Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Strange Case of UK Naric and Accelerated Christian Education

Following Monday’s revelations, this is another very important blog post. Again, please share this where you can; this is important news. There’s a “too long; didn’t read” bullet point list at the end for the terminally lazy or pressed-for-time.

As I’ve already written, UK Naric has approved the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), advanced certificate, as equivalent to A-level standard. This is surprising because, until now, every academic review of the curriculum has been extremely critical. Even Christians agree on this.

Naric said in 2009 their report would be made available on request. Since then, they have refused to make it public, saying it is an “in-confidence commercial document.”

Naric’s first benchmarking study was paid for by a school that uses the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, on which ICCE is based. ICCE Ltd paid for the second benchmarking itself. Naric has not answered questions on whether this presents a conflict of interests.

This all seems unsatisfactory. If Naric’s reports can’t be made public, how can they be properly scrutinised for fairness and accuracy? This is also a loss to the academic community, who could use these reports in further research. In the case of ICCE, it is an acute loss, since there has been no independent research into the qualification whatsoever.

Naric, run for the government by private company ECCTIS Ltd., is not subject to Freedom of Information requests. It seems to me that this is a problem. The incentive to make a profit is at odds with the need for transparency. Naric has refused to answer my questions on how it benchmarked ICCE, saying the time required to answer would cost them too much money.

Here’s a history of the academic community’s research on Accelerated Christian Education, the fundamentalist curriculum at the heart of ICCE. As you’ll see, no one’s ever had anything good to say about it. And I’m not leaving stuff out that contradicts my views; there just isn’t much pro-ACE feeling in the academic world. Read the rest of this entry

In the News

Not a full new post today. I want to make sure everyone sees Monday’s post. To satisfy your cravings for more of me, however (I know you can’t resist), here’s a guide to me-related web happenings of the last week.

Accelerated Christian Education has been all over the internet the last few days, and my name’s been in most of the articles.

Louisiana has instituted a voucher program in its schools which means that students can get government money to study ACE. Bruce Wilson wrote a great article at AlterNet, and it seems like half the internet’s news outlets copied and pasted it onto their homepages. Since Bruce linked to this blog, I’ve been getting thousands of hits. Cheers Bruce. Read the rest of this entry

Accelerated Christian Education Validated by UK Government Agency

This is the most important blog post I’ve written yet. It’s not as populist as the Top 5 posts, but please read it, comment, tweet, share on reddit and reblog. This is a crucial news story and it needs to get out there.

Earlier this year, Naric, a UK government agency, recognised the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as comparable to Cambridge International A-Level standard. This is a travesty, and not just because of Creationism. ICCE is the certificate students get for completing the fundamentalist curriculum Accelerated Christian Education.

If I were to make a list of the problems with Accelerated Christian Education, the Creationism, and associated lies taught as fact, would come third or even fourth.

Number 1 would be the tendency for these schools to indulge in physical abuse of children.

Number 2 is how destructive it is educationally. I write so much about ACE’s Creationism mostly because it’s popular – my two posts on lies taught by ACE account for almost 50% of this blog’s traffic. I really need the public to be on side if we’re going to beat this. But I can’t get the public to engage with the real problem, because the real problem is education. Most people find education boring, and laughing at Creationism interesting.

Well, you should care. And I’m going to show you why. Read the rest of this entry

Jesus Jihad Part 2

As I expected, Jesus Jihad: Could There Be a Christian Bin Laden? has received a torrent of objections. I want to do deal with them all. After that, I don’t anticipate talking about this again. Read the rest of this entry

The Dogma That Followed Me Home

Guest post by Cat Givens.

When I was growing up in northeast Ohio, my family attended a Baptist Church. It was one of those places where you’d meet every Sunday morning and then again Sunday evening. Bible study on Wednesday night. Soul-winning every Tuesday eve. Thursdays were youth group nights, and on Friday or Saturday we may have some other activity and then back again on Sunday.

