Author Archives: jonnyscaramanga

This blog has moved. Please update your subscriptions

Big news: This blog has moved to Patheos.com.

The new URL is patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism

The new RSS feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/LeavingFundamentalism

If you’re an email subscriber, you should be migrated over automatically.

There will be a redirect in place so that anyone visiting leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com is automatically forwarded to the new site, but if you keep your RSS subscription set here, you won’t be seeing many blog posts.

This really just means that Leaving Fundamentalism will have a lot more readers, and I will be able to earn a small amount of money from the blog, but otherwise business will carry on as usual.

 

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Christian Rock Thursdays: Home schooling saved my life (featuring Christian ska!)

Christian Rock Thursday are back! (Although they’ll probably continue to be intermittent for the rest of 2014)

This week’s installment is from B.O.B. (Bunch of Believers). There’s now a much more famous rapper called B.o.B., and every time I hear his name in a conversation about music, I momentarily wonder why there’s been a resurgence of interest in mediocre late-90s Christian ska.

With their South Park-inspired imagery, you might suspect B.O.B. were somehow cool. Don’t be fooled.

Ska punk hit the mainstream in the 1990s with the arrival of the Mighty Might Bosstones (1993) and No Doubt (1995), so naturally Christian ska became a cultural phenomenon around the end of the decade. As the unusually well-sourced Wikipedia entry on Christian ska observes, “Whereas in mainstream markets the popularity of ska had peaked about 1996, the Christian music marketplace is known for being significantly behind trends in the Christian market”. No shit. It offers no less than three citations for this not-particularly-controversial claim.

Not all Christian ska-core was terrible, I’m reliably informed by people who (unlike me) don’t hate ska. Apparently Five Iron Frenzy were actually quite good. However, there is nothing funny about being quite good, so we are going to look at B.O.B., who were complete shite.

Once again, we see that Christian Rock is acting as the propaganda mouthpiece of the Christian Right. Let’s play SPOT THE TROPE!

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Can you get into university with an ICCE Advanced Certificate?

Are you a student studying the International Certificate of Christian Education? Are you hoping to go to university? If so, I have some bad news for you. It will probably be harder to get into higher education than Christian Education Europe and your school told you. The ICCE claims an extensive list of universities that have accepted the Advanced Certificate for university entrance. After looking through universities’ responses to Freedom of Information requests, however, it appears that a number of them have not accepted the qualification at all.

Update 20 November 2014: UWE’s (University of the West of England, Bristol) response has been added.

International Certificate of Christian Education ICCE

The ICCE website lists universities which, it claims, have accepted graduates of the ICCE and/or NCSC (National Christian Schools Certificate, the old name for ICCE). But when Anjana Ahuja spoke to some of these universities as part of the BBC Newsnight investigation, none of them said they actually accepted the ICCE as an entrance certificate. In most cases, the universities had accepted ICCE graduates, but only after they had studied additional qualifications elsewhere. It was those qualifications—A Levels, International Baccalaureates—that gained these students their university places. None of them recognised the ICCE as a standard entrance qualification.

Anjana only spoke to six universities, but this was enough to make me curious. In how many other instances was the ICCE’s advertising misleading? In July, I asked Richy Thompson to put in Freedom of Information requests to every university on the ICCE’s list. He contacted 56 universities, of which 50 responded. It turned out the ICCE website was quite misleading.

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Accelerated Christian Education’s ugly history of racism

Oh hi everyone. Homeschoolers Anonymous is running a series on Homeschooling and Race. As part of it, I contributed a post about ACE’s history of racism. I’ve talked about ACE and race before (here, here, and here) but this includes all new never-before-blogged racism!

Second thing: My old post “Why fundamentalism is not faith” is suddenly getting an enormous amount of traffic, apparently from Facebook, and I don’t know why. So hi, all my new readers, and please let me know where you found me.

Here’s my HA post.


I remember staring at the text:

Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.

