Do you homeschool? Read this.

I was just alerted to a very lengthy but eye-opening article posted in the comment section at Truewomanhood blog. Go here to read how HSLDA and friends have disrupted the homeschool freedoms that we can enjoy in the United States. The article is very lengthy, but is well-worth the read. Names are named and the grasping for power is a common thread among many who are presented as leaders in the homeschool movement. Be an informed consumer before you fork over another $100 per year to join HSLDA. Page 19 (timeline) is particularly interesting, as well as page 7. Also, Page 8 shows a little of what I can relate to. And on page 9 it shows how connected some of these well-known homeschool leaders are. Homeschooling, it seems, is another lucrative endeavor and seems alot like what the world does to earn a living. Though I’ve homeschooled my children for years and am an advocate for educating your children at home whenever you can, the people trying to gain control of the “movement” have a lot of undesirable agendas.

[Since this blog post, the article has been removed from that site, but is posted in pdf format at this other site now.]

HT: Corrie and Molleth and Cindy


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12 Responses to “Do you homeschool? Read this.”

  1. TulipGirl Says:

    I remember homeschooling during the early 90s and legal fears were still very near — joining HSLDA seemed sensible. But then, into the mid-90s, homeschooling was more widely accepted, mainstreamed and HSLDA seemed more. . . of a. . . money thing, an ideology thing. I don’t know whether my parents actually joined in the early 90s, but Hubby and I haven’t been members.

  2. Kathleen Says:

    I made it through our homeschooling days, lived among prying family eyes, homeschooled the 3 children in a travel trailer and we NEVER were subject to our freedoms being taken away. I think that the more extreme and disruptive some of these homeschool organizations become, the more people will be turned off from the idea of homeschooling. Too much baggage and agenda-making. At what point will those in power say, “You’re not doing it the ‘BIBLICAL’ way, so we’re going to deny you the right to participate in government/PAC legislation”? It makes me leary of those with very ambitious agendas to get their way.

    We’ve never been members of HSLDA.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    I’ve found some cached pages of the Guenther thing that were recently taken down.

    Philadelphia: HSLDA Conference
    Eventually, I asked Chris if HSLDA would sponsor Ingrid and me to attend the September/October 2005 HSLDA leadership conference that was going to be held in Philadelphia. A few days passed before he called to let me know that HSLDA would sponsor us. When we told him that we had no money for the trip, he told us to use our credit card and that HSLDA would pay us in cash in Philadelphia.

    Searching for airline rates to Philadelphia, we discovered that the cost to fly on to Houston for a visit with James McDonald and his wife Stacey to discuss employment with them would not be more expensive. So, we made an appointment to meet with James and Stacey following our meetings in Philadelphia. We had little hope that HSLDA would change their position of funding us by continuing to reach out for donations for us and our work in Germany.

    Even though we had little hope that HSLDA would continue to fund us on a regular basis, our aim in Philadelphia was to make one last attempt to convince HSLDA that we were still needed in Germany and that they should continue to reach out for donations to fund us. However, if HSLDA would hold their position that they would no longer fund us, we were prepared to leave Germany and begin work with James and Stacey McDonald in Houston.

    Schuzh president, attorney Armin Eckermann and his wife, Gabriele, Schuzh leading attorney felt that the meeting in Philadelphia was so important that they also decided to attend at their own expense. Armin made the decision to hold our annual Schuzh Board meeting during the time of this HSLDA conference. Armin and Gabriele wanted to use their time in Philadelphia to plead with HSLDA to continue to fund the Guenthers who were desperately needed in Germany. We had four Schuzh meetings during the time of this HSLDA conference in an attempt to resolve this issue.

    During the second Schuzh board meeting, Chris invited Gregg Harris to join us and asked if we would approve him as a member of the Schuzh board. Being unaware that there were any problems between us and Gregg, we of course trusted Chris and voted Gregg onto the board. After the vote, Gregg stepped in and took control. This surprised both us and the Eckermanns because he was new and did not know any of the things that had gone on at Schuzh. We and the Eckermanns were amazed at how he became very abrupt in addressing us.

    When we continued to plead for funds, he told us that funds from HSLDA for Germany could only be given to attorneys. The Eckermanns argued that attorneys were not needed but that the Guenthers were. This argument fell on deaf ears. Instead, Gregg offered to get money for us if we would plant churches in Germany. He told us that we wouldn’t have to work hard at this and that the church could even be in our home. He said that the number of members did not matter. Even if we had only one member attending services would be enough. This way, he said, we could continue to work for Schuzh. We were deeply offended by this plan and Chris approved of it. We said that this was not acceptable because it was not honest.

    Chris at one point during one of our Schuzh meetings told us that our performance had nothing to do with HSLDA not wanting to give us any more money. He said that we had performed many and amazing things in Germany.

    Having announced at our last Schuzh meeting that I had no choice but to leave Germany and take a job with James McDonald, Gregg Harris, knowing that we had no resources left told us that he would see to it that he wouldn’t let us lose our house in Germany. He also said that he would see to it that we would hit the ground running in Houston. A month later, when I was looking for funds to relocate to Houston, I called Gregg and he said that he didn’t want to help. I reminded him of his words in Philadelphia and he admitted that he had said these things but that he never promised them. He ended up giving us $2,000.

