Monday, December 10, 2012

The Homeschool Movement: Reconstructionist Movement, Michael Farris, HSLDA, and Patrick Henry College

Continuing with last article's theme of Reconstructionist ideology as in the homeschool movement, I'd like to give you some history on Michael Farris, one of the key pillars in the homeschool movement.  I cannot say whether Farris would call himself a Reconstructionist, but as I shared in the last post, many times people adopt Reconstructionist ideologybh without even knowing they are a Reconstructionist.  We can see a lot of evidence that he has been influenced by the ideals of Reconstructionist:  full-quiver, teaching children at home, involvement in government, education, etc.

Here is part of his bio from the group he founded in 1983, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) (website):

Michael Farris is the chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He was the founding president of each organization.
Farris is a constitutional appellate litigator who has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of 13 states.


He has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over 30 years and is widely known for his leadership on homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty. 

And this last sentence is important to note:

Mike and Vickie Farris have 10 children and 14 grandchildren.

Michael Farris has the picture-perfect family for the homeschool movement and Reconstructionist ideology.  Because of his key position in the homeschooling movement, it's good to see what has influenced him and observe his actions and how he influences others.  

To remind again what this Reconstructionist ideology looks like, I found the quote below by author David Barton.  Barton is well known in the homeschooling community and his history books have been sold in homeschool catalogs for years.  He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Providence Foundation, a group which promotes Reconstructionist ideas.  (Ok, JA snark:  just now as I have been researching more on this the background of the Providence Foundation, I have found more connections with Reconstructionism on the very curriculum we have used in our home with our children.  These books are still on my shelf.  I want to burn them, but I may have to keep them to use for future blog posts!  This ideology did not come from just leaders in the homeschooling community, they infiltrated into the very curriculum that we use with our children.  I've been brainwashing my own children into this mindset without knowing it.  I thought I was buying decent history curricula for my children and now I see that it was tainted with this agenda.  Un-freaking-believable!!!  This stuff just keeps going and going and going.)  Read what David Barton has to say on this subject of the Reconstructionists:  

"The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's law."

When Christian families decide to educate their children at home, I don't think they realize that these Reconstructionist roots exist in the homeschool movement.   The next quote comes from a very informative article, Reconstruction Theology and Home Education and discusses what a "Reconstructed America" would look like from the mindset of Reconstructionists:

In his excellent 1996 book, With God on Our Side, William Martin used a sampling of the views of several noted Reconstructionists to give a sense of how a Reconstructed America would be: "The federal government would play no role in regulating business, public education, or welfare…[S]ome government would be visible at the level of counties…but citizens would be answerable to church authorities on most matters subject to regulation…income taxes would not exceed ten percent - the biblical tithe - and social security would disappear…[P]ublic schools would be abolished in favor of home-schooling arrangements, and families would operate on a strict patriarchal pattern. The only people permitted to vote would be members of 'biblically correct' churches. Most notably, a theonomic order would make homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, propagation of false doctrine, and incorrigible behavior by disobedient children subject to the death penalty, preferably administered by stoning…a reconstructed America would have little room for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or even non-Reconstructionist Christians. 'The Christian', one Reconstructionist author has asserted, 'must realize that pluralism is a myth…R.J. Rushdoony, also regards pluralism as a heresy, since, in the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions."

So, again,  with this Reconstructionist background, let's take a look at Farris.  He's an ordained pastor, an attorney, very active in legal matters, founded Homeschool Legal Defense Association in 1983:

Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.

Promoting the homeschooling agenda and being active in the legal system are definitely ideals in the Reconstructionist movement.  

You might ask:  Julie Anne, what is your beef?  You homeschool - - don't you appreciate Farris' efforts for the homeschooling community?  Where would homeschoolers be today if HSLDA hadn't helped with lobbying efforts and made sure all 50 states had decent laws ensuring homeschooling freedoms?  Good questions.  I'm glad you asked :)

We found out about HSLDA through a homeschool convention and discovered most of our homeschooling friends belonged to this organization.  Paying a membership fee ($115 p/year) gives homeschooling the peace of mind that should their family ever have any legal entanglements with their local public  government school, HSLDA would be there to help.  They also have helped families in cases where Children's Protective Services and other government "intrusions" may have crossed the lines.  

