Why Fundamentalists Have No Social Skills

In recent weeks, the online skeptical-thinking community has been knee-deep in controversy. There have been accusations of misogyny within the movement, such as Skepchick’s mentioning that she received an unwelcome approach from a strange man in an elevator. Following this, we have seen some pretty unenlightened responses.

What’s clear from the comments is that there are a large number of men out there who have no idea how to relate to women healthily. I wonder if that’s because atheist conventions have a concentration of ex-fundamentalists like me. Fundamentalism is devastating to the ability to form relationships, and without help, most survivors won’t recover. I really want to weigh in on the Skepchick issue, but it will probably be more helpful if I explain where I’m coming from.

When I left Victory, my ACE school, my social skills were crippled, especially with girls. This is unsurprising. Sixty percent of my working week had been spent in an isolated carrel, working in silence. There was almost no co-operative learning. At break times, the school enforced the standard ACE six-inch rule – this being the minimum distance between members of the opposite sex at all times. And there were only 45 pupils in the entire school, aged 3-18, so I had almost no experience of meeting and interacting with new people – especially teenage girls.

Carrels, or "offices", at a ACE school

More than half the working week at a typical ACE school is spent in silence in carrels like this.

In weekly chapel services, the pastor preached about relationships (he used the expression, “so boys and girls can relate to each other in a healthy, wholesome way,” at least a dozen times per sermon), but all he actually talked about were the evils of fashion, particularly the miniskirt.

One mufti day, a couple of senior girls showed up in short skirts. In retrospect, it was the greatest thing that happened in my tenure at the school. This glorious vision lasted until the first break time, when they were soundly rebuked and made to change into tracksuit bottoms. Girls were not to express their femininity in any way. Here are some highlights from the School of Tomorrow’s dress code for girls at ACE student conventions:

An image of Christian discretion and modesty is to be portrayed. All female sponsors, coaches, and students must wear dresses, skirts (which are no shorter than the bottom of the knee, standing or sitting), or culottes. Slits must be no higher than the bottom of the knee. Dresses and blouses must come to the neckline in front (to the clavicle bone) and back (to the bottom of the neck), without see-through material. TIGHT, FORM-FITTING ATTIRE and fad extremes are inappropriate and will not be allowed.

Female (Athletic Wear)
Loose-fitting culottes and tops are to be worn for competition… Culottes must be full, loose-fitting, and have the appearance of a skirt. When in an upright standing position, culottes must be below the knee. For modesty reasons it is recommended that white athletic clothing, especially culottes, NOT be worn. (A T-shirt must be worn under V-neck athletic shirts.) Sleeves must stay draped over the shoulders at all times.

For the boys’ part, well, we were always reminded that to look at a woman with lust was the same as committing adultery (Matthew 5:28). In our devotions class, we were given the idea that any kind of dating, and especially any kind of physical contact, was in effect cheating on the spouse God would one day give us. We didn’t read this particular book, but a similar idea was popularised by Josh Harris’ million-seller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (read the first couple of paragraphs of the link; it’s jaw-dropping). I persuaded myself that I wasn’t interested in sex, and the girls at the school seemed to as well. We were all obsessed with the idea of romance, but sexuality was entirely divorced from it. I trained myself not to look at women below the neck, and not to think of myself or them as sexual creatures.

Nancy Friday has written incisively about how this type of thinking leads to the terrible madonna/whore dichotomy. After all, no matter how they might try to deny it, Christian boys do want sex, but they’re trained to see women as these perfect, wonderful beings. It would be disgusting to defile these immaculate creatures with anything so debased as sexual intercourse. Whereas the girls in the magazines – they want sex. You can see it from the way they dress. Sluts.

And Christian girls… Well, they want sex too, of course, although they’re so busy dressing and acting holy there’s no way anyone can tell. It’s hard for a girl to be attracted to boys who place them on a pedestal and won’t ever relate to her as a woman. A friend of mine, a youth pastor in Texas, tells me he’s seen young couples divorce in the first year. After years of telling themselves sex is wrong, they can’t bring themselves to do it.

Once I got off the leash and off to music college, I was terrified of women, and incapable of speaking to them. So I drank. I kept drinking, thinking the next drink would give me the courage to approach a woman. But it didn’t, and so there was another, and another. And then I was the guy slurring over some poor girl, “You’re… so… beautiful. Canibuyyouadrink?” Extraordinarily, this didn’t work.

If I did wind up speaking to a woman, by some miracle, I made it clear that I was not like those nasty other men, who only wanted her for sex. I didn’t want her for sex at all. And then I was mystified when she left with the nasty other man, who did want her for sex. What I didn’t know, because my educators vigorously denied it, is that attraction between men and women is sexual at its core. Which doesn’t mean that you have to have sex all the time, but it does mean you have to acknowledge the reality of physical attraction.

Fundamentalism – and this is not hyperbole – will ruin your life.

So, as a former social retard, I can sort of understand some of the response to Skepchick. Wanting a girl and not knowing how to communicate with her is a profoundly frustrating experience. Of course, that doesn’t legitimise bad behaviour at all. But I have good news for the misogynists of the atheist world. Communicating with women is a skill, and like all skills, it can be learned.

Lesson one: Treat women with some respect, and don’t corner them in elevators when they can’t leave.


