Coming Soon: Popped Culture – Breaking the Homeschool Bubble

I’ve decided to start a periodic blog series on pop culture for sheltered homeschoolers and other people who grew up under a fundamentalist rock. It’s going to be an ongoing feature where I cover parts of pop culture that a lot of people who grew up in American fundamentalism missed out on. I’ll put up my first installment in a day or so, but until then, I’d like to hear from you about what areas of pop culture you would like to see me write about. Reblog or inbox me to give your ideas or suggestions. I’m looking for guest bloggers too, so if there’s an area of pop culture that you’d love to break down for readers who missed out completely, let me know. I could definitely use some guest posts about cartoons from the ‘90s and ‘00s because that was past my time. One of the things I’m wanting to do with this feature is to contextualize modern pop culture with its earlier pop culture roots. I’m also planning to put earlier stuff into the historical context to give an idea of how people at the time would have experienced it. I’m super excited about this project and I hope you will be too.

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A Recipe for Disaster

Sophie Anna Platt wrote the following piece in response to Jim Bob Duggar’s quote from Wednesday’s interview on The Kelly File. Sophie is a homeschool alumna who grew up in a conservative Christian homeschooling family with many of the same teachings as the Duggars. She’s given me permission to republish her thoughts here. (Also by Sophie: Which one of you have we wronged?) 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. 3 cups of girl’s bodies don’t belong to themselves It pairs well with the previous ingredient, but it adds some thoughts. Most notably are the ideas that a woman has to have sex with her husband anytime he wants to. Even as a daughter she must not leave the house without her father’s permission (even if she is an adult).[…]

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3 Things about Caitlyn Jenner that need to stop showing up in my Facebook newsfeed

These themes keep showing up in my Facebook newsfeed, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is getting more than a little tired of it.  1) Any variation of over-spiritualized “love the sinner” rhetoric.  Apart from the fact that you’ve declared someone who is a professing Christian is a hell-bound sinner, something that is not your place to decide, your patronization is only marginally less offensive than if you were throwing slurs Jenner’s way. You’ve essentially declared someone a lesser being worthy of your pity as if they’re a sick animal, rather than an equal created in God’s image just like you are.  Furthermore, you’ve demonstrated that you don’t understand either hermeneutics or the history and culture of the ancient near east. Born eunuchs. Educate yourself on what Jesus was talking about.  Also, congratulations, you’ve managed to prove yourself significantly less informed on gender identity than the government of Iran, hardly the measuring stick on human rights. 2) Any variation of “Person X is the real hero.“  Heroics is not a zero sum game. More than one person can be a hero and there are any number of areas where someone can be heroic. So Caitlyn Jenner isn’t particularly inspiring to you, who cares? Last I checked there isn’t a single arbiter of who is or isn’t a hero and if there was, I’m pretty sure you aren’t it. 3) Any comparison to Josh Duggar or the Duggar tragedy.  Josh Duggar is a child molester. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar committed felonies by covering up Josh’s crimes. Caitlyn Jenner is an Olympic athlete whose body didn’t match her gender identity. See the difference? If you group them together as "people I feel sympathy for,” or “people I want to extend grace towards,” you’re implying that Caitlyn Jenner[…]

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The Duggar interview and the need for homeschool oversight

Sibling sexual abuse is not some normal thing that happens in families. Not letting your children play hide and seek lest your teenage son molest his sisters again isn’t normal. A teenage boy repeatedly molesting his young sisters, including one still in the preschool years, isn’t just a thing that most families deal with. Unless you’re Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their friends, that is. Every single one of the Duggar kids, Josh included, deserved better than what they got from their parents and their church and homeschool community. If a teenager starts acting out sexually towards their younger siblings, something is wrong. When the sexual assaults continue after the offending sibling is caught and disciplined, something is seriously wrong. Josh needed help and he never got it. The girls needed to be protected and instead they had to grow up in a home with their abuser, never getting counseling from a licensed therapist. All because the Duggars and their community thought it was no big deal. While Jim Bob and Michelle may think that by describing it as something that happened in a lot of friends’ families, they’ve successfully downplayed the gravity of the situation, what they’re really doing is describing an epidemic of sexual abuse in their church and homeschool circles. Rather than following the law and reporting the sexual assaults to the relevant authorities, all of these parents seem to have simply reassured each other that it’s normal and carried on their merry way as if it were only slightly more serious than a sibling squabble. As this story has unfolded, I’ve become increasingly horrified by the number of people within the Christian and homeschool communities who have expressed similar sentiments to the ones Jim Bob and Michelle expressed in their Fox interview. This should be[…]

