Top 10 Posts of 2015

This year brought us the World’s Worst Homesteaders, discrimination in the name of religion, mass shootings, and way too much Duggar. Seriously, every Duggar post I wrote landed in my top ten because people, you really need to stop paying attention to them. I’m really close to resolving that no matter what they do next year, I’m blacklisting them from my blog. 

May next year be better than the one that’s ending.

Read on after the break for my top ten posts this year.

10. What happens after Colorado Springs?

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My response in the immediate aftermath of the domestic terror attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. 

We saw today what happened because people who should have known better were more interested in playing with fire and amping up the rhetoric in hopes of defunding Planned Parenthood than they were about the consequences.

The last go round in the ‘90s, what happened next was a mix of halfhearted denunciations, insistence that “most” pro-lifers were peaceful, and a whole lot of debate that played out in living rooms, churches, and the pages of Life Advocate Magazine arguing back and forth about the theological and ethical merits of a philosophy of justifiable homicide. It was a debate that shouldn’t have happened at all and went on for far too long before Flip Benham pulled a power play and marginalized the justifiable homicide proponents. Meanwhile, the debate and the dillydallying successfully legitimized the justifiable homicide camp as holding a valid position worthy of debate. The result was more violence and bloodshed.

9. A Recipe for Disaster

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Coming in at #9 is a guest post by Sophie Anna Platt written in response to the Jim Bob Duggar quote above.

Nooo… Really? And not once did it occur to you that maybe the way you and these other people were raising your children had ANYTHING at all to do with it? Oh, wait, you were too busy becoming the poster family for that cult (so you could get rich off your gazillion kids instead of having to think about being responsible parents who have to plan on feeding the children they pop out) to be bothered to use your brain to think about becoming responsible parents.

It is a recipe for disaster, and it goes something like this:

5 cups of teaching everyone that women belong to men

They are born their father’s property, and are given as a gift to whomever their father sees as worthy. Should they at any time become free humans, they must immediately seek to become the property of whatever man is available or risk living in sin and going to hell. Usually their brothers are the first choice presented as an authority figure – particularly the oldest son of the family.

8. Christian artist Steve Taylor called out Bill Gothard…30 years ago

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A reminder that it’s not like nobody knew Bill Gothard was a bad guy until recently. Legendary Christian artist Steve Taylor wrote a song condemning him and the IBLP seminars three decades ago.

The music hasn’t worn well with time (so very ‘80s), and this isn’t one of Taylor’s better songs, but it’s all there. The chain of command, the seminar notebooks, the umbrella of authority, all of it. So next time people try to play dumb about how Bill Gothard was just some fringe figure that nobody in mainstream evangelical Christianity had ever really heard of, here we have one of the most important figures in Christian music calling the whole thing out. In 1985.

7. Inside the Army of God Manual

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I promised this as a series but haven’t returned to it because in the interim there have been too many mass shootings and attacks and I needed to take a break from it. I’ll be returning to it in the new year.

The reason for this series is because I believe it’s important for the general public to understand that this isn’t lone wolf terrorism. Just like Al Qaeda and ISIS publish online “terrorism starter kits” that enable others to take up the cause without contact with the main group, the Army of God website provides plenty to inspire would-be terrorists.

The excerpts that I’m posting today show that Army of God not only anticipated, they encourage “lone ranger” terrorists like Dear. As you read this, keep in mind that Robert Dear was not only aware of Army of God, he described them as “heroes.”

6. The Duggar interview and the need for homeschool oversight

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I’ve been writing this post backwards, starting at the bottom, and well, by the time I got to this one I’m now sick of all things Duggar. Here I point out how unregulated homeschooling made their cover-up of Josh’s sex crimes easier.

Whatever else is true, what Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s interview made clear was that we must have mandatory reporters looking out for the interests of children in homeschool families, and we must have outside oversight of homeschooling. Instead of going to the police and getting those girls the help they needed, the Duggars’ community simply reassured Jim Bob and Michelle that the sexual abuse was a perfectly normal thing that happens in families.

Over and over we’ve seen the homeschool community’s unwillingness to self-police. Those few who do try to do the right thing end up being attacked and ostracized by the rest of the community, because apparently the only self-policing almost anyone is willing to do is to enforce silence. Relying on the community to do the right thing is getting us nowhere.

The Duggar kids deserved better than what they got. Homeschool kids deserve better. Let’s make homeschool safe.

5. Original RFRA Drafter Admits Discriminatory Intent

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If I had my druthers, this post and the follow up would be my top posts of the year. In a year when states tried to pass state-level versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in order to protect the right of business owners to discriminate against LGBT people, I tried to draw attention to the fact that Michael Farris, drafter of the original federal RFRA admitted on facebook that his intent back in the ‘90s was to legalize discrimination.

HSLDA has repeatedly stated that one of the purposes of the federal RFRA was to allow religious-based discrimination against LGBT people.