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 July 17, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. This is a brilliant post! I, too, had to remain six inches from the opposite sex at all times at my high school, which was a Baptist high school, but not ACE. At our ACE, classes only had girls. When a man or boy walked by, we had to have our eyes gazing down and not look up to make eye contact. We did not dare wear pockets on our shirts, because pockets would draw attention to our breasts and cause the boys/men to sin. In fact, we had to be extremely careful to resent ourselves modestly so as not to cause a boy/man to sin. We were taught that our very evil nature as women could cause a boy/man to stumble. From a female’s perspective, if we wanted a relationship with a boy, and we felt physically attracted, then we were not only in danger of our own hellfire, but we were guilty of causing the boy to sin, too, because he could surely “smell” our desire. On many occasions, I would ask to be brought home early, so as not to be a “stumbling block” for a boy I cared about. Looking back, I imagine that there were many teenage and young twenties men who were puzzled as to why his date had to cancel at the last minute, or stopped the date part way through. Well, that is why. We young ladies were never to allow our mere nature to cause the man to sin.
    Thank you for your insightful post. It is a wonder anyone can hook up like normal human beings after being raised in this manner. In fact, I felt like I was a whore for having sexual urges and for acting upon them. That’s a tough rap!

    • Oh my god, when I was writing about children’s sinful natures, I never thought about the dreadful women are evil doctrine. It wasn’t emphasised in my churches, although I came across it. What absolute hell you must have been through.

      Thank you so much for your perspective, it’s added a lot to my post. You’re always welcome to write for this blog. I remember the guilt you describe so clearly. It didn’t go away when I stopped believing; I felt guilty for my whole first relationship, and I think it’s really what broke us up.

      • “I felt guilty for my whole first relationship, and I think it’s really what broke us up.’
        What a horrible thing to do to a person. Yet, it is being done over and over and over again. These beliefs we carry over are ingrained at a cellular level, and it takes much work to cognitively overcome this guilt. Even when you’ve conquered the unhealthy effects, when you least expect it, a trigger can bring those feelings back right smack in front of your face.
        Thank you for your work to end this!

    • Timothy Allman

      That is a good description of what my sisters were told by my mother. My parents had their own ACE school that ended up being a home school just for us. There was no way out. My mother had me convinced that all public school children were evil drug addicts. It was more like a Polish orphanage than a nurturing home. Here is the kicker. After my fathers death, one of my sisters let me know that my father had molested her. From there it did not take much to figure out that all three of them had been molested. And it is clear from my mothers many actions like keeping us isolated and not wanting us (especially the girls) to see a doctor that she was compliant in this. Large numbers of people who say things like, we must abstain from all appearance of evil, might be protesting too much. These schools can safely harbor men and women who abuse children in ways that are just as bad as any catholic priest scandal in the news.

      • nowonderimamess


        Timothy Allman, i am sorry for what your family suffered. I hope you all find your way to joy.
        Let me preface this by saying that I am aware that not all A.C.E. schools are run the same way, and each has it’s own agenda. It is not fair of me to assume the intent of any schools administrators that I have no knowledge of, BUT, I feel a responsibility to speak up if I can prevent a parent from making a disastrous decision in the name of “protecting” their child from the world they will eventually have to live in anyways. The way I see it you can shape and mold a child’s mind to your way of thinking, but if you fail to capture their heart, you have lost them anyways. Parents, if you love your kids, please consider respecting who God made them to be by allowing their lives to develop naturally. Keep your eyes open and don’t give in to fear. Locking you kids in a box of pointless rules will not mold their character, it will crush it. True morality does the right thing even when no one is watching.
        I have sooo many regrets in regard to the years I spent at the stifling, mind-numbing, twisted and hypocritical A.C.E. school I was forced to go to, and my parents paid for it,Crazy! Like many others; the ridiculous rules and dogmas damaged my psychosis in ways I am still trying to unravel. It took me years to be able to function in a healthy way in social settings. I can hold my own but, some things that are normal for most do not come naturally for me. I will never experience or comprehend common milestones.
        Ah, where to start. I don’t want to reiterate what many others have said since I have wasted enough time on dealing with issues stemming from A.C.E.s influence on my impressionable young mind. There is a common theme with the extreme dress code, consensual home invasion,(getting parents to gang up on you instead of support you) endless fire and brimstone chapels, severe corporal punishment and a general disgust for the arts , to name a few. Please understand, the curriculum, as bad as it was is not even the worst part. I think the spirit crushing is the most damaging. When you take a kid whose natural curiosity creates a desire to learn, and then you squelch it by basically teaching them not to question anything, you take away their thirst for knowledge. At schools like the one I attended everything becomes an exercise in frustration. At my school there was no joy, no teacher, no answers, and no escape. Couple that with no talking, no p.e., no art, no music, drama or dancing(it invited demon possession they said). Basically no thinking allowed, only regurgitation. New Hope they called it, NOT. My experience from 3rd-9th grade was isolation indoctrination at best. School is much more than academics. For most of us it is where we learn how to get along in the world.
        My school was so small that there was an average of 30 or so kids in K-12th, all in the same room. There was only 4 girls in my class including me. Its pretty hard to choose your friends wisely when there is such a small selection. 1 girl disappeared when her dad was revealed as one of the resident pedophiles who also ran a day care. The other became a druggie and my 1 “normal” friend got the hell outta there. Her mom retained her brain; thank God ! Me, I became the vulnerable, regular child molestation victim of one of the older boys that attended there. His Dad was a police officer and a deacon at our church, he was a freak as well. I was born talented, ambitious and feisty. I loved music, but it was forbidden. I loved fashion, we had to wear solid red white or navy dresses in the snow. My brother and I were paddled for not “worshiping” properly in chapel (raising hands,tongues etc…) After awhile I lost my voice, and the cubbyholes would not have contained my screams, not that I thought anyone would listen anyways. I stopped trying or caring. When you are raised in what feels like hell, you begin to think it is normal.
        How is it the evil idiots who ran the “school” thought that they knew me better than my Creator is beyond me. Us students were made to believe that somehow the God that created us as individuals made a mistake if we didn’t fit the mold. They thought that somehow they, as uneducated judgemental extremist’s had some responsibility to decide who we were supposed to be. God gave us a brain so that we could use it, not turn it off. The Creator of the universe would have made robots with no free will if that is what he wanted. There is no glory in people following you because they have no choice. I don’t care who you are, if you say you believe something but don’t know why, then you never owned that ideal in the first place.The theory behind A.C.E. is about power and control, not God or Love. Sadly some of those who adhere to this doctrine aren’t aware of the damage they cause. As far as I’m concerned they are deceivers who give God a bad name.The irony of it all is that so many of the things that went on are actually not biblical at all. Oh sure, you can pick some of Gods words and take them out of context, then turn them around to suit your needs. That is not truth. when God says he will take you under his wing, that doesn’t mean he’s a chicken. In fact Jesus (or god incarnate) I’m sure is outraged that he is being so misrepresented. Just like he was at the pharisees for pointing out the splinter in someones eye when they had a log in their own. In fact even Satan himself used words from the Bible to try and deceive/tempt Jesus. The strategy is to use an ounce of truth to sell a pound of lies. Sorry, i am trying to keep the rampage under control but there is much anger and despair even 30 years later, which is not typical of this otherwise compassionate mother of 5 wonderfully well adjusted kids who bless others.
        Schools that are run like this, A.C.E. or not, are not a safe haven for your precious little ones. They are a breeding ground for sickos. They breed fear into impressionable young minds. It’s not O.K.. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind..

