I quit

Happy birthday Leaving Fundamentalism.

It’s been a good first year for this blog, capped off by a successful past week. My post Five jobs a Creationist can’t do was the 23rd most viewed post on WordPress.com on Monday.


Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 12.12.41

This contributed to the blog hitting #6 on WordPress’s chart of fastest growing blogs:

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 00.09.52I will be celebrating my success by retiring from blogging about ACE. Before I shut up on the subject, please read my last post.

There’s tons more I could say, but there’s no point. If you’ve read this far and don’t agree with me now, you never will. Those of you who do agree have got the point.

Those in government, on the other hand, clearly don’t regard me as a credible source. I’ve just given up on a frustrating run of correspondence with David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, about NARIC’s approval of the ICCE. Willetts’ last letter said

“We are also satisfied that there is no evidence from these [Ofsted] inspections to suggest that the materials he [that's me] cites are in use in either the Redemption Academy or Bridgend Christian school [example ACE schools I had mentioned].”

The minister is wrong. The materials I cited are all part of the compulsory curriculum for the ICCE, and this is laid out explicitly in a document anyone can download from Christian Education Europe’s website, here. Since the schools inspections report that the students take the ICCE, the reports give exactly the evidence the minister claims is absent.

I realise that any idiot can set up a blog, but I have gone to great lengths to provide evidence to support all my claims. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I do expect you to believe the evidence. And if you’re not satisfied by the standard of evidence I provide, tell me what will satisfy you. I managed to satisfy the Guardian‘s lawyers. Twice. And, let me tell you, they were highly reluctant to believe me.

It turns out that three articles in the TESthree articles in the Guardian, and one in the Herald Scotland are not enough to get the government’s attention, and lobbying them directly through my MP hasn’t made any difference either.

Fortunately, I’m in the middle of a PhD at the Institute of Education, London. We’ll have this conversation again when I’ve got some peer-reviewed journal articles under my belt.

Before I retire, let me tell you one thing that might shock even you guys, who thought you had heard everything.

The ICCE Global board has removed W.A. Criswell’s Creationist classic Did Man Just Happen? from the compulsory literature course for their students. This is a shame; Did Man Just Happen? is a truly terrible book and I was planning to demolish it on the blog at some point.

ICCE have replaced it with After the Flood by Bill Cooper B.A. (hons), as he likes to be known.

Or, to give it its full title, After the Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe traced back to Noah.

After extensive research, I've concluded this book is not a parody.

After extensive research, I’ve concluded this book is not a parody.

Before we continue, you must understand that ACE’s literature course is not a study of fiction. Most of the books, like this one, claim to be factual and are studied as such.

The entire book is available to read online free here (html) and here (pdf). And, since people seem to be in the habit of not believing me recently, here is the complete syllabus for the International Certificate of Christian Education, where you can see on pages 6 and 12 that the book is a compulsory study item for students.

Now, a lot of Creationist literature is lacking in credibility, but After the Flood is – and I normally refrain from using such language – batshit fucking insane.

It uses as source material Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittaniaea pseudo-historical work which includes stories about King Arthur, Excalibur, and Merlin.

It also uses, completely uncritically, BeowulfIncluding the bits about killing dragons. Especially the bits about killing dragons.

Cooper writes:

The progression is only logical, for if the earth is as young as our forebears thought and as the creation model of origins predicts, then evidence will be found which tells us that, in the recent past, dinosaurs and man have co-existed. There is, in fact, good evidence to suggest that they still co-exist, and this is directly contrary to the evolutionary model which teaches that dinosaurs lived millions of years before man came along, and that no man therefore can ever have seen a living dinosaur. And to test that assertion, we will now examine the issue by considering the written evidence that has survived from the records of various ancient peoples that describe, sometimes in the most graphic detail, human encounters with living giant reptiles that we would call dinosaurs. And as we shall see, some of those records are not so ancient.

And on page 76, he claims that DINOSAURS LIVED IN WALES AS RECENTLY AS THE BEGINNING OF THE 20th CENTURY.

I repeat

He claims that dinosaurs lived in Wales in the 20th Century.

You can read a demolition of some of its claims here, but even a moron in a hurry can tell that this is not the work of a credible historian.

And that is why I am quitting.

It’s 2013, and UK Naric stands by its public declaration that the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), which teaches the above, is comparable to A-level standard.

We should not even be having this conversation.

But since I am seen as a lone fanatic, I’m going to talk about something else.

I started this blog to be a place for people trying to leave fundamentalism, or for people who have left it, or for people trying to understand fundamentalism.

