Institutional Abuse at Veritas Academy – Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

On August 11, 2021, I was fired by Veritas Academy after only two weeks of employment.

Why?

I was given two reasons:

  1. I had publicly decried the behavior of Douglas Wilson on my personal Facebook page a year prior.
  2. I had used the pronoun “she” to refer to the Holy Spirit in my essay, “I Survived a Rural Evangelical Daddy Cult.”

The drama over these firing offenses played out over the course of an anxiety-ridden five days, August 6-11, 2021. On Friday, August 6, Bruce Etter, the Dean of Academics–and my boss–called me with some concerns. A parent of one of my incoming students had googled my name. This parent–a local preacher, I was given to understand, though I was offered no other identifying information–had emailed Ty and Bruce a list of six grave concerns about me based on what he had found on the internet.

They were these:

Bruce asked me to respond to all of these questions in an email addressed to both him and Ty Fischer in order to try and resolve the parent’s concerns–which were now also to some degree their concerns as well. I scrapped my plans for the day–which had included making salsa out of my garden tomatoes with my best friend who was visiting from out of state–and spent the entire afternoon and evening writing that email and then engaging in further conversation with Bruce and Ty.

It was excruciating. I felt eviscerated. And I still did what they asked, the best way I knew how. Including agreeing to come in to Ty’s office the next day–a Saturday–to be grilled further upon the matter since my written answers were apparently insufficient.

I agreed, on the condition that my friend could accompany me. She did and can testify to what follows.

On Saturday afternoon, August 7, I sat with knots in my stomach and listened to Ty Fischer tell me how heavy the past 24 hours had been for him, how much the whole matter was weighing him down; how he, too, had grown up in southern Indiana, in the same broad area where a majority of my abuse had taken place, and how this gave him a sense of kinship with me; how my essay, which he had now taken the time to read due to the scrutiny it had incurred since my hiring, had moved him and inspired him to be a better father, himself; how there are, of course, two sides to every story regarding the supposed problems with Doug Wilson; how Ty had heard nothing of certain incidents regarding abuses at Doug’s church, which Ty only briefly allowed me to convey and, therefore, found negligible; and how he, Ty, had personally read all of Ride, Sally, Ride, enjoyed it, could not think of why I would have issues with it–the novel about a sex robot written by a pastor–and concluded that my distaste for it was premature based upon the fact that I had not read the whole thing.

My friend confirmed for me, later, that while we had spent about an hour and a half in Ty and Bruce’s company, I had been allowed to speak for perhaps 20 minutes of that time. Time supposedly intended for a weekend interrogation where I was to give an account of my personal convictions–none of which had any bearing on my professional conduct or suitability for my job.

It became very clear to me, in that conversation, that Ty Fischer’s goal was not to understand me better, or even properly; it was to assure himself that he and I did not see eye-to-eye on two subjects of utmost importance to him: the legitimacy of Douglas Wilson, and my account of a personal experience with the Holy Spirit.

At the end of the conversation, Ty said, “Well, now I feel a lot better.”

My friend took that as a hopeful sign–that the matter had been resolved, and that I would move forward in my employment at Veritas Academy.

My gut told me differently. My gut told me Ty felt better because he had solidified his decision to get rid of me.

The following Tuesday morning, I received a phone call confirming exactly that.

Read Part 3 here–in which I am gaslit by Veritas Academy.

Institutional Abuse at Veritas Academy – Part 1

Read my Introduction to this story here.

In July of 2021, I was looking for a job in education. I am a Christian, and I have a degree in English and Classical Studies: that is, in ancient Roman and Greek history, language, and literature. Veritas Academy in Leola, PA was seeking an English teacher for their 12th grade Senior Thesis class, so I applied and was quickly offered an interview.

I had been vaguely aware of the Omnibus controversy before applying, and because I understood that Veritas Academy originally used Omnibus as a course text, I made a point to bring the issue up with Ty Fischer (editor of Omnibus and headmaster of the school) when I met him. Mr. Fischer admitted that there had been a few limited instances of plagiarism in his text, but he explained that these were purely accidental, as often happens in publishing, and that revisions had been noted for the next edition. He also noted that the school no longer uses Omnibus. This seemed reasonable to me, so I let the matter drop. I had yet to learn about the racism in the textbooks.

