Protests in West Seattle, Ballard target Mars Hill parenting seminar


Left to right, that’s JanS, JoB, and Kat near Mars Hill Church-West Seattle tonight, in a vigil/protest that grew out of a vigorous discussion in the WSB Forum and elsewhere this past week. It began with first word that MH was sponsoring a two-day seminar with parenting author Tedd Tripp, whose teachings include an advocacy of corporal punishment and say it may even be merited for babies. Opponents decided to gather tonight outside MH-Ballard, where Tripp is speaking, and MH-West Seattle, one of several MH branches where the seminar is being broadcast live. As families arrived, the West Seattle trio stood on the corner across from the church’s south side and offered their thoughts to those who walked by, as well as offering flyers.

Some accepted flyers, some didn’t; one person was heard to suggest that the protesters go inside to listen for themselves. To that point, we should note that a Mars Hill representative, in logo T-shirt and name tag, offered us and the other media reps the chance to go inside and observe the seminar. We didn’t take him up on it; the controversial topic itself comes up late tomorrow morning. Meantime, we’ve received a photo of the concurrent Ballard protest tonight:


That photo is courtesy of our friends at; you can see their coverage here.

28 Replies to "Protests in West Seattle, Ballard target Mars Hill parenting seminar"

  • lag September 19, 2008 (10:00 pm)

    Thank you for being out there tonight! I wish I could have joined you. I am appalled by what I’ve read about this man’s teachings. How any Christian (or anyone, for that matter) could justify such cruelty to children is beyond my comprehension.

  • r26 September 19, 2008 (10:23 pm)

    Ditto to lag.

  • Todd September 19, 2008 (10:24 pm)

    Thanks Kat, JoB and JanS!

  • bl@ster September 19, 2008 (10:25 pm)

    Yet another example of Mars Hill being an out of control cult. And they hide behind “faith and religion” as if that is an excuse. They are pitiful and we, as a society, should look down upon such things or at least with great skepticism. Take your bronze age myths OUT of our city.

  • tnc September 19, 2008 (10:39 pm)

    cult? a christian church. hmmmm sounds like someone who isnt really educated on what “mars hill” means…

  • Krystal September 19, 2008 (11:27 pm)

    I ditto all the above. This is disgusting!

  • bl@ster September 20, 2008 (12:43 am)

    tnc: Maybe you should educate yourself. This ain’t your dear Grandma’s church.

    “At a weekly Bible study class at a Mars Hill pastor’s home, Abolafya first heard about the doctrine of wifely submission. The pastor’s wife gave Abolafya a book to study called “The Fruit of Her Hands,” which can essentially be summed up in Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.””

    Yes, that’s what we need more of: wifely submission. Riiight. This is extremist nonsense, or as you call it “a christian church.”

  • cjboffoli September 20, 2008 (9:35 am)

    While I support the activism of the folks who are against this place and, if what I hear is true, I certainly do not endorse what the church is teaching. I’ve only heard this second-hand and those things sound abhorrent. But my thinking is that even when people are completely wrong they have a right to speak. Our country was founded on the notion of free speech and in protecting unpopular speech.
    To paraphrase musician Ani Defranco, people should be able to speak without reservation from what they know and who they are. They should do so with the understanding that all people have the right to offer their voice to the chorus, whether the result is harmony or dissonance. Our world would be a colorless dirge without the differences that distinguish us. That difference should be celebrated, not condemned.
    If you don’t like what is happening in that church, then don’t go there. Don’t be part of that congregation. But those folks have a right to worship and act as they like even though they might be absolutely wrong.

  • Jared September 20, 2008 (9:38 am)

    If you don’t like what is happening in that church, then don’t go there. Don’t be part of that congregation. But those folks have a right to worship and act as they like even though they might be absolutely wrong.

    And if you don’t like child abuse, then don’t abuse your own children. But these folks have a right to abuse their own children, even though they might be absolutely wrong.

    Oh, and f* that. Mars Hill needs to repudiate this disgusting throwback ASAP. But I won’t hold my breath.

  • Mike September 20, 2008 (9:46 am)

    Ughhh, before people go throwing judgment on those that attend Mars Hill you should at least attempt to talk with them. I’m atheist, I think Christianity is a cult of it’s own that has split into so many groups nobody knows where it all started from anyhow. “The” (as if there’s one version) bible reads like a Dr. Seuss book.

    I talked with a co-worker who attends Mars Hill, both he and I agree abuse is bad, spanking is not. He and I both agree there’s a difference between hitting and spanking. One is the intent to injure, one is to draw attention and would be followed up with explanation of why the kid was spanked. Both he and I agree that people are going off on a tangent about this author.

