As we shake our damn heads over the spectacle of Rachel Dolezal getting outed as a white woman and try to make sense of it, there’s a little something we’ve overlooked: Dolezal’s parents Ruthanne and Frank Dolezal are Young Earth creationists. In fact, Frank once worked for Creation Ministries International, which is run by Ken Ham, the guy who brought us the infamous Creation Museum.
That’s right. Dolezal’s parents believe God created dinosaurs and humans together 6,000 years ago, that some dinosaurs rode with us on Noah’s Ark, and that afterwards they may have become extinct through hunting and other human activity. Even though human activity doesn’t cause climate change because, Jesus.
Buried deep in an article from the Coeur D’Alene Press is a reference to those years Dolezal’s family spent in South Africa:
Rachel did not have to use bows and arrows to hunt for her own food, Ruthanne said, and she never lived in South Africa or Colorado. Ruthanne said she, Larry and the younger adopted siblings moved to South Africa in 2002, and lived there until 2006. Larry was stationed there as an employee of the faith-based Creation Ministries International.
Dolezal’s mother adamantly denies raising her oldest daughter in a teepee and making her hunt for food with bows and arrows. And, of course both parents insist Dolezal’s white and that they never abused her and her siblings. But the fact that Larry Dolezal spent four years working for a Young Earth creationist outfit says a lot about the family Rachel Dolezal grew up in. In a 2002 press release announcing the launch of their presence in Capetown, South Africa, Creation Ministries International declared:
In February, Dolezal told Shawntelle Moncy from The Easterner her parents were so religious Jesus Christ was named as the witness on her birth certificate,
From the Montana tepee where she was born in 1977 to empowering the black community in Spokane today, Doležal has lived a life full of experiences “most people normally don’t have to go through.” According to Doležal, “Jesus Christ” is the witness on her birth certificate. Her mother believed in living off the land; they lived in the middle of nowhere. As a child, Doležal and her family hunted their food with bows and arrows.
That, of course, is not true. The witnesses who signed the Nov. 12, 1977 birth certificate appear to be the usual bureaucrats.
Dolezal also tells The Easterner that her parents abused her and her four adopted black siblings “by skin complexion” using a “baboon whip” that was “similar” to the whips used on slaves.
“It’s a painful thing to talk about my childhood,” she paused as she looked down into her hands. “I kind of don’t talk about it much.” Doležal has no contact today with her mother or stepfather due to a series of events that still haunt her thoughts today. Doležal and her siblings were physically abused by her mother and stepfather. “They would punish us by skin complexion,” she said. According to Doležal, the object her mother and stepfather used to punish them was called a baboon whip, used to ward baboons away in South Africa. These whips would leave scars behind, “they were pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.”
We have no proof that Dolezal’s parents abused their children in this manner, nor does anything we know about them indicate that they are racists. In fact, most would have the opposite impression. Here’s a photo with Dolezal and her ex-husband at their wedding with Dolezal’s parents, grandparents and four adopted siblings.
But even if Dolezal’s claims about her parents are exaggerated or entirely fabricated, something happened. At age 16, her brother Izaiah (third from the left in the bottom row of the photo shown above) left home and moved in with Dolezal. She then took legal action to gain custody, claiming child abuse in the Dolezal family, and won. The Washington Post reports:
The Dolezals, it should be noted, are a family divided. Parents Lawrence and Ruthanne and brothers Ezra and Zach do not speak with their sister because, they say, she alleged abuse in the family and obtained custody of her [now] 21-year-old brother Izaiah. Izaiah, who is black, lives with Rachel Dolezal in Spokane — and Rachel says he is her son, the family alleged.
Dolezal’s brother, Ezra (first on the left in the bottom row in the above photo) denies any abuse took place and told reporters his oldest sister turned Izaiah against the family.
“Izaiah always was her favorite child. She turned Izaiah kind of racist. Told Izaiah all this stuff about white people, made him really racist toward white people.”
But Deborah Montesano’s earlier post in ReverbPress says Izaiah Dolezal — who has not yet spoken to the press — had an entirely different view of what transpired in the Dolezal household. His 2010 petition for emancipation from his parents cites abuse and isolation from the black community.