I also addressed Ty Fischer’s connection to Douglas Wilson up front, in my first interview. I have many issues with Douglas Wilson, not least of them how he harbors sexual predators in his church, so I wanted to know, right away, whether or not I had be a Wilson fan, too, in order to work at Veritas. In no uncertain terms, I was told “no.” I was told that a number of Veritas Academy employees are, indeed, not fans of Douglas Wilson.

Finally, as part of my application process, I included my publication history on my resume. This meant that I was up-front with Veritas Academy about my own history of child abuse, including childhood sexual assault, as I wrote about it in my essay at The Salt Collective (now defunct), “I Survived a Rural Evangelical Daddy Cult.”

When I came in for my first interview, the person conducting it told me he had read my essay, and he offered his sincerest sympathies. He was clearly moved by my account, and I was touched. This was the man who assured me that distrust and disapproval of Douglas Wilson would not be unwelcome among the ranks at Veritas Academy, despite Ty Fischer’s allegiances to Doug. I decided that was sufficient security for me to continue pursuing employment at the school.

Ty Fischer declined to read my essay, and I did not speak to him directly about Douglas Wilson as the interview process went on. Members of the board also interviewed me, and on July 26, I was offered a job. I accepted and signed an employment contract on July 27, 2021.

On August 11, 2021, I was fired.

Read Part 2 here–in which the grounds for my firing are explained.

Institutional Abuse at Veritas Academy – Introduction

Veritas Academy is a private Classical Christian school in Leola, PA, and a member of the Association of Classical Christian Schools (ACCS). Nestled amidst Pennsylvania farmland and characterized by stately Georgian architecture, the school was established over 25 years ago by some of the same people who founded Veritas Press, purveyor of homeschool and private Christian school curricula. Veritas Academy (not the press) is run by G. Tyler Fischer: headmaster of the school, a board member at the ACCS, and a personal friend of Douglas Wilson, who is the pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, ID, and author of Ride, Sally, Ride, a novel about a sex robot.

If that doesn’t quite bring you up short, there’s more: Ty Fischer and Doug Wilson co-edited a flagship curriculum published by Veritas Press entitled Omnibus. Some controversy arose regarding this curriculum a few years back: not only had these editors inadvertently included plagiarism in their textbooks, they had also featured racist content.

All of this matters to me for more than purely academic reasons, but that will take some time to explain thoroughly. My next series of posts, including full receipts, will recount for you the unethical and abusive treatment I experienced as an employee at Veritas Academy in 2021. Stay tuned.

Read Part 1 here–in which I am hired, then fired by Veritas Academy in the space of two weeks.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Pixar Releases Turning Red, Generates Way More Meta-Commentary re: Their Audience Than Anyone Was Ready For

Disclaimer: I have not seen this film and probably never will.

In the classic vein of Drama I Do Not Have Time For, Turning Red has overtaken my social media stream this week as equally outraged and delighted parents, all women, weigh in with their takes. Were it not for the surprising diversity on display in these strong opinions, I would have gone on my (usually not very) merry way. But I swear, at this point the movie itself simply cannot live up to the hype any way you dice it: the social narratives about the meta-narratives in the movie have already been worth the popcorn investment.

Some people say the movie normalizes grooming teenagers for sexual abuse. Some people say it normalizes much-needed discussions of topics that never should have been taboo. Some people say it promotes “harmful stereotypes” of mother-daughter relationships. Others say it depicts their true-to-life experience of abuse so accurately that it would be triggering to watch!

I can’t verify the accuracy of any of these evaluations without watching the movie, and I’m just not interested in the movie one way or the other, so I’m not going to even try. What I am here to do, however, is to point out that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I love the fact that Pixar has created something that highlights how different our vantage points often are—and how easily we overlook, dismiss, or ignore the perspectives of others in favor of exclusively focusing on our own.

Speaking as a repentant abject Judgy McJudgerson, myself.

Just because someone has a different take on something doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Just because someone thinks I’m wrong doesn’t mean I’m wrong. And… just because I think someone else is wrong doesn’t make them wrong, either… in and of itself.

But it might be wrong of us to write each other off just because we see things differently.

That’s actually the one thing that bothers me in the review linked above: it doesn’t grant that there are other takes on the mother/daughter dynamic in the movie.