It was 1996; I was 11. Nelson Mandela had been president of South Africa for two years, and apartheid had been officially abolished in South Africa for five. I was not exactly well informed about the situation. I knew it was complicated, and that the country was not exactly without problems. But I also knew that apartheid had been an evil thing that had treated black people as less than human. I suspected my book was written by a racist. I didn’t say anything about it to my parents though. That wasn’t how ACE worked. You just got on with it in silence.

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The battle for evolution in Scottish schools

Tomorrow, the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will be hearing from members of the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society (SSS). Earlier this year, the SSS started a petition urging the Scottish government issue guidance on the teaching of creationism in schools. In England and Wales, there is clear guidance that creationism and Intelligent Design are not valid scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution, and should not be taught as such. In Scotland, there is no equivalent document.

This is a problem, because as we’ve previously seen, there have been significant inroads by creationists in some Scottish schools. Fortunately in that case, there was a decisive win for science. But what that case showed was that creationism genuinely is an issue in Scotland, and it will continue to be so without clear guidance. So you might think that the SSS petition, backed by three Nobel prize winners, would be uncontroversial.

Cart pulled by dinosaur

In case you’d forgotten, this picture of a dinosaur working as a beast of burden was included in creationist material distributed in a Scottish school in 2013.

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Accelerated Christian Education’s survivors speak out

Once more, this week we’re diving into Reddit’s Ask Me Anything about ACE schools. Unlike most AMAs, where Redditors ask questions of the original poster, this thread was most notable for all the other people with experience of ACE who dived in to tell their stories.

Previous sections:

Part 1

Part 2 

Here are more assorted ACE comment from Reddit’s AMA on the subject. Their presence here does not mean I agree with everything they say, but it’s great to hear from other ACE students.

olhonestjim

Every few years my parents would enroll me in some Christian school that taught either Abeka (sic?) or ACE curriculums. I hated ACE. I wanted to play and talk to other kids. It was the absolute worst education I ever had, especially the science, history, reading, writing, social studies, and math books. I was always far past the education levels for the grade I was in. My work for the day was always finished in a couple hours. It instilled in me laziness of both thought and action. You weren’t allowed to touch or come within 6 inches of touching your friends. The uniforms were uncomfortable, ugly, and unnecessary.

oh god, those stupid morality comics they put in there! I hated them too, and they were the only entertainment. My favorite character was the “bad” kid who was always misbehaving; talking bad about the teachers, untucking his shirt, smoking cigarette butts he found. Read the rest of this entry

Christian Rock Thursdays: The Christian AC/DC

In 1994, there was a buzz about a new release on the Christian record label Benson Records. By “there was a buzz” I mean of course “the Christian music magazines were talking about it”, which is perhaps not quite the same thing. Anyway, Nouveaux seemed to be Benson’s flagship rock band for the year, and all the reviews said the same thing: they were the Christian Def Leppard.

Never mind that by 1994, MTV refused to play videos even by the real Def Leppard, let alone a Christian imitation. Here was the Christian answer to the Biggest Rock Band in the World (in 1989). They sounded like this:

Alternative link

‘Christian alternatives’ were vital to the success of the Christian rock industry. A lot of the consumers of Christian rock were teenagers who weren’t allowed to listen to secular bands. There was always a gap in the market for a Jesus-infused “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Van Halen” (that particular niche was never really filled, partly because David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen are inimitable, and partly because it’s the sexual energy that makes Van Halen work, and no Christian band would replicate that). There were Christian imitations of Rush, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, AC/DC, Ratt… If a metal band went platinum in the ’80s, the Christian labels were scrabbling around for a clone.

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“I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life”

Last year on Reddit, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about an Accelerated Christian Education school turned into a free-for-all for ex-ACE students. At the time, I explained how it had brought a ton of important ACE survivor stories into the open, and I shared one of the the best. Here’s another from that event. I’m so glad it happened. Many of the stories are tragic, but so much of this would never have come out into the open without it.

reddit-logo-01-674x501-300x222This week’s tales are from the user CANIBALFOODFITE. As I recall, the user expressed the wish not to be contacted about their experiences, but I link to the original posts so you can see the source.