On a personal level, one of her ‘black’ adopted siblings petitioned for emancipation from the Dolezal parents in 2010. According to court papers, he asked to live with Rachel “in a multiracial household where black culture is celebrated and I have a connection to the black community.” The reason why? That would be due to the parents’ enforcement of their religion and the use of physical punishment.
Since Dolezal’s brother (whom she sometimes has referred to as her son, which would make sense if she helped raise him) and her son by her former marriage are both black, it makes sense that she would present herself as black, too.
Interestingly, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal’s series of adoptions in 1993-1995 (three African American babies, plus one black baby from Haiti) presaged the evangelical Christian adoption movement that took off in 2005, when the popular Quiverfull magazine Above Rubies urged readers to adopt children from Liberia. In Mother Jones, Quiverfull survivor Kathryn Joyce explains how Above Rubies publisher Nancy Campbell waxed lyrical about how Liberian adoptions are like “missions under our very own roof!” She toured the orphanages and claimed a million babies were dying each year — in a nation with only 4.29 million people in 2013! — referred people to three “Christian” adoption agencies that weren’t licensed in the U.S. and burbled about how cheap and easy it is to adopt children there. One woman wrote on a Liberian adoption thread in a Yahoo Group Joyce says is “frequented” by Above Rubies fans:
“Families lined up by the droves. [They] were going to Liberia and literally saying, ‘This is how much I have, give me as many as you can.’”
Joyce, author of “The Childcatchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption,” writes that the Christian adoption movement has many shady elements, due to lack of supply: There are far more parents wanting to adopt children than there are children available for adoption. The problem isn’t too many orphans — many children referred to as “orphans” have extended family or at least one parent alive — the problem is poverty. The children’s families often don’t even understand that they’re signing their children away, or they understand but surrender their children anyway in hope of giving them a better life.
Further, while some parents have good intentions, “orphan theology” still views children as a project or a mission instead of as human beings in their own right.
The magazine’s Liberia campaign, it turned out, heralded an “orphan theology” movement that has taken hold among mainstream evangelical churches, whose flocks are urged to adopt as an extension of pro-life beliefs, a way to address global poverty, and a means of spreading the Gospel in their homes.
We don’t know what Dolezal’s parents’ motivations were in adopting their four children (only one was an international adoption). In fact, we don’t know much about them at all. A Google search of Dolezals’ parents yielded little information other than that her father served as the Commissioner for Lincoln County, Montana in the late 1990’s. Interestingly, Larry Dolezal was tried for two charges of felony theft for making false reimbursement claims for mileage and meals in 1997 and 1998.
His mileage and meal reimbursements were controversial, and some believed excessive, and publicity about a sheriff’s office investigation of the claims helped defeat him at the polls last November. […]
One item drawing investigators’ attention was whether numerous Sunday trips to a church in the Yaak, which Dolezal took with his family, were legitimately charged to the county.
The judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence, but investigators still found it strange that Dolezal’s mileage claims included “numerous Sunday trips to a church in the Yaak,” a remote area of Montana.
Rachel Dolezal Doesn’t “Give Two Sh*Ts What You Guys Think.”
In an interview with SkyNews, Dolezal takes a defiant stance on the accusations swirling around her: She doesn’t “give two sh*ts’ what you guys think,” as far as she’s concerned, she’s black. Although some in the black community, including her colleagues at the NAACP, stand by Dolezal, many feel betrayed by this extreme example of cultural appropriation. Dolezal may not have outright lied about her true identity (Howard University’s applications don’t ask what color you are, and it is unclear whether she lied about being black on her Office of Police Ombudsman Commission application, or whether the city just assumed she was black), she has certainly misrepresented herself.
But on the other hand, what if you were raised in the middle of nowhere by people who actually believe in Young Earth creationism? That’s bound to mess with your perception of reality.
Here’s Dolezal’s interview with SkyNews via Mediaite
To get an idea of the insane sort of nonsense Dolezal and her siblings grew up with, here’s a video that explains Young Earth creationism.