    HSLDA June 2005 Court Report
    Someone attending the HSLDA conference in Philadelphia gave us a copy of HSLDA’s June 2005 Court Report, a publication HSLDA sends to their members every other month. In this Court Report my wife and I were given titles of attorneys. (“Simultaneously, Schulunterricht zu Hause e.V. — School Instruction at Home — attorneys Rich and Ingrid Guenther, who are also homeschooling parents, mediated with the authorities on behalf of the seven families”).

    There was also a call for donations for Germany in this Court Report. Living in Germany, my wife and I were not aware of this article when it first appeared. We only learned of it later when we attended the HSLDA leadership conference in Sept./Oct. in Philadelphia. Since, I have discovered that this was not a mistake but was the work of Chris Klicka. Perhaps it was to cover HSLDA because they had broken their charter by giving donated money to us, who were not attorneys?

    We were surprised when Scott Woodruff asked us if we were attorneys because it was so stated in the Court Report. He thought it was strange because he knew we were not attorneys — It may be of significance that this article appeared after HSLDA had stopped giving us monthly support.

    You can imagine our surprise when we read an article written in a German publication referring to us as attorneys. This article appeared about the time the Court Report was released to the public mentioning us as attorneys. Before the conference in Philadelphia, I had received several calls from German homeschool leaders (who had read an article in a German publication that listed us as attorneys) asking if we were indeed attorneys. We certainly did not know where this had come from and were puzzled because we of course are not attorneys and we had thought this was known by everyone. We never told anyone that we were attorneys and never pretended to be.

    While we were attending the HSLDA conference in Philadelphia, we received a phone call from home. Our oldest son was standing in the doorway preventing police from entering to take our youngest daughter because she was being homeschooled. This was a traumatic moment for our children but Klaus handled it well. Also, this was not the first time a state official had come to our door. We lived under this kind of pressure.

    A year earlier we had a meeting together with a homeschool couple in northern Germany and with their county commissioner and the county commissioner’s attorney. This was an official meeting. The attorney tried to convince the couple to send their children back to school. He pretended to quote the law that clearly showed that the couple was breaking. We had prepared ourselves for this meeting so we were familiar with the law he was supposedly quoting.

    Knowing that he was misrepresenting it, we asked him to get out his law book and read the law he was quoting. He did so and was embarrassed because what he had said was the exact opposite of what the law really stated. The meeting was abruptly ended. A few days later we received in the mail a notice that criminal charges had been filed against us – basically because we were helping homeschoolers to break the law.

    Also, following this meeting, a reporter called and wanted to have an interview. My wife gave a well thought out interview, responding to the questions what the children felt was wrong with sex education. She responded that the children had reported that their honor and integrity were deeply injured. The teachers union took this as an affront to teachers who are government employs and as such cannot be publicly complained about. So, the union filed a suit against my wife.

    Shortly before the Philadelphia conference the criminal charges against me and my wife were dropped, after a hard battle fought by our attorney, Dr. Ronald Reichert. Now we were free to leave Germany to take a job in America, if it was decided that HSLDA would no longer raise funds for us and our work in Germany.

    Since Chris did not give us money at the conference like he had promised, upon our return to Germany I again asked for the money to cover costs incurred for the HSLDA conference in Philadelphia. I began to correspond with Vanessa in the HSLDA accounting department. She emailed: “I was just told by our accounting office, that we need to stop sending it to your organization but send it directly to you.” This troubled us because HSLDA had always paid us through Schuzh. This way we could always transparently account for the money given to us. HSLDA ended up sending the money to cover our travel costs to Philadelphia again to Schuzh “for German homeschoolers”.

    Because HSLDA told us that they were no longer willing to gather funds for our ministry, we announced that we would fly on to Houston from Philadelphia where we would meet with James McDonald to discuss a possible employment agreement to join his business. I thought that this would please Chris because he had commented that I should go back to work.

  4. Kathleen Says:

  5. Kathleen Says:

    HSLDA destroys homeschool leader and homeschool movement in Germany | Mike Farris leads charge
    By Richard Guenther

    Many are probably wondering whatever happened to the Germany homeschool leaders, the Guenthers. We owe an explanation to all of you who donated your precious money to support our work. It is also important that I clear our name after having been accused of swindling money donated by you good people.

    HSLDA has sinned grievously against my family and me. I therefore am hereby doing my Christian duty to rebuke them before all: “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” (1 Ti. 5:20)

    HSLDA’s Mike Farris, Chris Klicka and the entire Board of HSLDA Trustees have sinned grievously against my family and me. I have given these men all the time and opportunity to make things right with me, doing all the Biblical steps according to Matt. 18 and 1 Co. 6. HSLDA continues to refuse to do their Biblical duty to enter into a mediation/binding arbitration agreement with me through the Christian Peacemaker Ministries that would allow for any monetary damages I have incurred.

    I do not know why HSLDA has acted so hostile toward us. I can only suspect that they have somehow broken the law and have acted to cover up their mistake. My wife and I were listed as attorneys in the May/June HSLDA Court Report that is sent out to their members. In this Court Report they were soliciting funds for Germany. One HSLDA attorney told me that this was an accidental mistake made by HSLDA.

    This was not a mistake that they listed us as attorneys and I can prove it. Why, if it was a mistake, did HSLDA not make an effort to correct it? Later, HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka began to tell others behind our back that we had embezzled money that HSLDA raised and sent for attorneys and rather spent it on our own personal needs. Then, HSLDA’s Mike Smith, Mike Farris, and Chris Klicka corroborated in a telephone conference and stated to us and to a former judge who accompanied us to a meeting with Mike Farris that the money HSLDA donated to Germany was from the beginning only raised and sent for attorneys. (Where is the evidence?)

