A Series of Unfortunate Events

The mistakes that lead me to the Episcopal Church were divine intervention. I was lead there through A Series of Unfortunate Events, to steal Lemony Snicket’s book title. The first mistake I made was doing a special communications thesis as one of my undergrad courses. I loved the course and I chose to do my thesis on worship styles and correlated them with learning styles. I began to be dissatisfied with the worship at my large evangelical church, because I started to realized I craved more, I wanted to pray together, not just one person praying for everyone else. I longed for the Eucharist more often than once a quarter, and I wanted to recite creeds and corporately confess sins in community with other Christians. I wanted to observe Lent and I did on my own as best that I could, but the people who knew mocked me about it. The class wasn’t really a mistake but it made me discontent.

The next mistake was cursing out the priest of an Episcopal Church in Louisiana which six months later would become my church. After that I bought the Book of Common Prayer off Amazon, thinking it was a book of prayers that I could use in family altar, and it was but not the kind I expected. I wasn’t expecting a service manual for the Episcopal Church I was expecting just prayers. But before I got off my lazy ass to return the book, I flipped through it and saw how beautiful the liturgies were. I longed to try a liturgical church and until now had thought of liturgical churches as Catholic, now I was being introduced, via the Book of Common Prayer, to the Episcopal Church, and I remembered the priest I cursed out that his church was Episcopalian.

The major mistake was that during this whole six months of craving the liturgy and Eucharist, I was experimenting with witchcraft because I was looking for structure and ritual but didn’t realize that at the time. I was still Christian and I was still seeking God, I was just seeking God within the context of witchcraft. I did some basic magic and used crystals and herbs and centering. But God was calling me back and I realized that witchcraft wasn’t the answer I was seeking, but that parts of it were showing me the kinds of things I was seeking such as the ritual and the centering and that I could find that within a Christian context in the Episcopal Church.

Sunday (the feast of Christ the King) will be a year now since I knelt in front of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and was confirmed into the Episcopal Church. It was a huge deal for me because I’m so thankful for the Episcopal Church and the home I have found there.


FREE Sneak Preview of “Contemporary Catholicity: Three People Find an Ancient Faith in a Modern World”.

This is a free preview of part of the introduction to my new book: “Contemporary Catholicity: Three People Find an Ancient Faith in a Modern World”. This is a short book but it carries a big punch.

“When I first met my priest, I told him to fuck off and mind his own damn business. It wasn’t really one of my good days and it’s certainly not how I recommend meeting someone. He had shown up in the wrong place at the wrong time when I was angry at someone else. God has a sense of humor though I suppose because six months later that same priest would become my priest. Obviously I wasn’t a prize choice for a new church member and he knew it. My priest was very gracious to me.

That day was my first brush with anything Episcopalian; it was that day that I actually noticed that the church was across the street from my ex-husband’s house. It wasn’t long after that that I ordered The Book of Common Prayer off of Amazon, thinking that it was a book with prayers in it, not knowing it was a service manual for the Episcopal Church. When I received it in the mail, I was disappointed it wasn’t what I thought it was, and I put it aside to return because I wasn’t interested in it. Before I actually got off my lazy butt to return it, I flipped through it some more and realized how beautiful it was, and that’s how my exploration into liturgy began.

We all come to God differently. Growing up I was taught there was only one way to God but now I know that’s not really true. Just as each of us is a unique creation, our journeys are unique. This books talks about three historic Christian paths, three different travelers, all journeying to the same destination via different routes: Anglicanism (Episcopalian), Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The main part of the book will be from my perspective and as such Episcopal in content, however Lydia and Louis’ stories are woven into mine at some point because we all began this journey around the same time and all converted around the same time.

Lydia, Louis and I all began to be dissatisfied with what evangelical Christianity here in America had to offer, and so we began to seek a more ancient path. Intellectually and instinctually we knew there was something more than what evangelicalism had to offer us. We didn’t want a cutesy sanitized religion, we wanted faith. We all began to crave the liturgy which is one of the things that brought us all to our respective paths.

The interesting thing is that we all confirmed our own individual paths all around the same time. I was confirmed Episcopalian in November of 2015, Lydia was chrismated Orthodox in November 2015, and Louis returned to the Catholic Church in October of 2015. Louis and Lydia’s journeys have intersected with mine which is why I have combined all of our stories into the one book. Lydia began her path to Orthodoxy right around the same time I started desiring the liturgy, which I found in the Episcopal Church.

I came to the Episcopal Church because of a mistake. I’ve come to a lot of good things in life through mistakes. I also came through another mistake, the mistake of practicing witchcraft for a few months, and of course the mistake of cursing out the priest who to his credit didn’t try to lecture me or calm me down he simply put up his hands in surrender and backed off.

