Category Archives: Fundamentalism

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

“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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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.

Related posts:

This is how ACE treats its supporters

What happens if you write a letter of complaint to Accelerated Christian Education? Obviously, if write a letter, I’m going to get ignored, because I am regarded as nothing but a tool of the devil (and I do not use that term as a figure of speech). But what about Christians—what about ACE’s customers? Will they take constructive criticism from supporters?

Or are they those stereotypical fundamentalists who are so convinced of their own rightness that they know anyone who disagrees with them is simply wrong?

Online reviews of the ACE curriculum always make interesting reading, but I was particularly struck by this one. After describing what she perceived as faults in the curriculum, the reviewer writes:

I called School of Tomorrow and discussed my concerns with them and they did not have any answers for me regarding how easy it is to “cheat” on the Pace tests and learning to think logically and critically. I even asked if the rep could make and note and say something to whoever is in charge of curriculum, but they won’t do that. The fact is ACE wants testimonies of people who did well using their curriculum but those that did did not go to med school and have to think out the box. They go to bible school, become teachers, maybe there’s an accountant or businessperson scattered in, but I want my children to have a world of opportunities open to them when they decide on a career and I absolutely DO NOT want them to struggle the way I did.

Is it true that ACE is only interested in success stories? Enter Kevin Long. Kevin has recently outed himself as a supporter of this blog, and even contributed a guest post, but it was not ever thus. When Kevin first began commenting here, he was still supportive of aspects of ACE. Before he came round to the Leaving Fundamentalism position on ACE, Kevin defended it as an option for kids who would sink in mainstream schools. He wrote a letter to ACE at that time, and has received no response. Kevin’s given me permission to share it with you. I think it’s quite revealing that ACE won’t respond even to this.

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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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Christian Rock Thursdays: DC Talk don’t want your sex

DC Talk might be the most successful evangelical Christian group ever. Their 1995 album Jesus Freak sold two million copies in the US alone. And, if I might have a Christian rock hipster moment here, I liked them before they were famous.

Still, I was recently reminded (by an amusing list called “Top 10 Christian songs that also work as parodies of Christian songs“) of DC Talk’s all-time low point, “I Don’t Want It”.

Lyrics

Yo, s-e-x is a test when I’m pressed
So back up off with less of that zest
Impress this brotha with a life of virtue
The innocence that’s spent is gonna hurt you
Safe is the way they say to play, then again safe ain’t safe at all today
So, just wait for the mate that’s straight from God
and don’t have sex ’til you tie the knot

(This rap was so good they included it in the song twice)

Everyone [here meaning “all the people I grew up with”] knows [here meaning “was indoctrinated to believe”] that your ‘purity’ is the most precious gift you can give your spouse. Because they care so much about their fans, DC Talk wrote a song to help them stay pure: playing “I Don’t Want It” to a potential suitor is a foolproof way to ensure you don’t get laid.

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Christian Education Europe eats itself… bring popcorn!

It’s all go in the exciting world of fundamentalist education this week as former Christian Education Europe (CEE) employee Christine Gregg has started blowing the whistle again. You may remember that recently a website called Ace Education sprang up, seemingly with the primary intention of discrediting Leaving Fundamentalism. This was the blog that gave the world 10 Questions for Jonny Scaramanga. The blogger behind it was Christine. Now she has had enough.

Christine says that she was pressured into writing the blog by CEE founder Arthur Roderick, but never felt comfortable writing it. Now she wants to expose the unethical practices and bullying she says she saw at CEE.

Last week, I also had an article posted on Guardian Science blogs, in which I revealed two things: 1) Four British universities have stated that they consider the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as entry qualification. 2) When students study science for the ICCE, they will read that it could be possible to generate electricity from snow.

Frozen Elsa

Presumably ACE thought Frozen was a documentary about the potential uses of snow power.

Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.

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Why is Christian Education Europe promoting child abusers?

Previously on this blog, we’ve looked at the history of spanking in Accelerated Christian Education schools and asked whether it still happens today. Sources closer to ACE than me tell me that paddling is a thing of the past in UK schools that teach the ACE curriculum. But they’re still selling spanking manuals.

Christian Education Europe (CEE) has UK contracts to distribute two ranges of products. One is ACE. The other is Growing Families International (GFI), a series of child-rearing manuals by Gary and Marie Ezzo. In preparing this post, I tried to think of a way to convey to you in a single sentence just how problematic the Ezzos’ teachings are. And I have it. But first some background.

Have you heard of James Dobson? Within the Christian Right, Dobson is a voice to rival Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell; he was particularly influential on the Reagan administration. Dobson’s books on discipline, The Strong-Willed Child and Dare to Discipline, are pretty big on spanking and other ‘creative’ punishments themselves, and you should ask some of the kids who were raised with Dobson’s methods if they think they were abusive.

So you’re in the picture. Dobson is a Christian Right advocate of authoritarian, disciplinarian parenting.

And here comes my sentence that says it all about the Ezzos:

The organisation James Dobson founded, Focus on the Family, has publicly denounced the Ezzos’ teachings.

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