“I pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour, crucified, risen, and coming again as king with life and liberty for all who believe.
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word. I will make it a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I will hide it in my heart, that I might not sin against God.”
– The pledge, spoken at Accelerated Christian Education schools.
It seemed to be a good week for secularism in the UK this week. On June 17th, Ofsted withdraw support for gender segregation in schools, and a day later the government banned free schools from promoting Creationism as science. All seemed to be progressing. That is until a private Christian school in Manchester had been found to be using textbooks by Tennessee based Creationist group, ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ in its curriculum. Alarmingly, the British Humanist Association found that nine nurseries were using ‘ACE’ curriculum. Leaving aside a general discussion on the place of ‘faith’ in private schools, I wondered just who ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ are, and why they are permitted any involvement in the education of impressionable minds. It turns out, they’re about as fundamentalist as Christians manage to get, and incredibly damaging.
Dr Donald Howard founded ‘ACE’ in 1970, for the express purpose of disseminating a literalist interpretation of the Bible, through what Howard termed “educational missions”. The usual suspects are to be found throughout their literature; homophobia, right winged political ideals, creationism, anti-evolution with a little racism thrown in. The children that come out of ACE schools grow up to tell similar stories of how Dr Howard’s “educational missions” horrendously stunted their education and growth, presented them with a false perception of reality far removed from the rest of society, and failed enormously to prepare them for life.
Over at a favourite blog of mine ‘Leaving Fundamentalism’, several ex-students explain their experience of an ‘ACE’ education:
“I found that ACE helped me with test taking, memorization, answering to please the grader, and sitting silently for 7 hours straight. It hindered me by not teaching me long-term retention, critical thinking, literary/historical/contextual analysis, participation in discussions, essay composition, and unbiased presentation.”
“I was going through some old ACE books in order to get my transcripts for my first year of highschool in order and noticed all of the places that I had highlighted wrong information or just blatant lies. It was atrocious! Most of them were in history because that happened to be my favorite subject but Science was chock full of lies as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian. But ACE played no part in my conversion. In fact, it put a bitter taste in my mouth towards any fundamentalist or organized religion. The fact that all of the work is reading comprehension and pretty much no creative writing sickens me. In the few years that I studied ACE I was in no way encouraged to voice my own opinion or do any kind of secular research to find things out for myself. I remember at one point, a “creative writing” project was to write a letter to my governor… My problem here? I was instructed to “thank him and show your appreciation for his policies and achievement”… Which I completely disagreed with.”
– The experiences all seem to echo each other. Whether a public school, or a private school, the damage is the same. The indoctrinating through proselytising – abandoning critical thought processes for a bubble of faith – to young minds, harms the development of the student, and leaves them completely unprepared for the next stages of life. ‘ACE’ is a very cult-like group seeking to self perpetuate, by pulling children away from the rest of society, with Christian literalist manipulations, to create a little conclave of Christian fundamentalists. It is to the credit of past students, that many figured out what was going on, and now speak out.
It was only in 2013, that ‘ACE’ in Europe removed from its biology textbook – a book that should be teaching children the basics of biology, including genetics, evolution, medicine – the idea that the Loch Ness Monster is real, and proof that evolution is a terrible lie. The book – Biology 1099 – stated:
“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
– They continue:
“Biblical and scientific evidence seems to indicate that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time”
– Whilst this is all clearly wrong, and works only to distort reality for vulnerable minds, ACE take it one step further by moralising – in a way that suggests ultimate truth – to perpetuate an atmosphere of homophobia, with completely misleading and false ‘science’. In ‘Science 1107’ they state:
“Some people mistakenly believe that an individual is born a homosexual and his attraction to those of the same sex is normal. Because extensive tests have shown that there is no biological difference between homosexuals and others, these tests seem to prove that homosexuality is a learned behaviour. The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sin. In Old Testament times, God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death for normal or acceptable actions, it is as unreasonable to say that homosexuality is normal as it is to say that murder or stealing is normal.”
– The problems with this passage are so vast, that one blog post is not enough to cover it all. Needless to say, everything we actually know about the science of sexuality discredits everything this passage offers. Plenty of children in ‘ACE’ schools will be gay. Here, they are told they are not normal, must be discriminated against, and that God – taught as fact – wishes them dead. The science, the studies, the biological nature of sexuality are dismissed, for Leviticus. As well as homophobia, ‘ACE’ taught – in ‘Social Studies 1086’ – that Apartheid in South Africa and institutional racism is acceptable, if it is perceived to be economically valuable:
“The government must be responsible to the taxpayers who provide the money that the government spends. Since that is true only taxpayers should be given the privilege of voting…
The apartheid policy of South Africa is a modern example of this principle. Under the apartheid system, the population of five million Whites controls most of the nation’s wealth. If apartheid were done away with, the twenty million Blacks, who are not taxpayers, would be given the privilege of voting. Within a short period of time they would control the government and the means of taxation. ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.’ Heavy taxation could become a burden to the property owners who actually finance the government and provide jobs. 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.”
– The racism continues, with a complete manipulation of history, for the benefit of Christian supremacy:
“It’s interesting that in the African primitive languages there is no word for wisdom. We in the West find that surprising, but you see, the idea of wisdom came through the Biblical channels of the Judaeo-Christian religion and filtered into all of western culture and society.”
So, that’s the benefits of homophobia and racism – and so, the supremacy of white, heterosexual, Christians – taught to children. Studies on Maths, Science, and English, are treated no less hideously, with all intrinsically linked to the Bible and politically right-leaning ideas. For example, ‘ACE’ offers the following in an English test:
(29) Responsible citizens will vote for political candidates who
a. promise to provide good paying jobs for all those who are out of work
b. promise to cut back on both government services and spending and cut taxes
c. promise to raise taxes on “big business” and use the money to help the poor
d. promise to provide child-care services for all mothers who need to work
(The “correct” answer is b.)
– For science on evolutionary biology – the very basis of all modern genetics, biology, zoology, and medicine – ‘ACE’ offers no evidence-based studies to back up their claim that:
“… no transitional fossils have been or will ever be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.
– For physics, ‘ACE’ again offers no scientific studies into their claim on nuclear fusion in ‘Science 1096’ that:
“The nuclear fusion theory of how the sun emits heat and light is an invention of evolution scientists… All other theories require the sun to use up all its energy sooner than the evolutionists’ invented timetable would allow.”
Worryingly, despite the massive distortions of science and reality, despite the political narrative ‘ACE’ is trying to instill into the minds of children, its deep rooted homophobia, and its clear use of schools to proselytise, the National Recognition Information Centre – which offers validation for certain qualifications – deemed International Certificate of Christian Education gained through ‘ACE’ programmes, to be equivalent of A-Levels.
Whilst this week proved to be a positive step in reducing – albeit, slightly – the wholly negative influence of faith-as-fact in schools, it is worrying that schools in the UK in the 21st century – private or public – are willing to present a dangerous and fundamentalist narrative, devoid of all reality in favour of bronze aged myths, with undertones of discrimination thrown in, to the nation’s young. Grotesquely anti-secular groups like Accelerated Christian Education must not be allowed to play any part in the education of children.