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At the same time, his wife began corresponding, via early-1990s AOL chat folders on religion, with an inquisitive Christian computer programmer named Rick Seelhoff.
(None of the defendants responded to requests for comments on this story.) Seelhoff now sees what happened to her as a sign of what would come as the religious right gained more control over women’s lives.Now, she alleged certain of these leaders had conspired to financially cripple her magazine punishing her for breaking rank. She wrote in a sweet, practical voice, using exclamation points liberally.After months of depositions and paperwork, she had finally taken the stand. The publication also featured articles and columns on hospitality and herbalist midwifery written by church leaders and other mothers.She rendezvoused with him in person for the first time at a Dallas conference at which she spoke early in 1994.She and Lindsey filed for divorce in late June 1994. Once exposed, all of Cheryl Seelhoff’s personal details spurred a smear campaign of sorts.For five years had enjoyed continuous bumps in readership, growing enough to fully support Seelhoff and her family – until controversy brought her business to a standstill.
A year earlier, Seelhoff had sued a group of leaders in the Christian homeschooling movement – a politically influential, religious right subculture that originally embraced Seelhoff’s articles on teaching at home.
From the late 1980s up until 1994, she had been associated with this subculture, which treated homeschooling as part of a religious movement. The defense had argued that Seelhoff ran a Christian ministry rather than a magazine, and that when her peers used her brief divorce announcement in Tacoma’s as an opportunity to appropriate her subscriber list and publicly shame her, they were simply doing what any upstanding, concerned Christian would: correcting a wayward sister while protecting others from her downfall. Why, Duffy now wanted to know, did Seelhoff fail to publish an issue of in summer 1994?
Its architects, often referred to as the “four pillars,” saw homeschooling as a mandate for conservative Christians, a way to raise up Bible-centered future leaders. Just prior to the issue’s scheduled release, Seelhoff’s former pastor, Joe Williams of Calvary Chapel in Tacoma, read from the pulpit (during a church service she did not attend) a “letter of discipline” accusing her of “an adulterous affair with lying.” “Because it was a time of great difficulty for me personally, my family,” Seelhoff replied. The phone was ringing off the hook [and] I was pretty devastated.” She was definitively on the outs with the “pillars.” “I still don’t know to this day why they felt it was appropriate to do what they did,” says Seelhoff, now 65, of what she refers to as her “excommunication.” She spoke by phone from her home on a small farm in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Cheryl Lindsey had over 15,000 mostly female subscribers and was gaining nearly a thousand per month. Her husband, Claude Lindsey, had been out of work for four years, according to their 1995 divorce-related filings, and she claims his anger problems had led to abusive behavior toward her and the children.
In 1994, according to trial testimonies by Cheryl and her sons, Claude Lindsey moved to New Orleans to live with his mother and undergo anger management counseling.
Raised in Tacoma, she enrolled at the University of Washington in the late ’60s, where she studied political science, participated in civil rights marches and protested the Vietnam War.