One day, a woman named Sara Miles walked into an Episcopal Church out of curiosity and certainly not out of any desire to become a Christian. She was after all a reporter, this would be one more interesting thing to add to her list of experiences. Except that what Miles experienced that day changed her life forever. She took communion that day although as an unbeliever she had no real reason to do so. But once she took of the bread and the wine, she realized she had consumed Jesus and her life was changed (Miles, 2007, p. xiii and pp. 57-60).

I was baptized (the first time) when I was ten and at the time I didn’t understand that it was a sacrament and that I became a Christian that day, so I suppose I became a Christian quite by accident. My church believed that baptism was something a person did after believing; as a public declaration of faith, rather than conversion itself. It would be twenty years before I understood what happened to me the day I was baptized, and I got baptized another two times in between. My first experience with communion in the Episcopal Church was similar to Sara Miles’ experience. When I put the bread and the wine in my mouth, I experienced Jesus.”

I Used to be a Non-Vaxxing Parent

So as controversial as it is, I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t believe there should be “religious exemptions” from getting your kids vaccinated, because getting them vaccinated is so important and it’s a public health issue. I used to be a non-vaxxing parent. My kids didn’t get their shots because I was in a church that taught that getting your kid shots was the same as practicing witchcraft. I wrote articles against vaxxing, which were all based on some research I supposedly did in eighth grade homeschool. I thought that shots had aborted babies in them and abortion was murder, etc.

Therefore, the line of thinking went, to put cells from other people’s murdered children into my children was witchcraft. Not to mention the murdered children, ya know. When it comes to abortion, I was lucky. I almost had to decide whether to have one or not when I ended up with a tubal pregnancy, but thankfully for me (because I was still in the fundamentalist church that believed it was wrong), my pregnancy terminated itself. I know in the end I would have had the abortion in order to save my own life and I would have lived with major guilt because of the religious environment I was in.

I never had to make that decision and so it would be easy to sit and judge other women who aren’t so lucky. I don’t understand all the moral panic about abortion. If women had better access to birth control, they might not need to have an abortion. These days, I don’t like abortion, but to say it’s murder is cruel to the women who have to make that decision. Women who have abortions aren’t cold-blooded killers; they’re just trying to get out of a bad situation.

But apart from that, I don’t believe that vaccines contain aborted babies anymore. Vaccines have been scientifically proven to have eradicated many diseases that will come back if we don’t continue to vaccinate our children. My children now are thankfully fully vaccinated, but it took time. As for vaccines causing autism, that has been scientifically debunked too. My children were all diagnosed with autism before they ever had their first shots. Just because autism starts to show up around the same time certain vaccines are given doesn’t mean that the vaccines caused the autism.

I’ve heard all the arguments. I’ve argued all the arguments, and I firmly believe that vaccines are part of basic care for children. We are so fortunate to live in a country that is rich enough where it can afford to vaccinate the children. I live in a state that doesn’t have a religious exemption for vaccines so I am thankful that if other children are going to school with mine, that they have been fully immunized except in cases where it would endanger the child. It’s important to take care of our children, and they have a right to basic healthcare regardless of the religious beliefs of their parents.

Blue Whales (School Assignment)

Iconic Blue Whale Research Partnership

JERSEY, UK – Australia today launched an international research partnership in the southern ocean that they hope will help save the blue whales.

Tony Burke, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities said that this research is iconic.

“Our work in trying to preserve and see the numbers build again of blue whales will be so much stronger than it is now simply as a result of the partnership being launched tonight.” Burke said.

The announcement was made at the 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Jersey, UK.

Burke says that this is the first of the research partnerships.

For further information contact: Tony Burke, MP at 02 6277 7640

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.



Grassroots in Education: A History of the Modern Christian Homeschooling Movement in America


The story of the modern homeschooling movement in fundamentalist and evangelical Christian circles, who currently dominate this movement and have done so for more than a quarter of a century now, is a story of manipulation. A lot of the modern homeschooling movement happened because of the “culture wars” which started to emerge in the 1920’s. In fact the whole premise of this paper is that the main reason the modern homeschooling movement is as strong and popular as it is currently is because the religious right wanted to gain political and cultural influence in order to “take back America for Christ” and turn the USA into a Christian country. The religious right want to force the American people to live by their ideals and their morals by changing laws in America.

This paper focuses on the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian homeschoolers because 85% – 90% of homeschoolers are fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. (Gaither 2009, p. 341) When the modern homeschooling movement first started there were roughly 10,000-15,000 children who were homeschooled in the USA, but by the mid-80’s the professional estimates are at somewhere between 120,000 and 240,000 (Gaither 2009, p. 341) and now that number is even higher at 1.35 million children in the United States are now homeschooled, (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 110) with the majority of these being fundamentalist or evangelical Christians.

