Are Women Safe at Patrick Henry College?

I’ve been following stories about how college and universities handle sexual harassment and assault allegations ever since I researched the heck out of Title IX in undergrad (the story behind that isn’t mine to tell, other than to say that for all its issues, Covenant seems to be one of the few Christian colleges even remotely in Title IX compliance–funny how quickly people shape up when it’s pointed out that their federal funding is at risk). Anyway, colleges and universities are, across the board, not very good at handling incidences of sexual harassment and assault.  Patrick Henry College, a.k.a. “God’s Harvard” or the “Homeschool Harvard,” Michael Farris’ institution to train conservative Christian young people to win the culture wars, is especially bad at how it handles sexual assault cases.  From yesterday’s New Republic story, “Sexual Assault at God’s Harvard”: In late November 2006, four years before Claire’s experience, another young woman reported a sexual assault to Sandra Corbitt, who was then the dean of women. Sarah Patten cried as she recounted how, the previous Saturday night, a boy named Ryan (whose name has been changed) had sexually assaulted her. “I know him,” Sarah remembers Corbitt saying. “He’s a nice boy. Are you sure you want to report this?” Sarah described what she could remember: coming in and out of consciousness, her limbs feeling heavy and paralyzed, Ryan on top of her, his hands groping her all over, waking up disoriented. Sarah says Corbitt grilled her on certain details: What was she wearing? Had she flirted with him or given him mixed signals? “The entire line of questioning was basically like, ‘Did you make it up? Or did you deserve it in some way? Or was it consensual and now you’re just lying about it to make him look bad?’ ” recalls[…]

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Preview of Coming Attractions

So, I distracted myself from studying for my final to make this post. I’ve been saying for a while that somebody needs to do a greatest hits of current events and history for the former homeschoolers whose parents censored the newspaper/didn’t own a TV/learned all their history from Bob Jones or Abeka and are trying to catch up.  Well, it hit me (all my ideas come when I’m supposed to be doing other things), that instead of saying “somebody” should do it, I’m a somebody and I’ve got a perfectly good blog, so why don’t I just do it?  Without further ado, presenting: So You Lived Under a Rock for 18 Years: A History of the World for Sheltered Homeschoolers and Others Who Missed Out I’m going to try to put together sections on things like the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s Rights movement, and other topics that I know that my Bob Jones history books left out. The idea is to give a quick primer with links to lots of sources so that people can read up and educate themselves. I figure telling people, “go read Wikipedia” doesn’t really work if you don’t even know what your textbooks left out. If this is a success, I might try and recruit people to contribute to something similar about science, though that’s way more complicated. If you have ideas for what I should cover, let me know in the comments. 

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13 Again

I feel like I just found a time machine and was transported two decades back in time. You may have seen that American Prospect came out with an article, “The Homeschool Apostates,” that chronicles some of the people who were hurt by the fundamentalist homeschooling world, and how homeschool graduates are pushing back. It’s a pretty long and important article and discusses Homeschoolers Anonymous, which I’m involved with. The article has gotten a lot of press and buzz on Twitter, including from Richard Dawkins (who I really don’t like for lots of reasons, but hey, he’s super famous) and Dan Savage (who I like much better than Dawkins). Plight of homeschooled children with religious wingnut parents: http://t.co/9FxSwfokuJ. Support group here: http://t.co/56Hp3X4v6B — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) December 6, 2013 Terrific—and depressing—longread: children escaping from homeschooling families. Read: http://t.co/eXKMiiCcGs — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 6, 2013 ICYMI: Compelling piece about kids abused and miseducated by “homeschooling” parents—and how they’re fighting back: http://t.co/XGyt5MizYT — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 7, 2013 That was cool and all, famous people tweeting about something I’m involved with, but what really meant something was seeing that Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales (and voice of Larry the Cucumber), the videos that every evangelical kid of a certain age watched, tweeted the article.  This story about extremes in Christian parenting/homeschooling is frightening, but worth reading. http://t.co/9ryKpAljdk — Phil Vischer (@philvischer) December 7, 2013 And then Lisa “Junior Asparagus” Vischer tweeted about it too. Good homeschooling rocks! But this disturbing article/data is good motivation to avoid unhealthy extremes… http://t.co/40ZqyIfwvx — Lisa Vischer (@LisaVischer) December 7, 2013 It’s silly, but for all of the press and the attention from famous people like Dawkins and Savage, what feels like it really matters is that the Veggie Tales people read the article and[…]

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For our next installment in the Vision Forum saga, Peter Bradrick breaks his silence

For those of you who aren’t entirely up to speed, Peter Bradrick is a Vision Forum intern turned executive assistant to Doug Phillips who was so close to Doug that Doug posted the picture below on his blog. You know, the picture that I said looked like a wedding photo. He doesn’t work for Vision Forum any longer, but even after he left as an employee he was involved in their “Hazardous Journeys” trips, and was pretty much BFFs with Doug. He’s married to the daughter of Scott Brown (not the politician, the one who’s head of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches, an organization that Doug was on the board of until his scandal broke).