Describing what RFRA means to the average homeschooler:

“But consider what it means for religious people in other contexts: The government wants to say you can’t have a church policy that says you can only have male pastors. Or maybe your church doesn’t want to hire homosexuals. Or your support group doesn’t want to hire homosexuals. Then it would have an impact because the rights of organizations including churches are going to be judged on religious liberty principles alone.”
–Michael Farris, Marking the Milestones: The Good, the Bad, the Inspiring

Explaining why a proposed Religious Liberty Protection Act (RLPA) was an insufficient substitute for RFRA because it would not protect:

“Christian landlords who are told by local law that they may not “discriminate” against unmarried couples or homosexual couples in renting out an apartment in their home,” or,
“Small Christian-owned businesses that are forbidden by local law from firing employees for openly immoral behavior.”
–Home School Court Report: Religious Liberty Protection Act: Does the End Justify the Means, May/June 1998

That brings us to yesterday, when, writing specifically about the Indiana law and his intent in drafting the federal RFRA, Michael Farris posted the following to his Facebook page…

4. I Don’t Forgive Josh Duggar

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This was the year that I discovered why everybody keeps writing unnecessary stories about the Duggars instead of letting them fade away. It’s because they get you page views. Three of my top four posts are Duggar posts, which I’d rather not be the case because there are things I’ve written about that I’d rather you read, but if the media won’t stop talking about them, somebody needs to be there to translate Duggar-speak to the mainstream population.

The end of May, the story broke that a teenage Josh Duggar had molested his prepubescent younger sisters and that the sexual assaults had been covered up by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Now, he’s anathema because of the Ashley Madison hack and because of the assault allegations by adult performer Danica Dillon, but back then, the Duggar’s conservative Christian base was insisting that because he said he was sorry we should forgive and forget. I said not so fast.

Further, let me remind you that contrary to what we’re being told, we don’t know whether his victims have forgiven him or dealt with the sexual assaults. In the ATI subculture, forgiveness is forced. You have no other option than to forgive because otherwise you’ve created strongholds in your life, you’ve allowed the root of bitterness to take hold, and now you’ve opened yourself up to Satan’s works.

Talking about forgiveness in the context of Bill Gothard and ATI is virtually meaningless.

3. Three things you should know before writing about Josh Duggar

I wrote this piece because I got tired of people getting terms wrong and confusing the public because they don’t know the difference between Christian Fundamentalism, Quiverfull ideology, and the ATI cult. 

All quiverfull are fundamentalists but not all fundamentalists are quiverfull.Quiverfull adherents will tell you that they’re the only true fundamentalists, but the vast majority of fundamentalists in the last hundred years that the term has been in use have taken steps to limit the size of their families.

Quiverfull is a politicized ideology based on Psalm 127 that says you should have as many children as possible because those children are arrows in the culture wars. It’s explicitly about taking over society by outbreeding the rest of the population.

Fundamentalism itself wasn’t even politicized until the rise of the Moral Majority and related groups in the late 1970s. Prior to that, most fundamentalists believed that Christians should stay out of politics. The quiverfull movement came even later and didn’t gain much foothold until the 1990s.

Bottom line? Quiverfull is a subset of the politicized fundamentalism that developed in just the last forty years.

2. Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?

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One final Duggar piece, on the irrelevance of Josh Duggar’s apology after the molestation story broke.

Of course he’s going to release a statement apologizing once the police report is all over the internet. What else was he going to do? You can’t deny what’s there in black and white, all you can do is shift the focus.

And shift the focus he did.

All of the headlines are about how “Josh Duggar Apologizes” not, “Josh Duggar Molested Five Children.”

It’s only a short step from there to turning Josh into the real victim of an unforgiving public who refuses to let it go even though he said he was sorry and apologized.

Worse, with the statement they released, they’ve now framed the story so that the victims cannot come forward, if they choose to do so, without being painted as “unforgiving” and choosing to “ruin his life” even though he said he was sorry.

It’s a statement designed to silence the victims.

And, by a large margin, my number one post of the year is, from early in May…

1. Here Are 7 Surprising Things You Need to Know About Joe and Nicole Naugler

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This would be the one and only post I ever closed the comments on. Getting called a Nazi, being told I was a stupid city slicker who would come begging the World’s Worst Homesteaders for help when shit hit the fan, all that was par for the course. Having a sovereign citizen type threaten to kill me, kill my entire family, kill law enforcement, and kill child protective services, that’s when it stopped being fun.

In the end, this post got picked up by Raw Story, Salon, Wonkette, and a few others, and pretty much stolen whole cloth by the Daily Fail, who misidentified me as a homeschool mom. And all this for writing about the World’s Worst Homesteaders (really, I’m surprised they haven’t managed to freeze to death or kill themselves from trichinosis, because they really don’t know how to live off the grid at all), and how they didn’t get their kids removed for unschooling but for being the aforementioned World’s Worst Homesteaders. 

And with that, here’s hoping 2016 is better than 2015, or at least I make it through without getting death threats from domestic terrorist types.

Happy New Year everyone!