The modern homeschooling movement started as a grassroots effort in the 1970’s on the part of secular educational reformers who believed that an institutionalized school setting was not conducive to their children’s education and wanted to educate them through means they considered to be more natural. By the 1980’s, the fundamentalist Christians, the ideological homeschoolers, were beginning to infiltrate the homeschooling movement and by the mid-80’s had completely hijacked the movement from its founders original intentions and had turned it into a political fight against society. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) During the 1970’s the “Christian Right” (fundamentalists and a lot of evangelicals) rose to a position of great political influence. (Dowdy & McNamara 1997, p. 162).

Educational History in the USA

Emergence of the Public School System in America

The public school system in America originally emerged as a protestant religious initiative in the 1830’s and was established by the religious fundamentalists such as the Calvinists, Puritans and the Reformers. (Goldfield et al. 2001, pp. 403 – 404). The Puritans believed that everybody should learn the Bible as well as basic math, reading and writing skills, and they thought that the best way to do this was to develop a public school system. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 403). Klicka (1995, pp. 117-118) claims that the main reasons for wanting the children educated at all were so that children could read the Bible for themselves and if they could read and understand it for themselves then they would obey it. The main goals of the original public school movement were literacy (but only as it pertained to learning to read and obey the Scriptures) and vocational training (which was really either household work, the trade of the child’s parents, or an apprenticeship in another trade). Although colleges have existed in some form in the USA since the 1700’s, the goals of the Colonists did not usually include a college education for their children. (Klicka 1995, pp. 117-118). However the public school system was very loose and unregimented until the 19th century.

The public school system was overhauled and reshaped between 1880 and 1920. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 681). The 1920’s were the start of what has been dubbed the “culture wars” (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 777). It was during this time of public school reform that things such as compulsory attendance laws came about, and when kindergarten was started and age appropriate segregated classes were formed. The public schools began to hire professional teachers, and the schools provided students with vocational training. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 681).

Although it was fundamentalist Christians who began the public schooling movement, they abandoned it in droves during the 1980’s in order to home school. Secular educational reformers started the modern homeschooling movement which was soon taken over by the Christian fundamentalists and while secular people homeschool, it is not to the same magnitude as the Christian fundamentalists. There are also many Christian fundamentalists who place their children in public schools too but there are many more who home school.

The Modern Homeschooling Movement

When the modern homeschool movement began, it was actually lead by secular educational reformers in the 1970’s (Coleman 2010, unpub.) who believed that schools damage children. The two secular leaders of the modern homeschool movement were John Holt and Raymond Moore. (Gaither 2009, p. 339) In the 1980’s Christian fundamentalists began to join the homeschool movement in large numbers, but for different reasons than the secular crowd. Coleman (2010 unpub.) refers to the secular educational reformers as “Pedagogues” and the religious crowd as “Ideologues”, because some homeschooled for pedagogical reasons and some for ideological reasons. During the 1980’s the Pedagogue crowd and the Ideologue crowd worked together with common goals such as making homeschooling legal in all 50 states of America. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) By the early 1990’s, homeschooling was legal in all 50 states even for parents with no teaching certifications. It was at this time that the Ideologues split off completely from the Pedagogue crowd having completed their goals of making homeschooling legal. The split had been inevitable and had been in progress since about 1985. (Gaither 2009, p. 340)

The Pedagogues simply wanted their children to be able to learn in a natural environment rather than be in institutionalized schooling, because they believed that natural learning was better for their children. Their primary motive was that their children be well-educated. Whereas the primary motive of the Ideologues was to religiously indoctrinate their children in Christian fundamentalism. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) In fact, most religiously motivated homeschoolers believe that they are fighting a culture war and that they must keep their children from being influenced by society, which they usually call “the world”.  The culture wars are very important to fundamentalist Christians, and they believe that they are raising children in order to “take back America for Christ”. (Coleman 2010, unpub.)

Culture Wars

The culture wars in the USA emerged in the 1920’s and they continue until this day. (Goldfield et al. 2001. p. 777). The USA had gone through many social changes and people were reacting to the changes.