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Knew it, Doug Phillips was lawyering his original Vision Forum resignation statement

Posted today: Clarification on Resignation by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013 I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries. Doug Phillips Also, Spiritual Sounding Board has more information on what we know about what happened. Apparently[…]

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In which Kathryn contemplates the possibility of becoming a professional member of the religious right

Why did I have to be such an ethical person? I’d make a pretty darn good professional member of the religious right. I’ve got such a perfect story to sell a ton of books and make it for years on the fundy speaking circuit too.  I mean, grew up in conservative homeschool family, did the Operation Rescue thing in my teens (even performed and spoke at several national events), even did the conservative Christian college thing. Then I “backslid” into sin and depravity by coming out about my “same-sex attractions,” became a rainbow flag waving/parade marching gay rights activist, took up liberal political causes, identify as a feminist, all I need to do is pretend that I was an atheist for a while and I’ve got the perfect matched set of depravity and apostasy that any good religious right audience would eat up.  I just need to invent the perfect Damascus Road moment that shows me being convicted of my sinfulness (is “seeing a Bible verse on twitter while in a gay bar” a sufficiently cliche story?), go find a Christian counselor for a few months of praying away the gay so I can add tearful talk about my “struggles” to the story, and then go find a closeted fundy guy to marry me (the closeted fundy part is important, that way we can put on the impression of a model family without actually having to sleep with him) so we can adopt the box set of foreign orphans that we will homeschool, and I’ll be rich! That is the formula, right? Exaggerate your past so that you can sell the redemption story and be welcomed into the fold with open arms and wallets. The darker a picture you can paint of your depravity, the more people will eat up[…]

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Ding dong, Vision Forum Ministries is dead (But Vision Forum, Inc. is still raking in the cash)

Vision Forum Ministries announced today that they are closing up shop entirely. Whatever Doug Phillips did, it had to have been something so bad that the board decided the best course was to shut down the whole thing, turn off the lights and go home. Closing a ministry entirely when it’s not named after the person who sinned is unprecedented in Christian circles, I can’t remember a time that something quite like this happened. Here’s the statement. The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances. In some ways, this is the end of an era. Doug Phillips and Vision Forum did much damage to countless people who bought into the oppressive and spiritually abusive system he and his followers taught. He sold an image of a perfect family that not even he could match up to. I say that “in some ways” it’s the end of an era, but the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. is still operating, still selling that rotten and oppressive bill of goods to families. Doug Phillips is still making money off of this abusive system.  Until Vision Forum, Inc. closes up shop too and no more families and children are hurt by[…]

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In case anyone was wondering why people acted surprised that Doug Phillips’ affair was with a woman, it’s because he posts photos on his blog like the one above. I was poking around on his blog yesterday because, to be quite honest, I’d never much paid attention to Vision Forum other than to be creeped out by their catalog. When I came across the photo above, I had to do a double take because it looks so much like the sort of candid (but not really) wedding photos that everybody has, where the one spouse is gazing thoughtfully while the other spouse looks on, beaming. So nope, that’s not a tastefully understated portrait from a same-sex wedding, it’s just Doug Phillips with his “bosom friend” Peter Bradrick (and yes, he used that term to refer to Bradrick in another post, dude reads too many Victorian novels or something).  And I thought everybody was just going for the easy joke when I saw all of the “WITH A WOMAN?!” tweets. Oh well, I guess it’s kind of sweet in a way that Mr. Patriarchal Masculinity himself, Doug Phillips, has that kind of close, platonic male friends. It’s not the kind of thing you’re used to seeing though. 

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Doug Phillips confesses affair, resigns from Vision Forum, questions still remain

Yesterday Doug Phillips, one of the major names in the conservative homeschooling world and the quiverfull movement, announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries and the cancellation of all speaking engagements. With this, he joins a long list of Evangelical leaders who have engaged in inappropriate extramarital relationships and had to leave their ministries in disgrace. I can’t say that I’m surprised, there’s a reason I start wondering when the scandal is going to hit when we’re talking about people who spend as much time lecturing on women’s and girls’ modesty as Phillips did. This seems to be yet another example of a leader preaching against something as a way to build a fence around his own temptation. I feel for his wife and children, and I feel for the woman because while it takes two to tango, in this world the other woman often gets the brunt of the judgment and blame.  What is not clear is whether Phillips’ resignation is solely from Vision Forum Ministries, the non-profit arm of Vision Forum, or if it is from the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. as well. Phillips’ statement of resignation was only posted on the Vision Forum Ministries site. Business is as usual at the for-profit VisionForum.com site, with no indication of Phillips’ resignation. The latest post on Phillips’ blog is an advertisement for a Vision Forum sale, dated today. Not only that, there is no mention either in the statement or on Phillips’ church website about him stepping down from leadership at the church.  As contrite as Phillips’ statement appears to be on the surface, the fact that it’s still business as usual on the for-profit side of his organization makes me wonder whether this is really just damage control to try to get ahead of a bigger scandal. Did[…]

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Kevin Swanson and the “Homeschool Apostates”

Guys, guys, my favorite wingnut is talking about Homeschoolers Anonymous! He doesn’t mention HA by name, because heaven forbid someone go to the website and see what it’s about, but apparently wanting to reform abuses in homeschooling makes us all apostates. Also, somehow doing debate plays into it, though I’m not entirely sure how debate could have made me an apostate given that I’ve never done it. Particularly amusing to me is that I first saw that in Kevin Swanson’s universe I’m some sort of apostate when I got home last night from hanging out with my Bible study group. Anyway, I can’t stop laughing. On a somewhat more serious note, I would like to point out to Kevin Swanson that if his only solution to keep kids from becoming “apostate” is to keep them from learning critical thinking skills through debate, he’s got a problem. You shouldn’t have to shut down your brain and brainwash your children in order to keep them in the faith. If you have to do that to keep your kids from leaving, odds are that you’ve gotten yourself involved in a cult.  I can’t stop laughing long enough to dissect the rest of Kevin Swanson’s podcast, although I should probably try and and contain my laughter since people listen and take him seriously, and that’s quite sad. Libby Anne has a good post about it though. P.S. If you’re going to reference “ihatekevinswanson.com” instead of mentioning Homeschoolers Anonymous by name, it would behoove you to register it yourself before putting your broadcast online. Let’s just say that it’s now been registered by some anonymous individual who is using the domain to help people find the site Swanson refused to mention and leave it at that.

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