More on The Homeschooling Decision

| 21 Comments

I blogged the other day about a North Carolina judge’s decision in a custody case. The case is being portrayed in the press as a religious conflict, in which the judge based his decision to deprive a mother of custody in part on the fact that she was teaching the children creationism. I suggested in my earlier post that the story sounded suspicious to me, largely because all we were given in the reports were quotes from the mother herself. We now have a written decision from the judge and it is clear that the original news story was, indeed, deeply misleading.

21 Comments

Wow. That decision left it pretty clear, based on the sworn testimony of quite a few people, that this woman is in a cult and is creating an extremely unhealthy environment for her children. It was nice to see that a psychological evaluation was ordered.

It’s sad to see this kind of thing happening to kids. The father seems genuinely concerned and loving, based on the testimonies.

I saw on the plaintiff’s blog that Glen Beck had made a mention of this case yesterday. I can only imagine what he said. The press from Fox News is probably all in favor of the mother and all up in arms over religious intolerance. I’ll have to go check that out.

Thanks for the heads up on this story!

Fox news did indeed cover this story, and of course, bent it all out of shape. How dare Thomas Mills suggest that his children were being mentally abused by this Sound Doctrine organization and their mother. Home schooling is a god-given right, even North Carolina passed a something or other affirming that because of this case. From the fox news site there’s a link to a right-wing home school site that really lays into the judge and Thomas Mills - how dare they interfere with Ms. Mills.

I homeschooled for a long while, stopping only when my son decided to go to high school. I did not blog this story because I was pretty sure the issue was the divorce, not homeschooling and not evolution. The actual decision made it clear that there was more to it in terms of the cult, and that is the most likely reason that the divorce is not amicable.

This decision is not at all similar to last spring’s California case. That case was really about child abuse, but the judge made a bad decision that over-reached it.

Glenn Beck did mention the case, but said very little about it as the decision was not available.

The mother is an abusive, controlling, mentally ill, intellectual incompetent, and the children, who are so stressed in her presence that they are physically ill, are still in her control. They will be with her half the time, and she is a lying, vindictive, malicious person. She has a history of punishing her children cruelly and way out of scale; even to emotional abuse to the degree of public humiliation that they will never forget. She has turned their childhood into a time of nightmares that will be haunting shadows to them for the rest of their live. Permanent emotional and psychological scarring is inevitable, unless her claws are pulled out of their wounded souls. She has even taken part in sexual slanders and accusations aimed at her own children, she has aligned herself with the sickest prurience at her daughters’ expense. The leering cult leader should not be near children, and presses mothers to engage in sadism and expresses lurid sexual thoughts about young children. And the judge give the mother joint custody? She has no history of reasonable interaction on matters relating to her children or any aspect of family life since joining the cult–her own parents side with her husband. She sought in the remedies enumerated in her complaint to have the court remove her husband from all but nominal contact, a CYA pose in itself, and no more; she will clearly try to worm and wrest more control of the children in the future, all the while being encouraged to–and acting in compliance with–exhortations to “break” them.…”Break” them clearly means to damage them psychologically so completely that they will be powerless lifelong–and therefore, easily controlled by the cult leaders. “Break” means to HURT them until they are helpless, to render them damaged and without volition for life. That is the cult’s agenda for her children, and she has adopted it with full vigor. The judge is irresponsible. The court is irresponsible. The judge’s decision is stupid, and the children are still in the grip of a monster. She will proceed in her agenda against the court orders, and will do so with impunity; but, if the father acts to protect the children, yet not in concert with the court’s order, he will be subjected to the full penalties of the law. The judge’s decision is toothless and stupid, and irresponsible. I am horrified and appalled. Why do the courts adhere to some mythical–and sexist–concept of a person being a better parent by fact of having a uterus and no other qualification, and give children to abusive mothers? The children should be with the nurturing parent, whether that parent be the father or the mother. Men can be as loving and as nurturing as women can be; women can be as malicious and cruel as men can be. Nowhere does it indicate what the children wish, either. The judge left them in the hands of a person they are terrified of. In what way is that in their best interests? Fear is stress; such intense stress while growing up can not be healthy, either. Their terror is real, because her malice and malignancy are real. Joint custody? And where will it stop? Has the mother suddenly become reasonable and mild? Has she taken the words of her parents and best friends to heart? No. She is lying in public to create a smokescreen, a total falsehood, and an appeal to the paranoia of the fundamentalists around her. Her aim is not an equable interaction with the father. Her aim is to cut the children off from everyone, and control them absolutely. And now that the court has found out about her treatment of the kids, does the court not see that they will be punished? She is going to take it out on them. They have probably expressed their fear of her and their wish to be with the father; rather than taking that as a wake-up call, she will be vengeful.

