Monthly Archives: June 2013

Christians can’t trust psychology: Inside the world of A Beka

This is a guest post by Athena. Athena was educated using A Beka Book and attended Pensacola Christian College. This is an inside view of the atmosphere, education, and attitudes A Beka and PCC, two of the biggest names in fundamentalist education.

Starting from kindergarten onward, I was homeschooled, and while my family used a smattering of textbooks from all types of publishers, we heavily relied on A Beka Book distributed by Pensacola Christian College (PCC). I grew up within a few hours of their college campus, so when it came time for me to choose a college, I chose PCC (from an incredibly narrow field of options that only included three other schools, all more fundamentalist than PCC). I come from a religious environment called Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull, so even going to college, as a woman, was a huge risk. Because of that, my choices as far as profession were extremely limited– I was not permitted to chose anything career-oriented, or that would remove me from my place as a “keeper at home.” This led me to becoming a Secondary Education major, with teaching concentrations in English and music.

There are already many critiques of the Orwellian atmosphere at PCC, but as far as I can tell (and I’ve gone digging) there is nothing except glowing praise for the education program (early childhood, elementary, and secondary) at PCC. During my last semester, I was required with the other seniors to attend a “job fair.” The only employers who showed up were Christian schools from all over the country; there is also a list you can put your name on for Christian schools to contact you. When I was with a friend who was being interviewed to teach at a Christian high school, the principal said that they try to only hire PCC graduates because of their “caliber.” In the Christian high school world, Pensacola Christian graduates are viewed as one of the best– if not the best– option available for new hires. Read the rest of this entry

The textbooks that lost a lawsuit

Accelerated Christian Education has two main rivals: A Beka and BJU. These companies are, if anything, even worse than ACE.

As we discussed previously, schools using A Beka and BJU textbooks as college preparation were rejected by the University of California. These schools lost their subsequent lawsuit against UC, because what they teach is bollocks. So what do they teach?

Two authors have undertaken the thankless task of ploughing through the textbooks to find out: Albert Menendez, in Visions of Reality, and Frances Paterson, author of Democracy and IntoleranceThese two books are twenty and ten years old respectively, but the similarities in content are so striking (and fundamentalism so resistant to change) that there isn’t much reason to suppose the content of the textbooks would be vastly different now. ACE certainly hasn’t changed significantly in the last 15 years.

What we learn from these books is, well, what you’d expect really: Non-Christians (a category which includes Catholics) are evil, extreme laissez-faire economics are the only system sanctioned by God, history has simply been the fulfilment of God’s will, and it’s the job of good children to obey before growing up to establish a thoroughly Christian (ie dominionist, theocratic) society.  Read the rest of this entry

Prepare to believe at the Creation Museum

This is a guest post from Andrew Hall at Laughing in Purgatory.
Prepare to believe

Petersburg, Kentucky The Creation Museum is unveiling its newest exhibit, Pokémon: Fact or Fiction. Christ-centered scientists have been working tirelessly to bring to life the real story of these miraculous creatures.

Dr. Ash Ketchum

“It’s been an uphill battle, that’s for sure,” stated Dr Ketchum. “People typically scoff when they hear about our work here. What I find interesting is that most people believed in Pokémon when they were younger and somehow lost their faith. My job is to remind them of one of God’s most incredible creations.”  Read the rest of this entry

Kidnapped for Christ

If you’ve read Cat Givens’ harrowing guest post for this blog, The Dogma That Followed Me Homethen you know about Christian reform schools. A while back I posted here on the Leaving Fundamentalism Facebook page a sequence of harrowing CNN exposés on these reform schools in the USA. They’re brutal and I should be doing more to highlight the injustices occurring there.

So I’m excited about a new indie flick, Kidnapped for Christ, which is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo.

Here’s the trailer:–2/x/251558

I know I’ve been posting a lot of things which ask for your money lately, but this one seems particularly worthy of your consideration.

Christian Schools

Rebeldebby is one of the newest ex-ACE, ex-fundamentalist bloggers on the scene. I think she will be worth watching.


Yesterday  I went to register for college, as I did I realized that this would be my first time going to a school that wasn’t Christian. It was relieving knowing that my education wouldn’t be contaminated by the “Christian Perspective.”

The first school I attended used ACE. The program sucked! Literally! There was no real interaction, kids were left to teach themselves, and Christianity was constantly being thrown in your face. Our “teachers” were not college educated and they sat around in a circle all day doing nothing but gossip about other church members. No one ever checked up on the students to see if they actually were learning things and not just copying answers out of the score book. I was one of the lucky ones whose parents actually did check up to make sure I learned something.

After going to that school, we were homeschooled (my  brothers and…

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Fun with fundy textbooks

I occasionally get an email from a homeschooling parent, saying something like, “We were going to use ACE for our children, but now we’ve seen your blog, we definitely won’t!” Emails like this are enormously gratifying. There have only been three or four, but they make the whole blog worthwhile.

But sometimes I wonder what these parents are going to use instead. Occasionally I’ve also had a smug parent using A Beka, ACE’s main rival, comment something like, this ACE stuff is ridiculous! We use A Beka. It’s much better. 

So let me say this clearly: If you’ve been reading this blog and feeling smug that you use A Beka and/or BJU materials, stop. They are at least as bad as ACE.

There are a bunch of fundamentalist textbook publishers: A Beka, Bob Jones University Press (BJU), AlphaOmega Lifepacs (which are essentially PACEs by another name, as far as I can tell). And everything I read about them is hideous. The only reasons I haven’t mentioned them before are that I don’t have firsthand experience, and their use is rare in the UK.