    Then Chris denied that he knew that we were authorized to receive the money until near the end of the time we were in Germany. (A proven lie.) Then he told the president of our organization, Schuzh that he had told the Guenthers on numerous occasions that the money HSLDA was sending to Germany was for attorneys, which was another lie. (Chris was the vice president of Schuzh so he knew all of Schuzh business. Clearly stated in the official minutes of the 2003, 2004, 2005 annual Schuzh meetings, the money raised and sent by HSLDA to Schuzh was to be given to the Guenthers for our work).

    Since Schuzh was a for-profit organization and since we were not attorneys who were receiving the money HSLDA had raised for Germany, there may have been a problem with their Charter. At any rate, during the first year that they sent the money they did not write anything into the remarks column of the electronic transfers specifying what the money was designated for. It was only later that they entered into the remarks column that it was for German homeschoolers. It appears that since 9/11, it has become more difficult to send money overseas, especially for political efforts like we were involved in. I have been told that there must be a close accounting of the money and what it is being used for. HSLDA did not account for the money they were sending and then later shamelessly behind our back accused us of embezzling it. I believe that the IRS should do an investigation of HSLDA on this account.

    We arrived in America ready to embrace the American lifestyle, full of joy and expectancy, and ready to go to work. We have been dumbfounded by the hard hearts and the cruelty that has greeted us.

    I had heard accounts of the misdeeds of HSLDA and its leaders but I had a difficult time to believe that these accounts were true. That is until I myself became a victim. The more I plead with these men to do their moral and Christian duty, the more they refuse. Knowing full well what they have done, they refuse to help my family and I even a little bit. I am a man with cancer, 60-years-old, and through their actions have lost my livelihood, my home, my retirement, and my ministry in Germany. After Mike Farris slandered me in Germany, he and HSLDA stepped in to try to assume my ministry there. But the German attorneys involved know and say that my wife and I cannot be replaced. HSLDA giving some families money for legal fees or relocation is not the remedy that will allow Germany to win the battle for freedom of education.

    Please allow me to tell you my story. I have ample evidence to support everything I will tell you here.

  6. Kathleen Says:


    Time Line HSLDA vs Guenther
    2003 Nov. — HSLDA agrees to raise funds for the Guenther ministry in Germany.
    2004 Aug. — HSLDA’s Chris Klicka calls to tell Guenthers that Mike Smith, president of HSLDA no longer wants to fund us on a regular basis because he is afraid of the IRS.
    2004 Sept./Oct. — HSLDA Leadership Conference in Spokane, Washington. Chris Klicka introduces Guenthers to Gregg Harris and Doug Phillips who agree to invite us to America in Nov/Dec to introduce our work to their ministries who want to fund our work.
    2004 Nov./Dec. — Visiting Gregg Harris and Doug Phillips. These men were not so friendly as they were in Spokane. Doug had invited us to stay in his home in San Antonio for 4-days while he introduced us to perspective donors. However, when we arrived in San Antonio, Doug treated us very coldly.
    2005 May. — HSLDA stopped sending us money.
    2005 Aug. — I told Chris Klicka that I needed to find employment since HSLDA quite funding our ministry. James McDonald, owner and publisher of Homeschooling Today Magazine was looking for someone so I contacted him and told him I was interested in working for him. Since our children had by this time endured so much hardship in Germany due to we parents’ involvement in the homeschool movement, they wanted to return to America. So we told them that we would do this if HSLDA told us that they would under no circumstances want to continue to fund our ministry.
    2005 Sept./Oct. — HSLDA Leadership Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President of Schuzh and attorney, Armin Eckermann and his attorney wife, Schuzh main attorney, decided that they needed to attend this conference in order to try to convince HSLDA to continue to fund the Guenthers. Since HSLDA remained firm that they would no longer fund the Guenthers, telling us that they could only give money to attorneys, we decided to fly on the Houston to meet the McDonalds to discuss my employment with their businesses (Magazine, Tea Shop, Books on the Path). They were very excited that I would join them in their businesses. I agreed to return to Houston and begin work on January 1, 2006. James told me that he would have a contract ready to sign then.
    2005 Dec. — While our family was in the air, on our way to Houston to begin my employment with James, Chris Klicka called James to tell him that the Guenthers were not trustworthy people. That they were bad characters because they took money raised by HSLDA to fund attorneys taking homeschool cases in Germany and spent it on their own personal needs. Chris said that I was an unstable character so James should not tell me because I would make it public to the detriment of HSLDA and the entire homeschool movement. Chris told James to call Gregg Harris for confirmation of his story to James. James called and Gregg confirmed the story.
    2006 Jan. — I began work on January 2nd. Later James would tell others that I didn’t start until the 15th, thus not keeping my word that I would begin the 1st. This was not true and James had to admit it when I confronted him and showed those he was telling this to the proof.
    2006 Jan. — Payday arrived on January 15 and James said that he did not have enough money to pay me. I am a businessman and saw very soon that James was not a businessman. Since my sales were going very well, I knew I could make the magazine a success and so considered asking James if I could become owner. He had told me after I arrived to go to work that he wanted to sell the magazine and go fulltime into the church ministry instead. In addition to his businesses, James was pasturing a small Presbyterian church.
    2006 Feb. — On February 1, I broached the subject of taking over Homeschooling Today Magazine. James was quite agreeable. I asked James if I could talk to others about it so that I could begin to form business partnerships. I also wanted to reach out to others who might be interested to join me in this endeavor. James gave me his permission.
    2006 Feb. — On February 25, my wife and I met with James and his wife to further discuss taking ownership of the magazine. We wanted to reach an agreement and a possible time frame when the deal could be completed. James agreed to turn over the magazine to us within weeks. He first had to get the ok from the board of Homeschooling Today, which he said would not be a problem at all. We shook hands on the deal and the meeting was adjourned.
    2006 Feb. — The morning of February 26, I emailed HSLDA officials, Mike Farris, Mike Smith, and Chris Klicka to give them a heads up that I would take the magazine. I said that I would continue to use the magazine to promote HSLDA and PHC. Early in the afternoon, James called me in a very worried tone to say that now the word of my taking the magazine had gotten outside of Houston. So, I thought. What was the problem since James had previously given me permission to talk to others about it. But, I thought, who in the world told James? I did tell the father of a family who attended James’ church that I would soon be the owner of the magazine. He was a friend and I thought nothing of telling him. Anyway, I thought that it was possibly him who had told someone outside of Houston since he traveled a lot for his job. I never for a second considered that someone from HSLDA had called James. After all, they were my closest and most trusted confidents.
    2006 Mar. — Either I or an elder from James church called to arrange a meeting between us. It was during this meeting that I accidently discovered that something very amiss was happening around me regarding my employment with Homeschooling Today magazine. The portion of a telephone conversation between this elder and Chris Klicka caused me to be deeply troubled. When the call was ended, the elder would not tell me what it was all about. He would only say that I had to call Chris Klicka and make things right with him. Until then nothing I could say would be credible. (See Affidavit)
    2006 Apr. — April 7, we arranged to meet with Mike Farris to try to figure out what this was all about. Because we had discovered that we had been accused of embezzling donated funds, we thought it best to have someone in the legal field accompany us to this meeting so we invited a former judge to join us. We showed him what evidence we had so that he knew we were saying the truth.