The Main Issues

The main issues in the 1920’s were 1) a new morality promoting greater personal freedom which those who were against this thought would take away pre-existing morality. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 2). The teaching of evolution was being promoted as progress in science but there were people who believed this to be a threat to their religious beliefs and freedoms. In fact one of the major players in the culture wars was the famous “Scopes Trial”. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 3). Jazz music emerged and was met by enthusiasts as something that was important to culture and modern. There were those who opposed this however due to the beat and style of the music. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778).  4). Immigration was a major issue in the 1920’s, some wanted greater diversity and to allow immigrants from all different places, but many saw this as a threat to their white privilege. They argued that it was important to block certain kinds of immigrants due to the fact that they wanted to maintain the rights and interests of white, protestant, males. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 5). Prohibition was a name given to a policy that outlawed liquor. Those who were in favour of the prohibition argued that by prohibiting alcohol, families were stronger, crime rates were lower, and society was more stable. Those who were against the prohibition claimed that people needed to be allowed to make their own choices about their own lives without the government interfering. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 6). Religious fundamentalism was also a large part of the culture wars, and is also one of the main focuses of this paper. Christian fundamentalists wanted to observe what they considered to be traditional Christian beliefs based on the Bible. However many people saw the Christian fundamentalists as intolerant and dogmatic, and saw them as a hindrance to social and political progress. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 7). Racism was still an issue at this time and the Ku Klux Klan emerged claiming to be an organization that promoted admirable values such as community responsibility, patriotism, and traditional values in society. Those who opposed the Ku Klux Klan saw them as a group of bigoted racists who resorted to violence to try to force their values on society. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 8). Popular culture also began its rise during the 1920’s and many thought that it provided them with great entertainment and was something that helped them to relax, but many also saw it as something that posed a threat by convincing people to conform to the ideals of the artists or authors of popular culture. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 778). 9). The consumerism mindset was also coming about in the 1920’s, and this caused people to have a higher standard of living and they were able to own more things. However those against this mindset saw it as selfishness and also as wasteful.

Some of the main issues in the culture wars in the USA remain the same to this day. Religious fundamentalism, as this paper shows, is still a major player. Goldfield et. al. claim that the main contender of the culture wars today is women’s rights. (Goldfield et al. 2001, p. 781). The modern homeschooling movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists, who for the most part are against women’s rights. The fundamentalists also kicked back against the supreme court decisions to outlaw organized school prayer and Bible reading. This remains a large “culture war” value to the Christian fundamentalists today. (Gaither 2009, p. 338). The other main contenders are gay rights, abortion, euthanasia and social justice. (Cimino and Lattin 1998, p. 145) The culture wars lead us into the political realm as the fundamentalist homeschoolers believe that they can use their right wing conservative politics to influence and even infiltrate the government and manipulate them into governing America by fundamentalist ideologies and interests. (Coleman 2010, unpub.)

Right Wing Conservative Politics

Christian fundamentalists consider America to be a Christian nation founded by Christians and on Christian principles. The Christian fundamentalists are highly involved in political activism, and their workforce is made up mostly of stay at home wives and mothers. (Gaither 2009, p. 337). Cooper and Sereau state that parents who homeschool are more highly involved in politics than parents of children in public or private schools, and they are involved by voting, contributing money, contacting officials and attending rallies. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 122). They also say that homeschool families are politically savvy and have used an intense political commitment to advocate some real change in society on the issue of homeschooling. These families are very well organized and have lobbied for their rights. (Cooper & Sereau 2007, p. 125)

Coleman (2010, unpub.) claims that the religious fundamentalist homeschoolers are also politically motivated and intend on solving the culture wars through political platforms. She further says that the Christian fundamentalist homeschooling crowd are now a very strong and powerful political force. (Coleman 2010, unpub.) The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which is run by Mike Farris fights for the rights of fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers. These homeschoolers also have their own college to accept homeschooled children called Patrick Henry College.  And many a high school or college aged Christian fundamentalist homeschooled child finds themselves being involved in political activism for the conservative religious right. The religious right also successfully infiltrated the Republican party in the 1980’s and have been strong in their political involvement ever since. (Dowdy & McNamara 1997, p. 168). Cimino and Lattin (1998, p. 137) claim that the religious right is heavily involved in wanting to make America into a Christian nation and therefore push their fundamentalist ideals onto everybody. Many of these fundamentalists are Christian Reconstructionists, a movement which advocates bringing back many of the Old Testament laws and living a life based strictly on the Bible. There are, however, some Christian fundamentalists who do not advocate reconstructionism but rather they fight for “traditional values” or “family values” which is where the culture wars come into the picture. (Cimino & Lattin 1998, p. 137)


The Ideologues see homeschooling as a major way to wage the culture wars and gain political clout, trying to get America to live by traditional white, Protestant, fundamentalist values. These fundamentalists are now unhappy with the public school system that was a Christan fundamentalist initiative in the first place, many homeschool their children in order to teach them their own ideologies. If they can have lots of children and indoctrinate those children well enough into their belief system, they’ll have a new generation to carry out their plan as they will believe the same thing their parents did. If they sent their children to public school their children would be taught a different worldview and would have much less chance of growing up to be a right wing, conservative, Christian fundamentalist.

Although there are plenty of secular families who homeschool, this paper focused on the religious right, the Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, because they make up the bulk of the homeschooling modern homeschooling movement and have certainly had the most influence. These people homeschool in order to wage a “war” on the culture, wanting to change American society into a Christian society based on Biblical values and rules, as interpreted by the religious right and not necessarily by what the Bible actually says.