We learned about heaven, and about hell. They preached a lot about hell.

I can remember being taught as a young child to tell everybody I came in contact with about Jesus and how to be saved. If I neglected to tell someone, then on Judgment Day this would happen:

The person I did not tell would be led before the Lord God. I would be sitting behind this god with the rest of the saved people. God would turn that person I neglected away, saying he did not know them. As they would be lead away, they would see me behind god and scream, “WHY? Oh Why didn’t you tell me?” And as they were lead away, to be cast into the eternal fire, damned for all eternity, their blood would be dripping from my hands. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid, huh? Read the rest of this entry

Jesus Jihad: Could There Be a Christian Bin Laden?

I recently made the controversial claim that I could have been a suicide bomber.

I claimed that my faith was so devout, and my ability for critical thought so crippled, that if someone had shown me an interpretation of Scripture that made it seem like God’s will, I would have killed for the faith. And I was depressed enough to kill myself, because fundamentalism doesn’t offer any real answers.

Of course, Christians will deny a Biblical basis for such actions is possible. But Islamic scholars claim such a reading of the Koran is equally unsustainable, yet suicide bombers exist, and only preposterously politically-correct liberal commentators deny that faith is a motivating factor. So today I’ll show that, in principle, there’s no reason why a Christian suicide bomber couldn’t arise. Here’s what their propaganda leaflets might look like: Read the rest of this entry

I Could Have Been a Suicide Bomber

I could have been one of the hijackers in 9/11.

Luckily for me, there’s no culture of terrorism among young Christian fundamentalists (yet). But I believed it strongly enough that, if you’d shown me Bible verses that persuaded me it was God’s will, I would have blown up myself and other people for the faith. Read the rest of this entry

Fundamentalists, the Illuminati, Freemasons, and the UN

An overlooked danger of fundamentalism is how it can indirectly result in believing absurdities, quite apart from religion. Everybody knows fundamentalists believe unlikely things about God. Less known is their propensity for believing equally implausible things about the world more generally.

Take the surprisingly widespread belief among evangelicals that they are the victims of a vast conspiracy by liberals, New Agers, Satanists, and Freemasons. Great numbers of evangelicals seriously believe in an ancient Illuminati plot to destroy Christianity. Their conversation on the subject sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown novel (and, incredibly, Dan Brown’s books are actually better written than the fundy literature), but there’s no suggestion that it’s fiction.

So, because laughing at fundamentalism is fun, and because you won’t believe the extent of the insanity unless I show you, here’s a condensed guide to Fundamentalist Conspiracy Theory (and I mean condensed. I could write books about this). Read the rest of this entry

Guest Post: A Reverence for Received Knowledge

Today’s guest post is from another ACE survivor, Matthew Pocock. Matthew has a distinguished career as a synthetic biologist, and worked on the Human Genome Project. As you’ll see, though, he doesn’t think ACE deserves much of the credit. Read the rest of this entry

Back on The Pod Delusion

I am once more on the superb Pod Delusion podcast this week, and once more in esteemed company: Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and former government chief science adviser Sir David King are all on the same show.

Unlike my past appearances, this time I’m talking about something I’ve never blogged about: the phenomenon of “Jesus is my Boyfriend.” It seems that large numbers of evangelical women really do fantasise that Jesus is their lover, and… you’ll have to listen to it. It’s awesome, and features Kylie Sturgess as well.

Direct mp3 link

Add to iTunes

The only fly in the ointment is that at one point I utter the sentence, “This is based on the evangelical belief that the church is the body of Christ.” I should have said bride of Christ. It makes no sense otherwise, and I’m really quite annoyed at myself for this slip of the tongue. Anyway, enjoy.

Update: While you’re listening, make sure you check out Rob Weeks’ “Gove’s Curriculum”. As well as being another example of why Michael Gove is a dangerous idiot to have the level of responsibility he does, it also explains why rote learning is not a good thing. And since ACE is based on rote learning almost exclusively, that’s relevant to this blog.