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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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The philandering fundamentalists

Please be advised that this post contains discussions of sexual abuse.

In 1970, Pastor Jack Hyles, of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, called into his office one Jennie Nischik, wife of one of the church deacons. Soon after, Vic and Jennie Nischik began experiencing marital problems. Eventually, Vic confronted Hyles with “evidence of an improper relationship between Hyles and [Vic’s] wife”. On hearing this evidence, Hyles, who had been pressuring Vic to leave, instead created an arrangement whereby the Nischiks lived in different rooms of the same house and never had any physical contact. Hyles continued his affair with Jennie for more than a decade. Eventually, Vic complained to Hyles that his room was damp and affecting his health, and said he was going to move back in with Jennie in the master bedroom. Rather than allow this, Hyles paid to have a new room added to the Nischiks’ house.

This is just one of the allegations that have become Hyles’ legacy.

Meanwhile, in 2014 Bill Gothard, founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), was placed on “administrative leave” while they investigated claims of historic sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s. Thirty-four women have made claims of harassment, and one woman says she was sixteen when Gothard molested her.

Welcome to the world of Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB). IFB types don’t believe in church hierarchy. They’re not usually part of any official denomination. They believe God invested all authority in the Pastor, and so bishops, archbishops and other formal church structures are unbiblical. This means that when scandals like the above break out, all the others can say “Nothing to do with us!” Unlike abuse scandals in the Catholic church, abuse in the IFB is usually portrayed as an isolated occurrence.

Is there in fact a link between all this?

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