    During this meeting Mike Farris excused himself and left for another room and had a conference call with Mike Smith and Chris Klicka. When Mike returned he was adamant that the money HSLDA gave to Schuzh was for attorneys from the beginning. He said that Chris had the evidence. Nothing we could say could change his mind. Now Mike Smith, Mike Farris, and Chris Klicka were corroborating and saying all three that we had embezzled donated money. When we left and were walking to our car, the judge said that these were very bad characters we were dealing with. We simply could not believe this. They had been our heroes in the homeschool movement.
    2006 May — Mike Farris promised that he would have Mike Smith conduct an investigation. This concerned us because we knew that Mike Smith and Chris Klicka were corroborating. But we didn’t voice our concerns with Mike Farris who we realized was not aware of what was going on at that time. On May 24 Mike Smith sent us his report. By this time the relationship between James McDonald and me was in a complete shambles and over. Mike’s report was a sham. (See Mike Smith Report)
    2006 May — The stress of this all happening caused my health to take a drastic turn to the worse. I began to cough uncontrollably. I visited the Veterans hospital for tests. My blood revealed that my PSA count was higher than normal, an indication that I could have prostate cancer. The doctor decided that I needed to have a biopsy done of my prostate gland. The results of the biopsy showed that I had prostate cancer. Now this on top of everything else – being accused of embezzling the funds of honest peoples money, people who had a complete trust in us and our work in Germany; job and ownership of a business ruined, a business that would have allowed us to salvage our home and retirement in Germany and also allow us to continue our work there – The anguish was now unbelievable. We had no money to pay for the next months lease agreement on our house. We had no money for food. We had nowhere to go. The only thing that saved us was our trust in God.
    2006 June — James and I discontinued our relationship. I called Mike Farris June 9th, to tell him that I had to come up with the months lease by tomorrow or else we would have to leave our home.

    Mike asked me how much I needed and I told him $5,000 to pay for the months living expenses. He called Mike Smith to discuss this with him and called me a few minutes later. He told me that HSLDA would give us $10,000 and that was all and that if we didn’t take it we would get nothing. He said that if HSLDA gave us $10,000 that we would have to release HSLDA from any and all charges we had against them.

