2022: Year in Review

I was very busy this last year! Here is a summary of my writings and advocacy work from 2022:

• In January, I began writing my multi-part series providing an overview of child liberation theology. I also was honored to write a guest post for the Vashti Initiative, a nonprofit organization that advocates for survivors of religious abuse. My guest post, entitled “You Are Not Your Own: And Other Lies Evangelicalism Taught Me,” explains how “evangelicalism taught me a lie: that I am not my own, that I owe myself to God through spiritual slavery because I was ‘bought with a price.’ The very premise of this equation is religious abuse.”

• In February, I signed a contract with Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company to publish my book on child liberation theology, titled The Kingdom of Children: A Liberation Theology. I also released the second part of my child liberation theology overview series, “Why Your Faith Community Needs Child Liberation Theology.” Finally, I wrote about Fox News star and far-right extremist Tucker Carlson being scheduled to keynote at the Great Homeschool Conventions, the most prominent convention company for homeschoolers in the United States,

• In March, child liberation theology was officially declared a heresy by the Christian Right (a great badge of honor in my book!). Baptist News Global writer Rick Pidcock cited my article for the Centre for the Study of Bible & Violence on Voddie Baucham, “The Child as Viper: How Voddie Baucham’s Theology of Children Promotes Abuse,” in his own article on Baucham. I also spoke to Religion Dispatches’ Chrissy Stroop about the $100 million “He Gets Us” advertising campaign to promote a conservative Christian understanding of Jesus. Additionally, I was invited to give a speech about my experience with extremism in homeschooling at Veradale United Church of Christ.

• In April, I wrote a post about why it’s so bad to misuse and abuse the word “grooming” from a child protection perspective. That post was later cited by Jessica Johnson in an article for The Revealer about exploitation and abuse at Hillsong Church.

• In May, I published the text of my speech from the 2022 Conference on Religious Trauma. My speech, “Traumatic Homeschooling: How Evangelicals Use Education to Totalize,” was mentioned in Rick Pidcock’s excellent article for Baptist News Global on the conference, “What I learned listening to others who have left the faith.”

• In June, I wrote an article for Religion Dispatches on Voddie Baucham’s nominations to be President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as well as President of the SBC’s Pastors Conference. While writing the article, I had the privilege of interviewing a number of women who grew up in homes influenced by Baucham’s teachings. They told me of the long-term damage those teachings inflicted on them and their families. Since they told me more than I could fit into the Religion Dispatches article, I published a companion piece on my personal website that shares the interviews in fuller detail.

• In July, I was interviewed by Diana Cariboni for Open Democracy about the role of corporal punishment in American evangelical homeschooling. That interview was used in two Open Democracy pieces: “Top US homeschooling advocates say parents have ‘right’ to inflict pain,” which you can read here; and “Spank your children, Brazil’s homeschooling industry tells parents,” which you can read here.

• In August, I wrote about my appearance on the Human Restoration Project podcast earlier in the year. During that podcast, I had the opportunity to talk about both solutions to abuse in homeschooling as well as child liberation theology. I created this graphic to help visually represent the different directions we can take to address abuse in homeschooling:

• In September, Baptist News Global writer Rick Pidcock cited a blog post of mine about how French missionaries used corporal punishment as a form of religious colonialism against Native Canadian children in an article about corporal punishment in schools. Both my blog post and Pidcock’s article discuss Clarissa W. Atkinson’s illuminating essay ‘Wonderful Affection’: Seventeenth-Century Missionaries to New France on Children and Childhood” from Marcia J. Bunge’s excellent book The Child in Christian Thought.

• In October, I wrote about a disagreement I have with Janet Pais and her 1991 book Suffer the Children: A Theology of Liberation by a Victim of Child Abuse. While I think Pais and her book are important and revolutionary in their development of child liberation theology, I also think they sometimes overemphasize the powerlessness of children—to the point of sounding adultist.

• Most of November and December were occupied with copyediting my child liberation theology book. (I officially finished the copyediting process on January 5, 2023!) But I did have time in December to write the next installment of my overview of child liberation theology, “Your Family and Child Liberation Theology.” You can read that installment here.

Thank you to everyone who has read and listened to what I wrote and said this last year. Best wishes to everyone in the new year!

Published by R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College.

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