Michael Farris’ Strange Allies

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sarah Jones’ blog Anthony B. Susan It was originally published on May 13, 2013.

Michael Farris, chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) and president of ParentalRights.org, has established himself as a leading figure in the Christian homeschool movement.  His suspicion of the state and his emphasis on parental rights–his definition of liberty.

In my last blog post, I published documentation of homeschool parents’ reactions to revelations of abuse within the Christian homeschool movement. The themes revealed — anti-statism and a consuming, passionate belief that parents know best — reflects in micro the message Farris so effectively peddles at the national level.

These concerns make for some strange bedfellows, as a close examination of ParentalRights.org’s list of allied organizations reveals. Allies include AbleChild, an anti-psychiatry organization affiliated with the Church of Scientology, and Glenn Beck’s Black Robe Regiment. Several allies erroneously link vaccines to autism. These allies include the Canary Party, an anti-vaccination group. Given Farris’ belief that parental rights are absolute, even divinely derived, his alliance with organizations that lobby for the end of state interference in private affairs is not a surprise.

However, the other entries on this list of allies reveals a new facet to Farris’ parental rights advocacy. Nine allies lobby for fathers’ rights, either explicitly or under the guise of ‘parental alienation syndrome’ or ‘shared parenting.’ Superficially, these sound like benign causes. Nobody sane wants to deprive fathers of their rights, or alienate children from their parents. Shared parenting sounds entirely fair–and in many cases, it is.  But further research reveals another, more sinister reality. The overlap between the fathers’ rights movement and men’s rights activism has been well-documented by a variety of media sources. Both are often referred to as the ‘domestic abusers’ lobby’ and with reason. The leaders of Fathers and Families, listed as one of ParentalRights’ allies, actively lobbied against the passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

According to the members of Fathers Unite, another ParentalRights ally, the judicial system systematically discriminates against men in divorce and custody proceedings. This is a common complaint of men’s rights activists. According to the Fatherhood Coalition, yet another ally, this amounts to nothing short of a war on fatherhood itself.  And let’s not forget Farris’ association with Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, an organization that explicitly promotes extreme female submission and discourages the higher education of women. The enemies here are mothers, and by extension, a judicial system that supports them unconditionally.

So why would Farris ally himself with these groups? After all, he supports parental rights, and mothers are parents. The healthy families Farris promotes are, presumably, also free of domestic violence. His alliance with this movement therefore appears to be totally contradictory. But for those of us who grew in conservative Evangelical and fundamentalist families, the reason is obvious: Farris allies with these groups because the only rights he really seeks to preserve are father’s rights. His primary interest is the protection of the patriarchy. No fault divorce, the Violence Against Women Act, and current custody laws threaten paternal supremacy. Farris fights for limited government because the state’s interference in domestic affairs usurps the role his movement assigns to fathers. If Farris and allies succeed in their goal of establishing parental rights as a constitutionally recognized right, the cultural hierarchy he seeks to protect will be successfully embedded in federal law.

And let’s be clear: that is their ultimate goal. Homeschooling is merely a means unto an end.

Michael Farris’ unusual allies are further evidence that he, and the organizations he has founded, have no intention of addressing abuse within their ranks. They can’t. If they acknowledge that abuse is a problem, then the limitations of the cultural hierarchy they promote will become publicly evident and will become more difficult for them to successfully argue that it is superior to mainstream alternatives. Failures in leadership typically demand a change in leadership, and the patriarchy cannot sustain this. If homeschool parents are truly concerned for the well-being of children, it is therefore in their best interest to separate from Michael Farris, HSLDA and their allies.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has more information on the men’s rights movement.

10 comments

  • I’ve heard about the HSLDA and child abuse, but I had no idea that they were allied with such shady groups!

  • The father’s rights groups are really disturbing. They are bitter men who have problems with women. I went through a divorce and found that there are father’s rights attorneys who will only represent men. Fortunately my ex didn’t retain one.

    I guess in the Homeschool circles if women play along, keep their heads down and don’t make waves, all is well. If the mothers try to have a voice or advocate for their children they will be squashed.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      The father’s rights groups are really disturbing. They are bitter men who have problems with women.

      A lot of whom have been burned by women in their past and are now out for revenge. Communism begets Objectivism.

      (Or the half-black and half-white aliens in that “Old Testament” Star Trek episode.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Glenn Beck’s Black Robe Regiment”??? WTF???

    Sounds like either a knockoff of the Jesuits (who were once known as “Black Robes”) or a Fascist organization with colored robes instead of colored shirts.

    Especially coming from a Rush Limbaugh fanboy who built his career out-Rushing Rush.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      NOTE: The above is NOT the original audio; it is a YouTube mash-up that actually syncs up pretty well.

      The audio is “Doc on the ROQ” from KROQ-FM Los Angeles reading an infamous Conspiracy kook rant flyer by the insane hermit “Francis E Dec Esq” that’s been described as “psychotic poetry”. (And I am not making that up; check Wikipedia and/or YouTube for “Francis E Dec”.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And let’s not forget Farris’ association with Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, an organization that explicitly promotes extreme female submission and discourages the higher education of women. The enemies here are mothers, and by extension, a judicial system that supports them unconditionally.

    Battle of the Sexes on steroids. Communism begets Objectivism; Male Supremacy begets Extreme Feminism begets Male Hyper-Supremacy. The end result of reducing male/female interactions to Power Struggle.

    Because in Power Struggle, there are ONLY two end states: My boot stamping on your face or your boot stamping on mine. And the only way to avoid the second is to make sure of the first. Permanently.

    And let’s be clear: that is their ultimate goal. Homeschooling is merely a means unto an end.

    The same end as the Taliban and Ayatollahs: POWER. Justified by Divine Right.

    “A crown based on lies;
    You WIN or you Die,
    GAME OF THRONES…”

  • “Several allies erroneously link vaccines to and the Canary Party, an anti-vaccination group.”

    Is this an editing error where part of the sentence got deleted? I don’t understand what it was meant to say.

    This article is certainly food for thought, anyway. I’ll have to look up what the Southern Poverty Law Center says.

    • Just fixed that. Thanks for pointing that out!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      “Several allies erroneously link vaccines to and the Canary Party, an anti-vaccination group.”

      And so another Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory joins the party.
      That alone is enough to set off the warning bells.

  • Sorry I have to take issue with several points. I wouldn’t call these groups, Farris’s “allies.” And there is a need for the parental rights movement. There have been a growing number of cases in the last few years in which judges ruled that parents did not have the right to guide their children’s upbringing. (These were not abuse cases; sometimes it was just an off-hand remark in U.S. case law.)

    Also, I saw Douglas Wilson himself comment that he wants his daughters to go to college, so the report here is clearly wrong. I’ve never ordered anything from Vision Forum, but I enjoy looking at their catalog and don’t agree that they are extremists.

    I’m not too worried about the autism/ vaccination link, and I’m immunized myself, but I have seen documentation of links between the HepB vaccine and swelling of the brain which has led to death in some infants.

    I also saw a number of parents speaking out on this issue on a talk show within the last 10-15 years–Montel Williams, or Oprah, sorry I can’t remember.

    My point is that whoever wrote this is too extreme, and needs to check the facts carefully before putting this in the public domain it is simply irresponsible.

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