 

I feel like the ACE program virtually destroyed my life.

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Christian Rock Thursdays: Legend Seven vs slutty girls

Legend Seven were never one of the biggest Christian bands (although Wikipedia tells me today’s song was reached #2 on the Christian charts in 1992), and they weren’t one of my favourites either. For some reason, though I got this song stuck in my head the other day, and gave me the idea for this blog series. So here we are.

“Angela” is off the band’s first album, when they were just called Legend. They later changed names to Legend Seven, presumably because there was already a more famous secular band called Legend. Here’s the song:

In case it gets taken off YouTube, here’s another link. And here’s a live version which actually doesn’t suck (at least, no more than the original). And, for your perusal, the lyrics.

It came out in 1991 (or 1992; there are two conflicting reports on Wikipedia, and my copy of the CD is in my old bedroom at my mum’s house) and it sounds pretty typical of the time. Or, rather, it sounds pretty typical of Christian rock at the time, which means it sounds typical of secular rock three years earlier. Now I’m allowed to listen to secular music, it reminds me a bit of Thunder, a British early-90s band who really wished they were Free or Bad Company.

During cock rock era, it was pretty common for bands to write songs about tearaway teenage girls, and in a lot of ways, this song is just another one of that genre. The difference is that if this had been a Motley Crue song, Angela would have been the object of lust. In fact, there is a Mötley Crüe song called “Angela”, and that is indeed the case. That’s what girls are in hair metal songs; they exist to embody the fantasies of the male singers. They are simultaneously worshipped (because they are the providers of sex) and despised (because they are ‘trashy’).

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Escaping Quiverfull

If you follow this blog, there’s a good chance you also follow No Longer Quivering, the blog started by Vyckie Garrison, where I’ve also posted occasionally. Vyckie escaped from quiverfull and since then has dedicated huge amounts of her time to exposing abuses of power within this patriarchal movement.

If you don’t know what quiverfull is, here’s Vyckie’s brief explanation:

Quiverfull ~ is the idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them”) and as such, the couple is willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses to bless them with. Artificial or chemical birth control such as the Pill or IUDs are equated with abortion ~ the sin of murdering your own offspring. “Natural” birth control such as Natural Family Planning is not actually “natural” because a couple must abstain at the very time of the month when the woman is naturally more desirous of physical intimacy. All methods of “conception control” is considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

Now Vyckie needs our help. After devoting her life to helping other women escape from Quiverfull, she deserves our help too. Last time I announced on this blog that someone needed our help, we raised almost $1,500 in under 12 hours. I realise that you all have your own financial pressures and commitments, so I’m just going to show you some examples of Vyckie’s work, and I think you’ll agree it’s worthwhile. If you can’t give, though, just check out Vyckie’s story, because it’s amazing. Here’s a video and an article, so choose whichever you prefer.

The end of my life as a “Bride of Christ” came after a visit to Bright Horizons, which is the local domestic violence shelter in my hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. I went there for help in filing a restraining order against my husband, whose emotional and mental abuse against me and my children had escalated to the point that I was in the midst of a complete mental and physical breakdown. He had taken 6 of our 7 children to a town three hours from our home and was preventing me from having any contact with them unless I agreed to his terms for our “reconciliation.” Read more.

Vyckie is still suffering the fallout from divorcing this man. She is in danger of losing the home where she lives with the last five of her seven children. On her support page, there are various updates showing the work that Vyckie does to support other women in need, like this and this.

It’s all very well encouraging people to leave fundamentalism, but a lot of people aren’t as lucky as I was: For some of them, leaving means losing family, friends, support networks, and income. If you’re in a position to help, please read the fundraising page and consider supporting Vyckie. If you don’t want to use the credit card system on the Give Forward site, you can also donate by PayPal or cheque.

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