The kids should be sent to public school immediately, the father should have sole custody, and her visits should be supervised by the presence of her own parents. They love the grandchildren, and their daughter; they don’t have an agenda except the best for the kids. Ooof.

Stupid, irresponsible, thoughtless judge.

Chris, I can only assume that you are writing with very close and long-term personal knowledge of the case. That is, that you are an eye-witness to all the events you speak of, and that you are relating your own direct knowledge of the personalities involved, knowledge gained from lengthy personal interaction with them - years at least, probably decades. You write as if you knew these people from childhood.

Nothing else can account for the degree of fervour with which you write - always assuming that you are not yourself interested in some other way. It is difficult to justify the words if anything you wrote is based on hearsay, or indeed on the evidence of anything else but your own experience, with the proviso that you began as a completely unbiased witness with no agenda.

It is the remark about the irresponsibility of the courts generally, and this court in particular, especially the accusation that a “stupid, irresponsible, thoughtless judge” indulged a baseless popular genderist fantasy about mothers vs fathers, that make me wonder about your motivations. Mind, I am not saying that you are wrong, for I have no knowledge at all, but it gives me reason to ask: what, precisely, is your involvement in this case, and how did you come by it? Is it possible that you are better acquainted with the father than the mother? Are you, by any chance, involved with any advocacy group for single fathers? Or for men generally? Or against the present divorce or custody laws in that State, or generally? Or possibly for an anti-cult group, or a survivor group from that particular sect?

I am not questioning your input, or your bona fides. I am, in the venerable scientific tradition celebrated on this blog, questioning the source of your data.

I started looking into this church and it worries me, but the father may have been involved in a similar church at some point. I cannot verify info on message boards and do not claim they are accurate, but some of these boards date back several years; interesting, but I won’t source them. I looked at the website of this church and I would be concerned if a friend or family member considered joining. One matter is clear, this is not about creationism and does not seem to be about home school. Any organization that supports this mother better have their facts straight as supporting cult indoctrination will not fair well for home school organizations. I will hold off on more comments until I can find better information on this church, but the fact her parents testified against her is very compelling.

While I’m lamenting the fact that I have to prioritize PT low in that I can’t follow or comment as I wish (the horror!), it is easier to catch up when the previous posts are more or less superseded. That said, excuses if this has been mentioned before in the threads:

it comes a lot closer to child abuse

This separates into several parts, as there is the local legal definition of abuse, and the general discussion of what should constitute abuse. The former is appropriate here, but I think it is safe to say that isolation from facts and social isolation within cults are a lot closer to what most people define as abuse than the rather wide Overton window set by Dawkins. (He describes the religious special pleading “that parents have a total and absolute say in what their children are going to be, how their children are going to be raised, what opinions their children are going to have about the cosmos, about life, about existence” as “mental child abuse”. He has a point about the special pleading IMO; I’m not so sure about the abuse, at least as a practical matter.)

That said, there are also basic human rights questions involved. UNHRC draft declaration Universal declaration of human rights states that not only has everyone a right to education but that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

But this is balanced by the direct requirement that said education “shall be directed to the full development of the human personality”, but also indirectly by the rights on social life that everyone has the right “to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. The later could very well be taken as the right to share in scientific knowledge, which means that exclusively religious instruction is precluded by human rights. I assume that is what is meant by “teaching the children creationism”, if it isn’t mere falsely teaching the children that creationism is science instead of religion which AFAIU already is unconstitutional.

I note in Wikipedia that while US opposes the draft and has reneged from working with human rights questions (according to the Human Rights Tribune; neither confirmed nor denied - which of course tells it all), it has declared that “human rights have been a cornerstone of American values since the country’s birth and the United States is committed to support the work of the UN Commission in promoting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Hmm. It should be superfluous, but since it is a blog it is better to add :-\ that implementing basic human rights means that the legal system has to be compliant.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

.…

I assume that is what is meant by “teaching the children creationism”, if it isn’t mere falsely teaching the children that creationism is science instead of religion which AFAIU already is unconstitutional.

.…

I just want to note that while it is illegal for the STATE to teach that “creationism is science”, it is not illegal for individuals (such as parents) or other private parties (such as private schools) to do so. Unfortunately, we do see this all too often. Of course, that is also what we are seeing in this case.