Included in our HSLDA membership, we received a magazine each month, The Home School Report.  This magazine listed key legal issues involving homeschooling in each state.  They also reported current stories of families with legal issues sometimes involving government intrusion, child custody issues, etc.  We were kept abreast of various laws in states with contact information to make our voices count.  

At one point, this magazine had a tear-out section listing what to do if a government official (police, school official, CPS, etc) came to our door making demands or asking for information.  We were instructed to hang this list in a location (ie, inside a kitchen cupboard) so it would be handy.  In addition to providing important phone numbers, the page included instructions like:  do not allow a government official to come in your house, instructions to advise the official that you are calling your attorney, etc.  I wish I saved a copy now, but it certainly promoted a fear of the government, that the government was not on our side.  The stories in the articles were frightening, including stories of the government's intrusion in private citizen's lives, taking children away from parents, forcing children to go to public government schools (in the homeschooling movement, people don't say "public" school, but "government school" - JA's snark meter is going crazy just typing this).  

HSLDA had a way of convincing homeschooling families that we needed them and their services.  If we did not take advantage of their service, we were risking government intrusion in our lives, worst-case scenarios were described of government officials coming to our home and removing and/or taking custody of our children.  If we did not pay our membership fee each year, we were risking unsurmountable legal fees if we got in trouble with our school district or government.  HSLDA would defend us in court if we needed them.  HSLDA would speak on our behalf.  They would fight to keep laws so we could have the freedom to homeschool. 

Here is a good example of the tone we got from HSLDA.  It is involving a specific case that HSLDA defended.  When you are about to venture into an unknown territory and experienced homeschool leaders present themselves to you in a way that they will help you, make sure you are safe from the evil government who wants to interfere with your right to homeschool, you tend to want to believe them.  Watching a video like the one below can send a fear message that there is something huge going on in the government that may threaten you as you try to teach your children at home.  It makes perfect sense to send in the $100+ membership fee and let them take care of you.  You feel safe in their hands when you write out that check, because you never know when someone will come knocking at your front door.

Did you notice the ominous music in the background?  There was a purpose - it invokes an emotional response.  It is manipulation.  This stuff drives me crazy. They spoke for all homeschoolers.  

But wait . . . do they speak for all homeschoolers?  In 2000, when we were about to move to Oregon, I joined a homeschool e-mail group to get a feel for the homeschooling environment in Oregon.  This homeschool e-mail group was a mixed group with Christians and non-Christians.  On that e-mail group I heard for the first time that HSLDA did not speak on behalf of all homeschoolers.  In fact, a lot of homeschoolers were quite upset that HSLDA presumed to speak on their behalf.  They didn't like the way HSLDA had changed some laws and thought they were interfering with their homeschool freedoms and promoting their own agenda.  Wow!    

This is when I took a closer look and saw that there was some sort of agenda going on.  It was also when I stopped paying our membership fees.  Since canceling our membership, we've had no government intrusion in our life and in fact, we've had no problems whatsoever with the two public school systems with which we have dealt.    (Not to say that there are never legal homeschooling problems, but our experience has been fine.)

While searching around for more info on Farris today, I discovered a new group geared to teens founded by Farris and HSLDA.  Here we go again.  It is a group called Generation Joshua with the intended purpose to equip teens in the political process (if it looks like Reconstructionist agenda, walks like Reconstructionist agenda . . .).  Here is the scoop:

Inspired by Mike Farris’ book The Joshua Generation, Generation Joshua was founded in 2003 by Farris, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) President Mike Smith, and the HSLDA Board of Trustees.
In the book, Farris casts a vision for this next generation to build on the foundation their parents built. 
Generation Joshua is a 501(c)(4) member organization and works with the HSLDA-PAC, an advocacy group. This allows Generation Joshua to conduct non-partisan educational activities while also being able to participate actively in the election process through the HSLDA-PAC. Since it was founded in 2003, Generation Joshua has grown to over 7,500 members and has established over 100 clubs nationwide. 
As the Generation Joshua Program continues to grow, more conservative godly youth get involved in the political system making a real difference in our nation. The future of Generation Joshua will continue to be an exciting journey as the next generation shapes this nation and becomes tomorrow’s leaders.

