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Focus of this Blog

James Michael McDonald, V and his wife Stacy purchased and operated Homeschooling Today Magazine unsuccessfully for a number of years before its resale. During that time, the venture turned out to be far from profitable, and the McDonalds have not been honest about how they established themselves in the homeschooling community, how they operated their business, or even about their personal lives.

Certainly no one rejoices in the drawing of attention to these matters, they must be noted in order to stop the deception. This movement of patriocentricity promotes false doctrine by perpetuating lies, profiteering off of the trust of earnest Christians who believe the shaming messages promoted by the movement. The end should never justify the means, and the Christian homeschoolers that support the McDonalds have the right to know the truth. This blog hopes to draw attention to the behaviors of the McDonalds, particularly those concerning the period of time during which the McDonalds owned and operated Homeschooling Today Magazine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Open Letter to Jim Taylor, Hubert “Happy” Hopper, and the Taylor Machine

June 21, 2008

Dear Sirs:

It is with great regret that I find ourselves needing to write this letter. For the past two-years we have done everything we can to correct unchristian behavior by the leadership of The Taylor Machine. Using your organization, you have caused such harm to me and my family that we are now at a place where we are homeless and struggling to maintain the lowest level of living. We are not able to minister as we have in the past. We are unable to raise the money necessary to fulfill our critical ministry in Yugoslavia and Europe.

While we would rather move on to our ministry, we cannot until we resolve the issues with the leadership of The Taylor Machine. It is our intention here to tell everyone involved in the homeschool movement the truth about what the leadership of The Taylor Machine has done to us. As we have talked with some friends who used to work with The Taylor Machine we have been surprised to learn that we are not the first family to be treated in such an unchristian manner by the leaders of The Taylor Machine.

My wife and children have lived now for too long under the burden of stress that you have caused our family. Let us state at the beginning what we have suffered. All of these facts are known to the leadership of The Taylor Machine. Three months after this slander was made known to Jefferson Smith, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He has been so distracted by the loss of his reputation and the loss of his livelihood that he has not been able to concentrate on treatment.

Our family home in Kindergarten, Yugoslavia has been lost to foreclosure. This home was all we had; now it is gone. Even though it was foreclosed, if we were to buy another home in Yugoslavia we would have to pay off the balance of the foreclosed loan before we could get a loan to purchase a home. We lost our furniture, our retirement, our car, our life insurance, our personal keepsakes.

My children have been placed in harms way and my oldest son has been slandered. My children have been emotionally harmed. They are devastated. The leadership of The Taylor Machine has stayed in our home in Yugoslavia. They were treated with great respect. Yet, for reasons unknown, the leadership of The Taylor Machine has chosen to target us for destruction. We have been living with different families around the US as we

do not have the funds to even rent a home.

In 2003, we reached an arrangement between our Yugoslavian organization, The Slavic Company and The Taylor Machine to provide funding for our work in Yugoslavia regarding homeschooling. At the time the arrangement was made both Joseph Paine and Hubert “Happy” Hopper were aware of everything that was agreed. Based on this agreement, Jefferson Smith dissolved his company and began working fulltime to protect homeschool families in Yugoslaovia. We were very successful and homeschooling families were better protected and our numbers were slowly growing.

At some point in 2004, The Taylor Machine decided they could no longer make the grant to The Slavic Company that was raised to support Jefferson and Clarissa and their work. We understood the ability of The Taylor Machine to determine the work they funded. So, while we were disappointed that The Taylor Machine would no longer fund us we accepted it. We began looking for alternative sources of funding.

Unable to find sufficient independent funding to remain in Yugoslavia, Jefferson took a job at Homeschooling Today Magazine in Katy, Texas. The owner, James McDonald, was very happy to have me come. Jefferson had negotiated a job in the management of the magazine and we were excited about the move, though we hated to leave our work in Yugoslavia.

Unfortunately for us, we trusted the leadership of The Taylor Machine and notified them of the new position in Texas. While we were traveling from Yugoslavia to Texas the leadership of The Taylor Machine called Jefferson’s new boss, James McDonald, and told him that Jefferson could not be trusted. They went further and unsolicited told the owner and publisher of HST that Jefferson had embezzled money from The Taylor Machine. We did not learn for several months about this telephone call. Due to the lies of the leadership of The Taylor Machine, Jefferson lost his job and the opportunity to own HST.