I really like and appreciate this mom’s assessment of the movie overall, though. She’s pretty even-keeled. She owns her part in how the media showed up in her home without a trace of either self-shaming or deflecting (SO GOOD!). She can handle talking about puberty with her kids, whether or not she or they were prepared to do so (way to think on her feet and rise to the occasion!). She’s honest and real about what she didn’t like or appreciate about this experience for her family that she legit wishes had gone differently (yes, she is entitled to her own preferences, likes and dislikes!). She doesn’t mud-sling or denigrate Disney/Pixar but clearly communicates the simple facts about her prior expectations for their movies and describes, again very simply and calmly, how those weren’t met, and how, given that experience, she will plan to approach their media differently in future—and clearly describes how she would like them to handle such media of theirs in future, too, in case they would be willing to consider that.

These are all hallmarks of respectful, mature conversation. Brava!

Then, near the end, there’s that part about “harmful stereotypes of relationships with mothers and daughters.”

Well… ok, Redemption Unveiled Podcast. I see why you say that. I totally see how this negative depiction of a parent-child relationship could have scared you and your littles and damaged the sweet, trusting rapport you have worked so hard to cultivate with them. That is truly unfortunate, and I am sorry. Nobody warned you and you got signed up for this ride without your knowing consent and now you’re stuck doing damage control and that’s a shame. It is. I mean that.

But, uh, there’s something you need to know… depictions of negative, destructive, harmful parenting, are not… stereotypes.

They are just truths that you, and especially your children, are very blessed to not have present in your immediate family.

That can’t be said for a lot of people. Particularly… a lot of kids out there.

Kids who do indeed, for very good reason, feel just like this character you’ve quoted from the movie (that part I can legit comment on since you kindly shared it): “I’ve been obsessed with my moms approval my whole life. I couldn’t take losing it, but losing you guys feels even worse.”

Friend, I’d like you to know that I wish somebody, even if it was just some cartoon movie narrative, had presented me with this life lesson as an option when I was a teen.

It might have saved me from another two decades of solid grief, abuse, and arrested development.

Here’s the thing: some kids actually need stories like this to tell them the truth about their parents. Even, maybe especially, when those kids have grown up to be adults and still don’t know any better.

Because their parents sure as heck aren’t going to tell them.

And their parents’ friends sure aren’t going to tell them because, well, they’re the parents’ friends, and we have a society full of grown-ups more willing to look out for the interests of their fellow grown-ups than for the vulnerable children being exploited in their midst.

Sometimes we need stories from people who’ve never met us and never will to speak the truth that we desperately need to hear that not a single person we actually know will ever say.

That is why I am fundamentally grateful Pixar is creating stories like this, even though you may not be.

I am sorry this movie was a waste of your time, and I’m not denying that it was; it clearly was. But it’s not going to be a waste of someone else’s time. In fact, someone else out there really needs to see it.

And you know what? It would not be a waste of your time… for you to sit down with that person, whether a child or an adult… as an engaged and observant and supportive and quiet and listening friend… and watch this movie with them. And talk about it.

Ask them how it spoke to them. Ask them if it resonates at all. Ask them how safe they feel at home, how seen they feel, how respected they feel. Ask them if they just want to talk about any of it.

Maybe start with just that last one first.

And then really, really listen.

Because, friend, if someone had done something like that for me when I was a kid–if that kind of appreciation for different, unfamiliar, even uncomfortable perspectives on stuff like this had existed when I was a kid–maybe you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to.

Maybe you would still accidentally stumble into the misfortune of having your own kids unnecessarily exposed to this subject matter… but maybe then you would be better equipped to have a conversation about how, sadly, parents like that do exist, and the kids of those parents need love and help, and because your kiddos have good and kind and loving parents… they can grow up to be good parents themselves and maybe even show hurting little kids like that what it is to be truly loved.

Gratis.

P.S. Also can you please not use sarcastic quote marks to discredit the main character whenever she talks about her true self? Because, um, that tells survivors of child abuse (like me) that they don’t actually know themselves and what they’ve gone through… even though nobody else could possibly know everything they’ve gone through as well as they do. Let’s all please keep in mind that God designed each individual human to be literally the best-qualified human on the planet to know who he or she is… because God did not make people to be a hive mind. Nobody gets to know my mind and heart and life like I do, and I don’t get to know that about anybody else. Nobody but God has that insight (Jer. 17:9-10).

Kthanxbye.