Teaching Sunday School is Child Abuse?

Last week I wrote a blog about the John Freshwater case, and in closing, included the following statement:

I teach Sunday school for first through third grade, and over the next few weeks we’ll be discussing dinosaurs, radiometric dating methods, natural selection, and mutations. I teach them that what they learn in public school in regard to historical science concerning these ideas is not the truth.

Well, Dr. Richard Hoppe, a former professor at Kenyon College (near Mount Vernon, where the Freshwater case took place), posted a blog regarding my statement on the well-known atheist blog Panda’s Thumb. He writes:

That’s child abuse of a very high order, worse even than Freshwater’s because the children are so much younger.

So I’m practicing child abuse by teaching children the truth of God’s Word in church! This is a very serious charge that we are hearing more and more when it comes to teaching children about biblical authority and its application to historical science. I’m sure many people who have truly suffered abuse as children would beg to differ with his definition (and at least one person did in the comments section).

And the attacks don’t stop there. Dr. Hoppe began his post with speculations about my professional achievements:

She has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the Ohio State University and was for a time on the faculty at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. (Interestingly, she left MVNU after 6 years, about the time when tenure decisions are made in most institutions. I know nothing specific, but it’s always fun to speculate.)

Dr. Hoppe can stop speculating because the truth is (1) the university where I taught didn’t have a tenure system and (2) I did receive a promotion from assistant to associate professor after five years with the university. This is merely an ad hominem attack that has no basis in fact.

The comments in response to his post were numerous, and I thought I would just share a few so you could get just a glimpse of the kind of attacks many of us will face when we take a stand on the truth of God’s Word.

Dale Husband

I don’t think I’d call it child abuse, but I do feel that teaching fraud and bigotry to children, especially by a professional con artist who happens to have a Ph.D, is a scandal of Biblical proportions. Pun intended.

Dr. Purdom is a fraud and/or an idiot, and her Ph.D isn’t worth spit.


And really, do you know any sane parents who would entrust their children to someone like this, even in Sunday School? At least, more than enough Sundays to realize the damage being done? Purdom is nothing more than the mechanism parents are using to cripple their children.


Although this woman is horrifically lying to children, she is also merely “teaching” them culturally sanctioned religious dogma with the consent of the parents.

She’s lying to children in order to brainwash them against the science education that she fears they may be exposed to later, because her particular cult denies mainstream science.

So I am a horrific liar, fraud, bigot, member of a cult, and professional con artist. If that’s how the world chooses to see me, then so be it. My daughter was with me when I received the link to Hoppe’s blog post and she said to me, “Mommy, are they making fun of you again?” I replied, “Yes, Elizabeth, they are but Mommy is okay with that. It doesn’t matter to me what people think—only what God thinks.” I then shared with her about Noah and how likely people made fun of him too for building the ark but Noah was a preacher of righteousness and desired to obey God and receive His praise instead of the praise of man. God enabled me to use the mockery from those on Panda’s Thumb to teach Elizabeth a very valuable lesson about desiring the praise of God and not the praise of man (Matthew 5:11–12).

I’ll post more regarding other comments made on Hoppe’s blog post on Thursday.

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