    If a church wants to bring in a speaker to talk, who cares. Is the author excessive, maybe, but that’s for the attendees to decide what they’ll take away from the speech.

    As for the wifely submission, I think it’s pretty lame they’d even mention it but it is in “the” bible, even the one at the Methodist church I grew up going to.

    Overall I think the majority of parents today lack the ability to be an effective parent. I’m disgusted by the way they allow their kids to run about like morons doing whatever, whenever.

    Maybe if parents took more time with their kids and went backpacking, camping, played basketball, went to the Zoo, had water balloon fights, squirt gun fights, maybe then we’d see kids who respect their parents and others around them. Maybe then I would not need to tell a parent that their kid is about to crack their head open because they’re chatting in the grocery store on the cell phone.

  • JumboJim September 20, 2008 (9:50 am)

    So Mike, do you think it’s a good idea to spank an eight-month old baby?? That’s what bothered me about this person’s “teachings”. I’m actually not all that bothered by a moderate spanking of a child above toddler age – but this guy seems more bent on asserting his dominance than anything else.

  • Cleveland Ken September 20, 2008 (10:21 am)

    You know most of the kids today aren’t afraid of a thing because they had time outs and no one to take charge. More kids need a good spanking. All you parents think that spankings are bad look at society and look what you have bred. A mess of kids thumbing their noses at authority. Who cares what this guy is teaching he is getting a point across that most can’t see is a good thing. Get a life people and raise your kids with a little authority and show them that you are in charge and not them. They should bring it back to the schools and anywhere else where these brats need a spanking. Bring them to my house and they would never talk back again I’ll tell you that.

  • PSPS September 20, 2008 (10:41 am)

    @bl@ster: “the doctrine of wifely submission”
    This is the same institutionalized misogyny that brings us ten-year-old “wives.” What is it with religion that seems to crave hatred, intolerance and abuse?

  • Christopher Boffoli September 20, 2008 (11:04 am)

    Yes Jared. You get it. Free speech means that abominable ideas have a right to be heard, not just the ideas that you agree with. Child abuse is illegal and if these folks are abusing children the law should hold them responsible. I’m Agnostic so I personally don’t need to go to a church to tell me what the role of women is in my household and how I should discipline children. But nor am I qualified to condemn the beliefs of people I don’t know.

  • Kristina September 20, 2008 (12:19 pm)

    I am delighted that there was a protest; I’m sorry I could not attend. Tgank you to those who did protest.

    Part of free speech is that, yes, Tripp has a right to spread his views, even though they make my stomach hurt. The other part of free speech is that I have a right to say that I disagree with him. It is not against the law for Mars Hill to promote Tripp’s lessons; it is not against the law for me to protest his lessons.

    I am not “condeming the beliefs of people I don’t know” – I am standing up and saying that I believe that it is absolutely wrong to discipline an eight month old child with a spanking. I am not judging individuals, or even the church promoting the ideas; I am judging the ideas themselves.

    I believe, and scientific studies support, that spanking children is ineffective and inappropriate. I further believe that it is damaging to individuals and to society as a whole. I’m willing to talk about it in a polite way, without judgement: I recognize that the generations before ours spanked, and it is hard to change such generational habits.

    I find it unfortunate the some people believe that spanking and discipline are one and the same. Spanking is “easy” discipline – it does not require thoughtfulness. Providing natural consequences, acknowledging the good in a child while helping them to correct their mistakes, and teaching morality without violence…this takes time, patience, and throughtfulness. It is not a cop-out, and it does not give permission for children to run wild. It is a mistake to equate a lack of spanking with permissiveness. Of course it is possible to be permissive, but this is not recommended nor required. To discipline is to teach, and one thing I’m teaching is that violence begets violence. We don’t hit. Period.

    Please don’t confuse the issues. I do not share Mars Hill’s views of religion, wifely submission, or other subjects….but I’m not here to attack them. I’m here to say that Tripp’s views are dangerous to children. I’m here to say that we should discipline appropriately, and that spanking infants is inappropriate. Let’s focus on that.

  • tnc September 20, 2008 (12:21 pm)

    amen !!!, jared and mike…. i do attend Mars Hill and “who cares”…. cant people find better things to do on their weekend? but to stand out side a church?

  • Bob Loblaw September 20, 2008 (1:09 pm)

    A bottle of red. Some REO Speedwagon on the record player. Candlelight casting shadows on the Iron Maiden black-light posters.
    Me and the missus approve of “wifely submission.”