  2. Thanks for this post. I am lucky enough not to have grown up in a fundamentalist family, instead I would describe them as conservative Christian but my all girls religious school also had a lot of stupid clothing rules both the conservativeness of the uniform (we wore essentially blue sacks) but also in regard to uniform-free days. I remember once when I was about 13 and on a casual clothes day in the middle of summer (I live in Australia so it was nearly 40 degrees celcius) and I was forced to wear a jumper all day because my t-shirt was deemed immodest (it was not tight as I hated tight clothing and my parents are conservative so it was probably one size too big, it also came right up to my neck BUT the sleeves were a bit short). What I remember thinking was that it was silly because they were all girls (yes I didn’t even know about gay people, my school tried to pretend they didn’t exist rather than spouting hatred) and we were all locked in the school (literally the gates had padlocks) so who was going to see my t-shirt. What I only realised later was that even though I was annoyed then it was for the wrong reasons, I had bought into the Christian notion that I was responsible for controlling the behaviour and thoughts of men my thoughts were not that this mentality was wrong rather that there were not men so why make me suffer all day. This mentality is so dangerous, it absolves men of responsibility for their actions and I believe men should revolt against this notion because it doesn’t consider them as humans who can control their actions by considering the ethical implications of decisions rather reducing them to sex obsessed unethical maniacs (when around women because obviously when their are no women around men are far superior). This mentality also makes women blame themselves for anything that happens to them. I was abused as a child and for a very long time I blamed myself. I struggled to remove my guilt complex and despite now considering myself a feminist I’m still scared to have a relationship because I’ve been told since I was a child (varying information at different stages) that men are basically animals and are obsessed with sex and for men relationships aren’t about emotional connections or friendship at all it’s just about sex for them and I must control their sexual behaviour because women don’t want sex so we can be the arbiters. I know that sexuality is an important part of a relationship and also know now that both men and women want emotionally and sexually intimate relationships but I’m still struggling to rid myself of the notion that men just want sex and sex is evil (except for the making babies thing between married people).

    • Thanks for commenting Lexie. It’s been a shocking revelation to me that, while the Christian Right claims to uphold morality, it does a great many things which actually contribute to worse morality. What you said about blaming the victim in rape cases is a great example.

    • Lexie, you have written so much truth in your reply to Jonny’s post. I found myself spouting a hearty, “YES! That’s right!” as I read your assertion that this mentality takes the onus off of men to be humans capable of so much more than sexual ogre-ism. It is dehumanizing.
      And, yes, it does make survivors of sexual abuse guilty-feeling as hell. I still struggle with the idea that somehow I, as a child, and later as a young girl, am responsible for the predatory sexual behavior of the men who abused me. We as kids are taught to never question our elders, and be compliant. What a problem for a young child! Plus, who will believe you? Children are born into sin, after all, right? This mentality MUST change. Kids need to be taught the opposite of what has been drilled into their heads in these fundy schools. Victims are bred by this conditioning.

