Keep ‘Accelerated Christian Education’ out of schools.

This is a cross-post from Futile Democracy

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 nurserieswere 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”

Do read the rest of Futile Democracy’s post here