Monthly Archives: March 2013

Why are UK Creationist schools getting funding?

Reblogged from the Heresy Club:

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist.

It’s taken me years to be proud of those words, and to realise the power they have. For years, they were my shameful secret, to be hidden away like an abusive stepfather.

I’ve come to realise that, like an abusive stepfather, it is nothing to be ashamed of, and that by shining a light on it, I take the power back from the abusers.

I went to an Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school – one of fifty in the UK – for three years. For those not familiar with it, ACE is a school curriculum which looks like a collaborative effort between Sarah Palin and the Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell.


There are still around 50 private ACE schools in the UK today (some of them listed here), teaching the same deceit and misinformation. So you can imagine I was less than pleased to discover that some of them have received government funding.

The government’s nursery voucher scheme enables private childcare providers to receive funding for looking after children below the compulsory school age. Most Accelerated Christian Education schools have pre-school sections. Since twenty-ten, at least five ACE schools have received taxpayers’ money under this scheme, according to their OFSTED reports. They are Excellence Christian School, Tower Hamlets, Redemption Academy, Stevenage, Kings Kids Christian School, New Cross, and The Lambs Christian School, Birmingham.

Top of the list is Carmel Christian School, Bristol, which in the current academic year has a whopping 17 Early Years Foundation Stage children receiving government funding.

Read the whole thing at the Heresy Club.

Wide Open Ground: My fundamentalist escape story

Lana’s Wide Open Ground is one of my favourite blogs. Lana is a Christian and advocate of home schooling, so in some ways her critiques of fundamentalism and home schools carry more weight than mine. Where some Christians dismiss me as an angry atheist, it’s not easy to say the same about Lana, whose thoughts are informed by a wealth of travel and experience. Lana’s insights on the potential damage caused by homeschooling and patriarchal Christianity are well worth reading.

Anyway, enough of my fanboy moment. Lana was kind enough to interview me on her blog. Here’s a bit more of my story for you.

I can’t remember ever not believing in God. I know that I prayed the sinner’s prayer when I was very young. I think I started praying in tongues at six or seven. It was something I’d heard my mum do a few times. It had been strange and scary to hear these alien noises coming out of her mouth with such intensity. After I heard her do it a few times I asked her what it was. She explained that it was the Holy Spirit inside her praying the perfect prayer..

I said, “I think I’ll try.”

“You can’t try. You have to pray and God will give you the ability.”

We prayed together for me to be filled with the Spirit, and nothing happened immediately. My mum said goodnight and put out my light. I lay in bed alone in the dark, wondering if it had worked.

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to try speaking. “Sandaracki sanderay,” I said.

Read the rest at

Lana’s guest post for me will be up later this week.

Jesus without baggage: Tim Chastain’s journey from fundamentalism

Although this blog can sometimes give the wrong impression, not everyone who leaves fundamentalism becomes an atheist. Tim Chastain is one blogger who has hung on to faith with an appealing combination of good sense and an admiration for the person of Jesus. This is his story.

When I ‘got saved’ in a fundamentalist church at seven years old, I embraced all the church’s fundamentalist baggage. I am now 61 and fundamentalism is far behind me; it has been quite a journey!

Let me say that my journey from fundamentalism is somewhat different from Jonny’s. First, mine was an older fundamentalism of the 1950s, and ‘60s. I fed on the writings of John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord and I even corresponded with him. I listened to Carl McIntire and Oliver Greene on the radio and attended an Oliver Greene revival in my town.

Secondly, my leaving fundamentalism did not result in atheism, though I am comfortable with atheists. However, it did lead to a spiritual crisis in which I lived for over a year (1994) with deep despair, depression, and grieving for the loss of God. The crisis began after I abandoned creationism and then realized that Paul was mistaken about the historicity of Adam. Paul was not inerrant! Read the rest of this entry

Guest post: Would you believe in God if no one ever told you?

Today’s guest post comes from Carnun Marcus-Page. I did a guest post at his blog earlier this week, and he has kindly returned the favour. I want to open the scope of this blog out to look at different avenues for people leaving fundamentalism. Carnun has never believed in any kind of God. Later, we’ll hear from someone who has left fundamentalism but still considers himself a follower of Jesus. 

My school-life experience and secular home upbringing – aspects of my life which are ongoing – could not be further from the fundamentalism Jonny left.

As Proverbs 22:6 will tell you: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

I was not ‘trained’.

From a young age I was taught to value evidence. Everything had a reason, be it why right was right and wrong wrong; or why evolution seemed, while hard to grasp initially, the most sensible origin of all of the beautifully complex life we have on Earth today.
I was taught that adults aren’t always right, and that I should challenge teachers if I had trouble understanding or agreeing with what they said. I constantly had my hand up in primary school, asking questions.

I was taught to make my own mind up about everything: including ‘God’. Read the rest of this entry

A guest post I did over at Carnun’s blog; his guest post will be up here tomorrow.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

A new vlog for ya!

So, if you can’t watch it, this is about how ACE students study Jonathan Edwards‘ (the preacher, not the gold medal-winning triple jumper) classic sermon, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD.

As literature, and as a historical curiosity, I don’t mind the study of this sermon all that much. I mean, it seems strange to prioritise it over Austen or Dickens, but I really enjoy the use of language, as you can probably tell from my reading.

But for ACE, this is not a historical curiosity. It is studied uncritically. In fact, it is praised to the rooftops, introduced with this:

Now read part of that wonderful sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which was greatly used of God during the Great Awakening.

This seems like indoctrination to me.

Read the rest of this entry

Government money for ACE schools in the UK

This will be short: I was in the middle of something else when I came across the latest Ofsted inspection report for Carmel Christian School, an ACE school in Bristol.

On page 3:

Currently there are 17 boys and 23 girls on roll; this number includes 17 children in the Early Years Foundation Stage, all of whom receive government funding. Twelve of these children attend part time. The school is run on Christian principles and provides a curriculum with a significant emphasis on Bible teaching. The curriculum is taught through Packets of Accelerated Christian Education (PACEs).

Wait… what? Government funding to EYFS children in ACE schools? Where else is this happening?

I’m getting on the phone to the NSS and the BHA right now to see about getting this stamped out.