Christian fundamentalist schools across the UK are teaching students that women should submit to men and that gay people are “unnatural,” according to former pupils and whistle-blowers.
It was also revealed that students are left to teach themselves in isolation and are given no formal qualifications other than “Christian certificates,” The Independent reports.
Students report spending half the day reading in silence at specially-designed desks with dividers that prevent them from communicating with other students, which is supposed to help them get closer to God.
Catering for both primary and secondary students, Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) schools were first established in Tennessee in 1970 and have since spread to the UK, where an estimated 1,000 students attend.
Christian fundamentalist schools are teaching girls they must obey men; Outlaw ACE before it spreads further. https://t.co/V0rC4Hw1Ml
— David Cryer (@davidcryer2) June 6, 2016
A former student told the Independent his school used a flag system to communicate with teachers, with one flag to signal the student needed help, and another to display the need to ask a question or use the toilet.
“If we put our flags up too often we would be told off,” he said.
The schools teach creationism, the belief that God created the world in six days, and dismisses the scientific theory of evolution, which the curriculum refers to as “absurd.”
A former student said teachers spend a “huge” amount of time arguing against evolution.
A past pupil of Emmanuel College in Gateshead told Faith Schoolers Anonymous that evolution was taught “under duress” and that “parallels between Darwinism and Nazism were rife.”
They also described a sixth form course in Philosophy, Theology and Ethics which was described as a course to “help young people navigate a morally complex world” but was actually “Christian propaganda that culminated in an interview to determine our moral standing.”
Students are taught that women are to “obey, respect and submit to the leadership of her husband, serving as a helper to him… She is available all times day or night.”
Former student Cheryl Povey said she experienced a lot of sexism.
“We were taught that if you’re a woman, you should be subservient to men; your husband, your pastor and other male figures,” Povey said. “There was a strong culture of men being revered and women being dangerously sexual and having to cover up. It made me self-conscious of being a woman.”
Matthew Pocock, who went to King’s School in Whitney, described being taught “men were superior to, and should be in charge of, weak women.”
He also relayed his experiences on Patheos in 2012 and how “it was all about conformity, belief in received knowledge and having a ‘servant spirit’.”
A former ACE student described“beliefs around modesty were key to the girls’ dress code” and that girls were required to wear uniform underwear “which would be inspected.”
Among the women I know who went to ACE schools, one has been a sex worker and another owns a pub. #fuckyouACE
— Jonny Scaramanga (@JonnyScaramanga) June 6, 2016
Textbooks also referred to homosexuality as a corruption, a sin and unnatural.
“God commanded that homosexuals be put to death. Since God never commanded death of 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,” one book explained.
The schools teach sex outside of marriage will lead to facing “God’s judgement.”
Students receive an International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), which is not recognised as a legitimate qualification.
Former ACE student Jonny Scaramanga, who wrote his PhD thesis on the schools, told The Independent that “in allowing ACE schools’ failings to go unchecked for decades, the government has failed in its duty of care to students in ACE schools.”