Tag Archives: Patrick Henry College

The desperate candidates – and their party

gopPresDebateWhen did the Republican presidential primary become a Bravo Reality TV series – “the Desperate Candidates?”

We have trash talk from a bombastic billionaire developer, Donald Trump, putting down the “Republican Establishment,” and those, who he convincingly says, are his “establishment” competitors.

In the latest round of churlish misconduct, Trump blasted one opponent based on his height (“little Marco”), countered by the charge that Trump was a crook (“con man”) according to Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, prompting Trump to come back on Senator Cruz (“lying Ted”), and Senator Rubio’s toe-curling grammar school innuendoes followed, knocking Trump’s face, hair and, the most controversial, Trump’s sexual prowess (“small hands”), causing Trump to offer a national on-air description of his private body parts (“no problem there”).

In Loudoun County, despite Senator Rubio’s “below the belt” rhetoric, he was enthusiastically invited to Patrick Henry College to rally his true believers at a school founded “to impact the world ‘for Christ and for Liberty.’”

At the rally, Senator Rubio promised to compromise the medical care anyone was receiving under the Affordable Care Act, to step up the war on terror, to keep Guantanamo open and to “find out everything they [the prisoners there] know,” without saying precisely how he’d make that happen within the law and “as a devout Christian.” Congresswoman Barbara Comstock touted Rubio as “the most conversant on all of the top issues of the day.”

The Republican presidential candidates, including those deeply mired in this dehumanizing dialogue, undeservedly affect a moral superiority as compared with Trump. Continue reading

Patrick Henry College to sexual assault survivors: “If you were telling the truth, God would have kept you conscious”

The administrators at Patrick Henry College have had a tough week.

Beginning on Sunday, PHC founder and chancellor Michael Farris posted a public statement about the recent disgrace of two important leaders within the religious homeschooling and “parental rights” movement, both of them because young women have come forward with testimony of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Former Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Doug Phillips resigned last fall from the separatist group he had founded after it was revealed that he pursued a sexual relationship with a young woman, under 18, who was under his “authority.” Bill Gothard, leader of an influential Christian Patriarchy instruction program, is slowly being exposed as a predator who has for decades sexually molested young women sent to him, often at his personal invitation, to be his interns.

Farris did not dispute the misconduct of these men, seeming to accept evidence of their “protracted patterns of sin.” Instead, he tried to distance his own kind of “leadership” from theirs. But his statement is very strange. Attempting to avoid criticism of the authoritarianism that undergirds his own position, it ends up reading as if he thinks these “leaders,” these powerful men, should rightly have such control over the women and children under their authority, and that maintaining this position of male authority is a “basic strength.” The only problem with these men is that their strength was allowed to “get out of control.” The statement then ends with a lighthearted punchline normalizing the idea that men naturally want to pursue young women, but are inhibited by the fear that their wives will shoot them.

What came the next day must have been a surprise, although one is at pains to imagine why.

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The trouble with Baskerville

Trigger warning: Rape, domestic violence and child abuse denialism, victim-blaming.

Critics of Stephen Baskerville’s astonishing Faith and Reason lecture at Patrick Henry College last Friday have no shortage of material to cite. The lecture was such a departure from even the pretense of academic standards that it’s easy for critics to frame it as a mistake that no one should take seriously; surely the cause of this catastrophe is that the administration failed to vet it properly, and surely the students have the necessary skills to reject it. PHC alum David Sessions reaches out to those students in an open letter:

To say it was beneath the standards of charity, evidence, and logical rigor students at PHC should expect from their professors would be an understatement. But beyond its weaknesses as a piece of argumentation, it had darker moral undertones that should be emphasized and rebutted. Anyone committed to the Christian virtues of love, charity, forgiveness, and justice should be deeply suspicious of such a hostile condemnation of the voices of people who have been subjected to violence and discrimination in our society, and of those who have worked courageously and democratically to protect them.

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Stephen Baskerville’s Lesson for Victimized Men, Heterosexuals and Unborns

Today, Friday the Thirteenth, is a special education day at Patrick Henry College. Dr. Stephen Baskerville will lead the “Faith & Reason Lecture Addresses Sexual Revolution’s Impact on Politics.” Students will hear a lesson at 0930, followed by two study groups and then a panel discussion. The public is not invited, however the lecture will be live streamed. Here’s the description of the topic. Continue reading

Guest speaker Rosaria Butterfield draws contrast with Patrick Henry College’s fear of dialogue

Author Rosaria Butterfield at Patrick Henry College

According to Patrick Henry College professor of government Stephen Baskerville, “PHC is an oasis of academic freedom in an inbred academic environment of stifling orthodoxy.” Given that over half of PHC’s faculty resigned within one year over precisely the issue of academic freedom, I would have to dispute the facticity of this statement. The academic orthodoxy at the school was at the time so stifling that one professor, ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, was suspended for writing a paper suggesting there could be sources of truth other than the Bible. Others were told by administrators that “there are some questions we can’t ask in class or entertain.”

