Category Archives: Creationism

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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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

Ex-ACE students have their say

I am on holiday. So instead of a post from me, I’ll treat you to the thoughts of some of 2014’s commenters, both those who agree and who disagree with me.

evolutionists believe we evolved from a rock. a tomato a dog and a human are not the same but evolutionists believe they all came from a common ancestor. you want to believe we came from nothing. face it, you believe that you have evidence for evolution but in reality you are closed minded and hate God and thats why this lie looks like evidence to you. it is convenient to believe that you wont be judged after this life. well my friends it is not. I hope you find Jesus because he is the only one who can make it right.

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Weird parts of my Christian Rock childhood

Welcome to the first installment of a new series. When I named this blog “Leaving Fundamentalism” I really meant it to be a diverse examination of all the unusual parts of my bizarre Christian upbringing. In the end, mostly because of my PhD studies, the blog has been swarmed by posts critiquing ACE. Here’s a bit of light relief: Once a week I’ll show you a Christian rock song from my childhood and talk about how it affected me.

People might be misled by this into thinking that ACE and Christian rock are somehow related. They aren’t, really. ACE is adamant in its opposition to Christian rock music. In fact, that was the first thing I disliked about ACE. Long before I realised how sexist it is, or how racist, and years before I noticed they’d been teaching me lies, I loathed ACE because they were opposed to Christian rock music, which for me was the biggest reason that I was enthusiastic about being a Christian.

In the rules for ACE’s student conventions (annual competitions between ACE schools and students), the music section reads now as it did when I was in school:

Competition arrangements are to be Christian or patriotic rather than secular. Classical instrumental music is allowed as long as it is non-offensive to Christian values or good taste. Music sung or played with a jumpy, sensual, or worldly style is not acceptable. Contemporary Christian, jazz, gospel rock, or gospel country music are not acceptable. In our music guidelines, “contemporary” refers to a style of music, not the date on which a piece was written. Music must be appropriate for a typical conservative fundamental church service (musical arrangement, text, and presentation).

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Lies, damned lies, and incompetence

More Accelerated Christian Education schools, more misleading advertising. On the Advertising Standards Agency website today, an ‘informally resolved case’ is listed, related to Dewsbury Gospel Church trading as Branch Christian School. Branch Christian School uses the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. Rather than preparing its students for recognised exams like GCSEs and A Levels, it offers its graduates the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE).

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 09.27.25

It will come as a surprise to no one to learn that I was the complainant in this case. It’s a similar story to the last time I pointed out that some ACE schools were misleading parents about the nature of their qualifications, but in this case, it’s more extreme.

When I complained to the ASA about this in July, the Branch Christian School prospectus claimed that the ICCE was recognised by the Government’s National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ).

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 09.39.17

There is no such thing as the NFQ.

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Revelations from a former ACE insider

This is a guest post. The author has chosen to remain nameless. The title (mine) does the post no justice; this is one of the most powerful ACE survivor stories we’ve had and I want everyone to read it.

I was a student at Maranatha Christian School in the UK from 2003 – 2005. I worked at an ACE school in Moscow, Russia in 2007 and at Christian Education Europe from 2007-2009. I also attended for many years a church overseen by then-director of Christian Education Europe, Arthur Roderick.

I started ACE “late” at age thirteen after spending the first parts of my schooling as an atheist in mainstream schools. I have little idea what drew my parents to Maranatha, but I suspect the low teacher-pupil ratio was one of the main reasons.

Having always been a “teacher’s pet” Maranatha was a whole new experience for me. Because I was not yet a Christian at that point and had little spiritual knowledge I was branded a “troublemaker.” In my first year at Maranatha I was given detentions and parents’ meetings for blaspheming, dying my hair, refusing to sing hymns during “opening exercise,” my lack of the “submissive nature” we were taught was expected of women, and even once for wearing trousers instead of a skirt to an earned “non-uniform” day.

I was harassed by teachers and students daily – eventually attempting suicide shortly before my fourteenth birthday. This further branded me as an ungodly troublemaker, particularly as I was referred to a child psychologist. Although the head teacher was not pleased and offered both prayer and a referral to a “Christian psychologist” as alternatives, my mother thankfully refused. I was, however, forbidden from returning to the (or any) doctor after his practical suggestions included removing me from Maranatha completely.

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I am officially heartbroken

This is a guest post by Kevin Long.

Image creative commons from Pixabay

Image via Pixabay (creative commons)

I am officially heartbroken. I was walking around the neighborhood with my special needs kid. Trying to come up with a way to spend more quality time together, I said, “Let’s do a song on Garage Band or something.” The kid went tense.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Kid: [Sullen] “I don’t know.”

Me: “Rephrasing: you went tense when I said ‘lets do a song.’ What made you tense about that?”

Kid: “I’m afraid to be creative, ok?”

Me: “Why? You’re so smart and inventive and fascile.”

Kid: [Tense and sullen] “I don’t know.”

Me: “We’ll try it again: At what point did you STOP liking being creative?”

Kid: “It was ACE.”

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Faith school whistleblower to speak ahead of Dover ‘ACE’ school expansion

Alright people!

I don’t normally plug my talks with separate posts (you can see the ‘speaking dates’ page for the latest), but the next seven days have some good ones lined up:

Tomorrow, Wednesday 20th August 2014I’m appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival performing, for the first time ever, my autobiographical one-man show, My Escape from Fundamentalism.

On Thursday I’m at Merseyside Skeptics.

And then next Tuesday I’ll be speaking in Dover about Dover School for All Nations, which you should know about by now. Much has happened since I last wrote about it. Pieter Van Rooyen has died, which is very sad for his family and friends, but the school he founded continues under new leadership, which is very sad for everyone else.

Here’s the press release ahead of my talk, which will be the first ever Skeptics in the Pub to take place in Dover. I’ve also invited the leadership of Dover School for All Nations to come to the talk and have right of reply. I very much hope they will accept.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SOUTH EAST SKEPTICS
Date: 12 August 2014


Faith school whistleblower to speak ahead of Dover ‘ACE’ school expansion

A former pupil of the controversial ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ (ACE) curriculum will be giving a public lecture on August 26th, ahead of September’s expansion of the Dover School for All Nations (DSFAN) ACE faith school.

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