  3. Excellent post…my wife and I were discussing this very thing, how this denial of our basic sexuality is unhealthy and leaves people unprepared to deal with their own emotions.

  4. I had a similar schooling experience. Between fundamentalism at home, school, church and youth club, I was pretty much crippled for making and maintaining adult relationships. Our entire sex ed about STIs at school was being given an aids leaflet when we where 15. Needless to say, some of us where already sexually active by then, so it was all a bit too late. The denial of sex and sexuality left students open to sexual exploitation, and there where persistent rumours about one of the teachers that to the best of my knowledge where never followed up on. What a wonderful way to protect and nurture children.

  5. dude ACE must of really messed you up. But i’m glad you are now a functional adult.

    But I do agree. it attraction is sexual at its core. And that we are to treat each other and the opposite sex with respect

  6. Oh this hits close to home! I upheld Josh Harris’ ‘profound’ books as an exact model of what my dating life should be all through high school. Fortunately, as you’ve said, social awkwardness around the opposite sex is not a permanent ball and chain!! Unfortunately, the practice is painful, but well worth the pain; the other side is liberating!

  7. ONE atheist male wants to talk more with atheist female and asks her if she would like to come to his room for coffee. Atheist interpretation: male was an ex-fundy who has been hampered with NO social skills due to his former fundy background. I don’t understand Jonny, just how you could connect such disparate dots? Do you even have anecdotal evidence for a trend of ex-fundy atheist misogynistic males? Did you ask the guy at http://atomicnumber86.blogspot.cz if he is an ex-fundy after his post?

    • ethnicmuse, I think you are making an assumption that is not quite right. Take a look again at the initial post. Jonny is considering the unenlightened responses, taking a point of fact and expounding on it. Jonny did not say the man in the elevator was an ex-fundy.

      • Indeed kittybrat, he did not. He ‘wondered’ if the elevator man was one and then made a post about fundies and their absolute lack of social skills based on this wonderment. To which I ask, where is the evidence that fundies have anything to do with atheist misogynists? Hence I asked: “Do you even have anecdotal evidence for a trend of ex-fundy atheist misogynistic males?”

      • No, I don’t. I have evidence that there are misogynist atheists, and evidence that there are a lot of ex-fundamentalist atheists. I am suggesting that in some cases, the two are connected.

        I made it clear that the post in general was about my experiences. I don’t know anything about the guy in the elevator; I don’t even know if he was an atheist.

        Ethnicmuse, I am bored of your trolling on my threads. You are welcome to disagree with me, but you do so in an aggressive, unhelpful way. If you come here with a genuine attitude of wanting to help everyone reach the best conclusions, you should speak in a balanced way. We should all be open in discussing any potential weaknesses in our own positions. You just come here trying to score points and win an argument. If you do have valid points, your tone does not do them any favours.

  8. You are welcome to disagree with me, but you do so in an aggressive, unhelpful way. If you come here with a genuine attitude of wanting to help everyone reach the best conclusions, you should speak in a balanced way. We should all be open in discussing any potential weaknesses in our own positions. You just come here trying to score points and win an argument. If you do have valid points, your tone does not do them any favours.

    So you find the following statements unaggressive, helpful, the best conclusions and balanced?
    Fundies have NO social skills
    Fundies are irrational

    • Still with the aggression, my friend. If I am being unreasonable and harsh, this is not the best way to deal with it. A soft answer turneth away wrath… That’s in a book that I assume you read more than I do.

      “Fundamentalists have no social skills” was a tongue-in-cheek title. Hyperbole. Clearly you do not find this amusing.

      Did I actually say fundies are irrational, or that fundamentalism is? In any case, I am going to do a vlog on fundamentalism and irrationality which I think will further address your concerns on this point. I do not think that to call someone irrational you have to demonstrate that they never think rationally. I doubt there are many people on Earth like that. I think that the belief can be called irrational because of instances in which fundamentalists explicitly reject rational thinking.

      • The question was in no way aggressive, my posts are actually quite tame. I see this as an engineer requiring more than conjecture from an atheist claiming to be more rational than religionists. In engineering, we have to (sometimes) prove (almost) everything and get questioned by people who try to trip us up and exploit any areas that we lack knowledge. That’s what we in the practical sciences do and one would expect even more rigour from those who assert to be brights and not irrational. You mistake the demands of science and rationalism for religious aggression.

        You don’t quote or discuss any religious scholars (atheist or otherwise), you don’t link to peer-reviewed articles, you don’t use bible commentaries, you don’t discuss ancient near-east cultural and linguistic milieu and yet think that your sunday school years as a supposed fundy enables you to talk about something as complex and frustrating as theology. Think of me as being on my way to Jesus in Matthew 23:33, he wasn’t using soft words was he? While I understand that you may mean something hyperbolically, is that the way your atheist audience does as well? Do you actually think any fundy would not be pissed at the title of your posts? If you truly wanted discussion and soft words, why are your posts titled with smears?

      • I’m struggling to understand what you’re trying to achieve with your discussions here, because it seems you’re more interested in scoring points than helping people to reach the truth, either by co-operation or by changing minds. Putting people on the defensive is generally not a good way to create fair discussion. At times, you demonstrate what looks to me like a wilful misinterpretation of what others are saying.

