It’s always nice to be talked about. It’s particularly lovely when you’ve been campaigning against an organisation for two years and their public strategy has been to pretend nothing is happening. Well, mostly anyway.
But now Christian Education Europe’s Arthur Roderick has sent an email to CEE’s member schools discussing how they intend to deal with the menace that I present. It’s a fun read. Of course, Arthur doesn’t name me or link to any of the associated media coverage in his email. I presume he’d rather his customers didn’t read my blog. I, on the other hand, am all about the debate. I just think this is a conversation that needs to be had in public (not least because it’s one Arthur and other ACE teachers refused to have with me in private).
In that spirit, you should also check out ace-education.co.uk, a new blog by Christine Bradshaw which attempts to debunk many claims I’ve made about ACE (and quite a few I haven’t). Replies to posts like these will come soon. I realise that my linking to them will probably triple the number of people who see them, but like I said, I welcome the debate. Something CEE does not, as I will explain shortly.
Here’s Arthur’s letter. Since it’s online at a publicly available link, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it below. I know CEE are some of my most avid readers, so if they object, no doubt I will hear about it soon and have to replace the letter with a Jesus & Mo cartoon again. After the letter, I’ll tell you about some of my recent correspondence with Arthur and other people.
Dear Christian Educator,
This letter comes with awareness that we all need to encourage one another and stand together, in what are perilous times as far as Truth is concerned. There have been significant criticisms and scurrilous statements about the ACE programme in the social media, with interviews on the BBC, including an opportunity to present our case on the ‘Newsnight’ programme. This generated a flurry of activity in regional newspapers and even prompted two written questions in parliament. The Trojan Horse affair relating to Islamic schools spilled over to ACE, as we apparently are the potential Christian ‘Extremists’.
Taking advantage of this has been a former disaffected student who spent less than three years in an ACE school fifteen years ago and has openly campaigned in a continuing vendetta against what he considers “fundamentalist and damaging educational practice.” This opposition, both derogatory and inflammatory and birthed in childhood difficulties, appears to be the motivation for his thesis against ACE. May we all heed what the scriptures say in Hebrews 12:15:
“… looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many are defiled.”
Because now there is involvement and comment from the British Humanist Association and the TUC LGBT conference, we believe it is the time to tell you, our customers, what actions we are taking. We have previously felt it best to get on with the job and not be distracted, but now the level of misinformation has called for some actions.
We examine ourselves, our hearts and actions to see if there are things to rectify. As there is a demand for a public apology from me, the founder of CEE, on the internet, let me say I have nothing to apologise for in distributing this amazing curriculum with its emphasis on godly character. I replied privately to this gentleman’s request over two years ago.
So here are some of the things we are doing and we need prayer for each of them:
- We are preparing DVD presentations of student outcomes by both school and home-school students. Here the results will speak for themselves.
- We have already commenced looking for problem facts or ambiguities in the PACEs that may best be changed. With over 2000 work books it is so wonderful that there have been very few queries.
- Nigel Steele and I have already contacted and visited other organisations including Christian Concern and C.M.I. and the Family Education Trust. We are seeking advice on how to proceed with the media realm and the political networks. This week Thursday, 17th July, some of us are meeting a member of the House of Lords and a Christian lawyer. We have already had time with Paul Diamond, a Christian barrister.
- We will be sending suggested letters and approaches that you may find helpful if you are engaging with the media. At the moment, if you have a press enquiry we suggest that you ask for the question in writing and you respond in writing.
- Over the summer thought will be given to website apologetics for our cause and a regular blog that I will involve in.
- In our best ever attended Home-school Conference at Cefn Lea last week, parents raised the value of a day of prayer and fasting and Thursday 17th July was suggested.
- Next week a televised debate will take place on Revelation T V with a humanist leader. Pray for me as I am proposing that “God is not Dead.”
Yours by his grace,
Education and Training Manager
In response, I sent the following email to Arthur Roderick:
Your email to the schools about the recent ACE media coverage has been forwarded to me. Just to say that if there are any instances where I have relied on factual inaccuracies in my criticism of ACE, feel free to make me aware of them. I will be glad to rectify any misinformation.
Further, if any of my quotations from the PACEs are, in your view, taken out of context, please feel free to point these out and (if it is not obvious) explain how the added context refutes my understanding of the material.
Then I realised I’d forgotten something. I recently had an exchange on Twitter with Premier Christian Radio’s Justin Brierley, and he showed an interest in hosting a debate between me and Arthur (or some other CEE representative):
So I emailed Arthur again:
Sorry, there was something else I meant to mention in my previous email.
I’m aware that recent media coverage has been biased in favour of the anti-ACE viewpoint. Critics of ACE have been given more column inches and airtime than proponents, and critics have usually set the agenda. On Premier Christian Radio, there is a programme called Unbelievable, hosted by Justin Brierley, which specialises in debates. Justin has already expressed interest in having me on air to debate ACE. This is a show with a predominantly Christian audience, with a Christian host, on a Christian network.
I invite you (or anyone you nominate), to debate me on ACE. We could make sure the debate question is framed in such a way that the pro-ACE motion does not begin on the back foot. There would be time to explain and explore ACE in detail, and for you to rebut any claims I make. This seems the fairest and best way to have this conversation. What do you say?
All the best,
Arthur’s reply, predictably, did not address my first email at all, but it did say:
No, I would not entertain the idea of a debate with you because of your inappropriate and false representations about people and your vendetta.
This does not make any sense. If I have made false representations about people, and if I have a vendetta, a public debate would be the best way to expose me. If I am lying, it would be easy to destroy me in a debate. I emailed Arthur, again requesting that he detail any false representations I’ve made and correct them. This has not to date received a reply. I’ve repeated my request for a debate to CEE’s Greg Hibbins, and I await the response.
- An open letter to Christian Education Europe
- Christian Education Europe responds!
- Christian educators respond to criticism