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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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A very fundamentalist sex scandal

Previously on Leaving Fundamentalism: 

  • Pastor Jack Hyles indulges in immoral sexual activity and covers up abuse.
  • Preacher Bill Gothard receives 34 allegations of sexual harassment and four of rape.
  • There are links between Hyles, Gothard, and Accelerated Christian Education founder Donald Howard.
  • All three are represented by the lawyer David Gibbs Jr, who’s made a career cleaning up after preachers.
  • It turns out quite a lot of this sort of thing goes on in fundamentalist Baptist churches,

So, this blog being this blog, you probably thought the last post was going to end with me telling you about a sex scandal involving Accelerated Christian Education’s Donald Howard. But you were wrong.

I saved it for this post.

[Be warned, this post will again feature discussion of sexual abuse that you might find upsetting or triggering]

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White supremacist home schooling

So here’s the most horrible thing I’ve found in a while: White Pride Homeschooling. I don’t even want to give their page the extra traffic, so I’m linking to an archived version of their website (from August 2014).

From their website (Warning: you are about to read racist propaganda):

The biggest increase in intermarriage has occurred in recent years, due to the social interaction of children of different races in the school room and subsequently the board room and then bedroom. In the year 2000 – 9 percent of married men and women below age 30 were intermarried, compared with 7 percent of those ages 30 to 44, 5 percent for those ages 45 to 59, and about 3 percent among those age 60 and older. Obviously school busing, the promotion of interracial marriages by “Christian” preachers, visible images in all types of media, and 12 (plus) years of social conditioning in the schools for each and every child has had a devastating effect on the racial integrity of white America.

Gotta love the use of square quotes around “Christian” in the above paragraph, because obviously true Christians are racist Christians.

Yup, this is a Christian organisation. No doubt you are wondering which curriculums they suggest parents can use without polluting the minds of their pure Aryan offspring.

In no particular order:

Bob Jones University Press

Alpha Omega (pretty much a clone of ACE, but reputedly more academically challenging)

CLASS (the Christian Liberty Academy School System, which produces a custom curriculum based on a mixture of texts from publishers including A Beka and Bob Jones)

And, of course, Lighthouse Christian Academy, which is the homeschool wing of Accelerated Christian Education.

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Whaddaya mean, ‘fundamentalist’?

At one of my recent talks on Bristol, an attendee challenged me on my definition of fundamentalism. And while I still think his definition did a violence to any traditional usage of the term (while mine was, obviously, unassailably correct), he raised an important point. ‘Fundamentalist’, in modern usage, is essentially a swear word. If you call someone a fundamentalist, you’re writing off their views as irrelevant and invalid. At the same time, the word does have a historical meaning, referring to a specific type of Christian theology.

In the past, I have capitalised on that very ambiguity with this blog. I blog about self-identified fundamentalists, the kind meant by the historical meaning of the word. But since I also think that these views are irrational and their adherents are extremists, I’ve been letting my readers interpret the term however they wish. If by fundamentalist you mean someone who believes in the literal truth of an inerrant Bible, that’s what I mean. But if you mean a terrorist, well, as far as I’m concerned the atrocities committed by self-proclaimed fundamentalists at Christian reform homes are in the same moral ballpark as terrorism, so that’s fine too.

Now I’ve decided I want to engage meaningfully with believers, I have a problem. You can’t reach mutual understandings through interfaith dialogue while calling your conversation partners terrorists. So is it time to lose the term ‘fundamentalism’? Even Bob Jones University, the spiritual home of fundamentalism, has made noises about ditching it:

“Basically, we’ve decided that we can’t use that term,” said Carl Abrams, a BJU history professor and a longtime member of the faculty. “The term has been hijacked and it takes you 30 minutes to explain it. So you need something else.”

But if not fundamentalist, then what? Well, before we can answer that, we need to know how fundamentalism gained its current status. And for that, we need Adam Laats’s outstanding book, Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars.

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Rape victim, confess your sin

Trigger warning in this post for rape and victim blaming.

In 1997, a Baptist church deacon, Ernie Willis (38), raped Tina Anderson, then 15. As a result, Anderson became pregnant. The church pastor, Chuck Phelps, covered up this rape, and had Anderson relocated to another state (with a plane ticket paid for by her rapist). She was home schooled, and not allowed contact with her peers until after she had given the baby up for adoption.  Willis had even confessed his guilt to the pastor, conceding that he was the “aggressor”. Anderson’s relocation effectively shut down the police investigation into the matter. There is some disagreement as to whether the authorities were informed at the time; roughly, Phelps says they were, and everyone else says they weren’t.  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