Monthly Archives: August 2012

Vlog: Praying in Tongues

Another piece of video that I’d really prefer not to exist. This has never been shown anywhere before – a Leaving Fundamentalism exclusive. It was shot for Video Nation, but never broadcast. I guess I just like embarrassing myself in public.

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Accelerated Christian Education: Raising political activists.

Today I’m going to show you an ACE Wisdom Pack. I’ve mentioned them before, but just to put you in the loop: Every senior level English PACE contains a pull-out Wisdom Pack, which is a brief comic book. In these Wisdom Packs, the PACE characters (who are role models for Godly living) discuss pressing issues facing teens today with their teachers and pastors. Relationships with the opposite sex and general Christian living are covered, but the emphasis is on politics.

Most accurately, the emphasis is on the responsibility of all Christians to participate in government, to ensure that taxes are low, abortion is illegal, welfare programs are reduced or abolished, homosexuality is punished, and Biblical principles are enshrined in law.

If you do not think ACE poses a threat to liberal, pluralist democracy, you have not read enough Wisdom Packs.  Read the rest of this entry

The Way Ahead – Recommendations for Faith Schools

On Friday, I examined the Alberta Department of Education’s views on Accelerated Christian Education. As part of its report, the Committee on Tolerance and Understanding made recommendations on educational policy to correct the problems it found. I think these make a reasonable skeleton for a public policy that could be implemented to ensure better education, and limiting poisonous systems like ACE. Lets look at their suggestions.

Actually, before we do, I’d like to post this quotation from the Committee’s report, since I agree with it so much I think I could put it on a poster:

“The mission of education must include development of critical thinking skills based on openness, inquiry, imagination, original ideas, dissent, rational thinking, and independence. Scoeity’s best efforts must alwas be open to skepticism and constructive criticism from students themselves. To do otherwise, to ignore their developing autonomy and judgment, would undermine the whole purpose of the enterprise. Respect for authority is essential, but a balance must be kept. History has shown time and again that when respect for authority completely overrides responsible independence, critical thinking is destroyed and society is left open to the evils of apathy, dogmatism and prejudice.”

Alright, so what are their suggestions?  Read the rest of this entry

Alberta Department of Education Reviews ACE

In 1985, the Canadian province of Alberta got very worried about Accelerated Christian Education. In fact, they said in a report that “In the view of the committee, there is no place for curriculum of this kind in the schools of Alberta.”

The chair of this committee, Ron Ghitter, visited an ACE school and reported that he saw an ACE book which said “All kinds of Buddhists and Muslims are evil.” In the background was the rise of Stockwell Day, a controversial former pastor and politician, who was accused of anti-Semitism and connections to supporters of the Aryan Nation. Stockwell Day boldly and publicly defended Accelerated Christian Education. “God’s law is clear. Standards of education are not set by government, but by God, the Bible, the home and the school.”  Read the rest of this entry

Accelerated Christian Education’s Literature Course

This week, I have mostly been reading hogwash.

The downside of studying fundamentalism is that I have to wade through fundamentalist literature. And I know I make this sound like a riot of hilarity, but it really isn’t. Most of the Christian extremist writers are rubbish communicators, who make a point once every 15 pages. At best. To get Pat Robertson’s views on Freemasonry, for example, I had to digest hundreds of pages of his ill-informed views on the political situation in Nicaragua. This was dull.

This week, I have splashed out on Amazon and bought several books by Accelerated Christian Education‘s founder Donald R. Howard, which amount to several hundred pages of unmitigated drivel (I wonder if I could get that description into a peer-reviewed journal article… challenge accepted!). But these are nothing compared to When Science Fails, a book I have been re-reading because it is part of Accelerated Christian Education’s literature syllabus.

The literature syllabus is probably the single worst aspect of ACE. It is so catastrophically dreadful that my mum used to do my literature homework for me – the only time in my entire education when she even considered cheating on my behalf. She thought the whole syllabus was such a waste of time that she used to read the books and answer the questions for me so I wouldn’t have to. Read the rest of this entry

The promise of miracles tortures dying children

So reported the Torygraph last week.

“Parents who trust in divine intervention, even after doctors say there is no hope of survival, are putting their children through aggressive but futile treatments, they said.