        I do not discuss theology here. If I were discussing theology, I would use the kind of reputable sources you describe, as I have when discussing education. The type of fundamentalism I describe maintains that the Bible can be taken at face value, and even a child can understand it. It ridicules theologians.

        You’ve also never really staked out your position. I’m never sure what exactly you’re refuting, because you appear not to think you are a fundamentalist, but at the same time you defend them.

        As for the titles of my posts, I am not worried how fundamentalists feel about them, because they are not my audience. My attempts at discussion with fundamentalists have always proved worthless, and at this stage I’m not even trying. If a fundamentalist wishes to join the discussion, they are absolutely welcome, but I am not making active attempts to please them.

      • I stated explicitly what I would like to achieve in the previous post. If as you claim, the type of fundamentalism you are critiquing is one which ridicules theologians and only uses childlike understanding, isn’t that childish of you? Must you subscribe to childishness to critique childishness? I try not to stake out any position except a libertarian view of knowledge. As someone who has been fundamentalist, while I understand your frustrations with them, your arguments don’t hold water for the fundamentalism I have lived and I wonder if you are simply bothering too much about a small fundy sect while labeling your posts broadly about (implicitly all) fundies. One does not have to be X to defend X if one knows that the criticism of X is incorrect and from my experience they are.

        As for the titles of my posts, I am not worried how fundamentalists feel about them, because they are not my audience. My attempts at discussion with fundamentalists have always proved worthless, and at this stage I’m not even trying. If a fundamentalist wishes to join the discussion, they are absolutely welcome, but I am not making active attempts to please them.

        Yes but for the sake of being correct and rigorously logical, I firmly believe your post titles do injustice to your atheism. But that’s my opinion.

  9. Why are evangelics and fundamentalists so obsessed by sex and sexual purity? I remember in a christian youth group I attended being told
    to only go so far as holding hands before marriage. Or as masturbation wasn’t Specifically mentioned in the bible i could masturbate as long as i didn’t have lustful thoughts! What the f is the point of that. Consequently my late teens twenties were ruined by guilt and anxiety around sex and relationships. Anyway thankfully I managed to work it all out and have some fun and really get into sex as a deep sensual pleasurable activity and enjoy my lustfulness and the lust in others.

    • Life in all its fullness is what the man said not some half lived fearful frustrated excuse for a life.

    • Hint: Try to find out how fundies differ on their definition of WHAT IS sex.

    • “Why are evangelics and fundamentalists so obsessed by sex and sexual purity?”

      From a capability point of view, because it is an aspect of your personality that they can control and dominate. As sexuality is something you grow into, they can get in there before you’ve even been in a position to have informed thoughts about sexuality. If people started weaning at 10, I’m sure that there would be the same obsession over solid food.

      From a motivation point of view, sex is an aspect of your personal life that in its right form is a direct, personal contact with another person. It’s all about the participants. There’s not so much scope for forcing themselves or god into it, and as they, as the representative of god, must be involved in everything you think and do, sex is a danger area for them because it excludes them.

  10. I went to a school like that an ACE school where there was 125 students k through 12 grade I still feel damaged I wasn’t much of a reader so I didn’t learn much I’m more of a listener I didn’t go to college because I went to that baptist ace school my whole life. I have to say I still feel out of the loop I was so sheltered that even till this day I’m 26 now I’m still learning things I never even heard of before and sex!? Forget about it when I turned 18 and graduated that’s all I did and wanted to do because It was so forbidden I grew up in that school but towards the end when we got a new pastor I was discriminated against because of my body type which is big breasts small waist out at the hips and wearing clothes that actually fit me. I was sent home from my own graduation pictures because they wernt able to pull three inches from EVERY part of my body. Of corse u cant pull 3 inches from EVERY part of my body my waist is smaller than my hips that means if im wearing somthing that fits me around my wait its going to be tighter at my hips because those are bigger they didn’t like that they can see my form I was always made to feel embaressed about my body !lUcklily I’m a very good looking girl blonde hair and nice body I’m constantly called and considered beautiful by almost anyone I meet so that’s what kind of saved me. I’m not bragging or anything but its true I’m not socially awkward either I have very good people skills and I’m thankful for that but I also have to thank my looks for that because I get approached a lot by men or people in general are just drawn to me and it has always made me social like I said above I didn’t go to college I wasn’t ready! Would u be? Sitting solitaire in a cubicle all day forced to read? I didn’t always want to read so instead I played with my hair and did my makeup and now I have a good job working in the high end skin are makeup and hair biz and I like it but I also feel like if I went to regular school if I could have been more and done more With my self because I learn by listening to a teacher I find it interesting I can repeat back what someone said just exactly the way they said it because I’m good at imitating voices and doing accents too it’s a shame I was forced to learn stupid things u know I didnt even know what health insurance was till I got my first job when I was 19 I wasn’t taught these things and when people talk about something intelligent I always sort of stay quiet in fear or asking what’s that? Or sounding stupid or silly and believe me that’s happened plenty of times I’m perfectly capable of talking about makeup skin care hair about my car or my day went something funny that happened something sad I’m very funny charming and lovable but I’ve been so sheltered that’s when it comes to things in life I’m lost sometimes. I feel embarrassed about it my boyfriend always says I’m in La la land and I always joke by saying I like it here in la la land u should come join me even the I’m just teasing I don’t wish la la land on. Anyone ! Just to make things clear I. Not unhappy how I turned out I have great people skills I’m fun y and pretty and very well liked I’m good at my job and do it well I have very few friends but they r good ones thank God . Being in a school with small cubicles and mixed with 6th through 12 grade I was friends with little kids and boys cuz there was rarely anyone my age sometimes there was only one other person. In my grade I graduated with two other people. But because I was there since kindergarten and went to school and church there sometimes I was there twice a day and the only day I wasn’t at the church or school or same thing for that matter because the church was out school was Saturday I was pretty and all the boys liked me and all the girls wanted to be me. It gave me a seance of power I always felt confident because of that and I still do in my day to day life. The only thing that saved me was my looks because honestly without that I’d prolly be miserable. The ACe system is so stupid everything I think of it it marked me mad I made a poem in my cubicle one year about it it’s stupid but it’s how I felt here it is. Everyday I sit in my cubicle bored and unhappy
    Doing my paces which are made so crappy.
    Our lives are dull day after as I sit in this cubicle wasting Away I can’t wait to get out get out and be free , free from this torture that I see, I can’t wai.t to smile with the sun shining bright the day I’m away from Hudson views sight (name of school) it’s boring and it’s dim and our life I drains, but it’s all gunna change when I break the chains! That’s the poem and breaking the. Gains I referred to when I graduated. I knew it was un normal but as I go though life I see more and more just how un normal it was I hear parents talking about what school there kids r going to and how Important education is and I get upset inside my parents thought they were protecting me but deep down I’m upset about it .

