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Fundamentalist Flashbacks

I recently woke up in the middle of the night, gripped by a sudden panic. What if I’m wrong?

If I’m wrong, I’m going to hell.

I’ve spent the last several years campaigning to raise public awareness of fundamentalist Christian schools that I consider abusive. I went to such a school myself, so I have a dog in this fight. If what they taught me is true, then I have spent these years fighting against God himself.

The fear claws at me for a while, and then in my groggy state I manage to remember some stuff:

If the strict Muslims are right, I’m equally doomed whether I’m a Christian or an atheist, yet that has never given me a moment’s worry in my life. My fear is not spiritual, or rational. It’s cultural.

And anyway, the notion of a just and/or loving God sending me to infinite punishment for finite sins is self-contradictory. It can’t be true.

Panic over, I go back to sleep.

I haven’t believed in God for seven years. I’ve openly identified as an atheist for four of those, but there are still situations where I have flashbacks to my fundamentalist past. Read the rest of this entry

22 awesome things I used to believe were sinful

Growing up as an ultra-conservative Christian, everything is a sin. Here are 22 of them which turned out to be a lot of fun:

1) Halloween

'Halloween Decorations' photo (c) 2010, Sarah_Ackerman - license:

Ghosts were demons, witches were devil worshippers, and trick or treating was a deal with the devil.

This also meant that things like Ghostbusters were off-limits. Although for some reason when I received a pair of hand-me-down Ghostbusters boxer shorts I was allowed to wear them. I don’t know, maybe it was judged that downstairs was already a demon-possessed region.

Read the rest of this entry

You were never a true Christian

I doubt there’s a long-running ex-fundamentalist blog on the internet which hasn’t received a comment along the lines of “You were never a REAL Christian”. I got just such a charming message the other day.

What’s with that? Why are fundamentalists not sniffing around their churches for impostors? There must be a fair few of them around, if everyone who has ever left the faith turned out to be a fake. Why are fundamentalists so intent on denying that I was ever one of them?

It’s all part of the problem I discussed in “Why fundamentalists will never listen to me“. Fundamentalists believe that in order to understand the Bible, and real Christian faith, you must yourself be a real Christian. Without salvation, you cannot understand the things of God.

This has the handy side-effect of meaning they never have to listen to anyone who disagrees with them. People who disagree with fundamentalists are Not True Christians, and therefore incapable of understanding Christianity. It follows that these people cannot possibly make valid criticisms of their faith. Who says fundamentalists can’t do logic?  Read the rest of this entry

A fundamentalist shares her wisdom

Over the past six weeks, a commenter identifying herself as “Caroline” has been setting me to rights on fundamentalism. From these comments, I’ve deduced that she is (or possibly was) a home schooled student in Accelerated Christian Education, and a fundamentalist.

I’m also assuming that English is not Caroline’s first language (well, that’s the charitable interpretation). If that’s correct, I also infer that, in this instance at least, ACE has not worked well as a method for teaching English as a second language.  What else can we learn from Caroline?

Read the rest of this entry

I quit

Happy birthday Leaving Fundamentalism.

It’s been a good first year for this blog, capped off by a successful past week. My post Five jobs a Creationist can’t do was the 23rd most viewed post on on Monday.

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This contributed to the blog hitting #6 on WordPress’s chart of fastest growing blogs:

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 00.09.52I will be celebrating my success by retiring from blogging about ACE. Before I shut up on the subject, please read my last post. Read the rest of this entry

The Benefits and the Workings of ACE

This is a guest post. Another advocate of Accelerated Christian Education has come forward to give her reasons for using the curriculum. Monica does a great job explaining herself, so I’ll give you no introduction. Please read it and let me (and Monica) know what you think.

I am writing this as a person with over 20 years’ experience of working in Christian Schools and home education with ACE as a Supervisor (teacher) for a range of ages from 4-18 years. My degree was in Chemistry and Biochemistry so I have taught practical science in schools as well as the ACE Curriculum. I also had the privilege of spending two years as an inspector (not Ofsted) for ACE Schools as commissioned by Christian Education Europe, UK who provide the curriculum.

My two main aims in writing this are to clarify the use and aims of the ACE curriculum in ACE Schools in the UK and also to make it clear that every curriculum has underlying beliefs and values.

