Category Archives: Atheism
There’s a lot of swearing in this post. That means the people who need to hear this most will ignore me. That’s fine. There will be other posts on other days to engage sympathetically. And at this point, the bridges between me and those I criticise are mostly in flames anyway.
When Reverend Oliver Harrison spoke out against ACE in January, he wrote “I was in my twenties before anyone told me the first and most foundational truth of Christianity: namely, that God is love”. To which AislingNB replied:
‘God is love’ is an underlying basic principle which is often stated in the PACES. Perhaps your experience of ACE was negative because of the people that administered it. Don’t blame the actual curriculum for this.
Then Kara Deacon piled in:
I am an ex-pupil of the school you are criticizing… I don’t quite understand how you can say that you were not taught about the love of God because it was taught in every assembly and it was a huge part of school life.
So who’s telling the truth?
I believe all of them. I’m sure the King’s School, like all ACE schools, talked about love all the time. I’m equally sure that Oliver didn’t learn anything about real love while he was there.
It’s because when ACE talk about love, they mean something different from the rest of us. The trouble is that fundamentalism poisons the meaning of love. Yes, they talk about love all the time, but love is a stick to beat you with.
A couple of bits of recommended reading for you.
More importantly: I wrote a post at the Friendly Atheist on what ACE taught me about atheism (Spoiler: “they all seem to be very small people with restrictions around their lives, and antagonism, and obvious dementia. Their vocabulary is so profane that newsmen will no longer interview them on public media. Their vocabulary is simple, restricted, and obnoxious”). In the process, I explained how to become an ACE supervisor. It’s quite revealing. Please check it out.
I haven’t talked much about my own escape from ACE on this blog (I’m saving it for the book!), but I did an interview about ACE with LotharLorraine yesterday and a lot of it came out. If you want to know why I oppose ACE, there it is.
The interview was done as a Skype chat, so that explains my at times fragmented answers, but I think it’s come out well, especially now Lothar’s removed the horrific photo of me he originally posted with the interview.
Originally posted on lotharlorraine:
Here I had the immense opportunity to interview Jonny Scaramanga who is campaigning against this abusive and harmful system.
I’ve chalked up another flawless victory and been published in the New Statesman.
As I write, the article is the top story on the Statesman‘s home page.
Please share this one. My previous widely-published articles on ACE have been somewhat tabloid in style, all numbered lists and sections in bold. This is an attempt to raise the level of the conversation on the subject. Here’s the link: http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/01/creationism-and-conspiracy-evolution-inside-uks-evangelical-schools
In a bid to do less blogging and more actual work, I’ve got really behind in sharing links with you, so here’s some more excellent reading if you have time:
I did a thing for AlterNet about the propaganda cartoon that lace the ACE curriculum, and how they seem to promote racism, sexism, and the intolerance of non-Christians.
Dana Hunter has started blogging about ACE too. She has purchased the entire 8th grade Earth Science PACE set and is going to review each one in turn. You may have noticed my strategy for 2014 is to get people who aren’t me talking about ACE (anyone who cares knows what I think by now), so this is a very pleasing development.
One good thing you can say for fundamentalist education (now there’s a phrase I don’t use often) is that, in general, parents are very supportive of the schools. Statistically, this correlates well with academic success, and might go some way to explaining why some students from fundamentalist schools go on to excel academically, despite their deficient early education. It’s also good for kids to be part of a community that’s mutually supportive.
There you go, my first ever pro-fundamentalist education paragraph. Please don’t stop following my blog.
Occasionally, I hear from parents who are going through a divorce or a custody battle, and one parent is fighting the other for the right to put children through ACE. That’s a heartbreaking situation. Here is Cait McKnelly, who has bravely shared her experiences with us.
I spent some of 2013 collecting information about ‘troubled teen’ reform homes. These are usually compounds surrounded by barbed wire, where at-risk teens are sent ostensibly for a godly education. They have always been surrounded by shocking allegations of abuse and torture.
Many of them use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. Those are the ones I’ve come across in the course of my other research, so they’re the ones I’m writing about here, but they are by no means the only ones. My emphasis on ACE is not meant to imply that they are the worst or that the others are less important. If anyone has information on the others or can share a survivor story, I will gladly post it here.
In meantime, here’s a compilation of my findings so far. I trust this will be a useful resource for people seeking to raise awareness about these places or to get justice for the survivors.
Every now and then I get an email from someone who is currently in Accelerated Christian Education and hating it. In some ways, these emails are tragic. I think it always sucks when children are given a deficient education, but it’s worse when there’s an alternative available and it’s against the child’s express wishes. In other ways, they’re kind of awesome. It gives me hope that the ACE indoctrination program isn’t working, and it means these students won’t have so much unlearning to do later in life.
Tyler Stoltzfus is the most articulate of the students I know combating the system from within. This is his story.
I love Mötley Crüe. They were one of the bands that were instrumental in helping me to break out from the fundamentalist bubble I grew up in. “Dr Feelgood” was incredible; it made the Christian music I used to love seem anaemic and pathetic by comparison. And when I finally got to the point where I could sing “Shout at the Devil” without fearing that I might burn in hell, it was a huge personal breakthrough.
Mötley Crüe promote violence against women in their lyrics and in their live shows. I call myself a feminist now, and I can’t make excuses for them. But what shocks me now is how for so many years I didn’t recognise this violence against women, because my fundamentalist upbringing had taught me not to see it.
Trigger warning for sexual violence against women. Read the rest of this entry
Alright, that’s it from me for 2013. Thanks so much everyone for making this an excellent year. The blog was more than twice as popular as it was in 2012, and I’ve heard from dozens of former or current ACE students and teachers who now view it the same way I do.
I did have another slamming post lined up for today, but I thought I’d give you something to look forward to for next year. I’ll see you on the 3rd of January. If you liked “33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions“, you’ll love the next post.
I’d like to wish you all a merry Christmas, especially to the people from Christian Education Europe and ACE who read the blog (feel free to leave a comment sometime, guys). See you for more of the same in 2014.
I know the religious views of my readers are diverse, so here are my favourite Christian and secular seasonal tunes. To those of you who follow another religion, I apologise for your non-representation, but feel free to post your own favourites below.
I’ll be scaling back my amount of blogging slightly next year, because I should probably attempt to pass this PhD I’m doing. I’ve had a deluge of ACE survivor stories in the past few weeks that I’ll be posting next year. If you’ve had experience of attending a fundamentalist day school or home school and you’d like to write something for the blog, please send me a message.
And happy holidays.