  11. Ethnicmuse, are you looking for an answer along the lines of ‘a physical expression of love between a married couple’ by any chance? Or something similar, possibly also involving the concept of procreation?

    You do seem to be going out of your way to avoid talking about the damage caused by teaching and discipline from the more fundamentalist wings of the Church. Having technical theological discussions isn’t really helpful to the debate at hand, which is about how to help people who have suffered at the hands of this teaching, who have to spend a lifetime liberating themselves from the confusion and pain caused by it. I can only ask you, one Christian to another, to bring grace and compassion to this discussion. Jesus always dealt with need, didn’t he? He didn’t begin complex theological debates when someone before him was in pain.

    We have to accept that the Church is capable of causing damage to its members, if for no other reason than that it is populated by fallen people. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, having suffered myself and seen those I love suffer too at the hands of ‘the institution’, as well as at the hands of other individuals who were to scared to confront their own prejudices wrapped up in theology. But when we learn to accept the failings of the Church we’re much better equipped to work towards living a theology that heals rather than hurts.

    • poiemapoetry, yes. I don’t understand why I must discuss ‘damage’ due to theology, there is damage due to a lot of things. My issue is with the theology presented, which is flawed. If you want to help people who have been theologically damaged, then how does talking about terrorism fit this aim? Jesus wasn’t all about love, he was also about justice and truth. If they were scarred by an ACE based theology, why do they think that all fundy theology is ACE based? There comes a time when pained people also have to grow up. If they cannot present and discuss theology properly, how do they propose to move past damage and get healing?

  12. ah….the old “you people just need to grow up” and “get over your pain”. So that’s your definition of truth and justice?

    • ah….the old “you people just need to grow up” and “get over your pain” – which is more that I ever got in the secular world. However, I did not say that one JUST needs to grow up. By growing up one does not engage in childish discussion by using poor definitions just for the sake of lashing out against those who damaged you. The last sentence alludes to such.

      So that’s your definition of truth and justice? – That’s a non sequitur. The truth I am concerned with is theological and justice may never be found since the world doesn’t have much of it to go around in the first place.

      • I see this will be waste of time…descending into the technical is a sure way to avoid the topic at hand.

        You cry justice, but seem awfully quick to shut down a discussion about the abuses of the ACE system.


      • I see this will be waste of time…descending into the technical is a sure way to avoid the topic at hand. – So you desire a non-technical or emotional discussion of ACE fundamentalism? Is that not being as bad as an ACE fundy?

        You cry justice, but seem awfully quick to shut down a discussion about the abuses of the ACE system. Why? – I do not cry “justice,” I do not care for justice per se since I am unfamiliar with ACE fundamentalism. I am also not trying to shut down anything. As I have stated before, my concern is with the technical merits of descriptors on these posts which you seem to think means I am an apologist for ACE. I have never encountered them so I will leave it to Jonny to explain what’s bad with them. However, if the theology is incorrect, then discussions based on this would be incorrect and unhelpful.

  13. Having followed this for a few days one gets the impression EM is like a proverbial bull in a china shop charging round making statements and comments that bare little relation to the matter at at hand. As far as i can see there is nothing here as slippery as theology. Jonny’s is an experiential account of abuse in its many forms within ACE, and a call for this kind of education to be brought into question as a valid way to educate children. It is entertaining and informative. Many of the commentators share similar concerns. We don’t have to ask fundy’s how they see sex because if you read carefully what people talk about are their own experiences of growing up with these ideas. That is the whole point of this isn’t it? So EM your comments show a serious dislocation with reality at times.