    He said that if I sued, HSLDA would stall the courts for 3 years and then in the end we would get nothing. I had never mentioned a suit. He first forbid me to come to Virginia and then realized the absurdity of making this demand and changed it to forbid me from stepping foot on HSLDA property. I politely declined HSLDA’a $10,000 offer. The $10,000 would not even allow us to pay the bills we now had accumulated – the balance of our lease agreement alone was over $23,000.
    2006 June — We were given a little money from friends in the Houston area to travel to friends in Virginia. We stayed there until we found a place to stay in Michigan. There a missionary group took us in.
    2006 Aug. — I wrote to HSLDA asking for them to enter into a Peacemaker Ministries mediation agreement. They wrote back that they wouldn’t do that but that they had an attorney in Texas, an HSLDA attorney who would do it. They promised that he would be neutral. I agreed because I knew that I could prove our innocence and HSLDA’s guilt.
    2006 Sept. — We left for Michigan where a missionary group took us in. They knew who we were and we told them that I needed to take a break and do a natural cancer treatment. We did not know that they dealt with HSLDA on a regular basis. Before long their demeanor toward us changed.
    2006 Oct. — Mediation with HSLDA in Leesburg, Virginia. We shared documents with the mediation attorney so he knew that Chris Klicka was lying at this meeting. We demanded that either HSLDA satisfy us by giving us $500,000 to start our lives over again, or else allow us to work together with HSLDA’s liability insurance carrier to come to a deal, or else allow us to present our case to the HSLDA Board of Trustees. Mike Smith, who was also present at this meeting, told us that these demands were impossible. A few days following this meeting we received a letter allowing us to address the Board late in February.
    2006 Dec. — A Michigan homeschool couple who were state leaders met us at a dinner in a state representatives home. They recognized who we were and were very excited to meet us. They told us that they wanted us to address their group about Germany and would call us in a day or so. We never received their call. We can imagine that they inquired from HSLDA about us.
    2006 Dec. — One of our sons was at a homeschool function with friends and there met a pastor who had never seen him and inquired who he was. When our son told the pastor that he was a Guenther from Germany, the pastor asked him if we were his parents. When our son confirmed this the pastor gave him his phone number and asked that we call him. Two weeks later we called and he invited us to have dinner with him and his wife. He invited me to address his church elders who were meeting later that evening. I addressed them and the next morning he called me to say that the church had made the decision to take us on as missionaries to Germany. It turns out that he was a friend of Mike Farris. Things only turned sour when he found out that we were in a bad standing with HSLDA.
    2007 Feb. — February 12, Chris Klicka called a leader in German to offer him and his organization money from HSLDA. The leader asked about the Guenthers and Chris told him that we had disappointed him because we took the money that HSLDA sent to German families like his and spent it on their own personal needs.
    2007 Feb. — February 16, I presented our case before the HSLDA Board in Palm Springs, California. I brought along my entire family so that HSLDA would be made to see who they so harmed. The Board would not see our children.
    2007 Feb. — February 18, while on the way to the airport on his return trip to Germany, Klaus received a call from Camden Spillar, president of Home School Alumni that Klaus was being relieved from his duties as European tour organizer and guide and that Camden would assume this position himself. Camden accused Klaus of mishandling funds and therefore he was untrustworthy. These were the same charges that HSLDA had used against me. Since I had mentioned that Klaus was organizing this tour during my Board presentation a few days earlier it only makes sense that HSLDA mixed in with Klaus and took him down. Klaus and Camden had a good relationship up to that point. Someone who worked together with Camden said that Camden’s demeanor changed dramatically toward Klaus on the February 22.
    2007 Mar. — March 22, we received a letter from HSLDA stating that Mike Farris is planning a trip to Germany to meet with leaders, lawyers and families who need help. They asked us not to be present at his meetings and assured us that if anyone asks about our relationship going forward with HSLDA, Mike will simply say that he is exploring ways to assist us to return to our ministry in Germany.
    2007 Apr. — During Mikes visit, he told leaders that the Guenthers were suing HSLDA to get rich and that they were no longer needed in Germany.

    Thanks to Mike Farris and HSLDA the homeschool movement in Germany is dead. I am 60 years old, lost everything and have cancer. I am in desperate need to find employment to allow me to take care of the basic needs of my family. My wife and children are hurting beyond anything you can imagine. We are needy and we feel betrayed by an organization that prides itself in acting after biblical standards and helping families.
    2008 Feb. — HSLDA told us that as long as we hold a suit over their heads they would not talk to us. I wrote to them that I would not sue and that if they would reimburse us for $200,000, a figure that would not pay our now accrued debts but that would allow us to get our feet back on the ground and pay for a cheap cancer alternative treatment. A few days later, they wrote back:

    The HSLDA Board met earlier this week. The Board considered your most recent proposal, in which you ask to be paid $200,000, and voted unanimously to decline it.

    As I have explained to you in the past, we do not believe that HSLDA has any legal or moral obligation to pay you money damages. We respectfully suggest that the time has come for you to set aside your efforts to obtain a monetary settlement from HSLDA.

    We wish you only success in all of your endeavors on behalf of homeschooling in Germany and pray for your health to be restored.

    I gave them one last chance. By now I am desperate for help. Since I cannot find employment, I needed a sum of money to begin my own business. I wrote and asked them for $100,000 and with that I would release them from everything. I told them that surely, neither they nor we wanted this all to end up out in the public. They gave my letter to a hired attorney who wrote back that I had broken the law because I had threatened them and could land in jail for up to 5 years. How cold hearted they have been against a family who had always upheld HSLDA and their mission to help families. Their position is that they have no legal or moral obligation to my family and me. They will enter into a Peacemaker agreement but not with any talk of monetary reimbursement.
    We have tried to get HSLDA to do their Christian duty and reimburse us for the losses they have caused us. We continue to invite them to the Peacemaker table, which they still refuse if talk of money is involved. Now if they are innocent then what is the problem with talk of money? We lost our home, our retirement, my job, a business opportunity and I have cancer all as a result of HSLDA’s treacherous actions against us. I lived on Codeine for 1-½ years to relieve a very bad cough so I wasn’t able to seek employment during that time. My children worked to support our family during that time, laying aside their educations. Now they too are in financial trouble.
    I am not a beggar. I am looking to be employed and cannot find anyone who wants to employ me. The strain on my family and me is unbearable.