This group was alive and well during this year's elections.  Here is a promotional video Generation Joshua produced for the occasion:

Ok, that's a brief history of some of Michael Farris' groups, HSLDA and Joshua Generation, including our experience with HSLDA over the years.  Let's now move along to Patrick Henry College which Mike Farris founded in 2000.  Read their mission and vision statements (keeping in mind the Reconstructionist agenda):

The Mission of Patrick Henry College is to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding.  Educating students according to a classical liberal arts curriculum and training them with apprenticeship methodology, the College provides academically excellent baccalaureate level higher education with a biblical worldview.
The Vision of Patrick Henry College is to aid in the transformation of American society by training Christian students to serve God and mankind with a passion for righteousness justice, and mercy, through careers of public service and culture influence. 

We cannot dismiss the fact that Patrick Henry College is strategically located in close proximity to our Nation's capital so students are able to participate in political meetings, hearings, lobbying efforts, meet government officials, etc.  Yes, indeed, not only does Farris personally work within the legal system, he has been raising up homeschool warriors to infiltrate the system.  This fits the agenda to a tee.

Prior to 2000, in the homeschool movement, we heard from top leaders that there are other alternatives to college for our homeschooled students. Colleges were sometimes labeled as evil influences, even conservative Christian institutions, and girls especially should not go to college, but remain at home under the protection of their patriarchal fathers.  But strangely, something happened overnight in 2000.  Somehow, Mike Farris got a free pass and convinced homeschool parents that the new college would be different.  I remember the big build-up of this college even before the groundbreaking.  This was to be the first college that would be specifically tailored for homeschoolers.  Other students would be able to attend, but first priority would be to homeschool students.  He made PHC okay for not only homeschoolers in general, but young ladies as well.  Remember, he comes from the Patriarchal camp where young daughters typically remain at home until their daddies find them appropriate spouses through the courtship process.  I don't know how Mike and patriarchal homeschool daddy's wrestled this issue, but there are in fact young ladies who attend this college.   

JA snark:  I guess if you are part of this agenda and God tells you a patriarchal daddy that his daughter might be a special daughter who can infiltrate the government for God's glory, then daddies are able to cut the cord and let those special daughters do their good works.  But . . . what happens if those young ladies find a young man without their daddy around?  Who will oversee her while she is away at college?  Who will make sure the relationship meets daddy's criteria?  

Stay tuned for the next post on what originally got me worked up and what led to this series on Reconstructionism.  


  1. Julie Anne...this is one of the things that drives me nuts about Washington, D.C. I'm living in ground zero for the culture wars. I noticed this when I came here...

    That's why schools like Patrick Henry freak me out. We basically have a Taliban Madrassa on the Virginia/Maryland border cranking out people to wage war here in DC. BTW...I've driven by Patrick Henry a lot. I'm a train nerd and I go up to Brunswick, MD to watch CSX from time to time on the mainline.

    But I've always wanted to wonder in their bookstore and see what was being promoted. Or look in their library and see what they have or what they are censoring.

    1. Eagle - Go in their book store and take pics for me :) I want to see, too!

      The next story I have on Michael Farris involves censoring at PHC. I think you've got them pegged.

  2. Yup. We knew a young lady who went to Patrick Henry...a former neighbor and one-time babysitter for our kids. She was very intelligent and politically active even as a teen. She went off to PHC at 18, graduated, came back home, took care of (and helped homeschool) younger siblings (don'tcha know)for a couple of years, and now living with and "caring for" grandma in a large metro area, still single, etc. With her patriarchal family background, I often wonder what will become of her, ultimately. I believe at least 2 of her brothers went there as well. Rest assured they are not home taking care of grandma. ;-)

    1. It's so sad. And yet when people speak out against this nonsense, we get labeled with "feminist agenda". I love how it's the patriarchs deciding how women get to live their lives. Can you imagine the outrage if a woman told a guy how to live? Keep those little women quiet, barefoot, and popping babies out.