    Out of interest i looked at your blog to try and understand where you come from. To be honest with a name like ethnic muse I seriously wondered if you might be someone’s black girlfriend? Anyway there is precious little which indicates why you are interested in ethnicity. None of it makes much sense. The difference with Jonny is he is very revealing and forthcoming about himself and where he comes from. This vunerability and openess makes him far more candid and interesting then he would be if he was being purely academic about it all. Anyway just my thoughts on what comes across as a deeply confused position from EM.

  14. EM-

    I never said you were an apologist, if we’re going to be technical. I am saying, that your unclear demanding for technical correctness and defintional purity misses the point.

    Intentional or not, your posts tend to shut down discussing the main thrust of a post.

  15. I keep coming back to this particular thread and finding myself unable to post anything rational or helpful, perhaps because Ethnicmuse has done such a good job of wresting the conversation so very far from it’s original subject.

    As for a connection between fundamentalism and misogyny, undoubtedly there is one. Though here I would not pin the blame on Christianity explicitly because such a connection is seen between misogyny and fundamentalist expressions of other religions – I would say that it’s perhaps more a result of the general human tendency towards control. I realise I’m at risk of sounding hyperfeminist, which is not my intention, because I’m well aware that women have their own methods for controlling men too.

    The subject of the Church’s record on teaching sexuality is just too huge a burden to try unpacking at this time of night, and I don’t suppose anyone posting on here wants to listen to excuses anyway. I’m just glad that anyone’s managed to work their way out of the morass of guilt and misunderstanding about whoever they’re attracted to, that’s a fair achievement in itself. Whether we all agree on what sex is for or not, we can all be sure that we shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or confused about our sexual desires. They are, after all, an innate part of us, something to be recognised rather than locked away. Wouldn’t it be great if the Church could recognise that at an institutional level! Maybe one day…

  16. “Why are evangelics and fundamentalists so obsessed by sex and sexual purity?”

    The French philosopher and social scientist, Michel Foucault stated that if you control sexuality, you control the person. I agree with him. Unlike most drives (eating, drinking, sleeping), sexuality is an incredibly powerful drive on which our survival is not dependent upon. Therefore, it is eminently suitable for control.

    You make a person obsessed with their sexuality, trying to ‘control’ it (thoughts as well as actions), feeling guilty about it, regarding it not as a natural part of themselves, but almost as a demon trying to lure them to hell, they are fighting so hard to remain “pure”, they almost have no more mental energy to do anything else.

    It keeps them “humble” (ie low self-esteem), and therefore easier to manipulate and dominate. And causes them to compartmentalise their emotional life, separating their sexual selves from the rest of their personality. The result is not only a person screwed up about sex, it also leaks into other non-sexual areas of emotional life: friendship, family relations, social life and attitudes towards the opposite sex.

    ACE and Christian fundamentalism are about one thing: Control. That is what the leaders get out of it, and that is why they focus on sexuality as their prime target. That is why all fundamentalist religions and cults are obsessed, in one way or another, with sexuality and particularly in controlling women’s sexuality. They don’t want you to think, they don’t want other priorities loosening their grip on you (like romantic love or sexual desire). As a mother, my church taught me that I should wish my children dead if I loved them more than God (by which they meant them, not some ultimate divine being). Unfortunately for them, motherlove turned out to be much less vulnerable to their control than mere sexuality, so when they tried to stop my disabled child getting the treatment he needed, they lost.

  17. I just found your blog on the atheismplus hashtag which I monitor closely because I’m concerned for vulnerable people in the movement and for the community overall. Having a good deal of my childhood and teenage years spent under Fundamentalist Baptist indoctrination here in the US, I appreciate finding your blog although that picture of the kids sitting at their cubicles kind of triggered me! 😉

    I can still remember there was a little American flag on top of the thing and if we needed help we put the flag up to summon an adult, and these adults were in no way certified to teach. They were volunteers. I think it’s great you’re raising awareness about this and I’ll be looking to promote your site from my little youtube channel.

    I want you to know I find dogmatism in modern Feminism reminiscent of the Fundamentalism. I can only support liberal sex positive feminism, which is why I’m skeptical about atheismplus. I suppose those raised in Christian Fundamentalism could suffer social anxiety, lack of social skills, etc. We might also see a range of disorders across the spectrum, which is what I think I see. But then, I’ve not been to any atheist/skeptic conventions so I have no idea what type of audience these are attracting. To me, they seem too church-like, and the topics are of little to no interest to me, and in my opinion, from what I can discern as an outsider, they seem way too politicized.

    I come from a large family of Fundamentalist Christians, I’m the oldest child and I’m cut off from them to this day. I am intolerant of their teachings and practices and most concerned for children being indoctrinated into these cults. Thanks for raising awareness.

  18. It is dreadful how a furtive glance to the individual you are attracted to brings down a flurry of unfair accusations and judgements upon one’s head, sadly this little indiscretion means severe punishment and death in some quarters of this planet. Humans are the ones who come up with laws and decisions then find some hair-brained excuse to enforce this with added fear; if we don’t toe the line God will make us blind, deaf or dumb furthemore the Devil will snatch our souls and boil them in couldrons. I have yet to encounter a fundi fuzz head who has had a parly with God and played a scary game of hide and seek with the Devil therefore, I am going to continue doing sketches of naked men and women and fawn over Karl Urban’s portrayal of Judge Dredd in leathers!!!