  7. Kathleen Says:

    Fundraising efforts:

    Fund Raising Efforts
    Spokane: HSLDA conference — Looking for funds

    Shortly before the 2004 September/October HSLDA national leadership conference in Spokane, Washington, we told Chris that we needed to reach out for funds apart from HSLDA since Mike Smith no longer wanted to fund us on a regular basis. We also felt that HSLDA had done enough for us by this time anyway and we were thankful. We told Chris from the beginning that if HSLDA ever wanted to stop giving us funds we would only be ever thankful for what funds they had already raised for and gave to us.

    Even though it was not money from their membership funds (it was not money taken out of HSLDA’s pocket) but rather specially donated funds raised in addition for Germany, we believed that it was an added burden for them to take in the money for us. Therefore, we wanted to begin to ask for donations ourselves directly.

    One day in September, Chris called to tell us that Gregg Harris and Doug Phillips would attend the national HSLDA Spokane conference and that he wanted to introduce them to us about supporting our ministry. We were very excited about this. When we met them at the conference a few weeks later, they were both eager to offer the support of their ministries.

    Gregg invited our entire family to come to an event he was having in Portland, Oregon in late November so we could meet with his churches and board members. He told us that he would finance our trip.

    Doug also asked us to visit him in San Antonio, where he promised to arrange for me to present our ministry to big donors who would be present the first night of our arrival in San Antonio. Doug invited us to stay in his home for four days while he was working to secure funds for us.

    At the Spokane HSLDA conference, Chris told us that there would be an international workshop, a new workshop being introduced and that he wanted me to be prepared to speak. It puzzled us that I was not invited to speak during this workshop. Germany was the hotspot of the world of homeschooling and we were not invited to speak? We believe some of the state leaders had approached Chris afterward because they wanted to hear us. After this workshop, Chris arranged a special time after the conference where we were given the opportunity to speak for 10 or 15 minutes.

    Again, this puzzled us knowing that people were interested to hear a report of our work because so much money was being raised for Germany. It was also at this meeting that I ran to catch up with Mike Smith to ask him if I could be given 30-seconds to thank those present during an evening dinner event for supporting our ministry in Germany. Mike appeared irritated with me and said in a sharp voice, NO!

    When we returned home in Germany we found ourselves stacked up with work, allowing us little time to create a ministry brochure of our family that we could present at the upcoming meeting upon our return to America. It was Doug’s idea to create this brochure. Though we were short on time and money to create it, we did the best we could.

    Fundraising Trip — Gregg Harris, Doug Phillips
    When we finally arrived in Oregon, Gregg had arranged for me to speak to his gathering of churches. It was an all day affair. We thought it was quite odd that Gregg waited until the end of the day, after most of the people had gone home, to ask me to finally speak. He told me that I only had 10-minutes. I had prepared a power point presentation that was a bit longer than 10-minutes. I was prepared to be the keynote speaker but rather found myself in the unimportant position of speaking at the end of the day when many of the people had already gone home.

    As we were leaving, Gregg asked us if we could return to Portland in a few days to meet with his board privately, which we did. They honored us with a check to cover our travel costs and told us that they would pledge to our ministry personally another $1,000 each month for the year 2005. We felt honored and blessed. When we were getting into our car to leave, Gregg asked us to have Doug Phillips call him immediately when we saw Doug because Gregg couldn’t reach him.

    Leaving Portland and arriving at the Phillips’ house in San Antonio, we were amazed to see that Doug had not fulfilled his promise to have big donors present to meet us. Rather awaiting us at his home was a few families from his local church. When I told Doug that I had prepared a power point presentation and that my son Klaus who was along with us would operate the laptop, he insisted that he himself would do it.

    As I spoke, the pictures he brought up did not coordinate with my speech. For some reason he seemed to pull the pictures up in a random way that confused me. When the event ended and after the people left I perceived that Doug was not very friendly toward me like he was when we had left him in Spokane two-months earlier. During the time we spent in his home he made himself unavailable and appeared to be somewhat aloof. We could not understand this.

    On Sunday, he asked if our family would like to attend his church with him. This appeared strange because of course we wanted to do this. One of the reasons for us to come to San Antonio was to meet the people attending Doug’s church. When it came time for church members to introduce guests they had brought along to the church service, Doug only offered that we were a family from Germany and very little more. This surprised us. After the service there was a potluck meal in the church dining hall.

    People were very friendly and asked us many questions. Afterward, when we were walking to our car to leave, Doug ran to me and offered us a check for $2,000. We didn’t know where this money came from, whether it was from Doug personally or from church members. But this was the total and sum of his great fund raising effort to support our ministry and a far cry from the hope he had given us.

    When we returned to Germany both Gregg and Doug were impossible to reach. After Spokane and before we arrived back in America to meet their groups, my emails were swiftly answered. But now, upon our return to Germany after meeting their groups, my emails went unanswered. We could not understand this. Gregg had promised to send us a check for $12,000 right away. Yes, Gregg’s grandchild was terribly ill and a few weeks after we had visited Gregg and his group, the child died. We believed that this was a terrible burden on Gregg and believed that this was the reason he was not responding to my emails.

    But at Gregg’s request we began to send our emails to his Board and they never responded either. Eventually Gregg did send the money but he did not seem to be the same friendly Gregg when I was finally able to reach him on the phone. Doug had promised to put our story on his list of special donors that included 40,000 names, asking for donations for our ministry. Doug never answered my emails like he had always done before our visit and he would not take my phone calls either.

