How ACE Promotes Right-Wing Propaganda

In all the fuss about its racist and Creationist facets, an equally serious flaw of ACE usually get missed: The Orwellian political brainwashing that makes up ACE political material. With no alternative points of view even considered, I was still following ACE political ideologies long after I’d rejected their theology.

In secondary education, telling children what to think in any matter of conscience is unethical. It doesn’t matter if the ideology promulgated is liberal democracy or Nazism. On matters where there exists a range of acceptable opinions, students must be encouraged to question and debate.

As it happens, ACE’s politics are sufficiently poisonous that it won’t be difficult to persuade you of their unacceptability. It’s the kind of Religious Right Republican extremism you’d expect, leading one commentator to observe, pithily:

“Loyalty to God and country seems to be fused into a single entity. The Bible and the marines seem closely related. Communism and socialism are clearly equated with evil, while the American brand of democracy and capitalism seems to be ordained by God, Patriotism and the benefits of the American way of life are legitimate educational concerns, but the approach to these concerns in ACE borders on propaganda.”1

Right-wing = Correct.

As I’ve already mentioned, students are shown a chart of the political spectrum, with “God” clearly shown on the right. The political ideas are explained in a cartoon strip, depicting a conversation between a teacher, Mr. Lovejoy, and his students, Christi and Reginald. Lovejoy explains that “right” on the political spectrum is the opposite of “wrong”:

Lovejoy: “In every language there is a ‘right.’ The word ‘right’ comes from the same root as the words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’. We say, ‘You’re right!’ meaning, ‘You’re correct.’ We never say, ‘You’re left.’ …The word ‘left’ in English, the Romance languages, Greek, Hebrew, and hundreds of other languages, conveys the idea of ‘sinister’ or ‘reckless’.”

Reginald: “That’s why a politician who rejects God’s absolutes finds himself somewhere on the left.

Lovejoy: “Good insight, Reginald! The substance of truth, ideals, and absolutes is on the right. Evil does not have substance: it is a departure from, and absence of the substance of, good. The left is the farthest extreme from that basic substance… Men on the left cannot walk in wisdom.

Reginald: “The closer government is to God’s absolutes, the more righteous it is. The farther it is to the left, the less righteous it will be.

“Politicians who reject God’s absolutes and believe in extensive government regulations are called liberals. They are way over on the left and are very humanistic.” 2

A genius sentence at the end there, brilliantly redefining humanistic as a pejorative term, a point to which I shall return.

Communism = evil.

 “The nature of Communism is atheistic, Satanic, and conspiratorial. World Communism began as an international conspiracy which was not limited by any geo-political boundaries… In reality, Communism is not a social system or an economic system, but an international conspiracy which attempts to destroy the church, the family, and all legitimate governments.” 3

Professors Dan Fleming and Thomas Hunt note that “the portrayal of communism as an evil force is interwoven throughout the entire social studies program,” quoting this gem:

“The United Nations was created by Communists and has always been used by Communists to further Communist goals… Satan is the real force behind man’s efforts to achieve world government. 4

ACE Newspeak

Generally, though, they aren’t this blatant. Instead, attacks on socialism, liberalism, and humanism are done through a steady drip, redefining the words. I never saw the terms explicitly defined in a PACE. Instead, each time they are used, it is with a negative connotation, so that eventually there is no need for argument. If the writers want a student to know something is bad, they can simply label it “liberal” or “socialist” and leave it at that. If you wanted to argue in favour of liberal ideas with an ACE student, you would have to choose your words wisely, because most of the terms are predefined as ungood. Observe:

“Although [President Kennedy’s] New Frontier sounds good, it was as socialistic as the New Deal and the Fair Deal had been.”5

“The New Deal programs were based on the humanistic, socialistic philosophy that the ‘end justifies the means.’ To achieve FDR’s goal of halting the depression, Congress was willing to spend more than it had. Because of this overspending, the government raised taxes.”6

“Later, more direct forms of government aid, such as Medicare and Medicaid were funded by social security. Like many other government programs, these programs are socialistic.”7

“Today a military government with socialist policies rules the country [Ethiopia], and missionaries are no longer welcome in the country as they once were.” 8

Consider these simply an opening gambit; I have more, but I don’t wish to test your tolerance for drivel any further. Let me just remind you, though, that a government funded body, UK Naric, have endorsed ACE qualifications as comparable to A levels.
I know.

1. Moser, C. and Mueller, D. (1980). Accelerated or exaggerated? An evaluation of Accelerated Christian Education. Lutheran Education, 116(1), p. 11. Cited in Speck and Prideaux (1993)

2. Accelerated Christian Education (1987). From a “Wisdom” pullout accompanying an English PACE.

3. cited in Rose, S.D. (1988:128). Keeping Them Out of the Hands of Satan. London: Routledge

4. Fleming, D. and Hunt, T. (1987:521-523). The World As Seen by Students in Accelerated Christian Education Schools. Phi Delta Kappan 68 (7) 518-523.