  19. I went to the link about ‘Goodbye to Dating’, or whatever it was called (too lazy to scroll up) and, Poe’s Law, took me a few ‘chapters’ to realize the guy writing was actually being serious.
    I spent eight years in an ACE school on Vancouver Island, from the fall of my sixth year till the spring of my 14th summer, and yeah, I can totally relate to your bit about having to get wasted before being able to talk to girls. Funny how they almost never went for it. And the ones that did, let’s just say chewing through your own arm in the morning can get old quick. But of course, more booze the next time. All of this accumulated in a pretty messed up relationship with alcohol through my twenties, and only in my thirties did I finally get control of my ‘need to drink every ounce in the bar before making contact’. My liver is very thankful for this.
    Anyways, just stumbled on your site when doing some research for my own story on ACE (some things you block out, y’know), and thought I’d say hi. I laughed when I saw that chicken diagram for sex on another one of your posts. I’d totally forgot about that. Hilarious.
    Alright well, I’ll say more another time.
    Cheers brotha

  20. This is such a great post. Fantastic.

  21. Over the course of the 20th century until today, social values have dramatically shifted and gradually improved, I’m inclined to believe they have always done so since time began, its a kind of evolutionary thing and I respect the idea that we stand on the shoulders of giants.

    Modern scientific method and medical research into the horrific array of dread diseases that have always plagued human beings and other animals, have been alleviated to a great extent. The cultural taboos such as monogamy and chastity and other restrictive behavioral mores earlier embedded in society via religious and civic organizations, particularly with regard to sexual interaction are understandable in this light.
    Consider the terrible outcomes of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis on human genetic material, and the scourge of aids today. We know we are all creatures endowed with irresistible urges, it’s natures way of ensuring the continuance of life, but it seems always to place us in an unpredictable fragile situation.
    Consider also the fact that up until the middle part of the last century, large numbers of women and babies still died during childbirth.
    More recently contraception and greater awareness of sexual hygiene have allowed us some control over our sexual proclivities, even so unrestrained sexual freedom remains a hazardous pursuit, as in recurring generations, multiplications of unwanted children endlessly proliferate (the lost ones) and teen age sexual experimentation, despite freely available knowledge, results in pregnancy, exacerbating the strains on every society to educate and care for people.
    Today as ever abortion as contraception is a hotly debated issue, feminine struggles against patriarchal domination have achieved much gender equality and given women the right to make decisions with regard to their own bodies.
    For many life is still regarded as sacred, and indeed much of every social progressive drive to improve the human condition is evidence for this idea.
    The above is just my random tuppence worth contribution to this interesting conversation, thank you Jonny for the opportunity.

  22. I just want to give you kudos for getting this story out where people can see it.

    Like you, I went to an ACE school . . . started in 1st grade, continued through 12th grade. I, too, suffered from poorly developed social skills and sexual hangups. While I eventually managed to break out of the fundamentalist dogma, I’m still affected by the poor social skills. I turned 37 a week ago, and I have yet to have a girlfriend. At this point, I suspect that I never will.

    Even if it’s too late for me, there are still a lot of kids out there who can be delivered from what we went through. You’re doing a good thing with a positive benefit to the world. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks! It’d be great to hear more about your experience (the more ex-ACE students add their voices here, the more impact we have). Would you like to write something for the blog?

  23. Thanks to ACE, it’s necessary for me to learn how to become a pickup artist. Extreme and desperate measures for sure, but that’s nothing compares to the pain and loneliness I felt because I had no fuckin’ idea how to get a girl.

    • I can sympathise, Pinoy. I read The Game and felt so excited that I could overcome the social crippling I felt from my fundamentalist past. I learned some good things from that, but also a lot of bad. Tread carefully around the pickup community. Improving your social skills is great, but there’s a huge amount stuff taught which is dishonest, misogynistic, or just plain rude.

      Of all the ‘pickup companies’ I liked Wayne Elise’s Charisma Arts the best. I found it by far the least creepy. But even there, remember to treat women as people first. And check out the videos on YouTube where women explain why street harrassment is so horrible.

  24. I had really thought that I was a damaged person, and that my lack of social skills was my own fault; that it was indicative of something being wrong with me. Once I left ACE programming (1st through 7th grade), I had very serious socialization issues. Alcohol and drugs were the only way I knew that helped me to get through the near paralysis I felt when having to interact with my peers. (I’m not suggesting that ACE programming is responsible for my drug addiction, but rather that the are responsible for my social anxiety, which led to my drug addiction). It has taken me years of therapy and work to overcome this. I also suffered with borderline personality disorder, which I have also mostly overcome. I haven’t used drugs or alcohol for several years, and I haven’t cut or burned myself for 4 years. But I suffered these things for more than 30 years, in some form or another. I have been reading the comments from other people who were subjected to this experiment for nearly 10 hours, after discovering this site by accident yesterday. I am grateful to you all for discussing your experience. I feel so much relief at knowing that it wasn’t just me. I can accept that the way I handled my issues was my choice, and can’t be placed on ACE, but they set the stage for my issues to develop. For the record, ACE, your experiment was a failure!

  1. Pingback: Life During and After Fundamentalism: Sheldon’s Story | Wide Open Ground

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