    2. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 10, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      And homeschool all those babies with Approved Correct Lessons so they can never encounter anything outside The Party Line.

      Sound anything like a couple infamous political cults of the last century?

    3. Which political cults are you referring to, HUG?

    4. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM

      The Big Two of the 20th: Communism and National Socialism. Both had extensive youth group indoctrination -- Hitlerjugend, Young Pioneers, Komsomol -- in isolation from any outward ideas. Result: Totally on-fire for the Party Line young adults.

      The Jihadis are doing the same thing; it was the "students" who formed the rank-and-file of the Iranian Revolution that put the Ayatollahs in power by Divine Right, and current Jihadis appeal to idealist young adults to come out of their parents' lukewarm Islam to become On Fire for the True Faith.

  3. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 10, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's law."

    Like the Theocratic Republic of Gilead?

    In his excellent 1996 book, With God on Our Side, William Martin used a sampling of the views of several noted Reconstructionists to give a sense of how a Reconstructed America would be...

    There already is a sense of it, at least from the POV of those on the bottom of the Godly heap:

    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

    (Unlike what I had thought, Atwood did not base her future dystopia on Iran under the Ayatollahs, though there are a lot of common elements. Apparently the idea for the book came from a visit to a Comp/Patrio church somewhere in the Former Confederate States.

  4. PHC's library can be accessed here:

    I studied history in college and looking at their Course Reserves, the college does heavily emphasize the U.S./Western-view of history. Their historiography (the philosophy or history of history) course has two books for required reading asking about God's role in actively shaping history. I went to a Baptist-affiliated college and it taught history as a science. If you believed that history was actively shaped by God, that was fine, but that was not emphasized in the classroom. I would have to dig deeper to see any other red flags.

    Their bookstore website can be found here:

    The bookstore actually has books by atheist Richard Dawkins. Maybe there's a movement to change things at PHC?

    1. Thanks for that information, Ripberger. I'll have to take a look.

  5. That music was ridiculous, like out of some epic fantasy movie about rings and mountains of fire... I do disagree with you on one thing: my family spent almost 25 years in the homeschooling world and I never heard the term "government schools" until I started reading it on blogs like this one recently. Perhaps we just weren't quite legalistic enough? I don't know. Maybe it's regional. We were definitely part of HSLDA though!

    Aaaaaaand...I always hated that "don't go to college" mentality. It sickens me to think of kids trapped in the legalistic side of homeschooling being carried further along into it once they reach adulthood because of places like PHC (though in some respects I think the whole "let's homeschool you through college" thing some of my uber conservative friends did is worse. At least at PHC they're experiencing people other than family members.)

    1. I'm trying to think of where I first heard "government schools". I tweaked me wrong the first time I heard it. I'm sure it was in patriarchal circles, but I'm going to try to see if I can pinpoint where I heard it. We lived in ME, VA, GA, and OR and I can't remember where it wasn't said.

      25 years - wow! How long were you a part of HSLDA?

  6. Just think, for 10 years I've been risking my ability to homeschool because I have never joined HSLDA. I never leave my house because someone may see my kids with me and ask me why they aren't in school and call the cops on me. Better yet, they may think that my kids are truant and I'll have a truant officer at my door. *Sarcasm alert!*

    While I think the basic premise of this group is good, I do believe they use fear tactics to solicit money. However, Oregon is a very easy-going state to homeschool in. I don't know if I would join HSLDA if I live in a state that made it difficult to homeschool.

    1. Kathi - You just seem to have much more common sense than I had. Good for you!

  7. I think it's strange that you're making Patrick Henry College the patriarchal enemy. Actually, the professors there are awesome and teach a well-rounded understanding of the classics, socratic dialogue and how to think. Practically all PHCers come out of that college way less patriarchal and indoctrinated than they came in. Not perfect. But definitely progress from where they started.