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I Don’t Forgive Josh Duggar

Posts keep showing up in my Facebook newsfeed saying that as Christians we should forgive Josh Duggar. No. We should not forgive Josh Duggar because we cannot forgive him. Josh Duggar did nothing to any of us. It’s not our place to decide whether to forgive or not because you can’t forgive someone if you’re not the person they wronged. As my friend Darcy points out, forgiveness in the Judeo-Christian tradition was originally centered around the concept of debt being owed to someone. Forgiveness means no longer pursuing the debt that you are rightfully owed. That you’re not going to demand retribution for the wrongs against you. I don’t forgive Josh Duggar because Josh didn’t wrong me, there is no debt he owes me that I can forgive. Only the person who was wronged can offer forgiveness, and it’s not our business to tell a victim that they should forgive. Our job is to support victims and to seek justice. 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. Even if Josh Duggar is truly repentant and this isn’t just damage control to make it all go away, forgiveness by God does not erase earthly punishments and the consequences of one’s actions. Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, but the thief still died that day. Jailhouse conversions don’t mean murderers can walk free. A repentant thief[…]

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

Did you hear about the Kentucky off-the-grid homesteaders who allegedly had their ten children taken away because they were homeschooling? If not, you’ll probably hear about it soon, it’s rapidly going viral. As the outrage machine kicks into high gear, here are seven important things you should know. 1. Homeschooling is legal As with every other state, homeschooling is legal in Kentucky. The only requirements are that parents notify the school board of their intent to homeschool, and that they provide 185 days of instruction in the same subject areas as the local public schools. There are no assessment requirements, no curriculum requirements, no requirements that the children be working near grade level. Parents can meet the subject requirements any way that they see fit—including through unschooling, as Joseph and Nicole Naugler state they were doing. Noncompliance with Kentucky law can result in truancy charges, but CPS doesn’t take children away for noncompliance, and they certainly don’t take children away if the parents are in compliance with Kentucky’s lax homeschool regulations. Remember, child protection proceedings are not open to the public, so we have no way of verifying what the Nauglers are claiming is actually true. Just because they claim the children were taken away because of homeschooling doesn’t mean that’s why the police were called or why CPS got involved. 2. The CPS Complaint Nicole Naugler posted the following photograph of the CPS report in a private Facebook group. As you can see, unlike what the Nauglers are stating publicly, the children were not removed because they were homeschooling—the accusation that the children were not enrolled in school is one small portion of a lengthy complaint. Here’s the clearer version of the photo. Notice that the allegations include the father threatening a neighbor with a weapon, that the property includes[…]

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#MakeHomeschoolSafe

How many times over the course of a year do your children come in contact with a doctor, nurse, teacher, clergy member, or other individual who is designated as a mandatory reporter of child abuse? It’s a fairly regular occurrence, right? If you’re homeschooling, your kids are probably seeing your pastor every week or so, even if they aren’t seeing anyone else who’s a mandatory reporter. Responsible homeschool parents, over the course of teaching their kids and living their lives, are going to bring their kids into contact with mandatory reporters on a regular basis. Kids who are in public or private schools are in contact with mandatory reporters five days a week, if not more. It takes a concerted effort to keep your children out of contact with any mandatory reporters.  The kind of concerted effort that Michelle Blair made when she withdrew her children from school to hide their abuse from anyone who could have helped them. Stoni Blair and Stephen Berry were found dead in a freezer in their Detroit home last month. Their mother had told everyone she was homeschooling them and their two surviving siblings.  Michigan requires no notification of intent to homeschool, and no contact with anyone who might notice abuse. Stoni and Stephen’s mother took advantage of that lack of oversight with tragic consequences. Whether or not Michelle Blair was a “real” homeschooler doesn’t much matter. What matters is that Michigan’s homeschool laws are so lax that no one had any way of knowing whether she was teaching her kids or hiding their abuse. You can’t say that she’s not a real homeschooler because under Michigan law, she was. This is why Michigan HB 4498 is necessary. So that no more Stonis and Stephens fall through the cracks. The bill requires nothing that[…]

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When HSLDA went to the Kremlin

On September 10th and 11th of 2014, leaders of various right wing family organizations from around the world gathered at the Kremlin for what was to have been the “World Congress of Families VIII – the Moscow Congress.” The conference was a “pro-family” event that blended a mix of quiverfull, homeschooling, anti-abortion, and anti-LGBTQ organizations together. Facing press questions on the wisdom of holding an event in Moscow after the Russian annexation of Crimea, as well as Concerned Women for America’s decision to withdraw lest they, “appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin,” the World Congress of Families canceled the event in March. Or rather, they officially canceled it, as the meeting went forward under the auspices of the local sponsors, with several World Congress of Families leaders acting as organizers in an officially unofficial capacity. The International Forum: Large Family and Future of Humanity opened with the reading of a personal greeting from Vladimir Putin praising the conference. As documented by BuzzFeed, the conference was funded by a number of close Putin allies. Both Michael Farris and Michael Donnelly of HSLDA were originally slated to speak, and until now it was believed that HSLDA was one of the organizations that had pulled out of the convention because of the Crimea situation. It turns out that’s not what happened. Other than a single reference in an article about the German Wunderlich family that Michael Donnelly, “was in Germany on his way to an international family forum in Moscow, Russia,” HSLDA has made no mention of the Kremlin conference. I have now been able to document that Michael Donnelly was not only in attendance at the forum, but that he participated as a speaker. I suspect that given how difficult it was to track down evidence that an HSLDA[…]

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