It is very important for American society that they realize the magnitude of what is going on here. The Christian fundamentalists basically took over an entire movement and rallied their own crusades for homeschooling, so that they can pass these same ideologies on to their children whom they hope will repeat the pattern. Their goal is to infiltrate further into the political arena, in order to fight the culture wars. If Americans want to be sure that they won’t be executed for being homosexual or for having an affair, or live under other such laws, they had best keep a close eye on the actions of the conservative right wing Christian homeschoolers and not underestimate their influence.


Carper, J, & Hunt, T 2007, “Chapter 9: Homeschooling redivivus,” Dissenting tradition in American education pp. 239-264 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Coleman, R.E. 2010, Ideologues, pedagogues, pragmatics: a case study of the homeschool community in Delaware County, Indiana, Masters thesis, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Cimino, R & Lattin, D 1998, Shopping for Faith: American religion in the new millennium, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Cooper, B & Sureau, J 2007, “The politics of homeschooling: new developments, new challenges”, Educational Policy, 21, 1, p. 110-131, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Dowdy, T.E. & McNamara, P.H, 1997 Religion north American style, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Gaither, M 2009, ‘Homeschooling in the USA: past, present and future’, Theory and Research in Education, 7, 3, pp. 331-346, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 August 2011.

Goldfield, Abbott, Anderson, Argersinger, Argersinger, Barney, & Weir 2001, The American journey: a history of the United States, 2nd edition, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Klicka, C.J, 1995 The right choice: the incredible failure of public education and the rising hope of home schooling: an academic historical, practical and legal perspective, Noble publishing associates, Gresham, Oregon.

Jezebel’s Escape


Women Leaving the Christian Patriarchy Movement Behind

I’d been branded with the scarlet letter. They had called me a Jezebel, which is the Christian patriarchy way of calling a woman a whore. The guilt and the shame clung to me like a bad smell, while I tried to figure out what I had done wrong this time. Was it the fact that I had said a string of swear words when my knee buckled beneath me? Was the split in my ankle-length skirt too high? Did someone find out I had secretly gotten the ends of my hair trimmed?

I had been in the bathroom throwing up, miserable with all-day morning sickness, pregnant again just two months after giving birth to my first child. They told me that my sin was that I had given the baby to my husband to take care of at church while I threw up. I was a woman, and I was supposed to take care of the baby all by myself and not to expect his help. After all, he was a man, and as such he had far more important things to do and worry about than taking care of his child.

I had also made the mistake of asking the pastor a question in Sunday school when he had asked if anyone had any questions. He had told me he would not be answering any of my questions because the Bible said that a woman was to be silent in the church and if she wanted to know something, she had to quietly ask her husband at home[1]. I had then asked him what I was supposed to do if my husband didn’t know the answer, to which he had replied that my husband was to come and ask him, and then he would decide if he wanted me to have the answer or not. But to seek knowledge outside of asking my husband was sin, and my husband was to decide what I was allowed to know and what I was not allowed to know.

I was deeply ashamed and frustrated. After all, the other women seemed to recognize their “place” in the world, as subordinate to their husbands, or to their fathers if unmarried. They seemed to take joy and delight in it, while I was miserable. I figured that there had to be something wrong with me, because I was secretly jealous of the women who wore jeans and cute shirts, who could cut and dye their hair into any style they wanted, even if it was short, for the women who got to go to college. I wondered why God gave me a mind that wanted to learn if he had forbidden women going to college. Was I his great cosmic joke? I became convinced that God had created me specifically to mess up my life, to give me desires that I was not allowed to fulfil, just so that he could have something to laugh about.

Finally, when I became pregnant with my fourth child in five years, I realized that I did not have to live like this, and left the Christian patriarchy movement. The fall-out and subsequent detoxing from having been in a cult was hard for me, and so often I thought I was alone. However, as I read more and more on the internet, I met other women who had been brave, risking everything in order to escape the movement. One of the courageous women I met through this was Anne. She says she constantly worried that she wasn’t good enough for God. “I was always told what an awful person I was, and I would cry myself to sleep some nights because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven.” Anne said.

Women in Christian patriarchy are expected to obey a man for their entire lives. If they are not married, they are to obey their father, no matter how old they are. If they have no father, they are to obey their brother or closest male relative. Once they are married, they are to obey their husbands. This is why Anne was still living at home as a grown woman even though she hated it and had so many doubts. When Anne left the Christian patriarchy movement, she lost her entire family, except for a married brother, because they cut her off. Her family believes that she cut them off. “My dad told me that if I moved out, they would cut me off. It was his thought that if I moved out, it would essentially be me cutting myself off from them, because he explained the consequences to me, therefore it would be my fault if I went through with it.” Anne says.