You can imagine that we were stunned to learn that the leadership of The Taylor Machine, claiming to be Christian, claiming to represent the best interests of homeschooling families around the world, would so blatantly lie. Without cause or warning, and for no reason we understand to this point, The Taylor Machine decided to destroy our family and its ministry.

At the same time these lies were being told the leadership of The Taylor Machine began talking to others within the The Taylor Machine family defaming our name. They surgically cut us off from those we have served with for many years. This move by the leadership of The Taylor Machine effectively cut us off from many people who had supported our ministry for years.

One of the reasons this was an effective plan is that The Taylor Machine told others that "Mr. Jefferson Smith had used funds for private living expenses that The Taylor Machine had raised to be used exclusively for attorney fees associated with defending Yugoslavian homeschool families." Thus "Mr. Smith is not trustworthy and unstable of character". The Taylor Machine said to others that if Jefferson knew what they were being told, "Mr. Smith might make the issue public to the great detriment of The Taylor Machine’s mission and the greater homeschooling movement."

Why would The Taylor Machine do this? We do not know for sure. We suspect that they broke the tax law and have covered up by destroying our family. Perhaps they broke their governing charter because they allocated monies in ways that they should not have. We thought we had a good relationship with the leadership of The Taylor Machine. The Yugoslavian homeschool movement we worked so hard to see succeed is on the verge of a complete collapse.

At the The Taylor Machine State “Pittsburg” Leadership Conference in Sept/Oct 2005 we were told that The Taylor Machine could only give money to attorneys. In The Taylor Machine's June 2005 Report, a publication that goes out to The Taylor Machine’s members and donors, Jefferson and Clarissa were actually identified as attorneys. Even though The Taylor Machine's leadership knew that we were not attorneys. (We have been friends with Jim Taylor for more than 20 years and he knows who we are and what we are. He knows that the money was given to us.) Yet we certainly have never held ourselves out as attorneys.

We do not know if The Taylor Machine has violated any tax laws in the US, but we think it is certain that the federal government should look into the finances of the The Taylor Machine.

For the past two plus years we have begged the leadership of That Taylor Machine to work with us and restore our name and ministry, which they had destroyed. We have asked them to help fund our return to Yugoslavia. We have asked them to stop speaking badly about us to others behind our back. We have asked them to release documents refuting the negative comments they have made in the past. They used “Christian Assuager Services” to drag out working with us until the statute of limitations expired, preventing me from taking legal action against them for slandering me and my family as embezzlers so that they would not have to be accountable. When caught in their own error, they didn’t just stop funding of the Slavic Company and our endeavors. They falsely enticed me to the United States, paid my way here and then left me destitute and ill, all in response to their own error. And then they accused me of being at fault!

Their response has been covered in legalese with no consideration for the well-being of me or my family. We did not believe that men who claim to be Christian could behave in such unchristian ways. They have, however!

While we had the right to sue The Taylor Machine for defamation and tortuous interference with the right to work we tried to resolve this matter privately without litigation. We continue to hold to the decision not to sue the ministry. Nonetheless we can no longer remain silent.

What the leadership of The Taylor Machine has done to us, we believe they have done to others. From time to time they devastate families for their own gain. They do not permit leaders within their state structures to disagree with them.

We would like to see the leadership of The Taylor Machine repent of their behavior. We have given up hope that they will treat us with Christian charity.

We hereby request that The Taylor Machine live up to true Christian standards rather than merely mouthing Christian slogans while destroying your brothers and sisters for your own selfish gain or power.

We have proof of the claims we have made in this letter should anyone like to see it. We have letters and emails from the leadership of The Taylor Machine refusing to take responsibility for your own behavior. We have letters from key leaders in Yugoslavia that show the truth of the relationship, in spite of the words of the leadership of The Taylor Machine.

There is a credibility gap in Christian ministry in America. For some reason many leaders think they are beyond accountability. The leadership of The Taylor Machine has responded to us as if they are above accountability. This is audacious and unacceptable.

When we informed the state leaders that we were having a dispute with The Taylor Machine, Hubert “Happy” Hopper responded that "The Taylor Machine must act to protect their corporation, their members, and their co-laborers." Protect them from what? From acting against the law by making slanderous remarks to save themselves that brought my family to ruin?

It is time for Christian men to be Christian men! (Honorable?) Judge Horace Miller, sir, you especially should be ashamed to have been a partner in the actions taken to see our good family destroyed.


Jefferson Smith