The “Faith & Reason” lectures are a bi-annual tradition at Patrick Henry College, a conservative Christian college created as a higher education haven for Christian homeschool students. Every spring and fall since 2005, the college has “united around a faith and reason lecture” where “speakers explore the nexus between faith and reason, as it relates to various philosophies, vocations and disciplines.”
Incorporated by Christian homeschool advocate Michael Farris and funded significantly by the Home School Legal Defense Association, Patrick Henry College has a number of pejorative — and self-marketed — nicknames, including “God’s Harvard,” “Homeschool Harvard,” and “The Bible College That Leads to the White House.” Since its founding, the college has attracted significant media coverage due to a number of controversies, including: 1/3 of their full-time professors quitting in 2006 due to Michael Farris’s opposition to academic freedom; the college’s police-barricade stance against LGBT* rights group Soulforce, including official college statements saying LGBT* individuals are “false teachers” and “deluded”; Michael Farris bullying his own college’s alumni in 2012 by frivolously threatening a copyright lawsuit to silence their LGBT* activism; and, most recently, reports that the college engaged in silencing and victim-blaming of sexual assault victims on its campus.
The “Faith & Reason” lectures themselves have also provoked significant controversy. The last lecture, presented by men’s rights activist Stephen Baskerville on September 13, 2013, was entitled “Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife.” (You can view the full text of Baskerville’s lecture here.) The lecture received a good deal of media coverage, ranging from Right Wing Watch to Daily Kos to Patheos. More significant, though, was the major backlash it received from Patrick Henry College’s own alumni — backlash that united people of diverse political and religious beliefs. Kate Kane from QueerPHC and David Sessions from Patrol Mag called out Baskerville, but so did Nicholas Bolzman from Looking for Overland and Willie Deutsch.
This ought not be surprising: Baskerville’s lecture read like the angry, bitter rant of a conspiracy theorist in junior-high. He made unintellectual connections between “homosexual activists” and Nazism, called sex education “government-authorized pornography,” and referred with vitriol to “homosexuals with sexually transmitted diseases.” Most galling was Baskerville’s use of quotation marks to delegitimize abuse and violence towards women and children. He talked of “rape“ and domestic “violence“ and sexual “harassment“ and child “abuse“ in the exact way one would expect from an abuse apologist and men’s rights activist.
After such a public uproar, and in light of Patrick Henry College’s ongoing controversy over their handling of sexual assault cases, one would think their current “Faith & Reason” lecturer would perhaps be slightly less provocative — especially considering (1) Michael Farris is trying to convince people neither he nor PHC encourage Quiverfull ideology (which is humorous in its own right) and (2) some PHC students are going to great PR lengths to convince Rod Dreher at the American Conservative that PHC is “not a sexist, patriarchal culture” and “not the realm of the fundamentalist.”
Well, unfortunately for the PR efforts of Michael Farris and current PHC students, Patrick Henry College’s current “Faith & Reason” lecturer is Allan Carlson.
To put it succinctly: Allan Carlson is not only rabidly anti-child protection and anti-gay, he is also one of the most zealous and fantastical advocates of the Quiverfull movement. Like, if you went to a street artist on Venice Beach and asked for a caricature of everything PHC is desperately trying to pretend it is not, that artist would draw you a picture of Allan Carlson.
Allan Carlson is a professor of history at Hillsdale College, one of the few colleges that (like PHC and my alma mater, Gutenberg College) does not accept federal financial aid and thus is not required to abide by Title IX standards for sexual harassment and discrimination (this being one of the concerns with PHC’s handling of sexual assault cases). Carlson is the president of the Howard Center, an organization vocally opposed to same-sex marriage, and the founder and International Secretary for the World Congress of Families (WCF), known for its opposition to civil rights protections for LGBT* individuals and — most disturbingly — its support and advocacy for anti-LGBT* laws in Russia and Uganda.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Carlson’s WCF is an anti-LGBT* group “best known for its biannual world conferences, where speakers and sponsors have comprised a ‘Who’s Who’ of the American religious right.” To not mince words, the WCF actively promotes crimes against humanity, both in general and during these conferences. A 2009 WCF newsletter “lauded the government of Uganda’s efforts to pass its infamous ‘kill the gays’ bill.” In 2012, one of their speakers “boasted from the podium about her group’s alleged role in helping to stop the UN from signing on to HIV guidelines that included a call for ending the criminalization of gay sex.” WCF’s own website “calls for rolling back decriminalization measures.”
That Carlson, the WCF’s founder, would be invited to Patrick Henry College is no coincidence — and the college cannot claim ignorance of WCF’s promotion of these crimes against humanity. In 2009, the same year WCF praised Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill, WCF’s world conference in Amsterdam was sponsored by HSLDA and PHC’s Chancellor Michael Farris was a featured speaker at the conference. This September, WCF’s conference will be in Moscow to “[celebrate] Russia’s recent successes in pushing anti-gay and anti-abortion laws.”
Allan Carlson is a homophobe, plain and simple. I do not say that as pejoratively. I say that descriptively. Carlson has an intense, irrational fear of LGBT* individuals and same-sex marriage. During the 2004 WCF conference in Mexico City, Carlson declared that “homosexual marriage is a clear and present danger to the family” and that “homosexual marriage” is nothing more than a “weapon” intended to destroy the family.
Carlson also does not take abuse seriously, whether that abuse is towards women or children. In fact, like PHC’s last “Faith & Reason” lecturer Baskerville, Carlson puts things like child abuse in “quotation marks.” Also like Baskerville, Carlson rails against the “evils” of “feminism,” arguing that women should be content themselves to be child-bearers, wives, and homemakers.
