There’s a lot of swearing in this post. That means the people who need to hear this most will ignore me. That’s fine. There will be other posts on other days to engage sympathetically. And at this point, the bridges between me and those I criticise are mostly in flames anyway.
When Reverend Oliver Harrison spoke out against ACE in January, he wrote “I was in my twenties before anyone told me the first and most foundational truth of Christianity: namely, that God is love”. To which AislingNB replied:
‘God is love’ is an underlying basic principle which is often stated in the PACES. Perhaps your experience of ACE was negative because of the people that administered it. Don’t blame the actual curriculum for this.
Then Kara Deacon piled in:
I am an ex-pupil of the school you are criticizing… I don’t quite understand how you can say that you were not taught about the love of God because it was taught in every assembly and it was a huge part of school life.
So who’s telling the truth?
I believe all of them. I’m sure the King’s School, like all ACE schools, talked about love all the time. I’m equally sure that Oliver didn’t learn anything about real love while he was there.
It’s because when ACE talk about love, they mean something different from the rest of us. The trouble is that fundamentalism poisons the meaning of love. Yes, they talk about love all the time, but love is a stick to beat you with.
It comes from their theology. Timothy Swanson wrote about this at Defeating the Dragons, a blog which, irritatingly, is much better than mine. I’m not going to attempt to cover the same ground here. Instead, I’ll just say this:
If you think love includes spanking a child with a rod or paddle, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think love involves a husband demanding obedience and submissiveness from his wife, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s loving to put people through gay ‘cure’ therapy, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s loving to censor your child’s science education, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think love means telling someone their mental illness is the result of sin, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think love means shunning people who reject your faith, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s love to tell a stranger they will burn in hell, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s love to deprive children of sex education, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s love to make a rape victim ask for forgiveness, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think love means depriving people of rights based on their sexual orientation, fuck your idea of love.
If your idea of love puts more emphasis on preaching to the poor than meeting their needs, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think it’s love to teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies, your idea of love is, wait for it… fucked up.
If you think it’s love to to deprive women of access to contraception and abortion, your idea of love is fucked up.
If you think love would keep children ignorant of the world outside fundamentalism, your idea of love is fucked up.
And, most importantly:
If you think that an all-loving God would allow a human to be tortured in hell for eternity, your idea of love is fucked up.
And that’s how ACE was able to tell us all about love while simultaneously teaching us nothing about it. They don’t know what love is. Ironically, they would say the same about me.
Do read that Defeating the Dragons post. It’s a good one.
I’m sure you can think of more ways fundamentalism fucks up love. Add your own in the comments.