Identity Crisis

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It’s almost circular, isn’t it?  You need  a birth certificate to prove your age and citizenship, but you need a US passport to prove your identity. However, you need a birth certificate to get the US passport.

Somebody brought up the case of Alecia Faith Pennington in a comment the other day, and that set me wondering. I hadn’t heard an update on Faith’s situation (that’s the name she goes by) in a long time and I was curious to see how her case is progressing.

And that sent me down the rabbit trail.

Here’s some background for those who might not know what I’m talking about.

Faith Pennington is the daughter of Lisa Pennington.  At least, that’s how I think of her primarily.  I was aware of Lisa long before Faith flew the coop, because Lisa is a blogger.  (Warning: the blog is filled with clickbait. Lisa is quite clearly trying to make money off it.)

She had written a piece several years ago slamming gays which I found pretty offensive, so I wrote her a note to explain my dismay to her. She does not allow negative comments of any sort on her blog, so I knew it wouldn’t be approved, but it really wasn’t for public consumption. It was for her. I made it very short and to the point because I knew she would hit delete as soon as she recognized it as negative.

I noticed at some point that her husband, James, is a graduate of Liberty University’s law school, which is pretty much the worst law school in America. But he can’t use the excuse that he doesn’t know that no ID severely restricts what people can and cannot do in this country.

In short, they are right-wing conservative Christian homeschoolers who live out in the boonies and completely isolate their numerous children.

So I knew who they were, sort of, in a kind of detached “oh, yeah, another one of those” way.

And then Faith left home and made a video.

And the video went viral. Way, way beyond Naugler viral. Really viral.

Faith had decided to leave home and go live with her grandmother.  Well, here. You’ve seen Faith’s side of it. Let’s read Lisa’s.  Note: this is a PDF of the post Lisa made on her horrid little blog, playing her victimy whiny violin and begging for sympathy because her grown daughter decided to leave home.  She took the original one down, but the internet is forever.

She calls it “The Hardest Post I Ever Wrote.”  Bless her little heart. One of her children essentially gave her the finger and moved out.  And that’s the hardest thing she’s ever dealt with.

She also manages to insult the hell out of her own mother by calling her “a godless woman who has been giving her [Faith] foolish counsel and encouraging her to deceive us and get out.” Her argument seems to center around Faith refusing to come home.

Why should Faith go home? Really? Why should she?  “Home” means living out in the middle of nowhere, used as a babysitter for all the younger siblings, with no social life and no autonomy and no driver’s license (and no access to a car even if you had a license) and no job and no access to the internet.  “Home” means giving up her adulthood to the control of her parents. But the Penningtons were willing to give her “everything she wanted” (meaning: her rightful identity and the paperwork to prove it, something she should have had as her birthright) provided she would “come home” and be their willing, controlled slave once again.

I say that Faith was lucky to have grandparents who were willing to help her out.

And that’s where I left Faith. She had no ID of any sort, and no way to get any that anyone could see. She was basically invisible.  She was also resolved.  Other news outlets were reporting on the story, including this one that gives more details. 

Her father made his own video (removed now) where he made the whole controversy about how she is basically a bratty teenager who wanted her driver’s license. Just the sort of thing one would expect from these sort of folks. And then it all sort of went silent.

I kind of forgot about her, until she was mentioned in the comments here.

So, imagine my delight to discover this.

I know. It’s half-an-hour in length, but it’s worth listening to it. Faith has come a long, long way.

What astonished me the most, I think, is that a Republican state legislator in Texas came to her aid. That’s just wonderful and welcome and I am thrilled.  And the Texas legislature did, in fact, pass legislation that makes it a crime to deny your adult children their identification.  Texas did this.  Regressive, backward, goofy Texas. The state I would be happy to see leave the union. They did this.  Good for them.

Faith, according to her Facebook page, has her delayed birth certificate, is awaiting her passport to arrive in the mail, and will be able to use those two documents to finally get a Social Security number so she can get a job, go to school, and be a real person.

But notice this. The video that Faith made and put on YouTube was released on February 9, 2015.   That’s nineteen months ago.

It has been more than a year and a half and Faith still doesn’t have all her documents.  Let that sink in.

For more than a year and a half, Faith Pennington, who is an adult US citizen, has been unable to get a job, or go to school, or travel outside the United States. She literally can’t do much of anything. And it’s entirely a situation that her parents caused because they have engaged in something that now has a name.

It’s called identification abuse.

Homeschoolers Anonymous article about Faith

Lots more Homeschoolers Anonymous pieces on identification abuse

Coalition For Responsible Home Education article about identification abuse

The Washington Post article about Faith

PDF report of a survey of homeschool alumni about identification abuse

In Texas, denying these documents to an adult child is a crime. It ought to be a crime everywhere, and that includes Kentucky.  Forcing an adult child to waste two years of her life, put it all on hold, because you happen to be a control-freak asshole ought to be a criminal offense.

Faith was lucky because her video went so viral that she got the attention of people with the power to do something about her situation.

What about those who didn’t make a video?