep scrolling up!)

  Julie wrote @

Ummm…I was asking Pastor Hubby about that stuff about Calvin and he said, in all his Masters of Divinity wisdom, that Calvin did NOT have absolute power in Geneva but that he answered to a Council. There was also no separation of church and state at that time, and even though some of the punishments wrought for various crimes seem horrific to us today (and they are), people are a product of their times and it wasn’t all that unusual for stuff like that to happen. I hesitate to say that it’s because they didn’t KNOW any better… Anyway, just wanted to mention that. I worship no man but Christ alone but I still have a high view of the doctrines of Grace.

  Lin wrote @

Julie, that is a common theme taught in seminaries today about Calvin. A great book written by Leonard Verduin who was on a grant from the Calvin Institute is: Step Children of the Reformation.

Verduin quotes from Calvin’s own letters in this book. It is a great read from a man who believes in the DoG just like me. Calvin had great influence in Geneva. And if he had been the brilliant theologian he is made out to be, he would have known a state church was unbiblical and would have hidden out in caves with the rest of the step children. :o) Not all people were products of their times. Some spoke out for the truth of scripture about compulsory church attendance and baptizing infants and were persecuted for it.

What is even more interesting is that quite a bit of reformed history was closed to public view until after WW1 when the Monarchies of Europe started falling. Then Europe was devestated and another WW and finally about the late 1940’s when lots of Americans and British researchers were in Europe going through archives so much was discovered that had been hidden from public view.It was a gold mine that few investigated. Writings of Ana Baptists persecuted during the Reformation, some of Calvin’s personal letters, etc.

  Annie C wrote @

Sarah –

I read on CNN that they had found 31 underage girls who were pregnant or who had give birth since the raid.

In Texas law, as I understand it, if an underage girl has a baby who was fathered by an overage man, it’s an automatic rape. Period.

Now, back when I worked for CPS, granted a good decade or more ago, you took all the children from an abusive home because of the risk that without the oldest child there to abuse, the abuser would start on another one.

So, in this case, problem #1, if they choose girls 13 and above in “Spiritual Marriage”, and CPS takes all the girls 13-18, what is to stop them from declaring that the Lord wants them to now marry girls over age 10? Or 8? Or 6? I don’t know what their cut off point would be, no one does. You can say you’re making an assumption that they would go after younger girls, and you would be right. But what if you decided the other way, left the younger girls behind, and were wrong? Would you honestly leave a 12 year old in a house where a 13 year old was raped, with the rapist?

And if you say “Well, they wouldn’t marry a toddler, the ones under, say, 6 are all right”, fine. Do you come back and take that child on their 6th birthday, or 8th, or 10th, or 13th? Do you take the risk that the whole cult will move to another state or even another country, where you can’t stop them from raping those children as soon as they are deemed old enough? You know the odds are high, there’s a pregnant 13 year old in front of you and no boys anywhere close to her age range in sight.

Problem #2, you can say it’s just a few families, say the families of those 31 girls. The other families might well be fine. But those children are LYING about which family they belong to. They might not even know for certain which family they belong to. So how do you know which to take and which to leave behind?

Problem #3, in a large, communal living situation like that, how can you separate out the good families from the perverts? From what I was seeing in the videos on CNN they’ve been living almost in dormitories, not in separate family homes. So how do you know a child left behind is going to stay in a safe situation?

No, you do exactly what Texas has done. You take all the children, so no one can be raped or hurt while you’re investigating. You run DNA tests to find out who the criminals are (again, overage father/underage mother = rape) and who belongs to which family. Then when you can break it into family units, you go to each and figure out what to do from there.

If you don’t and another child gets raped, then you are as much at fault as the criminal, because you didn’t protect a child at risk.

  Sandy wrote @

Not to take this thread off topic, but I would like to ask you to continuing praying for my graddaughter. She was admitted yesterday to UNC Children’s Hospital for a few weeks. My dh adn I ahve brought our older graddaughter home with us to free up their parents for staying in the hospital. I had to return to work. Anyway, please pray! Thanks.