    Seeking Employment
    Even though Mike Smith told us that HSLDA would no longer give us money on a regular basis, HSLDA continued to send us $5,000 a month through April 2005. After that funds abruptly stopped. We desperately needed money to cover our work and cost of living.

    Since we were out of funds with seemingly no future hope of receiving further donations from HSLDA, I told Chris that I would look for a job. My children now wanted to return to America so I told him that I was looking for a job in America. Amazingly, at this time James McDonald, owner of Homeschooling Today magazine placed a notice on the state leaders email list that he was looking for someone who could help him. I emailed back to James and asked him what he was looking for because I was interested.

    On September 7, 2005 we asked for and received $3,000 from HSLDA. Vanessa from HSLDA accounting wrote: “As per Chris Klicka we are wiring you $3,000. Attached is a Grant Use Report form that our auditors and Board have wanted us to begin implementing. Essentially we need you to complete this form before we can send you another contribution. There is nothing you have done wrong. We have merely wanted to increase our controls so that we have adequate documentation in our files in the event we ever come under public scrutiny.”

    “There is nothing you have done wrong”? What did she mean by this? Of course there was nothing we did wrong. We always and only did what we were instructed to do.

  8. Kathleen Says:

    Homeschool Today Magazine, page 9:

    Homeschool Today Magazine
    Visit McDonald’s to discuss employment

    James and Stacey McDonald gave us a hero’s welcome. They introduced us to the Tea Shop, one leg of their operation. In the evening, they invited us to dine in a very fine Mexican restaurant. We left them in the best standing. It was agreed that I would initially work for James in more of a sales capacity because his last sales representative had left. On September 9, he emailed that “this could turn into a great partnership.”

    Here in Houston, he offered that ours would work into a partnership in short order. My initial title in the beginning was yet to be determined. He did tell me that in the beginning I would be working on a commission basis and that he would need to do some research to be able to tell me what the sales volume is at present to be able to calculate my pay even before I made any sales.

    Back in Germany, James emailed that my title would be Director of Operations (Operations meaning Homeschooling Today magazine, Tea Shop, Books on the Path). He also wrote: “I would basically turn over the wheel to you. Contracts closed (meaning prior to my employment because then he says “as well as new ones you bring in”) would be yours, as well as new ones you bring in. Thus your commission would start right away. I’m not sure if this all makes sense, but I believe you would be able to see at least $4,000 your first month as a minimum.”

    He was happy and excited and bragged to others that Richard Guenther would be working for him. He asked me for a bio so that he could introduce me and my family in the next issue of Homeschooling Today (this would have been the January/February issue). Strangely, this bio never appeared. In its place and an issue or two after our arrival was a mere mention of a German family who he now employed. I was puzzled by this, especially since he also listed me as an ad sales manager instead of the agreed upon Director of Operations. I continued to reach out to present and perspective advertisers as the Director of Operations. Later, after we discovered what had happened, we noticed that James had removed me from the website in early January where I was listed as Director of Operations.

    Arrive in Houston to begin employment
    When we arrived in Houston, James did not come to the airport to meet us. We assumed that it was because he was exhausted from his busy schedule. When we began our trip from Germany to Houston on the 8th of December, 2005 the emails between us were very amiable with James offering that he was concerned because we would have no house and furniture upon our arrival. We had very little money, only a few thousand that HSLDA and some personal friends provided us for relocating to America. Our children had to leave their keepsakes behind.

    We believed that if everything went well, we would be able to salvage our house in Germany by making the several back payments we owed and then either rent it out or put it on the market to sell. We therefore left everything in the house, taking only the absolute essentials along with us, mostly clothing.

    Something we were glad about was that James had offered that when we arrived to help us with a car and home. We had made him aware that it would be difficult because we had been outside of the US for over three years. After three years, you have no record of credit. To buy a car you normally would therefore need to pay cash. Also, you needed credit to lease a house. James had offered to help so we were not concerned.

    However, now he seemed to pull out of his offer. He coldly and bluntly said that it was not his obligation to help us (When we began to look for a car and since we had no credit record the car dealer asked to see my employment contract). Since James had promised to have a contract ready for me to sign upon my arrival in Houston, I asked him for this contract so that I could present it to the car dealer. He never produced a contract and would not tell me why.

    (You may wonder why I began to work for James without a contractual agreement. I came across the ocean with my wife and five children and had very little money left after arranging this relocation. I was dependant on James and the employment he offered to me. I had no choice but to begin work even without a contract. And besides, James was a Christian, even a pastor and involved in and committed to the homeschool movement like I was so why should I not trust him? I was unaware of what was going on behind my back between James and HSLDA.)

    The shortest lease agreement I could find in the Katy, Texas (a suburb of Houston) vicinity where my job would be located was for eighteen months. We had to make a deal with a house owner, offering to replace an outdated kitchen appliance, the kitchen sink, and painting the inside walls that were terribly scuffed and the ceilings blacked with candle soot.

    The owner allowed us to move in and begin to make payments one month later in exchange for our offer. It really was not such a good deal because I needed to concentrate on my new job instead of having to work on the house. But since James did not make a move to help us we felt we had no other choice. Fortunately for us, the house was furnished. Also, a very fine family who was a member of James’ church offered to help us to tidy up the house. Two of the older boys spent several days painting. We were thankful and felt blessed.

