Legend Seven were never one of the biggest Christian bands (although Wikipedia tells me today’s song was reached #2 on the Christian charts in 1992), and they weren’t one of my favourites either. For some reason, though I got this song stuck in my head the other day, and gave me the idea for this blog series. So here we are.
“Angela” is off the band’s first album, when they were just called Legend. They later changed names to Legend Seven, presumably because there was already a more famous secular band called Legend. Here’s the song:
It came out in 1991 (or 1992; there are two conflicting reports on Wikipedia, and my copy of the CD is in my old bedroom at my mum’s house) and it sounds pretty typical of the time. Or, rather, it sounds pretty typical of Christian rock at the time, which means it sounds typical of secular rock three years earlier. Now I’m allowed to listen to secular music, it reminds me a bit of Thunder, a British early-90s band who really wished they were Free or Bad Company.
During cock rock era, it was pretty common for bands to write songs about tearaway teenage girls, and in a lot of ways, this song is just another one of that genre. The difference is that if this had been a Motley Crue song, Angela would have been the object of lust. In fact, there is a Mötley Crüe song called “Angela”, and that is indeed the case. That’s what girls are in hair metal songs; they exist to embody the fantasies of the male singers. They are simultaneously worshipped (because they are the providers of sex) and despised (because they are ‘trashy’).
Could ACE ever be banned in the UK? We’ve occasionally looked at this question in the past on Leaving Fundamentalism, but I’ve most recently argued that it would be better not to ban them. As I said in my New Statesman article, it would be preferable to see the schools improving themselves, encouraged by a more thorough inspection regime. It may be, however, that this is just never going to happen to a sufficient extent—ACE’s supporters hold their beliefs too rigidly ever to change their minds. Then what?
In Norway in 2001, the answer was to ban part of the curriculum, but not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn’t creationism, or right-wing politics, or religious teachings that got ACE Norway into hot water. It was sexism. Many of the same international laws that influenced the decision in Norway also apply in the UK. To understand whether this could happen here, we have to look at the Norwegian situation.
It all started when the Norwegian gender equality ombudsman, Kristin Mile, declared that ACE’s 4th grade Social Studies PACEs violated the Gender Equality Act. Then Norway’s education minister, Trond Giske, announced that he would not approve any future applications to open ACE schools (Link is in Norwegian. Here’s an English translation by Katie Ritson):
Giske warns Christian schools
Education Minister Trond Giske emphatically put his foot down over the equal opportunities curriculum used by ACE schools when he spoke at the Norwegian national conference for teachers on Tuesday.
There’s more bad news for ACE in the current issue of Private Eye. On page 36, there’s an article about Pieter Van Rooyen, the convicted slave master who opened an ACE school in Dover in January this year. Disappointingly, the phrase “slave wages” doesn’t appear in this story (as it does in most other coverage about Van Rooyen), but otherwise it’s pretty great. I won’t reproduce it all here for copyright reasons, but here’s a taster:
What Private Eye didn’t report—and I can exclusively reveal—is that in addition to being a criminal, Van Rooyen is also a conspiracy nut and a plagiarist.
I could go on for days with my thoughts on the religious aspect of ACE. Religion aside, I could never stand behind a program that turns out students with diplomas that can’t be used. My high school education was not considered valid for the courses that I took within the ACE program in the US. I now need a waiver to even apply for college and even then it carries almost no weight. In addition, the program never prepared us for the SAT or the ACT. I have never taken either. This causes Universities to scoff. To this day I am still pursuing legal avenues to even secure a diploma that passes minimum state requirements. I am 26 years old and still haven’t achieved this because once the damage is done, the government makes it so difficult to rectify. I will never stand behind the ACE system, religious differences aside.
Christina’s first tumblr post about ACE was so outstanding that I’ve asked her permission to reproduce it here.
Through the years I have tried to explain my grade school experiences with people who had attended public school, but no matter how detailed I felt that I was, the nuances were typically lost in translation. I have put together this post in hopes to better illustrate the severe deficit in the education I had received and display the potential harm of this particular Fundamentalist Christian education structure.
To put it simply, my school was a private K-12 Christian school in Iowa, nestled in the middle of Amish country. Though the student body was diverse, it remained predominantly Mennonite for the latter part of my education there. Students commonly clique’d with peers who attended the same church as them, naturally dividing the student body into “most conservative, somewhat conservative, and we-wear-jeans-at-home-don’t-tell-anyone-in-the-community.” The curriculum here was a home school curriculum that had been ordered in bulk to accommodate its students. The curriculum was made up of thin workbooks called “PACEs.” Each subject had its own series of PACEs and were chronologically numbered. Students were given goals to meet each day and were encouraged to work beyond those goals provided that there was time. In my case this meant that I was multiple grades above my peers in English/Word Building/Spelling PACESs and multiple grades behind them in Math PACEs. The classrooms were large, with all of elementary and middle school in one room and high school in another. The faculty were often severely understaffed. The teachers were not equipped with the tools to help me catch up with basic math skills.