In 2005, some Christian schools filed a lawsuit against the University of California. UC had refused to allow certain Christian school courses as college preparation. The courses in question used textbooks by A Beka and BJU. The Christian schools lost. According to the great and noble scholarly source Wikipedia, the judge found that the books are “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” Frankly, every University should follow UC’s lead. It is unbelievable that in some US states, ACE, A Beka, and BJU schools are eligible for state funding through voucher programmes.  Read the rest of this entry

The Apostasy Project

I’m involved, along with Alom Shaha (author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook) and the fine people at the Rationalist Association, in setting up a new thing called the Apostasy Project.

The Apostasy Project is for anyone who has doubts about their religion, and no one to talk to about it. It’s for people who secretly don’t believe anymore, but think their family and friends will ostracise them if they admit it. And it’s for people who have left, and are now looking for support. A lot of people have suggested something like a survivor group for former ACE students. At the moment, I don’t have time to run one of those, but the Apostasy Project could offer some of the things an ACE survivor group would do.

I’m proud to be a part of it. As Alom puts it, “The project is not about criticising religion but supporting the right to choose what you believe.”

This is the promo video, which has rather a lot of me in it:

There’s a series of apostasy stories on the Rationalist blog. We’re aiming to have former members of every religion on the team, so whatever your religious background, there’s an adviser you can relate to. Currently, there are mainly ex- Muslims and Christians (of virtually every stripe, from me to Catholics, via Jehovah’s Witnesses) offering their stories. Mine is here. If you’re a former member of a religion or denomination not currently represented, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

They also need to raise money to build an online community where people can ask questions and receive personal advice from the team of advisers. You can donate here.

Why I’d love to be a fundamentalist (guest post by @kirstyevidence)

Kirsty Newman blogs over at Kirsty Evidence, where she battles the forces of ignorance by advocating an evidence-based approach to international development and education. You’d think that someone with such a cozy relationship with science (and reality) would have little time for fundamentalism, and you’d be right. But in the post, Kirsty wistfully remembers the simpler times when the world was black and white, and thinking wasn’t required.

This weekend, my devout Catholic father-in-law is visiting. Before he arrived, my husband and I had our usual ‘little chat’ where he pleads with me to at least try not to antagonise his aging dad. And as usual, I set out with the best of intentions to be a respectful daughter-in-law…

I managed a good thirty minutes before, apropos the Woolwich murder, my father-in-law came out with this statement: “The problem with Islam…” (always a worrying start to a sentence) “…is that the Quran is so ambiguous that it can be interpreted in many ways and this leads people to violence”.


I couldn’t stop myself. I had to respond that this was just like the Bible – after all, the Bible is riddled with contradictions and contains a fair amount of violence. “Yes”, responded my father-in-law, “but the message of what you need to do in Christianity is clear” “Really?”, I asked, “But surely you just pick and choose what bits you follow? For example, you eat pork which is banned”. “Ah but the Old Testament was overruled by the New Testament” he replies. “So what about the rules in the New Testament that you ignore?” I query “For example, I note that people in your church have braided hair – was that not also banned?” “Well yes, but that was what Paul said, not what Jesus said”. “OK”, I rejoin, “but what about when Jesus said that you need to give all your possessions to the poor?” “Well that was just a message to one person” he replies “And in general we need to follow the spirit of that suggestion rather than the rule…”.

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What Do Creationists Teach? A guest post by Jonny Scaramanga

A handy guide I wrote for Jesus Without Baggage about what Creationism is, and why it matters to Creationists.

Jesus Without Baggage

Today’s guestpost is by Jonny Scaramanga who blogs at Leaving Fundamentalism. One of Jonny’s areas of expertise is the teaching of creationists and he is perhaps the leading authority on the problems of ACE home school curriculum and learning systems, which teach creationism. On his blog, he also deals with other aspects of Fundamentalist Christianity. Be sure to visit there; it is one of my favorites.

Asking what Creationists teach is a bit like asking what Christians teach. It encompasses a lot of different doctrines. Broadly speaking, a Creationist is anyone who believes that God made the universe, which could include people who accept the theory of evolution, but think God started the process.

Dinosaurs with Humans

In the popular mind, though, “Creationist” almost always means “Christian Young-Earth Creationist“. These people believe that the book of Genesis is literally true. God initially made only two people, Adam and Eve, and everyone…

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Relearning everything you know

Samantha Field is one of my favourite bloggers. You might remember my contribution to her blog, Defeating the Dragons, and now she is returning the favour because of her awesomeness.

For some time I’ve been concerned that this blog has focused on ACE while ignoring all the other types of fundamentalist education out there. In this post, Samantha explains her experience with ACE’s competitor A Beka, and how it has affected her since.

We were going to be driving to Michigan the day after Christmas, heading in to the last few weeks before our wedding in Ann Arbor. Standing in the middle of the Barnes & Noble, we pondered our options. We wanted an audiobook for the road, but a non-abridged Hobbit wasn’t available, and neither of us were particularly interested in Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or Lee Child. I spotted Team of Rivals, and suggested it as an option. My fiancé shook his head, so we moved on– and eventually left the store empty handed.

A week later, during our road trip and I had been fruitlessly searching for a decent radio station for what felt like an eternity, I threw out a moderately acerbic comment about wishing we’d gotten Team of Rivals. The sound he made – well, it can only be described as a snort of derision.

“I’m not really interested in listening to a 10-hour Lincoln love fest.”

“Why not?”

“C’mon– the man suspended habeas corpus.”

My jaw dropped. “He what?” I stared at him blankly. Since he was driving and (very properly) paying attention to the road, he missed my palpable shock. I’d never heard of this. The thought of Lincoln doing something that was anything less than perfectly noble and wonderful and full of unicorns and puppy dogs and rainbows and butterflies … it was a foreign concept.

Read the rest of this entry