Behind Faking Faith

I wrote over on The Contemps about the original inspiration for Faking Faith:

Faking Faith was, I admit, born out of my own secret Internet obsession.  Like Dylan, a few years ago I became fascinated by the blogs of home-schooled fundamentalist Christian teenage girls. At first it was just a sort of voyeuristic interest in the lives of people whose convictions seemed out of another century (things like parent-guided courtship, the evils of public education and college, and frightening and antiquated beliefs about the appropriate place of women in the family and in society). I read the blogs in order to be flabbergasted. People believe this and write about it on the Internet?

Not only did I become fascinated with the bloggers themselves, but also the loosely affiliated fundamentalist movement that most of them live in. Many of the details about Abigail and her family’s beliefs were taken from literature and research surrounding this movement, particularly the Vision Forum and similar groups.

And, friends, if you’re the kind of person who believes a girl should be free to pursue any dream, be whomever and whatever she wants to be and grow up to become an autonomous adult in control of her own life? Then this stuff is terrifying. And it’s real. And it’s growing.

Bitch Magazine has an excellent article on the topic and the whole thing is so interesting:

The stay-at-home-daughters movement, which is promoted by Vision Forum, encourages young girls and single women to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry. Young women pursuing their own ambitions and goals are viewed as selfish and antifamily; marriage is not a choice or one piece of a larger life plan, but the ultimate goal. Stay-at-home daughters spend their days learning “advanced homemaking” skills, such as cooking and sewing, and other skills that at one time were a necessity—knitting, crocheting, soap- and candle-making. A father is considered his daughter’s authority until he transfers control to her husband.

Sounds great, right? Education and gainful employment are selfish! Cooking and babies, that’s all women are good for in 2011-almost-12!


There is also an amazing anonymous blog kept by a young woman who escaped the movement after she was betrothed to someone against her will. Start from the beginning – it’s a fascinating story and you can’t help but admire her courage and strength (and she’s had a tough time of it since she left…her family and the movement didn’t let her go easily).

I don’t feel comfortable linking to individual personal blogs of the girls that I initially found – and many of them have already married and moved on in any case (and Abigail certainly wasn’t based on anyone in particular). You can search out blogs like the ones I read without much difficulty, though. They aren’t hidden.

It’s good to be informed about what’s out there and the forces at work in this country…just don’t be like Dylan and fall down the rabbit hole.



  • Helen

    I just got Faking Faith from the library today. I can’t wait to read it!

  • Josie Bloss

    That’s great, Helen! Hope you enjoy it!

  • Fred LeBaron

    Interesting.  You know, I wouldn’t find it all so troubling if it were, in fact, girls making an informed choice to live this way – some people choose to live similarly (as far as the do-it/make-it yourself parts, anyway) based on non-religious communitarian ideals, too.  What makes it so sad is the coercive element (whether by actual compulsion, or some sort of brainwashing) that repudiates the whole notion that choice is an appropriate value for anyone other than the patriarch and his successor.  And somehow these kinds of communities always seem to end up having an element of exploitation/abuse of young women by older men.  Anyway, I thought you did a great job with showing how Abigail (and Asher, too, really) struggled with the tension between what they believed (or wanted to believe they believed)and what they felt.  Your book is one that sticks in your thoughts, as do Dylan and Abigail, and maybe that kind of tension is part of why.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts and research here and on The Contemps (love that blog!), it makes the reading experience even more memorable.

  • Mrs. Chupchake

    Our library sytem just acquired a copy of Faking Faith. I sneaked it home to read it before it was even cataloged. Very true to life in my humble opinion. I was on the periphery of fundamentalist faith in my early 20’s.

  • Brittany

    Josie, I just finished your book today! I loved it! Though I didn’t grow up in a family like Abigail’s, I can relate on several levels to her character and family as I was homeschooled in a conservative Christian setting and we primarily interacted with other homeschoolers who were like us; my family, though conservatively Christian, was not as controlling or paternalistic as the Deans. I am now surprisingly “normal” (whatever that means!) married to a “public school” guy and we have two kids. Despite being taught that a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and a mother, I  now have a masters degree in English and a job as a professor at a University (though I love being a wife and mom too). Thanks for a great read and a fair and compassionate look at two completely different cultures and belief systems. 

  • Danica

    I just read this book and loved it – it made me want to come over and learn more about you as an author. I thought you did a good job portraying purity culture, and the harm that happens within fundamentalist circles.

    However, I do want to tell you that Razing Ruth is actually a long scam. She is not ‘real’, her story is not authentic, and she is not actually who she says she is. It’s ironic, since Dylan basically did the same thing that RR did. I actually was thinking about Razing Ruth as Dylan made her website, and wondered if you had drawn from RR as inspiration. FYI!