  • Jim Clark September 20, 2008 (3:58 pm)

    I would like to know if any of the protesters took up Mars Hill on the offer to sit in on the seminar.
    Mike I never thought I would agree with a Atheist but a very thoughtful response

  • JanS September 20, 2008 (6:00 pm)

    We were not there…I emphasize this….protesting Mars Hill. They can do what they like in this church. We did attempt to hand out informational flyers with additional resources on effective parenting. Our beef was with Tedd Tripp and what he teaches – try reading some of it sometime. It is our right to be able to protest what he teaches when we firmly believe it is wrong, and to offer alternative sources. Most wouldn’t even look at us, would walk by, and just say no thanks. We were polite, friendly to everyone. One of the 3 of us was spit on , yelled at that “she wasn’t a christian”…all for standing up for what she believes. That was nice…

    Again…our protest was not against Mars Hill.

    And yes, there are many things that one can do on a weekend…standing up for what you believe is right is a pretty good one, in my book…

  • beachdrivegirl September 20, 2008 (6:48 pm)

    Did anyone try to interview Tedd Tripp? I would be very interested to hear a short interview with him. i havent read his books. And to be honest have no desire to purchase them.

  • WSB September 20, 2008 (7:58 pm)

    I don’t know if anyone tried to talk to him in person at Ballard, where he was physically presenting the seminars televised here and to the other MH branches. But the Times article I pointed to on the home page yesterday said he had declined an interview/comment request by that reporter.

  • genuflecting nulu September 20, 2008 (8:16 pm)

    How can one make the statement, “But nor am I qualified to condemn the beliefs of people I don’t know?” What about the flat earth people? What about the world being created 2,000 years ago? What about Republicans? How about people that believe you are evil?
    We are also all qualified and responsible to condemn the beliefs of others if and when they act on them and they are harmful to others.

  • beachdrivegirl September 20, 2008 (8:44 pm)

    Thanks WSB. I hadn’t heard that.

  • cjboffoli September 21, 2008 (9:29 am)

    genuflecting nulu: I believe that in an open society, the free expression of ideas must be protected even if those ideas are completely wrong, unpopular or even offensive. We must always strive to protect an open marketplace of ideas.
    There have been so many instances in our history when truths were ridiculed and opposed by the majority opinion before they were ultimately accepted as self-evident. Consider the level to which the views of Martin Luther King on racial equality in the 50’s and 60’s were vehemently opposed by the majority of the US population. Consider a time in the not-too-distant past (and presently in certain counties in the US) when the notion of homosexuality was so egregious that gay people were thrown in jail if they were caught in the act. The pioneers who ultimately push the human race forward are generally those who hold a minority view.
    It is difficult for me to see people promoting child abuse, the subjugation of women, racism and anti-semitism, homophobia, etc. It is bewildering and disappointing to me that some people embrace ideas that are ugly to me. But uninformed, unpopular and even deeply flawed ideas still have value. The traffic in these views throws greater light on the correct views that oppose them. The fact that I have a choice to listen and consider these ideas, even if it only provides clearer perception to the extent that I believe the opposite, provides me with an opportunity to understand the beliefs of other people who are different then me. In a way, we regrettably have to have flawed ideas in order to have the freedom to promote the truth.
    I trust that my fellow citizens have the capability to distill the truth from the nonsense and obfuscation. I’d rather people have the freedom to make up their own minds without having a government or the pressure of prevailing opinions to tell them what to think. That said, I do believe that when free speech rises to the level of illegal action, that is when it is appropriate for the government to step in and act.
    The bottom line is that I still have a choice. I can choose not to listen, not to believe. I can change the channel. I can only control what I think. Even those who believe me to be evil or stupid (some of whom no doubt congregate on this site) have a right to their opinions.

  • GregoryWade September 21, 2008 (9:57 am)

    The man doesn’t need to give an interview. As I recollect, an open invitation to hear him speak was extended to the WSB and those outraged. It is not incumbent upon the accused to clear himself from these allegations.

    What bothers me is that the WSB, which attempts to pass itself off as a legitimate source of information, has actively participated in this contrived outrage under the guise of news; outrage that requires the same level of selective interpretation as one would need to derive parenting techniques from a source as dubious as “The Bible.”

    In this case, it is not Mars Hill or Ted Tripp that appear to be the fanatics. This entire saga began in the WSB forums, migrated to the home page where a handful of readers were able to magnify their voice, and culminated in a protest of three. In my opinion, the WSB has given voice to innuendo and serves as a rumor mill in far too many instances. Experience and observation has taught me that the manner in which one speaks about others reflect equally, if not more, on one’s self. Frankly, I see no exception in this instance.