In fact, some years ago, I wrote an article which I published in a leaflet called, ‘Education is Not Neutral’. The idea that education consists of a curriculum package containing a body of knowledge which is passed on to pupils in a sterile environment is truly false. Every curriculum has an underlying worldview whether it is religious or atheistic. The Jews, the Moslems, Christians and atheists all want to pass on the beliefs and values of their particular worldview to the next generation. Read the rest of this entry

Survivor Story: ACE and Bible Verse Bookmarks

“I was shunned, but survived”. I’m thrilled to present today’s guest post, from Rebecca Arman of Tasmania. Rebecca mentioned to me in emails how difficult her experience of fundamentalism was to get over, and she was unsure about writing her story, so I hope you’ll all leave comments to thank her for her honesty and courage.

Of all my stories of my past life challenges,  I find this one a very difficult one to tell. Perhaps I’m embarrassed knowing what I know now, to remember those days. And perhaps I still feel loyal to my partner and a reluctance to dishonour him. But I make this bit clear. I do not dishonour him. I loved him dearly and fought hard with him to beat the tumour that took his life. I did not want him to die, nor my children to grow up without a father. But sometimes men make bad decisions. And he sure did make one bad one…..

I am writing this in a lovely bakery near Salamanca market on a balmy Hobart Saturday afternoon. I’m feeling at peace, in my new independent travel mode, enjoying the buzz and beauty of Battery Point. With old buildings containing galleries and shops on one side, a sea port on another, a mountain backdrop, and green parks to laze in, it is a stunning part of Tasmania I rarely knew when I lived here years ago. Nearly 30 years has passed since my first baby was born on the opposite part of Tasmania in very different circumstances. ACE is Accelerated Christian Education, and it is still taught in church run schools in Western Countries today.

When my first baby was born, my husband had started a job as a teacher in a Baptist Church School that used ACE curriculum. During the years leading up to this I was the only daughter of a strict, verbally and emotionally abusive father and an unhappy, resentful mother. When  I met my children’s father, he was a ‘normal’, fun loving, attractive, fit, kind hearted person, a graduate from teachers college seeking employment. A few years later I had involuntarily become a fundamentalist Christian  teacher/pastors wife, and  the indoctrination of those years had a huge tole on me. Many years of counselling, thinking, reading and reprogramming was needed before I became a real person. I drifted into early marriage after my loneliness of teenage bully years, which together with my parents nightly fighting and totally dysfunctional relationship, had created an insecurity and void in my life. I had no confidence, and my friends were few. Nothing I did could please my parents and I felt I didn’t fit in or belong anywhere.  I was unloved, so I married, for love, had babies to be loved, and accepted, and before I knew it my life spun out of control and I was in a community where I knew little of life outside this church school. It killed my soul and broke my heart, but I recovered.  Read the rest of this entry

Jesus Jihad Part 2

As I expected, Jesus Jihad: Could There Be a Christian Bin Laden? has received a torrent of objections. I want to do deal with them all. After that, I don’t anticipate talking about this again. Read the rest of this entry

I Could Have Been a Suicide Bomber

I could have been one of the hijackers in 9/11.

Luckily for me, there’s no culture of terrorism among young Christian fundamentalists (yet). But I believed it strongly enough that, if you’d shown me Bible verses that persuaded me it was God’s will, I would have blown up myself and other people for the faith. Read the rest of this entry

Fundamentalists, the Illuminati, Freemasons, and the UN

An overlooked danger of fundamentalism is how it can indirectly result in believing absurdities, quite apart from religion. Everybody knows fundamentalists believe unlikely things about God. Less known is their propensity for believing equally implausible things about the world more generally.

Take the surprisingly widespread belief among evangelicals that they are the victims of a vast conspiracy by liberals, New Agers, Satanists, and Freemasons. Great numbers of evangelicals seriously believe in an ancient Illuminati plot to destroy Christianity. Their conversation on the subject sounds like the plot of a Dan Brown novel (and, incredibly, Dan Brown’s books are actually better written than the fundy literature), but there’s no suggestion that it’s fiction.

So, because laughing at fundamentalism is fun, and because you won’t believe the extent of the insanity unless I show you, here’s a condensed guide to Fundamentalist Conspiracy Theory (and I mean condensed. I could write books about this). Read the rest of this entry