    HSLDA slanders the Guenthers
    Interfers with job and ownership of Homeschooling Today Magazine

    I was first made aware that anything was happening on March 3, 2006, when I accidentally overheard a portion of a telephone conversation between an elder of James’ church, and Chris Klicka. Until then, I was unaware that anything was going on behind my back. This is a very painful story to recollect.

    Before I and my family arrived in Houston where I was to begin a new livelihood as Director of Operations, without my knowledge Chris Klicka of HSLDA called my prospective employer James McDonald, owner of Homeschooling Today magazine, Books on the Path, and The Tea Shop, to tell James that I had an unstable character and was untrustworthy because I had taken money that HSLDA had sent to Schuzh for attorneys and instead used it for the personal needs of my own family (Embezzling donated funds is a very serious charge! Who would trust anyone who would do something so low? Who wouldn’t be angry with such a character? No worse charge could be leveled against someone like me).

    To back himself up, Chris told James to call Gregg Harris, a Board member of Home Schooling Foundation, an affiliate of HSLDA, to confirm that this was true. James called Gregg and Gregg confirmed it. I was completely unaware that these phone calls had been made before my arrival in Houston or of the charges being leveled against me. It did seem peculiar to me that James was not as friendly toward me upon my arrival in Houston to begin my employment with him as he was when we had met with the McDonalds earlier in October to discuss James employing me.

    I spoke about this with my wife. We had expected him to be excited and friendly but instead his demeanor had changed. We decided it must be because of the stress he was under being under staffed. I believe these calls were what caused James to be unfriendly toward us when we arrived. We were puzzled because the McDonald’s were now somewhat distant toward us. There was not the warmth that we felt when we met them in early October.

    I had made an agreement with James that I would take a few weeks rest after leaving Germany and before beginning my employment with him. A week after we arrived, still being without a car or home, James called to inform me that he wanted me to begin work immediately. I reminded him of our agreement and told him that in my situation I could not do that. My family and I had lived under great pressure in Germany and needed first of all a home. We were busy looking for a car and a home. He became short with me, which I assumed was because of the burden he had been under being understaffed. Later, he would accuse me to others of not beginning work until the middle of January. I began January 2nd and had emails to prove it. I made my first sale on January 9th.

    Guenthers meet James to discuss employment of Guenther children
    James asked for a meeting with our family sometime near the end of December. We met in the Teashop. James offered a job for Minka in the Teashop, and Hans was hired by Books on the Path’s shipping and receiving. James told them that he could not pay more than minimum wage since he called his operations “ministries” (They were businesses in the market to make money!). He asked Klaus to redesign Homeschooling Today web site and construct a new user-friendly program for me to use in selling magazine advertisements. He told Klaus that he would be adequately reimbursed for his work.

    On the webs front page Klaus listed me as Director of Operations, the position James was hiring me to fill. I am not sure when, but James took me off as Director and instead listed me as a marketing manager and then again later as an ad sales manager. I did not pay too much attention to the website because I was too busy attending to other and more pressing matters. I only discovered this sometime in March when trying to understand what had happened betweent my employer and I.

    A few days later James paid me a surprise visit (my office was in my home). He came into my office and closed the door behind him and told me he wanted to speak with me privately. He told me that he would pay me but that he didn’t want to pay my children. He asked me to pay them from my own check. I told him that I would talk this over with my family after he was gone. This did not settle with either me or my children. (Later I learned that this was a pattern of James when he would employ families). But as I told James, and I can imagine this made him angry, his “ministries” were actually businesses and in the market to make money. He had an obligation to pay his employees a fair wage. James had to pay my children. They insisted on it.

  9. polymathis Says:

    If this is true, it would be very helpful for Americans if it could be verified. If not, it turns into internet rumors not helpful for the body of Christ.

  10. Kathleen Says:

    Welcome to my blog, polymathis. If you’re referring to the articles on James McDonald, this is but one account (as well as many of the other people named in those articles) of the dealings of famous homeschool and church leaders with those who’ve trusted them. I’ve read over the internet on many other sites the problem of so-called believers — especially ones either in authority over or in a place of influence over others — the problem of these people taking advantage of others in one way or another. It’s called spiritual abuse. There is healing, though, through the Spirit of Jesus, and that is where we, the Body of Christ find hope.

    Thanks for your comment.

  11. Kathleen Says:

    One thing I wanted to add is that I know of 3 people personally and have talked with 2 of them personally who have personally dealt with James McDonald. I believe these people and their testimonies, as I believe their fruit and words as believers in Jesus Christ. Their individual accounts of dealings with him and his wife have convinced me that his celebrity in the homeschool/Christian world is illegitimate and we should examine not only his teachings, but his fruit. The same goes for all the teachers and leaders out there.

  12. Polymathis Says:

    Greetings Kathleen,

    Thank you for your efforts at objectively examining this issue. I have since gotten in touch with the man through my German contacts.

    It is sad to see spiritual abuse from supposed shepherds of God’s flock. I have experienced it myself. In fact I grew up in such a church culture without ever knowing that other church and fellowship models existed. My heart goes out to such, but I pray they be not bitter but find a good church with proper oversight (such as the Presbyterian system–not perfect tho’!) and loving fellowship. I know of some if any are out here in Colorado.

    If you are interested in a more balanced evaluation of the homeschooling movement (than most of the hype), my recent blog posting might be of interest: the future of homeschooling.

    take care,

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