PHC would be more accurately described as an alternative to the usual academic environment in which biblical inerrancy is held to the same evidence-based standard as other ways of understanding the world, and found wanting according to that standard. PHC does provide an environment in which an alternative standard is applied.

Dr. Baskerville (writing to object to the Loudoun Times-Mirror coverage of PHC’s reaction to the student/alumni group Queer at Patrick Henry College) misrepresents the article, claiming that it approaches the presence of sexual minorities at PHC with “scandal-mongering.” The scandal in question is not the existence of these LGBTQ students, but PHC Chancellor Mike Farris’ embarrassing attempt to bully them, an attempt that garnered the group a much wider audience and support base. Queer at Patrick Henry College is a far from unusual signal of the transformation happening within evangelical Christianity, and has surprised virtually no one other than Patrick Henry College administrators.

It is with this in mind that I consider the interview I witnessed last Friday at PHC with author Rosaria Butterfield (prequel here). Dr. Butterfield appeared as a guest of the college to discuss her transition from Syracuse University Women’s Studies professor and lesbian activist to orthodox Christian and pastor’s wife.

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A visit to Patrick Henry College

Patrick Henry College hosts an ongoing “newsmakers interview” series, and the guest Friday afternoon is a woman named Rosaria Butterfield, a resident of Purcellville. Dr. Butterfield “will discuss her new book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, detailing her conversion to Christianity and her former lesbian lifestyle before marrying a pastor.”

This is the bio offered by World Magazine:

When Rosaria Butterfield was 28 she declared herself a lesbian. Her Ph.D. in English Literature and Cultural Studies led to a tenured position at Syracuse University, where she advanced a leftist agenda. Then God used her desire to write a book on the religious right, and the friendship of a biblically orthodox pastor, to draw her to Christ. She became a voracious Bible reader and gradually saw that her new beliefs required her to upend her former life. It’s a fascinating story—although she interrupts the narrative several times to insert speech text. Her book also shows the power of love and hospitality to soften hearts: Butterfield is now married to a pastor and the mother of four children by adoption.

I have not had a chance to read the book. However, I can say knowing nothing else about it that this is someone’s personal journey, which she cared enough about to put into words for others to read. Although it sounds like another “ex-gay” narrative, and although there is a robust history of “ex-gay” spokespeople being exploited by the anti-gay industry and later renouncing (or quietly abandoning) their “conversion” experience, I think we make a mistake when we fail to seriously listen to a person’s story, and instead act as if we know how it will, or should, end up. However this woman’s story ultimately unfolds, it is hers, and it’s no more kind to insist that her life will conform to that narrative than it is for those promoting an anti-gay agenda to demand that we “change” to suit their narrative.

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Rick Perry’s ties to PHC

An interesting article in the August 27, Huffington Post describes the relationship between Rick Perry and “conservative Christian” businessman and financier Dr. James Leininger.  The entire article is worth a read.  I’ll quote the section on Leininger’s largess to Patrick Henry College.  Readers may also want to note that Dimitri Kesari, Eugene Delgaudio, and his former aide Donny Furgeson all have Texas ties, as does Prison Fellowship Ministries.  The head of the Texas State Board of Education is a PFM “Centurion” (an activist who has completed a program of ideological training to implement the PFM/Chuck Colson “worldview”).

Leininger has also bankrolled a number of anti-abortion groups, including Texas Right to Life, Heidi Group and the Christian Pro Life Foundation. His charity, The Covenant Foundation, Inc., contributed at least $450,000 from 1997 to 2005 to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, an abstinence-only advocate. In 2005, he gave $100,000 in support of an amendment banning gay marriage.

The Covenant Foundation, Inc., charity has also been another way for Leininger to project his money into Christian conservative causes. The biggest benefactor of the charity’s largesse in the past few years has been the conservative Patrick Henry College, which received $9.3 million in contributions from 2008 to 2009. Leininger sits on the Board of Trustees of the school.