This system let us down in a number of ways, the greatest two of these being that we were being given falsified information and that we were not being completely prepared to integrate into mainstream society. In addition to being poorly educated about popular culture, slang, and life skills, I would not take a proper health class until my junior year of public high school.
So the British Humanist Association has declared war on publicly-funded creationist nurseries in the UK. They’ve identified 67 nurseries of concern, of which nine are using the ACE curriculum. Of course, I first told you this was happening a year ago, so it’s nice to see something happening at last.
In a stupendous feat of good timing, two weeks ago a friend purchased the entire ACE kindergarten curriculum for me, so I can show you where your tax money is going if you live near one of these august institutions. Of course, we knew about the creationism already. What has shocked me (and angered me, since I went to an ACE nursery and I’d forgotten most of this) is the sexism. It turns out the rigid gender roles and wives-submit-to-your-husbands indoctrination that characterises ACE in later years begins when the pupils are aged three.
And in Britain, public funds are being used to pay for this.
I love Mötley Crüe. They were one of the bands that were instrumental in helping me to break out from the fundamentalist bubble I grew up in. “Dr Feelgood” was incredible; it made the Christian music I used to love seem anaemic and pathetic by comparison. And when I finally got to the point where I could sing “Shout at the Devil” without fearing that I might burn in hell, it was a huge personal breakthrough.
Mötley Crüe promote violence against women in their lyrics and in their live shows. I call myself a feminist now, and I can’t make excuses for them. But what shocks me now is how for so many years I didn’t recognise this violence against women, because my fundamentalist upbringing had taught me not to see it.
Trigger warning for sexual violence against women. Read the rest of this entry
Most of the Christians that read this blog seem to get it. They know that when someone has been abused by Christians, that is not the time for evangelism. It is the time for supporting victims and standing up against injustice. But sometimes we get a reader who is more concerned about the image of Christianity™ than they are about caring for people. Or someone who thinks that a victim might be low-hanging fruit for conversion. Evangelicalism: Spreading itself by preying on the weak.
Typically, the critic will take offence and claim that the blog suggests all Christians are abusive (which it never does). Why have I not specifically mentioned in every post that not all Christians are like this? How could I attack Christianity like that? To which my response is: What the hell is wrong with you? You can read a blog post about a girl being raped, and your first concern is that it might make your religion look bad. You know what actually makes religion look bad? Covering up rape, you morally bankrupt fuck.
I am proud to present this post by Anaïs Chartschenko. If you are likely to be triggered, be warned that this piece refers to rape.
Every time I apply for a job I have a pang of fear. Some jobs want to check your references. I am not afraid because I have a criminal history. I am afraid because my whole high school experience was a fraud. You see, I was home schooled. At first, I had big, thick text books with spines that smelled nice. I didn’t mind this as much, even though I was mostly left to my own devices to do my school work. I wanted to be smart. Discipline was not an issue. I wanted to go to college. I now see my naivety. I should have paid more attention when church members kindly informed me that college wasn’t for me or that god had other plans…
Before long, my mother had switched the whole curriculum up. I now was to do ACE which came in shockingly simplistic booklets, called PACEs. I was told it was much better, and I could work at my own pace. PACEs, get it? So for three years I stared at the PACEs, carefully filling in bubbles with my number two pencil. I can’t explain the boredom. I can’t explain the anger I felt with every depiction of a submissive woman making dinner. The curriculum featured multiple choice questions with only one right answer. There was no critical thinking involved. Read the rest of this entry
I have a new favourite blog: Anaïs Chartschenko’s Whisper Collector. Like just about everything I recommend, it’s not fun reading, but she’s a belting writer and her story needs to be heard. She’s a former ACE home schooler and a rape survivor (although, as her blog shows, she is absolutely not a victim). I repost this with her permission.
I walked into the youth chapel at the church. Something was different: there was a box of donuts on a folding table in the center of the room. All of us descended on it eagerly. There were some kids who had such strict parents that they did not get to eat sugar. They were the most deflated. I stared into the box, taking in donut after donut- glazed, creme filled, maple bar- all varieties with one common theme. A big bite had been taken from each one. Dejected, we slumped in our chairs. No one was willing to risk eating a communal donut. We had all been warned about the dangers of sharing food a million times over. We did not want herpes from a donut, no sir. We were adept at going with out. We had already gone without dancing (the prom), learning science, eating meat, reading novels, watching movies, or any of the long list of things that were not allowed. Read the rest of this entry