There are huge areas of it that I haven’t touched, because ACE has been all-consuming. Now it’s time to talk about those.

If anyone wants me to write, talk, or speak about ACE on another blog, for a newspaper or magazine, or at a conference or event, of course I will do it.

If anyone wants to write a guest post about ACE for me, I would love to have it on the blog.

But, for now, I won’t be saying any more about ACE, because you have heard what I have to say.

I would be very grateful if you’d share this post with your friends. I’m going quiet (for now), but I’m not giving up, and I could use some help. No, the children who are currently being taught this instead of receiving an education could use your help.

Before you go, please vote in my poll. I’m interested to know if, after a year of trying, I’ve persuaded you. Thanks everyone.

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About Jonny Scaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on April 19, 2013, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Good luck with the PhD. Why not try a petition to Willets from change.org or similar and send your material to every MP with an ACE school in their are. It may also be worth lobbying your MEP’s.
    Hope you don’t give up blogging entirely.

  2. I’m really sorry to hear that you are finishing this blog; I think it’s a really worthwhile project and from a personal point of view reading it is one of the high points of my week.

    I hope you will continue with your campaign and please contact me if you need any help with it at all.

    • Don’t worry Clair, I’ll still be blogging. I’m just taking a break from flogging this particular dead horse to talk about other aspects of fundamentalism. Thank you for the support, and I’m sure I will contact you about a campaign at some point.

  3. Wait wait wait hold the phone. Doing a PhD and having no one believe you should surely give you cause to continue, even if it means blogging less frequently. Please don’t shut up shop, not yet anyway. ;)

  4. Joe 'Blondie' Manco

    I understand your position, Jonny. Although I never needed convincing about the idiocy of religious fundamentalism, your blog and many others have opened my eyes to how problematic it is. Up until a few years ago (and I admit my naivete here) I thought religious fanaticism was a dying phenomenon. Glad to hear you will be returning to your cause when the powers that be will take you more seriously.

    Thanks for the quality blogging, and looking forward to more, even if it’s not about ACE. Perhaps you should re-blog some of your old posts once in a while, to catch new readers.

  5. Seriously great work here Johnny. Thank you for your efforts and all the best in all your endeavors.

  6. Don’t quit.

    You have been very effective in raising awareness of the problem. Social change does not happen easily or quickly, but you have started the ball rolling.

    So, sure, move onto other topics. But maybe occasionally revisit the ACE problem – perhaps a reminder post every six months or so.

    And best wishes.

  7. Although you are no longer going to be adding to this discussion I hope you will keep this WordPress blog live so that these pages remain up on the Web for others to read and perhaps to comment on.

    As for your disappointment in the non response of politicians to your evidence, I think perhaps you were a little naive to assume that evidence would persuade them in the first place. Politicians are not usually swayed by anything as logical as simple arguments, no matter what evidence supports them (I’m generalising here – not stating an inflexible rule).

    Politicians respond to pressure rather than to logical or sensible arguments. They are therefore more responsive to pressure groups who can either promise them support or valuable endorsement or alternatively threaten them with damaging campaigns of opposition or obstruction to their desired goals. Immediate perception is also frequently more important than actual medium or long term results.

    For some years (under Tory, New Labour and Tory/Lib governments) it has been policy to effectively dismantle a unified state education service based mainly on Comprehensive Secondary schools and replace it with an atomised mish-mash of competing schools/academies and education providers and the aggressive religious lobby has been fully behind this demolition project. This policy is, of course, utter lunacy (and if you think evangelical Christian schools are bad then consider the racial as well as religious segregation inevitable in the growth of Sikh and Muslim schools – the latter also teaching dangerous fundamentalism and Creationist claptrap as unarguable fact) and will store up huge problems for the future. However, it does fit with a right wing ideology which seeks to dismantle the state as a provider of services based on citizenship rights and replace it with a market based system in which we are all mere consumers: customers who can purchase what we want (if we can afford it) rather than citizens with rights (to things like decent secular education).

    Politics is not about logical debate and reasoned argument backed by evidence. Politics is about power: how to acquire it, how to hold onto it and in whose interests it is to be used. Thus, the arguments over teaching fundamentalist religion in schools is not really about whether this is good or bad for the pupils concerned, or even good for our wider society, but about whether this fits in with the broader aim of breaking up the State education system in this country and encouraging numerous competing systems (and values). Just as with any other consumer choice (such as buying our kids healthy fresh food or deep fried or highly processed junk food) the customer has to be free to make a choice, however damaging this may be for his/her kids or for the future of our society.