  • WSB September 21, 2008 (3:18 pm)

    GregoryWade, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Here are some of ours. This site isn’t attempting to pass itself off as a legitimate source of information. It IS a legitimate source of information.
    We have, and continue to, report dozens of West Seattle news items here every week that go unreported, or belatedly reported, elsewhere, from developments to community association meetings to charity drives to crimes and way beyond. Please let me know the most recent thing you saw us report, in a home-page news item, that you consider a rumor.
    It also is a source of West Seattle (and beyond) discussion. As is standard fare on most news sites, there are two places that discussion takes place: comments on stories, and in forums where participants are welcome to start discussions without having to wait for a news story to spin off from.
    In this specific instance, regarding how the Mars Hill workshop/protest was covered in the WSB news section — separate from the forum, here are the basic facts.
    Two weeks ago, the thread about the upcoming seminar was started by “Nico,” who had created a forum login the same day.
    I saw the thread start and looked for information on Mars Hill’s website. As I noted five posts later, I found that he would be speaking at the Ballard campus, to be televised here and at other branches. That was the first and last time I participated in that thread. At some point last week, it was called to my attention that the thread had morphed into a plan for a protest, in West Seattle; this was before a separate thread was started.
    We first mentioned the protest plan in the news section on Thursday afternoon:
    as one of three topics that were generating a high level of discussion in the forum. This, we do from time to time, on a variety of topics. Even though our page navigation is right across the top, the various sections — forums, lost/found pets, etc. — sometimes go undiscovered until they are mentioned on the main page. On the flip side, forum participants sometimes open topics on stories that have been covered in the main section, and if relevant, we (or more often, other participants) point them to those stories. This kind of cross-promotion/cross-pollination is nothing we invented; it predates the Internet (end of newspaper story, “see related story on page B9,” etc.).
    By the time we mentioned this on Thursday afternoon, at least one citywide media source already had done a story on the protest plan. Later Thursday, when it was mentioned on Slog, we dropped into the comment thread to correct their statement that Tripp was speaking in West Seattle (I don’t know if they ever fixed that post). According to a Google News search, the controversy also has been covered by other newspapers, radio, and TV reporters.
    We made a point in our Friday morning mention (which also is routine for us – we daily mention “what’s happening today/tonight” in West Seattle, the controversial and uncontroversial) of pointing to a Times article which examined the controversy far more thoroughly than we were able to.
    When we were outside MH on Friday night – we went not knowing if we would find three protesters, 30, or 300 – we were one of three media crews. The resulting post here on WSB was simple, short, and factual, noting what happened on that streetcorner: Three people showed up to protest here. A small group showed up at Mars Hill Ballard, which was reported by, who shared the photo that we used. A Mars Hill rep invited us into the church on Friday night. This topic was not on the Friday night agenda; I didn’t go in. Fault me for that if you want to.
    Regarding Mars Hill itself, it is a major organization in the community and that alone merits coverage, for various reasons, not just controversies like this. As we reported last weekend, it contributed dozens of members to the West Seattle Gateway Cleanup. A few weeks earlier, we also included in our Weekend Lineup a bicycle rodeo they offered at nearby Hughes school.
    The last thing I’ll note before wrapping this up is that discussion here is open to anyone, both in the forum and in comments on news stories. If those who support Tedd Tripp’s philosophies want to offer their opinions, it’s as open to them as it is to those who have offered their opinions so far. I would love to hear from someone who attended the seminar and came away with ideas they feel will help them be a better parent.
    Checking Mars Hill’s (quite excellent, in design and depth of content) website just now, looking for anything of note such as a report on the seminar, to add before I close this, I do see one thing I hadn’t reported previously. They are adding a 5 pm service starting today.

  • Tommy September 21, 2008 (10:20 pm)