“In an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics they warned that families with deeply held hopes for a “miraculous” recovery were increasingly being allowed to “stonewall” medical opinion…

The authors of this paper are quoted:

“While it is vital to support families in such difficult times, we are increasingly concerned that deeply held belief in religion can lead to children being potentially subjected to burdensome care in expectation of ‘miraculous’ intervention,” the authors warned. “In many cases, the children about whom the decisions are being made are too young to subscribe to the religious beliefs held by their parents, yet we continue to respect the parents’ beliefs.”  Read the rest of this entry

Vlog: When I was a Creationist

Another scary vlog to show you today.

My slight concern with this vlog is that people will think I’m bitter. I don’t feel bitter, and I resent “you’re just bitter” being used as an excuse to dismiss what I have to say. My hope is that by being this personal, people will see the effect that Creationism has on children. At that age, people are vulnerable to deception. What I want to make very clear is that this is not just about me. This is about all the children who are taught this – about 2,000 in ACE schools in the UK.

When Christians say “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” they are taking advantage of a child’s credulity. It feels hysterical to call it child abuse, but it is an abuse of power.

The other thing I’d like you to notice is that I always said “man,” instead of “people,” or “humans.” Fundamentalist Christianity hates feminism.

I can write this blog because I escaped. I’m free and clear, and my life is good now. I’m genuinely concerned about the kids that are still in systems like ACE School of Tomorrow.

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Fundamentalism: leading cause of atheism

I’m guest poster over at Heretic Husband today. It’s a blog I enjoy, so I’m pleased to be featured as guest poster. I hope you’ll go over there, read my article, and say hi. I should also give credit to Sensuous Curmudgeon, where I found the article that inspired my post.


The ICR (Institute of Creation Research)  is perplexed. Why would anyone leave Christianity? That’s the question raised by this article from the ICR, “Pastor Became Atheist. Why?” It’s about Teresa McBain, a former Methodist minister who left the church after two decades to become public relations director at American Atheists. From ICR’s article:

“She explained her reasons to the Christian Post, saying, ‘One [reason] was the contradictory nature of the Bible; the lack of scientific or historical foundation or accuracy, which took me a very, very long time to come to terms with.’

It makes sense to reject the God of the Bible if the Bible contained errors and lacked scientific or historical foundation. But it doesn’t. Analyzing and teaching the amazing ways that true science confirms Scripture is what motivates the ministry of ICR—evidence for the veracity of science and Scripture abounds.”

The ICR are on the thinnest possible ice here. It is exactly this kind of teaching that I was brought up with, and it virtually guarantees that its adherents will either wind up wilfully ignorant (and actively hostile to knowledge), or become atheists. It leaves you nowhere else to go.

Creationists have achieved what Stephen Law calls “The Vision Thing”. They’ve reached such a level of delusion that Creationism seems so self-evidently true that you’d have to be blind or an idiot not to see it. I remember gales of laughter at dinner tables with my Creationist friends as we giggled about scientists who thought humans were descended from monkeys.

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Education: How to do it right

I love TED talks. I love that the best ideas from some of the best thinkers in their fields are online; it makes me optimistic that we can build a great future for humanity.

I spend a lot of time railing against Accelerated Christian Education. I feel that if you asked experts to design the worst possible education system from the ground up, they’d produce something with notable similarities to ACE. But that’s not to say mainstream education has everything right. There are lots of people who are failed by their education, and lots of talent that goes undeveloped because our schools don’t value it. I’m interested in how we can improve the situation, although my optimism is tempered by the seeming fact that every time a British politician goes near education, they make it much, much worse.

TED talks are one place with a lot of suggestions on how we can get this right.

Salman Khan suggests we use video.

(Direct link)

If you don’t have time to watch: Khan Academy has a huge number of online video lessons. Salman suggests that teachers could assign watching these as homework, and then the assignments that would traditionally be completed as homework can be done in class, where students have access to help from the teacher and their peers. This has some appeal. I certainly find video lessons very effective for my guitar students (what, did you think I was a professional fundamentalist-basher?).

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Vlog: In conversation with my 8-year-old self

In 1994, BBC2 broadcast “God’s Not Boring” a short film I’d made for their As Seen On TV series. I talked about how God is awesome and stuff because… well, there wasn’t much else in my life at the time, to be honest.

This video pretty much sums up my entire blog. So please share it. I do feel I’m going out on a limb sticking this back out in public (it’s never been repeated or put online before, so this has been my guilty secret for 18 years).
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