This post is directed at regular readers of Leaving Fundamentalism. If that’s not you, you probably won’t be interested, although you’re welcome to give your input. I haven’t known what to blog about lately, and I’d like your thoughts.
There are a few reasons besides burnout from my PhD that have discouraged me from blogging lately:
It sucks that I’ve put so much effort into becoming a recognised expert at a time when public trust in experts is at an all-time low.
There is still much more that I know about ACE that I haven’t written anywhere, even in my thesis. But does anyone really care? It seems as though the evidence and survivor stories I’ve published so far should be enough to change anyone’s mind, assuming their mind is open to being swayed. So at this point I’m flogging a dead horse for anyone who cares. I expect my readers would get bored of reading about ACE all the time.
It also felt ridiculous to be talking only about ACE at a time when there is so much that seems politically disastrous happening in the world. When Vice published its exposé of homophobia in ACE schools on the day of the 2016 US Presidential election, that seemed to encapsulate everything. I’d known about that story for about 18 months prior to its publication—no newspaper would touch it—and then it finally came out and no one even noticed because the whole world was in the shadow of Trump. And that’s understandable. Why would you worry about a few hundred kids in homophobic schools when the most powerful man in the world just got elected on a platform of xenophobia and taking away people’s healthcare?
At least part of my argument against ACE has been based on the implicit premise that parents can get a better education for free anywhere else. And that’s still true in most places—public education would have to be dire before ACE became preferable. But with Betsy DeVos taking the reins in the US and successive Conservative education ministers giving British state schools a kicking, rescuing the common school looks like a more pressing issue.Of course I have opinions about Donald Trump, Theresa May, and Brexit, but I don’t see why strangers on the Internet would want to read them.
All of which leaves this blog somewhat lacking in purpose.
What I’ve realised from doing my PhD is that while ACE is particularly—perhaps uniquely—awful, it’s not the ACE curriculum itself that is the primary problem. What screws people up is being brought up within a stifling, authoritarian, irrational religious environment. When that environment extends to your school as well, the problems are magnified because there’s no escape, and the indoctrination becomes much more intense. With ACE, that’s compounded by the fact that the education is academically lacking as well, so children emerge into the world with all kinds of issues and restricted prospects for education and employment. But when you talk to the ex-students, they don’t talk about the PACEs. They don’t really remember them.
As a result, there is every reason to think that conservative religious schools more widely can give their students many of the same problems as ACE. I therefore think that it’s been a mistake to blog so narrowly about ACE. I don’t regret focusing on ACE for the PhD—doctorates have to be very specialised. But the real issues are authoritarianism, fundamentalism, dogmatism, sexism, homophobia, racism, education which discourages critical thought, and irrationality. The fight needs to be broadened out to cover those things. It’s just that I don’t know about those things outside of ACE, and four years of PhD has made my knowledge more specialised, not less.
There have been many times in the last few years where I felt utterly alone in writing about ACE, and I would have given anything for someone else to take up the cause. So one thing I’d like to do is use this platform to promote other people’s campaigns. If you have a campaign that isn’t getting traction, please let me know about it. I have cultivated an audience who care about such things, and I’ll amplify it.
Beyond that, I don’t know what this blog is for anymore. Readers, you tell me. What would you like to read here?