We hear a lot about ‘British values’ this days – especially from the Tories. ‘British values’ of course being anything good in the world – democracy, tolerance, tea drinking – that sort of thing. After all, we’re not like those horrendous Americans, with their school shootings, gay conversion therapies and creationism. Are we? Now of course, the problem of Christian fundamentalism in the UK is far smaller than in America and various other countries around the globe – but they do exist – and not just in different guises either, but the same, über capitalist, anti science, highly homophobic and sexist and dangerously controlling way – you just have to look a bit closer.
The most frightening place to look isn’t inside the walls of churches, most of which try to push some sort of socially conservative agenda anyway (even many liberal churches), but schools.
Again, you may be under the illusion that despite the fact we allow faith schools to exist, they’re mostly of a fairly moderate flavour, kept in check by the national curriculum, regular inspections, etcetera etcetera.
Again, this is wrong. And I’m not talking about Islamic fundamentalism either – but Christian fundamentalism in our schools.
So the first thing to consider is that back in 2012, Gove allowed three free schools to be founded by creationist groups. This is an insult to education, but it isn’t even necessarily all that new a phenomena – many apparently more conventional religious schools reel out fundamentalist christian messages to their kids – sometimes in outright horrific ways, such as one school’s refusal to give their girls cervical cancer vaccinations (under the delusion it would promote sex before marriage), while other schools merely try to avoid the teaching of any other religions – under the current rules for RS GCSEs, schools can choose which papers to do, and there are a plethora on Christianity – Christianity, Christian ethics, one for each gospel, Roman Catholicism, Catholic ethics, the list goes on. If a school chooses the two Catholic papers for instance, this can be a gateway for indoctrination.
However, even worse groups have been applying to set up free schools.
In the UK, there are over 50 schools that teach the ACE curriculum (and I use the word ‘curriculum’ in the loosest possible sense, as it suggests that some degree of education is involved), and from 2011 to 2013, it’s known that around 9 of them (they’re all private schools) applied to become free schools.
Now you may point out that the only the applications from more ‘harmless’ lunatics were allowed through (though none of them are anywhere near being harmless, as can be seen by the vaccination debacle if anything) but the fact that ACE schools even exist in the UK – private or not – is highly worrying.
Let’s take a look at ACE.
Their brand of Christian fundamentalism is one of the most toxic around. Not only are massively sexist, homophobic and racist claims made, but ACE endorses an utterly bizarre view of the world millions of miles away from anything that could be labelled ‘scientific’. In the universe of ACE, snowflakes have magical electrical properties, the sky used to be pink (and make people docile and efficient workers) before the biblical flood, and the Loch Ness Monster not only exists but disproves evolution.
On top of this, ACE props up a bizarrely un-Chrisitan extremely right-wing worldview. For people who claim to believe in the teachings of the man who once said “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” and ordered all those that wished to follow him to give up their possessions and live communally, the writers of the ACE curriculum slather over capitalism and fetishise wealth inequality.
An ‘English’ question once asked “responsible citizens will vote for political candidates who…” and then proceeded to give a plethora of a compassionate choices to fill in the gap, and one other. The ‘correct’ answer was b, which stated “promise to cut back on both government services and spending and cut taxes”. It sounds like a joke, I know, but sadly it’s not.
I could go on for a while about the horrors of ACE, but better articles have done that. What I’m really saying is that even in this country, such a scourge does exist, and the fact that we seem to not notice (and fools like Gove almost endorse it) is a real, pressing issue.
If we care about our children, education and rationality, we need to stand up to this systematic programme of brainwashing kids – not just in ACE schools, but in all sorts of religious schools, and push for a fairer, unbiased and better schools system.