I got a message two days ago, “Hi! I just received notice from my SR that apparently yet another set of messages is going out to host churches (in additional to “the letter” and the most recent email). She attached a copy of the email that was sent and I remembered you asking if your blog Stealing Faith was referenced. It was referenced twice. If you don’t already have a copy and would like a copy, I will forward the email to you.”
Since I haven’t had any contact with any of this, but I am always curious to know what people are saying about the blog, I asked for a copy of the email.
And then I started to do some thinking…
When I started writing about what I was uncovering about the company I had previously been affiliated with, I was stunned and angry. I was writing my own experience, which, if it hadn’t tipped into being asked to require actions of Independent Contractors to attend trainings outside of a 100 miles radius (something that is illegal in our state unless you’re an employee and against the corporate policy I had been promoting and upholding for six years as a leader in the organization) I would never have fought.
That conflict caused me to research. I read every contract I could get my hands on. I consulted experts outside of this microcosmic environment and realized things are done differently in the business world, that in my failure to checking the facts thoroughly beforehand and truly consider myself as a business owner, by signing my contracts as a sole proprietor and taking full responsibility for my community as a Director, I had been putting my family at risk for a liability we could not withstand if anything went wrong. It scared me deeply.
And then I realized I had been promoting this organization publicly and vocally for eight years and my dearest friends were doing the same thing. There was a face attached to every liability. There was a family attached to these women and men I had encouraged to use their gift of leadership by supporting the growth of the company. There was a joke amongst my team members of how many of them had stepped into leadership because I looked at them, smiled, and said, “I know God can use you in this role… you’re a leader and you could be making a difference… just pray on it.”
I felt deep, deep personal responsibility for those people – and that is why I began blogging about my knowledge and experience. I felt frantic when I learned our friend would be a Director, a gal I had known since she was in college, who had never considered homeschooling until she met us and attended a community day with us, who stepped into the organization because of our influence. I had been harassing her for years to lead a community because she’s so capable and awesome… and she was finally saying yes at the exact same time I was learning the lack of legal safety nets could truly endanger her family’s security. I lost sleep.
Some of you may be coming to this blog after receiving one of those anonymous letters. You may be pastors or board members of a church trying to understand. I have written this with the background knowledge of church leadership – my family has been involved in church leadership my entire life (I spent many early years asleep on the pews during board meetings and choir practice!) and I married into a family of pastors. You are doing a good work by investing into the home education… but you are potentially also putting your congregation at risk. Is it a risk your church can sustain? How can you minimize that risk for your church?
I went to Israel this spring and was shocked by the way that every single site we visited led you out through a gift shop. I was on a holy journey and yet assaulted by commerce. The peaceful river where Jesus was baptized? You too, could be baptized for a fee, and I could buy a robe for the service, as well as a t-shirt that proudly declared I was baptized in the Jordan River. The Garden of Gesthemane? Beautiful. Stunning. Accompanied by an opportunity to buy olive wood communion cups in all shapes and sizes.
I came home remembering the fury of Jesus, how he flipped over tables and his anger at making holy places into places of commerce. I came home to chatter helping me understand that there IS a difference between a for-profit company and a non-profit organization in the United States and I was both completing and encouraging the very action that had incited Jesus to violence – I was running the activities of a for-profit company in a place of worship.
I was convicted.
I have not been affiliated with any of the letter writing that references my blog posts. However, I have written my experience, understanding, and heart on this blog. My goal in writing has not been to destroy a company… I still believe that the issues could be addressed and corrected. My goal has been to allow people the knowledge to ask their own questions, seek their own understanding of the system. This is something I deeply regret not doing YEARS sooner for myself.
I’ve considered pulling the blog down so it can’t be used by the letter writers and I can remove the potential for drama, put the past behind me. But I haven’t seen any changes addressing the issues identified and I stand by the knowledge that I’ve written Truth. Perhaps I don’t understand or I’ve gotten something wrong… I would happily correct misstatements as I’m not at all afraid to publicly say I’ve been wrong. Yet instead of reasoned arguments from those in company leadership in response to what I’ve determined, all I’ve received is a note being told I’m now a problem the company has to clean up after, slander in person and online, and hearing others are being told in personal conversations I’m not holy enough and that I’m being used as Satan’s tool.
That’s not compelling. That’s not a conversation.
So, if you’re new here, welcome. The Starfish category may have posts you find enlightening. If you explore the other blog posts that have been written over the last nine years you’ll find the stories of a crazy, growing family trying to do the best they can with the circumstances they’re in. You’re welcome to join in that as well!