    Good luck with your PhD and don’t give up just because it’s difficult.

  8. Jonny, I have learned a lot about ACE from you. Though I was a fundamentalist, I did not have experience with these schools since they came after I left the movement. However, what I learned from you is consistent with what I knew of the fundamentalism I grew up with.

    I was a creationist until my early 40s, and I was fairly well-read. Creationism seems an incredulous fantasy to me now, but it did not appear so then. You scared me today because I thought you were dropping your blog completely, but I see that you are continuing on a broader course. I will continue following it and look forward to your new direction.

    Congrats on your PhD work. What field is it in? As you say, you may gain more attention once you are contributing to academic journals.

  9. Thanks for all the great information you’ve been posting. I wonder if like here in America, the powers that be let this stuff slide because they believe in it to some extent.

    As for dinosaurs in Wales, someone’s been watching too much Torchwood!

  10. Thanks for spending so much time “preaching to the choir”, it helped me so much, knowing I wasn’t along, that I wasn’t the only person totally screwed up by Paces and the church people who “taught” them.

    Can’t wait to see where your blogging takes you next!
    Good luck!

  11. Jonny, you have been and are doing a great service, as evidenced by the previous comments. I look forward to your other issue posts!

  12. Thank you for what you have done, Jonny. I didn’t attend an ACE school, but I know people who did. Even back when I shared their faith, I had misgivings about the ACE approach to education. I feel I understand what they went through a lot better now. The people I knew from that school are now middle-aged, and while the mis-information didn’t help them, it was the rote learning and the failure to learn how to learn or apply reason that continues to hobble them to this day

  13. ashley haworth-roberts

    I think I read somewhere that the Cooper book attempts to demonstrate that a worldwide hill-covering flood is a real event in human HISTORY within the past 5,000 years. That is, humans (well the eight who survived and their descendants) kept historical records of it, as they did about various ancient empires and civilisations (including OLD or PRE-HISTORIC Egypt – where of course our historical records have got the dates a bit ‘wrong’ if you are a YEC).

  14. Thank you, Jonny, for all the work.

  15. I agree that they should be restricted, but the problem is many homeschoolers still use the same paces. Even if homeschoolers in the future have more accountability (and they should), there will be no way we can monitor against boring textbooks. ACE teaches enough to pass tests. Its just boring as all get out. So how can the government restrict textbooks? I do think we could strip them of their accredited program. I assume that’s what you mean.

    Perhaps if you have practical examples, and do casework to document this, plus if you do more of a callaboration project, it will draw more attention. I don’t have the paces anymore. The sad part is I did until just a few months ago. But if you ever wanted to do more, I could help you document problems pace by pace. Untimately, that’s what needs to be done. And then get news coverage. Plus I think you need a collaboration project, much like we are doing with homeshooler anonyomous right now.

  16. It’s been a brilliant blog, Jonny, but I understand the need to move on. I came to the same conclusion myself recently, understanding that debating these people’s fantasies is the same as arguing with a kid’s belief in Santa. It totally needed to be done, but thanks to the beauty that is the internet, everything you’ve said will stay here and be available for the true seekers to read.
    Enjoy your change of topic. Take pride in how much you have personally awoken the world to this particular atrocity. It was the first comprehensive look at ACE I’d ever seen since my time spent in its purgatory. Thanks for everything, Jonny. I look forward to your next thoughts…
    cheers

  17. I’m sad to hear that you won’t be continuing this blog, but I understand and strongly agree that talking about ACE is all-consuming (maybe that’s why I haven’t submitted my story). Reading all the blog posts here were all very therapeutic for me, and it was a great feeling to realize that I wasn’t alone in my experiences. Thank you for even having the strength to start something so emotionally strenuous and exhausting. Keep us in the loop about your new blog! :)

    Good luck and have fun doing your PhD!

  18. Ah, man, don’t quit! I just got here, and this is a great site!

    I’ve been involved in some one-sided correspondence with ACE about some historical errors in their Social Studies paces, and of course their science is just hilarious. Even though I consider them a guardedly-positive thing, they’re well worthy of criticism. You’ve motivated me to do some articles about my experiences on my own blog, and on some of their whackier teachings.

    Would you be interested in being interviewed on my site? I’d give you a list of questions ahead of time, and your approval on which ones you’d like to answer and which ones you wouldn’t. And I’m rather famous for not editing people’s replies at all.

    Still a Christian, not a Fundamentalist

  1. Pingback: What Do Creationists Teach? A guest post by Jonny Scaramanga | Jesus Without Baggage

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