As much as I wish it weren’t so, Anne and I are not the only women that were victims of the Christian patriarchy movement. Sarah left the movement after she got married. She describes her leaving process as a gradual one, although that can probably be said for all the women that have been in the movement and then left. Sarah said that when she wasn’t pregnant within a few weeks of her marriage, that her parents began to harass her about refusing to obey God regarding reproduction. She was expected to get pregnant right away because not using any kind of birth control is part of the Christian patriarchy movement’s beliefs.

This particular belief, that one should leave their family size up to God and not use birth control for any reason, is called “Quiverfull”, which is a name taken from some Bible verses in the Psalms which say: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”[2]

Being brought up in the Christian patriarchy movement was very hard for Sarah. “My childhood diary is full of self-hatred. I literally hated everything about myself. I cut myself from around age 13 – 17 and attempted suicide more than once. In my diary I often mention how much God hates me.” Sarah said. Self-hatred, self-harm, panic attacks, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts and attempts are unfortunately common themes surrounding the women who have left Christian patriarchy behind. Many women require years of therapy and psychiatric medication as a result of being in this movement. Self-esteem is discouraged as pride in Christian patriarchy, so women who have left the movement first need to learn that they are valuable and that they are amazing.

I also met Caitlin, a savvy young grad student, who is going against everything she was ever taught by living with her fiancé before marriage. Caitlin says that she first doubted patriarchy when she was hit with the realization that there were no other paths in life open to her except that of being a wife and a stay at home mother. Since she didn’t have the desire to do either of those things (although she has since changed her mind on becoming a wife), she couldn’t believe that God had created all women exclusively for that role. Caitlin said “the patriarchy movement instils self-doubt in women, teaching them that their own innate sense of fairness, justice and love are false and that rigid hierarchical structures are true.”

One of the consequences of leaving Christian patriarchy has been the breakdown of family ties. Families in this movement have no use for women who refuse to obey the men in their lives instead of being their own independent person. Yet strong and courageous women are deciding that their freedom and their futures are important, and are making their way out of the movement.

The Christian patriarchy movement is alive and well in several conservative Christian denominations, although mostly in the Reformed circles of Christianity.[3] Libby Anne,* another Christian patriarchy movement survivor, believes that Christian patriarchy and conservative right-wing politics go hand in hand. Republican Party presidential candidate in 2008, Mike Huckabee, signed a declaration endorsing wifely submission in 1998.[4] Many of the Republicans have been making sexist statements this election cycle, such as Republican senate nominee Todd Akin who claimed that women who are raped will not get pregnant because their bodies have a way of shutting the whole thing down.[5]

“To people like my father, Christianity and Republican politics go hand in hand. My mother often says that you cannot be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time.” Sarah said. She also said that those in the Christian patriarchy movement as a whole tend to believe that liberals are all angry Atheists who are out to murder babies via abortion, crazy feminists who want to tear down God’s natural order of male headship in the home, take away parental rights to home-school or spank their children, and usher in “godless” socialism.

Caitlin said “I believe that the patriarchy movement and conservative politics have become inextricable. This is unfortunate because conservative ideology is more powerful than patriarchy alone, so taking over conservative political parties is a powerful strategy for patriarchy to spread itself.” Alisa Harris, in her book “Raised Right: How I Untangled my Faith from Politics” says that she had been picketing abortion clinics and Republican political rallies since before she could walk.[6] She describes in this book how politics gave her faith meaning, how she felt that it expressed her faith, and how she had been taught that conservative politics would make America a godly nation. She says that she viewed faith and politics as one and the same.

Anne, Sarah, Caitlin and I are all thankful for the internet, because reading things on the internet was where we all found out that there were women who lived happy, fulfilling lives outside of Christian patriarchy. We wanted that happiness, and so we kept reading, enthralled with the idea that we could do anything that we wanted to. We could go to university, we could have a career, we could join the military, or we could be a mom. Or, we could do a combination of any of those things or more. The internet expanded our world.

Apart from an informational tool, the internet was also a healing tool, as we began to network with each other, and talk and write about our experiences. “One of the biggest healing tools for me has been blogging. Writing about my experiences and reading about the experiences of others like me helped me tremendously,” Sarah said. Anne said that blogging her thoughts also helped a lot, and Caitlin and I have a blogs too where we have worked out what we believe.

We are survivors of the Christian patriarchy movement and all the abuses it bestowed upon us for the simple “crime” of being born female. While some of us are forever labelled as “Jezebels” (after a rebellious queen named Jezebel in the Bible who was thrown out of a window and eaten by dogs because of her rebellion), it’s time that the world knows what we went through, and what thousands of women continue to go through. Many women never realize they have choices, because many are born into the movement.