    1. I'm glad to hear your experience. My point of referencing PHC has to do with the Reconstructionist focus- emphasis on making an impact in the world politically.

    2. Anonymous - I'm going to add a little bit more to my comment because my phone was giving me issues earlier. I know a graduate from PHC and he is a great guy. His family was never into patriarchy and I can't imagine him heading that direction. He has always been involved in politics (on his own initiative) and so PHC was the perfect fit for him. Please keep in mind I am referring to characteristics that I see of Reconstructionism influencing homeschooling movement. Patrick Henry College does fit this model with their vision of getting students active in politics and legal system.

  8. So far, all of this seems really scary. Julie Anne, did you AND your husband "buy into" this? Would you say that your husband and your household was at one time patriarchal? I was just curious because it sounds like you have been set free from definite spiritual abuse if so. I think that is why I get so mad now when I see people "buying into" the message of spiritually abusive pastors at my old church. But, I can't really blame them...I did for two years. Weird hidden messages that don't really surface unless you start researching a little. :-(

    1. Tammy, we bought into bits and pieces of it, not the full-meal deal, thankfully. But those bits and pieces were contributing factors which led us to feel somewhat comfortable at BGBC.

  9. Sheesh. Who did the video effects for that Generation Joshua clip? They almost made me seasick. :P

    And what's Ferris' problem with "U.N. treaties"? Is he afraid the U.S. will be forced to not discriminate against women, homosexuals and folk of other faiths? Or what?

    Note to Mike Ferris: Quoting John Adams doesn't give you any of his credibility.

    1. Headless Unicorn GuyDecember 11, 2012 at 9:04 AM

      To Trekkies, the U.N. is what is going to become (trumpet flourish) The Federation!

      To Christianese Conspiracy Crackheads, the U.N. is what's going to become the Antichrist's One World Government. That's why they have a lot of problems with anything "U.N."

      The UN is basically a mutual admiration society for Third World dictators and a place to throw a temper tantrum against the First World with full diplomatic immunity. And for major powers to try to one-up each other. It only gains power over a country when that country lets it do so. And we've had a lot of Baby Boomers with white man's guilt letting them do so. The opposition, from Birchers to End Time Christians, is mostly a reaction to that.

  10. Hi, thank you for your honesty and courage to speak up! We homeschool and I joke I got into it kicking & screaming as it wasn't my plan for myself or my kids. However, I love it (most days!)! Anyway, I was concerned when reading about the history curricula. Would you be willing to share which you use? Or, maybe it would be easier if I just told you we use My Father's World and Sonlight. Are in either of these two where you found the Reconstructionism? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Jill. I have not used Father's World. I have used Sonlight catalog to select reading books for my children, though. I think you are probably safe with Sonlight. The nice thing about Sonlight is they are read alouds, so you will be able to see for yourself what the agenda is. My all-time favorite history curricula is History Makers (former TRISMS). The kids read biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction to understand the times/settings, research explorers, inventions, inventors, and scientists from the beginning of time to now. It is not religiously based, but you can add stuff to it. It is geared to middle school. I take liberties to modify things to fit each student.

    2. I think you meant History's Masterminds? TRISMS worked in Google, but I was brought to a different website for History Makers.

    3. Jill - Wow, they changed their name again, you're right, that is what it is called now. I'm pretty sure I have 2 copies of "History Makers" on my shelf. I'm too lazy to go upstairs to confirm that old name (which doesn't really matter now that they have a new name), but this is the website:

  11. Thanks . . . my eldest is in 6th grade now, so I will look into History Makers as I'm setting up next year's curriculum now. We are huge into the bios, autobios, historical fiction etc and tying it together with a spine.

    1. My older kids really loved the fictional books - I like it because as they are reading those books, they really get a feel for the time, what the civilization was like, what they had to work with (inventions), the hardships, etc. It really makes sense with the timeline and learning about what was going on all over the world as time progressed: inventions build upon inventions, scientists learn from earlier scientists. It's much better than my traditional schooling of memorizing names/dates with little understanding of what was really going on in the world.


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