It is no secret that the Duggars are not popular with a lot of mainstream society. Many bristle at their ideas on everything from procreation to courting and lots of the little things in between. However, it is truly interesting to see that a prominent figure in the home-schooling system is publicly denouncing the guiding principles that the Duggars and other ultra-Christian home-schooling families follow. It is heartening to see that someone with the same religious principals says the Duggars are wrong in the way they are teaching their children.
From The Raw Story, we have an article detailing the denouncement of the Duggar’s patriarchal way of life from Michael Farris, a leader in the Christian home-schooling movement. He states that he had been “uncomfortable for years” with the teachings of Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard (the Duggars associate with both of them) but had not spoken out as his organization, the Home School Legal Defense Organization, defends anyone the right to home-school. From a recent newsletter he issued:
”Frankly, we should have spoken up sooner,” Farris wrote. ”How much sooner is hard to say. There is a subtle difference between teaching that we simply disagree with and teaching that is truly dangerous.”
The article goes on to list the offenses of Gothard (suspended from the Institute in Basic Life Principles this year) and Phillips (he resigned from Vision Forum Ministries amid scandal), all having to do with sexual abuse and molestation along with a healthy dose of abusing their authority with the young people they were supposed to be educating. It is filthy and disgusting- I am so glad to hear that someone from their inner circle is finally speaking out:
”With these recent scandals in view, we think it is now time to speak out ”” not about these men’s individual sins, but about their teachings,” Farris wrote. ”Their sins have damaged the lives of their victims, and should be addressed by those with the appropriate legal and spiritual authority in those situations, but their teachings continue to threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement. That is why HSLDA needs to stand up and speak up.”
In his amazing newsletter, Farris also addresses issues at Patrick Henry College, an evangelical college that many former home-school Christians go on to attend, which he also founded:
”As a homeschool leader for 30 years and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, I’ve come in contact with many young people who were raised in patriarchal or legalistic homes,” Farris wrote. ”Almost none of them are following these philosophies today. Some have rejected Christianity altogether. After all, if they were raised with a false idea of God, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when they walk away ”” they are rejecting something other than the God of the Bible. But those who continue in Christianity have, for the most part, rejected the extreme views of their childhood for a more balanced approach.”
I am shocked and thrilled to see him acknowledging the dangers of this ultra-Christian way of living. I think it is very powerful to see someone from within this system admit that it has many pitfalls and that people who are raised that way could shy away from these extreme beliefs as they grow up and experience the outside world. I am curious to see if any of the Duggar children go on to feel this way as they grow up– if any of them will write a “tell all” about what life was like in their incredibly strict and narrow-minded religious household. I think that someone of Farris’ status coming out publicly with these revelations should go a long way toward giving others the confidence to step away and admit that this lifestyle has serious flaws.
He wraps up his letter with the following, which I think sums it up beautifully:
He urged Christian organizations to more carefully evaluate speakers at religious events.
”Teachers who claim that they speak for God on matters of personal opinion should be suspect,” Farris wrote. ”Conference planners need to be very careful about whom they promote as speakers. And I believe it’s wise to carefully evaluate the messages we hear from any speaker.”
BOOM. Mic drop. We should all be suspicious of anyone claiming they “speak for God”. I don’t believe that anyone with good intentions would ever make that claim.