We were told that we were wicked just because we were born girls, that we were whores and out to seduce men. They made us feel ashamed of our bodies, they made us cover our bodies up in long skirts and baggy shirts, or ugly home-made dresses, and then they blamed us when their own lust got then into trouble. We were told that we were weak, that we were not capable of thinking for ourselves, and therefore we must have a man do our thinking for us, make our decisions for us, and tell us what to do. They told us that we did not need an education because the only thing we were fit to do was to be a “homemaker”.

I and many others were told that our rape was our fault because of what we were wearing, or because we didn’t scream when it happened. We were told that the depression we were suffering with wasn’t a big deal and was just a case of “unrepentant sin” and that if we would stop being so rebellious, we wouldn’t be depressed. Our voices were not heard; nobody cared what we had to say, because we were ‘just’ women.

But after leaving the movement, we learned the truth about who we are. We are valuable, we are precious, and we are loved. We are smart; we are beautiful, our voices matter. Our identity is in ourselves, not in a man or in how many children we have.

The Christian patriarchy movement is alive and well all across America and Australia and around the world. In fact, the Christian patriarchy movement may well be thriving right in your own back yard.

*Not her real name.

[1] 1 Corinthians 14:35

[2] Psalm 127:3-5 King James Version

[3] Kathryn Joyce, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2009), 34.

[4] ibid., 35

[5] McMorris-Santoro, Evan. Republican Senate Nominee: Victims of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant, TPM, August 19, 2012.

[6] Alisa Harris, Raised Right: How I Untangled my Faith from Politics, (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2011), 5

Maybe I’m Still a Little Fundamentalist…


So I’m realizing that maybe I’m still a little fundamentalist in my thinking. I’ve been working hard to figure out what I believe about a whole range of topics because as a fundamentalist I used to know exactly what I believed. But these days I don’t have a list of mandatory beliefs, and sometimes that bothers me. I ask questions of my priest all the time seeking to know what Episcopalians believe about this or that and he usually pisses me off by telling me it’s a big tent and different people believe different things and that has frustrated me but maybe it shouldn’t.

I’m learning that the most important thing is loving God and loving my  neighbor and that all else is secondary. Morgan Guyton put it so eloquently when he wrote: “it’s so easy to get sucked into making our faith about what we believe rather than what we are inspired to do.” (Guyton, 2016, p. 74). I’ve been asking all kinds of questions of all kinds of people to try to find out what I believe about certain issues when in reality I should be worrying about loving God and loving my neighbor most of all and the beliefs will fall into place eventually.

Rather than building a list of beliefs I need to be letting my faith transform me into someone who loves God and loves her neighbor. I need to let my faith take action rather than sitting and compiling lists of what I believe. Morgan Guyton uses the images of math and poetry, saying that my faith should not be made up of formulas of things I believe and thus things that I can master, but I should let my faith take mastery of me like poetry does. (Guyton, 2016, pp. 69-74). Poetry has mystery surrounding it, and math has none. I am to revel in the divine mysteries and follow the two basic commandments, whether I can pin down what I believe on a vast array of topics or not.

As I lose all the things that are precious to me in fundamentalism, maybe I need to lose my certainty of things also, and embrace not knowing everything and perhaps the more that I don’t know, the more I’ll know and the more I’ll live a Christlike life. Jesus didn’t call me to write out a list of beliefs, he called me to follow him.


Guyton, M 2016, How Jesus Saves the World From Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville.



I’ve had several people concerned for my soul lately, telling me that I’m going to an eternal inferno to fry forever if I don’t believe exactly what they believe. I’ve had my faith called into question mostly because the person I’m conversing with disagrees with me. I had one friend concerned that I’d “converted to Catholicism” when I’ve done no such thing, rather I’ve been confirmed Episcopalian.

I’ve “gotten saved” more times than I can count. I know all of the arguments. I used to stand on street corners passing out tracts or holding up signs, I used to annoy people by knocking on their doors to ask them if they died tonight were there 100% sure they would go to heaven and if not they could pray this pretty little prayer after me and be guaranteed a place in paradise for all eternity. Heck, I’ve even been baptized three times since I “got saved” so many times.

I never told people how many times I “got saved” because they thought I was saved already. It was supposed to be a one time deal, but I always felt unsure if I had really meant the prayer enough and that maybe I was truly going to hell for eternity. Still now I have friends and well meaning people trying to get me “saved” when I’ve been “saved” over and over again.

I was earnest about being saved and getting everyone that I knew saved as well. I’m even uncomfortable with the term “getting saved” because it’s inherently linked to a belief in hell. See, being saved from hell has never been the point. Jesus didn’t come to save us from hell, he came to save us from our sins, and to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Because I’m in a more LGBTQ affirming church, I’ve had my status as a Christian questioned because people believe that a person who is LGBTQ affirming cannot also be a Christian because they believe that to be LGBTQ is sin, so therefore anyone who is supportive of LGBTQ people are going against the Bible and therefore can’t possibly be Christian. As a bisexual Christian I’m part of the LGBTQ community, and God created me this way. Saying that God would create me bisexual and that being bisexual dooms me to hell unless I repent, sounds an awful lot like Calvinism, a belief that says that God created certain people to go to heaven and certain people to go to hell, that God had foreknowledge of that, and that God chose to create people that would go to hell anyway.

