HSLDA Gave This Man Their Prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award Just 4 Years Ago

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Every year the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) puts on the National Leader’s Conference, where the biggest names and leaders in homeschooling come together to network and hear educational and inspirational talks from both HSLDA’s staff as well as outside speakers invited by HSLDA. During the conference, HSLDA gives an annual award: the Lifetime Achievement Award. According to HSLDA, this honor is bestowed upon “a leader who has demonstrated valuable leadership to the homeschool community, inspired and motivated others to effective action, overcome hardships and obstacles to succeed, demonstrated a servant’s heart while exhibiting the qualities listed above, and maintained a clear witness concerning Jesus Christ and the Gospel.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was dubbed “the Gregg Harris Award,” named after homeschool leader Gregg Harris. It was first bestowed upon its namesake in 2007. In 2008 it was given to Brian Ray  “in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of homeschool research.” In 2009, HSLDA awarded it to James Dobson. According to Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, “HSLDA presented Dr. Dobson with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual National Leaders Conference here in Colorado Springs.”

Which brings us to 2010, a mere 4 years ago.

Who did HSLDA bestow the “Gregg Harris” Lifetime Achievement Award on at the 2010 National Leader’s Conference?

HSLDA does not have the answer to this question on their website. However, the event page for the conference is still available. You can view it here. First, some background: HSLDA’s 2010 National Leader’s Conference was held September 22-25, 2010, at the Westin North Shore in Chicago (Wheeling, Illinois to be precise). Invited to speak at the conference attended by state and national homeschool leaders were Dr. Henry Morris (from the Institute for Creation Research) and Erwin Lutzer (from Moody Church and Worldview Weekend). HSLDA’s Michael Farris gave the plenary session.

But there was one particularly significant speaker I have yet to mention. On the afternoon of the last day, the conference attendees are divided into two groups: ladies and men. The ladies attended a “Ladies Tea,” and the men attended a “Men’s Huddle.” And who did HSLDA invite to led the “Men’s Huddles” at their conference for homeschool leaders? Bill Gothard, of course:

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 2.00.06 PM

HSLDA invited Bill Gothard just 4 years ago to teach state and national homeschool leaders at the 2010 National Leader’s Conference.

But that is not all.

Gothard was not simply invited to speak. He was also chosen by HSLDA to receive their Lifetime Achievement Award at that same conference.

Just a reminder: this was in 2010, just 4 years ago.

This fact has not gone unnoticed. An anonymous commentator on a blog criticizing Michael Farris’s recent “Line in the Sand” article pointed to the 2010 conference:

As a former board member of a state home schooling organization, I clearly remember HSLDA, during their national conference for home schooling leaders that was held just 4 years ago in Chicago giving a lifetime home schooling achievement award to none other than Bill Gothard. HSLDA gives this award annually to those that they judge to have made significant contributions to the home schooling movement. This award has gone to men like Greg Harris and the now deceased and former HSLDA attorney, Chris Klicka. HSLDA even had Gothard conduct a Sat afternoon session at their conference that was geared toward fathers and sons…just 4 years ago!

You can read the full comment here.

Let’s put this into perspective:

HSLDA’s Michael Farris just released a blistering white paper condemning Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips. In that paper, Farris declares that Gothard’s teachings “usurp the role of God,” “threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement,” are “dangerous,” and have “harmed” “families, children, women, and even fathers.” He also admits that he and the HSLDA board have believed this for years, which is why HSLDA “did not directly promote their teachings.”

So. Let’s get this straight: HSLDA believes that Bill Gothard as a teacher is anti-biblical, freedom-threatening, dangerous, and harmful — and has believed this for years — and despite all that, invited Bill Gothard to be the teacher of state and national homeschool leaders just 4 years ago?

And then gave Bill Gothard the highest honor they could?

And then had the gall to publicly lie to all of our faces and say they “did not directly promote their teachings”?