(Side note: Stephen Baskerville was a Fellow at Carlson’s Howard Center and, along with Michael Farris, spoke at the 2009 World Congress of Families conference in Amsterdam that HSLDA sponsored.)
The best example of this is his self-described “manifesto,” which he penned with Paul T. Mero, a Mormon Quiverfull advocate. (Mero is the President of the Mormon think tank Sutherland Institute, which “envisions utopian cities in which men work, where women stay home to have a ‘quiver full’ of babies, and where single parents are seen as second-class citizens.” Mero has repeatedly attempted to force his Quiverfull ideology as public policy on a number of cities.)
In his work “The Natural Family: A Manifesto,” co-authored with Mero, Carlson sends forth a vision of the “natural family” that sounds like a Quiverfull fantasy land. Men and women (only heterosexual relationships allowed here!) fall in love and — to put it bluntly — breed. After all, he says, “Children are the first end, or purpose, of marriage.” A couple has one baby, and then “the couple opens its union to additional children, filling their home, and filling the earth.” Through perpetual cycles of blissful procreation, “the natural family opens the portals to the good life, to true happiness, even to bliss.”
Unfortunately for all these portal-opening, blissful natural families, great enemies have arose to destroy this Quiverfull fantasy land. These great enemies are “socialism, feminism, communism, sexual hedonism, racial nationalism, and secular liberalism.” They demand “full equality,” “sex education,” and “homosexuality,” and they “purged the Creator from most public squares.” So successful was their devious warfare that, “by 2005, we are in a desperate fight simply to keep the vital institution of marriage from being fitted to homosexuals.”
Worse still to Carlson, the government is trying to usurp “the primacy of parental rights” through its “schemes to ‘prevent child abuse.'” The real child abuse is child abuse laws, thus he aims to “end abuse of the ‘child-abuse’ laws.”
But Carlson (and Mero) are standing strong. They “see a world restored in line with the intent of its Creator.” They believe that heterosexual married sex should be “the central aspiration for the young.” Thus homes should be “open to a full quiver of children” and young women must be grown to be “wives, homemakers, and mothers,” since to Carlson and Mero, “the calling of each girl is to become wife and mother” because “everything that a woman does is mediated by her aptness for motherhood.”
You might read that last paragraph and think, “What, do they want to roll back the clock to the 1950’s??” Well, yes. Quite blatantly. Their manifesto states this clearly: “We look with affection to earlier familial eras such as ‘1950’s America.'” But don’t worry, they also make clear that they “believe wholeheartedly in women’s rights” — but only if by “women’s rights” you mean “pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding.” Other “women’s rights” — like actual women’s rights — are pretty much like Nazism:
The goal of androgyny, the effort to eliminate real differences between women and men, does every bit as much violence to human nature and human rights as the old efforts by the communists to create “Soviet Man” and by the nazis to create “Aryan Man.”
Carlson and Mero conclude their manifesto by saying the answer to abuse of women and children is their vision of a Quiverfull, patriarchical world. They say:
The research here is clear. Women are safest physically when married and living with their husbands. Children are best sheltered from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse when they live with their married natural parents. In short, the natural family is the answer to abuse.
This makes sense, then, of why Allan Carlson has repeatedly joined Michael Farris and HSLDA as an opponent of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Carlson is also an outspoken homeschool advocate who repeatedly cites Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony in his defenses of homeschooling; Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation, in turn, “respects” Carlson. He, like Michael Farris, is also a member of the Council for National Policy, a project of top John Birth Society stakeholders, whose members have also included Rushdoony and Gary North, another Christian Reconstructionist.
It also needs to be stressed that when I say Carlson is “Quiverful” and “patriarchical,” that is simply an established fact. A featured speaker this year at Kevin Swanon’s “Family Economics” conference, Carlson has made clear he zealously supports the Quiverfull movement, and the “correct view” of the world is that “contraception [is] incompatible with Christian faith.” He appeared in “Birth Control: The Movie,” along with other celebrities of the Christian homeschool movement: Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson, Geoff Botkin, R. C. Sproul Jr., Nancy Campbell, and Lila Rose. (Doug Phillips is an outspoken fan of Carlson’s take on demographics, citing him during the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit that called for the end of child protective services. Phillips pointed out that Carlson blames the so-called “demographic winter” on encouraging young people to go to college.) “Birth Control: The Movie” is a work of extremism (not simply because of the people it features): it praises Anthony Comstock as “the great fighter for purity,” Comstock being the man responsible for the 1873 Comstock Act, which banned birth control and criminalized even the act of sharing information about birth control.
Carlson also is straightforward about his opinions on women and patriarchy. In a 2008 interview about his “manifesto,” Carlson unabashedly proclaims that, “Producing children is the most important purpose behind marriage” and that “a wise state” would “encourage reproduction.” Following this, Bernard Chapin, the interviewer from “The Conservative Crusader,” bemoans that American society is “misandric” and that men are the marginalized, oppressed group in society. Chapin says,
It seems to me that men face far more risks in marriage than do women—a biased court system, legal concepts like “equitable paternity” and marital rape, and severe punishment for those males who get divorced—so, given the nature of our misandric society—why isn’t cohabitation a better decision for men than marriage?
To which Carlson does not disagree, but simply adds,
Unfortunately, the law has become corrupted so we must restore its legitimacy.
So there you have it. After the Baskerville controversy, Patrick Henry College gave a public platform to a man who quite literally has a 1950’s fantasy that he wants to impose on everyone; who wants to criminalize homosexuality; who thinks the legal concept of marital rape oppresses men; and who wants to “restore the legitimacy” of misogynistic laws that put women back in the kitchen and bedroom to cook their men food and pop out babies.
And all because of an imaginary Quiverfull sci-fi portal to bliss.
You can view the full text of Allan Carlson’s “Faith & Reason” lecture as a PDF here.