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.
Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.
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.
It’s always nice to be talked about. It’s particularly lovely when you’ve been campaigning against an organisation for two years and their public strategy has been to pretend nothing is happening. Well, mostly anyway.
But now Christian Education Europe’s Arthur Roderick has sent an email to CEE’s member schools discussing how they intend to deal with the menace that I present. It’s a fun read. Of course, Arthur doesn’t name me or link to any of the associated media coverage in his email. I presume he’d rather his customers didn’t read my blog. I, on the other hand, am all about the debate. I just think this is a conversation that needs to be had in public (not least because it’s one Arthur and other ACE teachers refused to have with me in private).
In that spirit, you should also check out ace-education.co.uk, a new blog by Christine Bradshaw which attempts to debunk many claims I’ve made about ACE (and quite a few I haven’t). Replies to posts like these will come soon. I realise that my linking to them will probably triple the number of people who see them, but like I said, I welcome the debate. Something CEE does not, as I will explain shortly.
Here’s Arthur’s letter. Since it’s online at a publicly available link, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it below. I know CEE are some of my most avid readers, so if they object, no doubt I will hear about it soon and have to replace the letter with a Jesus & Mo cartoon again. After the letter, I’ll tell you about some of my recent correspondence with Arthur and other people.
There seems to be a bit of a disparity between the facts and what some ACE teachers say. In this, my triumphant return to vlogging, I talk about Brenda Lewis, who seems incapable of getting her facts right when she talks in public.
The world has learned that ACE schools teach that evolution is a lie, wives must submit to their husbands, being gay is a sin, and abortion is murder. But for some ACE graduates, that might not be the most damaging thing.
During the Newsnight investigation into Accelerated Christian Education, Anjana Ahuja noticed that many ACE schools were claiming that you could get into university with their (unaccredited) qualification, the ICCE (International Certificate of Christian Education). So she contacted some of the universities alleged to have accepted the ICCE for university entrance, and of those who replied, none of them said they accepted the ICCE.
So can you get into university with an ACE education? Despite claims that more than 50 UK universities have accepted ICCE graduates, this is obviously still a controversial question among parents at ACE schools. The ICCE board is at pains to insist you can, and many ACE schools’ websites describe it as a “university entrance qualification”. Actually, it’s not as easy as they make out. If students have been accepted, often it’s because the universities made an exception to their usual policy, or because the students had additional, recognised qualifications, and it was these that gave them access to higher education.
The reality of the situation is that UK students leave ACE school with no officially recognised qualification whatsoever.
Here’s Anjana with the full story:
Read the rest of this entry
CEE hits back! Earlier this month New Statesman published my article “Creationism and the ‘conspiracy’ of evolution: inside the UK’s evangelical schools“. Last week I received this email from Dr Greg Hibbins, general manager of Christian Education Europe (Accelerated Christian Education’s UK distributor):
Dear Mr Scaramanga
Please find attached my letter of response to your article in the New Statesman. I have sent it to the paper and also trust you will publish it in whole and unedited on your blog.
Dr Greg Hibbins
I am only too happy to oblige. Since my own article was quite widely read, I think it’s only fair that CEE gets a fair hearing, so please share this widely. Here it is (click on each page to enlarge):
Alright, now you’ve read it, here are my comments (and if CEE disagrees with anything I write here, they’re welcome to respond again. We can keep going until one of us gets bored).
To: The Editor- New Statesman
Re: You’re Article- Creationism/Jonny Scaramanga/05/02/2014
Off to a flying start.