  Corrie wrote @


I will be praying for your granddaughter and your whole family. That has got to be so very hard.

  Corrie wrote @


I think, after studying this issue for a while now, that the incidence of abuse is MUCH higher than in the general population.

No, not every adult male is a pedophile. Only the ones who have taken underage girls to be their sex partners.

Truly, if you read the history of this cult and you see how the prophet can say to another man that God told him that he is to marry a certain wife of this man, then the man is to turn over his wife to the prophet.

And then we can get into the whole “blood atonement” ideology of this cult! It his horrifying.

People have been BEGGING the government to do something about the crimes committed in this cult for decades. And the government has sat there and told them that their hands are tied because this is a hornet’s nest.

This cult is demonic and its practices are not those of the average person in the world.

Wherever we find incest or sexual abuse, we must prosecute it to the full extent of the law. The FLDS has been getting away with their crimes for way too long now. It is time they are welcomed to the REAL world and start abiding by our Land’s laws. No more hiding behind their crazy religious views.

  Corrie wrote @

“To argue that home school grads don’t appreciate or understand home schooling and the history of the movement is absurd beyond belief. ”


Who said this?

I didn’t. I explained to you that I misunderstood your original question. That is all.

  Corrie wrote @

“From the end of James McDonald’s blog entry on this matter:

“For the Christian homeschool family, if you are not members of HSLDA, I encourage you to join!””

He is so predictable it isn’t even funny.

James McDonald is a “Johnny-Come-Lately” to the homeschool movement. He has been homeschooling for how many years? 7? 8?

How did he become such a big leader? Look back at the beginning and you will learn a lot.

  Corrie wrote @

“It’s not that we shouldn’t hold the government accountable for its actions, but we should also give them some benefit of the doubt in the midst of a crisis.”


Well said!

I wonder why Christians are so QUICK to use vitriolic rhetoric about the government when the Bible tells them to RESPECT and SUBMIT.

Is this how they want wives treating their husbands when the husband has to deal with a very stressful situation where there are no easy answers?

There are others who are using some pretty charged rhetoric now, too. People are talking about arming themselves in order to protect their families from those who seek to do them harm.

I do wonder what sort of violence is going to come out of this? And how much responsibility is the patriarchalists going to take when someone goes off half-cocked on some government worker because they are so charged up from the “Warskyl” seminars and shooting contests?

On another note, I just watched September Dawn which is about the Mountain Meadows Massacre on 9/11/1857. The leaders of the Mormons in the Utah Territory worked up all the followers and used fear-mongering tactics to make the government and “gentiles” the enemy who were out to get them which resulted in the wholesale slaughter of 120-140 men, women and children by Mormon followers.

I am pretty disgusted with the fear-mongering going on. It is agenda-driven and it is shameful. There is NO threat to homeschoolers. And they will be responsible if harm comes to anyone because they have acted in such an irresponsible fashion.

  thatmom wrote @


I am in prayer for your family and ask everyone else to pray for you all as well.

The Lord is good. His mercies endure forever!

  thatmom wrote @

Corrie, do you know anything about the Warskyl seminars? I recently saw where one is scheduled to be held in the Peoria area and wonder what it is all about.

  Craig wrote @

If you are interested to know more about WARSKYL, I would invite you to visit my blog to find out for yourself.

A good place to start might be the post, Martial
Art as Way:

As to the WARSKYL conference, it is to be an opportunity for fellowship among Christian Martialists, as well as a time of instruction in the Biblical warrant for self defense, and some practical training in unarmed defense.

If you have any further questions, you may direct them to me at:

  Cindy K wrote @

Christian Martialists?

Is that not an oxymoron in the flesh (the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty in the Spirit)?

  Craig wrote @

“Is that not an oxymoron . . . ?”


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