    I am from Pennsylvania and grew up with Tedd Tripp’s children. I hung out with them (his youngest mainly), I got into trouble with them, and I saw them get disciplined. And I can tell you with all the confidence in the world that these protesters are barking up the wrong tree. They have taken Tedd Tripp’s quotes completely and entirely out of context. When I read one of the quotes from his book about how to spank a child and saw how they paraded it as being “ritualized” and almost perverted, I wanted to vomit. He was simply trying to emphasize that IF you are going to spank a child, make sure that it is not done in front of a whole bunch of people in order to embarrass the child… and where Mr. Tripp wrote “this should be part of your physical relationship with the child” he meant that you should also take the time to hug and hold your child when they are behaving as well… if you come into physical contact with your child ONLY to punish them, then it becomes abuse. Like I said, I grew up with his kids and he was the kind of dad that spent positive time with his children… and does even to this day. Unfortunately, he’s portrayed by message boards like this as a dominant tyrant, but he is really very humorous and likable… as are his kids. And as far as all this “submissive wife” yackity smackity… his wife is nothing of the sort (at least not according your definition). She is confident, well-spoken, and does not appear at all to live in the shadow of her husband. In fact, when she speaks publicly, she has all the grace and charm of Hillary Clinton. I’ve known the Tripps all my life and love them dearly. The reason why the protesting was so small and such a failure, is because most people realize that there is no way in the world a man could teach something as abhorrent as the protesters portrayed and still have the following that he does. Very little of his teaching is about spanking anyhow! Most of it is about SHEPHERDING your child in ways that go beyond mere discipline and punishment. That’s why people like him so much… INCLUDING HIS OWN CHILDREN! All you have to do is give Tedd Tripp five minutes to realize that these protesters are just looking to be heroes. Even though, you might not agree with EVERYTHING he says, there’s no doubt in my mind that his eloquent logic (which I’ve seen in action many times) would leave these protesters dumbfounded and speechless if they had the misfortune to engage with him. In fact, he is so gracious that they would probably find themselves liking him. And as far as him being a right wing evangelical… he is not. I personally don’t like most evangelicals. And I have heard Tedd Tripp himself refer to their formulated way of thinking as an “evangelical lie”. Your friendly neighborhood protesters need to do their homework a little better before they try to become heroes and stereo-type those who they want to intimidate.

  • A Parent September 22, 2008 (10:55 pm)

    Feedback from the conference:

    Honestly, it was really good. Spanking (and how not to do it) was but a few minutes of a very rich 5 1/2 hours of content. Mr. Tripp came across as a gentle, kind, witty man who really loves God, his children and grandchildren, and cares deeply about future generations.

    Some key take aways:

    – Formative instruction is far more important than moments of disicpline. Parents need to capitalize more on the time with their children when they are not in conflict.

    – Parents unfairly make massive assumptions about what children know at various ages. Kids are being disciplined for things they should not because, perhaps, there has been a gap in formative instruction, or the parent is not thoughtfully considering “would a 5 year old know not to do this? Have I ever taught them this?”

    – They way we talk to our kids, even in stressful times is important – we shold use life-giving words with kindness and graciousness.

    – Authority and respect for it is deteriorating in our society. There is a healthy reason for authority – children feel safe when they know Mom and Dad are in charge.

    – Parents don’t want to produce good behavior that is artifical (obey because they are supposed to), but rather good behavior that comes from the heart (obey because they want to).

    – Discipline should not be punative, but restorative.

    – Parent shouldn’t discipline their kids for childish behavior because it’s inconvenient for the parent (like spilling milk). Discipline is reserved for overt defiance, and unhonorable actions.

    – God has become very fairytale-like in our society, and fewer and fewer parents who claim to be Christians spend little time, if any at all with the Lord, whether in prayer, in community with other Christians (church), reading their bible, etc. This renders our children unaware of the love and hope in Christ and left to search for their joy in the things of this world that are not lasting.

    – Natural consequences are very powerful learning tools, and parent should not be too quick to fix it for them. For example, if your child loses their backpack, grab them a canvas grocery bag to use for now and tell them they’ll need to earn a new backpack.

    Lots of heart-probing things you can say to your children that allow them to speak and think (age appropriate of course)…

    “Help me understand…”
    “Do you think we’ve been fair?”
    “You can trust God and Mom and Dad to know what is good for you.”
    “I love you and am committed to you and I would lay down my life for you”

    This is obviously not exhaustive – I can’t blog for 5 1/2 hours.


    Parenting is hard folks – it’s the absolute hardest most wonderful thing I have ever done. The love I have for my children is like no other. Discipline is not fun – I don’t want my time with my children to be conflict, but I know I have to love them enough to discipline, so that they can be joyful, empathetic, productive, humble, kind, gentle, earnest, giving adults.


    I really wish the protestors would have attended the conference or somehow gone a little deeper on this subject, on the speaker, and Mars Hill. JoB seems like a very nice person with a big heart, but I disagree with how this was managed, and how my church was portrayed in the process.


    Anyone is welcomed to attend service at Mars Hill any time they like, and even with complete anonimity if they wish, provided they are peaceful and respectful. It may not change your mind on hot-buttoned subjects, but your blogs and protests will be a lot more informed, reputable and meaningful.


    Regarding WSB – you do a nice job. We tune in often and advertise our business with you as well.

    A Parent

Sorry, comment time is over.