5. Accelerated Christian Education (1992:21). Social Studies 1095. Lewisville, TX: Author.

6. Accelerated Christian Education (1990:6). Social Studies 1094. Lewisville, TX: Author

7. Ibid.

8. Accelerated Christian Education (1996:17) Social Studies 1099. Lewisville, TX: author.


About jonnyscaramanga

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 May 16, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Jonny….I’m amazed you’re able to think at all. How can these sort of biased statements stand as being educational? They are propaganda for sure….yuck.

    • I don’t think they can. I’m just trying to bring it to public attention. And also prove that this is still happening. Most of the PACEs haven’t been updated in years, so when I tell people this, they look at the copyright dates of my references (some as far back as 1986) and assume they’re out of date. All my research indicates that these quotations are still representative of ACE today. I just need proof.

      • Donald Miller

        Hi hope you consider hooking up with my magazine. I like what you’re doing and I think you’ll end up with an excellent book. I see the magazine as a way for people–mostly myself–to learn factual accounts, rather then agenda-driven/propagandist.

      • hey Jonny just finally got out of one of the places. I was going to graduate this year but I finally got out. I can tell I still have some of these PACES and I’ve seen all these quotes recently within the past few years

  2. I vaguely remember reading this cartoon strip and not really getting it. They really do like their brainwashing…

    • It’s an awesome cartoon strip. There’s barely a true word in it. Funnily enough, the political views took me the longest to get over. Long after I’d worked out that the universe has to be more than 6,000 years old, I was still extremely right-wing.

  3. Roland Deschain

    And it gets even worse. I didn’t think it could, but this blog post made me simultaneously cry and rage. I’ve just found your blog (thanks, by the way, for the excellent work and education), and from what i’ve read here, I begin to despair of any hope being had for the future of our species. Thank you for highlighting the inequities of the ignorant and manipulative, as it is only through shouting from the rooftops will we make the voice of reason be heard.

    I fear I will never understand how people can be quite this manipulative, especially with the malleable minds of the young and innocent. If such a thing as evil were to exist, this would be it incarnate.

  4. I was raised in church and attended an ACE school, I graduated high school in 1979. The earlier editions of the curriculum were much more crude than the later ones. What they taught as “Science” was a joke. There was never any room for questioning as it was all inspired by God. Several times in high school I was sent to the office where the Pastor would pray that God would cast “the Devil” out of me. From what I’ve been reading lately, it seems like they are still teaching lessons from the dark ages.

  5. …atheistic AND Satanist? I didn’t know that was possible
    oh wait, it isn’t
    it’s like how Obama was called an atheist Muslim…

  6. republibotthreepointoh

    “Americanism” has often been called the true American religion. The idea that we’re superior to every other nation and group, that we’re chosen by God with a special destiny, that it’s our mission to make the world good, that our government is appointed by God (Yet paradoxically beplagued with evil men that we must drive out). As a result religion and politics frequently get mixed up with each other, and even people who want nothing to do with relgion at all end up with a somewhat religious worldview, they just substitute the dogma of a political movement for religious dogma, but though the words may change the song remains the same.

    The ACE examples are, of course, crazy over the top, and frequently just flat-out ignorant, of course. There was similar stuff in my secular school books, though, particularly around the Bicentennial. Substitute “America” for “God” and the dogmatism was almost identical.

    • Interesting perspective. Thanks. I am comparing mainly to the education I have seen in the UK, where history and politics are taught from an impressively neutral perspective. I never had the faintest idea of my teachers’ political views, and I was encouraged to consider and evaluate a range of political opinions with an open mind.

  7. republibotthreepointoh

    Oh, yeah. If you’ve ever seen an American military funeral, you’d instantly get it. It is very, very, very ritualistic and pious despite being completely (and deliberately) secular. There’s the ceremonial folding of the flag, the honor guard, the very solem presentation of the never-to-be-unfurled-again flag to the next of kin, the salutes, the uniform iconic grave markers, even the consecrated-in-blood sacred last resting place (Arlington, which was Robert E. Lee’s plantation prior to our civil war). It’s very religious, despite there not being a thing you can point to about it that IS religious. In some cases there’s the riderless horse, or the missing man formation, and of course the 21 gun salute, the eternal flames. It’s all very ‘you are martyrs of the great god America.’

    As a kid in public school, no one discussed politics at all in gradeschool (Which in my case was Watergate and the aftermath). In high school, the teachers were more open about it, and the overwhelming majority of them were quite liberal. I had a science teacher who was a former Black Panther, a pre-law teacher who was openly democratic and either misrepresented or just didn’t understand international politics. Most of my teachers were pretty openly opposed to our presence in Nicaragua. Our science teachers generally looked down on creationists (Though to be fair, at least one of them was very nice about it, honestly nicer than the non-creationist biology teacher I had in Bible College). I had some right wing teachers, too, but I think the ‘leftist’ ones outnumbered the ‘rightist’ ones perhaps 2:1. Maybe 3:1 if I assume some of the neutral ones were simply keeping their mouths shut.

    I’d have preferred a bias-free education as a kid. Even then I remember wondering “How much of this IS and how much of this is simply Mr. Dort?”

    It should probably be mentioned that ACE was born in a particularly liberal period in US history, and is absolutely positively without doubt a knee-jerk reaction to it. Which was really one of its selling points back in the day.

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