If God truly did that, God would not be a loving God. God is love, the Bible says, and in him is no darkness at all. A God of love would not create someone specifically to be an abomination, just so that God could have the pleasure of sending them to hell. That would be sadism and hate, not love.

I’m a Christian whether others believe it or not. I was baptized when I was ten. “Getting saved” had nothing to do with it. I’m bisexual and I was created this way because it pleased a good and loving God to create me this way. Just like God created all the other things about me, God created this. Genesis says that God looked down on what God had made and called it “very good”. People can’t be both very good and an abomination at the same time.



I never thought I would become a writer, in school my writing was average if I was lucky. But something changed while I was a teenager, I think the things I went through needed a way of release and writing was healthier than cutting. I kept a journal through all of my teenage years and I still have them today, they are full of very interesting things I would have otherwise forgotten. Maybe it was all that journal writing that turned me into a writer, because I went from journaling to blogging when blogging was still a relatively new phenomenon. I made many mistakes and wrote a lot of shitty stuff.

I wrote dumb religious articles about how women shouldn’t work outside the home, girls shouldn’t go to college, and that a woman had to submit to her husband. I wrote articles claiming that the King James Bible was directly inspired by God. I look back embarrassed about all of this but in writing those things, I learned how to write. I had passion for my subjects and it just oozed out of me and onto the page. Then I finally realized that women could go to college and I went off to college to finish a degree I had started years ago. I couldn’t choose between writing, sociology and psychology, but after a while I chose to major in writing and sociology, while picking up tons of communications classes as my electives.

This meant that I learned a whole range of writing from creative writing to journalism, to feature writing, to research papers. Now I’m studying for a master of arts in English and creative writing, and I’m learning so much more about writing that I never knew. I’m learning to analyze texts for their storytelling elements, for how the author built their fictional world, diction and syntax, and stylistics. All these things help me to become a better writer because I’m reading and studying other writers. I’m learning to apply the analysis to my own writing, which is making my writing richer.

I was born to write. I love to write. God gave it to me as an outlet, as a gift to process things that happen to me. God also gave it to me to express myself and to ultimately share my life with others. My writing journey is so freakin’ cool, and the master’s degree of my journey has only just begun. I’m almost at the end of my first semester and it’s really helped my writing develop and made me want to talk about writing, hence a whole post about writing.


I’m not a Nice Church Lady

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but I’ve been too scared to. I don’t want you to think differently of me but now I’m speaking out in hopes that it will help somebody. I’m not the kind of woman you’d invite to speak in your church, I’m sort of rough and I’ve done some stupid shit. And I say shit. Which nice church women aren’t supposed to say. I’ve had some major struggles as a Christian and one of those was an addiction to pornography. I know many people who think that porn is no big deal especially between consenting adults, and I’m not trying to be judgmental but to share my experiences and thoughts.

First, in the evangelical circles I used to run in, porn is seen as exclusively a men’s problem and there are no resources to help women caught in the trap. So it was embarrassing when I finally started to want to admit to someone that I had a problem because it was supposed to be a men’s issue. Women, especially good Christian women, weren’t supposed to struggle with it at all. So I was a freak and it was hard to go to someone for help.

I was so ashamed. I felt like I was a dirty freak whom God obviously hated for what I had done. I thought that I had no value unless I could perform as other women performed in porn, and I had no self-respect because I viewed images that were damaging to me and I could not stop. Even six months to a year after I had stopped consuming porn, I could see those images in my head. That happens less now than it used to but things that have been seen cannot be unseen. I felt like I was a prostitute or that I might as well have been because at least I’d be making money but those thoughts are damaging. I didn’t realize that I was so much better than that. I’m going to do all I can to protect my children from porn.

I’m certainly no prude. I believe in sex education in school from a young age. But I believe that pornography is damaging to everyone, both men and women. What brought me to the point where I was able to admit that I had a problem and to deal with it was that I realized that a lot of porn is produced via human trafficking and I’m totally not ok with that. It also depicts and normalizes violence towards women and it feeds rape culture. The reason porn is so damaging is that it doesn’t respect the dignity of humanity. It objectifies women, it teaches us that sex is supposed to be the way it is depicted in porn, and when it’s not, people are disappointed.

I’m only just starting to realize that I have worth and value to God. That’s still a daily struggle for me to know that. But as I detox from toxic religious environments and continue to feast on Jesus, slowly but surely I’m realizing that God loves me.