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

I just want to note that while it is illegal for the STATE to teach that “creationism is science”, it is not illegal for individuals (such as parents) or other private parties (such as private schools) to do so.

DELURK

You are likely aware of this, but it is unlawful in many, possibly most, other countries, where private / home schooling must follow state-specified curricula.

A nice factoid to throw back at American Darwin-bashers crying “CENSORSHIP!” Just reply: “No sport, in the US of A you can teach it to your own kids if you like – but you don’t get to teach it on the public dime to everybody else’s kids.” MrG

RELURK

mrg said:

You are likely aware of this, but it is unlawful in many, possibly most, other countries, where private / home schooling must follow state-specified curricula.

A nice factoid to throw back at American Darwin-bashers crying “CENSORSHIP!” Just reply: “No sport, in the US of A you can teach it to your own kids if you like – but you don’t get to teach it on the public dime to everybody else’s kids.” MrG

Actually, I wasn’t aware of that. However, since the discussion was about the constitutionality of whether it can be done in the US, it’s kind of irrelevant.

I do like your retort to creationists. I’ll have to remember that.

Another issue related to the above comment:

It is my impression that “state” mandated educational standards in other countries are usually at the national level, while in the US they are generally at the state level and thus more vulnerable to the activities of the anti-science activists. (If that is incorrect, any and all are welcome to correct me) This would then be an obvious weakness of the US system when compared to other systems.

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

I do like your retort to creationists. I’ll have to remember that.

That was the point. They have rights here they do not have elsewhere … and they complain about the injustice of it all.

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

Another issue related to the above comment:

It is my impression that “state” mandated educational standards in other countries are usually at the national level, while in the US they are generally at the state level and thus more vulnerable to the activities of the anti-science activists. (If that is incorrect, any and all are welcome to correct me) This would then be an obvious weakness of the US system when compared to other systems.

In Canada it is done at the provincial level, although several provinces may get together and produce a common curriculum. The curriculum design is done by professional educators nominated by school principals, professional associations, universities and so on. As far as I can tell, there is no direct involvement by elected people.

Chris Wrote:

Stupid, irresponsible, thoughtless judge.

I see why you’d be upset, but I wouldn’t call him thoughtless. The finding in the case clearly indicates that the mother drove herself batshit crazy. But despite this, the court has to bend over backwards to make sure that it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s Constitutionally protected right to teach their kid any religious thing they want no matter how nutty it is.

So in America you can teach your kid any idiotic, bigoted, unscientific, ahistorical, racist thing that you want, as long as it’s on your time and dollar. This is a bad thing and a good thing.

GvlGeologist, FCD said:

I just want to note that while it is illegal for the STATE to teach that “creationism is science”, it is not illegal for individuals (such as parents) or other private parties (such as private schools) to do so.

Uh, duh! Slip of the keyboard, I think. Thanks for the correction.

Fortunately I think it doesn’t affect my argument.

It is the case in my own country, Australia, that private schools (which in any case are partially state-supported on the rationale that the parents of their students pay the same taxes as everyone else) and home-schoolers (which are very rare outside of the far outback) are required to teach a State-approved curriculum, which includes general science up to year 10 and may (and nearly always does) include a specific science to year 12. The latter is generally required for acceptance to a University, and most students take at least one - Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Human Biology. Even “general science” includes a tested general understanding of the theory of evolution.

Any private school or home schooler that neglected this requirement would not be permitted to continue - their licence would be lifted. At least in theory. I don’t doubt that there are rabid creotoons out there who evade it by various shifts.

The judge’s ruling is inadequate. Given his findings of fact, the main problem is that the mother has become unbalanced and is subjecting the children to the harmful influences of her cultish church and has tried to alientate them from their extended family. Sending them to public school will do nothing to shelter them from these influences.

I can understand why my fellow homeschoolers are upset. The ruling has the effect of attacking the one thing that, by the judge’s own admission, is going relatively well for the children.

Dave Luckett Wrote:

Any private school or home schooler that neglected this requirement would not be permitted to continue - their licence would be lifted. At least in theory. I don’t doubt that there are rabid creotoons out there who evade it by various shifts.

Pardon the “broken record” but a major US irony is that the “rabid creotoons” at the DI demand that public schools “teach evolution plus” (the plus being misrepresentation to promote unreasonable doubt) and not teach Biblical creationism, yet are either silent or possibly supportive of homeschooling, which usually avoids evolution and/or teaches Biblical creationism

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