I mean,

Either Farris and HSLDA have suddenly contracted temporary amnesia or there’s a troubling lack of both sincerity and transparency to this “line in the sand.”

13 comments

  • Well Michael Harris is just trying to convince people he is not part of the creepy, icky, misogynistic, Christian mans club. Not buying it.

  • So, four years ago, HSLDA awarded Gothard with “the highest honor”.

    But, now that the latter is in disgrace:

    “Farris declares that Gothard’s teachings ‘usurp the role of God,’ ‘threaten the freedom and integrity of the homeschooling movement,’ are ‘dangerous,’ and have ‘harmed’ ‘families, children, women, and even fathers.’ He also admits that he and the HSLDA board have believed this for years…”

    Huh.

    Whatever Farris may have stated concerning homeschoolers and intellectual achievement, his ACTIONS would seem to imply that he thinks we’re downright gullible.

  • He changed his mind. At least now I agree with his position.

  • So far everyone has missed his public acknowledgment and apology that he, and HSLDA, made a very significant mistake in the support and promotion that they did give to Gothard.
    So stop attacking the man for trying to fix a problem that he sees happening. He apologized publicy and has made his stance clear for anyone that doubts it.
    If you don’t like it, then deal with it. Mr. Farris tried to do what is right, and so far it looks like he is learning some new things, but that is how he has gained a lot of wisdom over the years. Learning from his mistakes and having the humilty to apologize and try again, unlike many of the commentators that point their fingers to accuse and ridicule him and his organization.

    • You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, my friend. I didn’t think Farris apologized at all. What I thought went down was:

      “[Farris] also admits that he and the HSLDA board have believed [that Gothard’s teachings are rotten] for years, which is why HSLDA ‘did not directly promote their teachings.'”

      This, dear friend, is not an apology. This is an attempt to re-write history.

      Nevertheless: If you’ve got better facts up your sleeve, I for one will gladly apologize if mine are proved wrong.

      p.s. Best stick with actual quotes. If you like him that’s great, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your point.

      • Wait, perhaps this is the apology you were referring to?

        “Frankly, we should have spoken up sooner. How much sooner is hard to say.”

        I like what Julie Anne Smith had to say about that. I think HA just posted this same thing, but perhaps you missed it:

        “… why is it that Farris waited so long to disclose the truth he knew long ago about Phillips and Gothard? Because it would have cost him.

        Although Farris knew there were problems with the teachings of Phillips and Gothard, the bulk of their other ideologies lined up with the trajectory of Farris and his ministry’s movement. For him to call them out earlier would mean a loss of supporters and revenue, as both men had a very large following. Farris would have been forced to stand alone… The following quote shows Farris/HSLDA was willing to support and promote errant teachings and now has regrets:

        ‘While we did not directly promote their teachings using our own resources, we did allow Vision Forum to buy ad space to promote their products and ideas. We were wrong to do so. And we regret it.’

        I believe Farris waited until he realized that the court of public opinion had turned against Phillips and Gothard.

        For Farris to not speak out at this time would have been a liability to his ministry.

        **

        He had to speak out now. Will he do more than speak? Will he use his prominent position in the Homeschool Movement to defend and protect victims? That remains to be seen.”

      • Paul: Forget everything I’ve said. Libby Anne just said it way better. I highly recommend you read her article: “The Gothard-Sized Skeleton in HSLDA’s Closet”.

        Oddly enough, I couldn’t find the part where Michael Farris apologizes for giving Mr. Gothard “the highest honor they could”. So Paul, I GUESS YOU’LL HAVE TO PROVIDE US WITH THAT.

  • Why can’t people like this just admit they were wrong? Why lie about it? Especially with the internet, someone will know you are lying! An apology is worthless if it’s filled with obvious lies like this. I really am not sure what he’s expecting to gain here.

  • Pingback: Homeschooled Kids Matter: A Response to Will Estrada | Homeschoolers Anonymous

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