I told you I’ve been overrun with good guest posts lately. Here’s the latest, anonymously submitted, survivor story from an ex-Accelerated Christian Education student. Usual thing: depressing reading, but an impressive story of redemption. I’m often struck by how upside-down I had everything when I was a fundamentalist. I thought the only happiness was in fundamentalism. That’s ironic.
Anyway, this is one of my favourite guest posts ever, so please identify yourself, anonymous author! This post successfully sums up all the themes we’ve seen cropping up across the guest posts. And, you’ll note, it’s not written by an atheist. Taking up arms against ACE is not an attack on Christianity. ACE is as antithetical to the message of Christ as it is to reason.
Let me preface this by saying that I am aware that not all A.C.E. schools are run the same way, and each has its own agenda. It is not fair of me to assume the intent of any schools administrators that I have no knowledge of, BUT, I feel a responsibility to speak up if I can prevent a parent from making a disastrous decision in the name of “protecting” their child from the world they will eventually have to live in anyways. The way I see it you can shape and mold a child’s mind to your way of thinking, but if you fail to capture their heart, you have lost them anyways. Parents, if you love your kids, please consider respecting who God made them to be by allowing their lives to develop naturally. Keep your eyes open and don’t give in to fear. Locking you kids in a box of pointless rules will not mold their character, it will crush it. True morality does the right thing even when no one is watching.
I have sooo many regrets in regard to the years I spent at the stifling, mind-numbing, twisted and hypocritical A.C.E. school I was forced to go to, and my parents paid for it,Crazy! Like many others; the ridiculous rules and dogmas damaged my psychosis in ways I am still trying to unravel. It took me years to be able to function in a healthy way in social settings. I can hold my own but, some things that are normal for most do not come naturally for me. I will never experience or comprehend common milestones.
Ah, where to start. I don’t want to reiterate what many others have said since I have wasted enough time on dealing with issues stemming from A.C.E.s influence on my impressionable young mind. There is a common theme with the extreme dress code, consensual home invasion,(getting parents to gang up on you instead of support you) endless fire and brimstone chapels, severe corporal punishment and a general disgust for the arts , to name a few. Please understand, the curriculum, as bad as it was is not even the worst part. I think the spirit crushing is the most damaging. When you take a kid whose natural curiosity creates a desire to learn, and then you squelch it by basically teaching them not to question anything, you take away their thirst for knowledge. At schools like the one I attended everything becomes an exercise in frustration. At my school there was no joy, no teacher, no answers, and no escape. Couple that with no talking, no p.e., no art, no music, drama or dancing(it invited demon possession they said). Basically no thinking allowed, only regurgitation. New Hope they called it, NOT. My experience from 3rd-9th grade was isolation indoctrination at best. School is much more than academics. For most of us it is where we learn how to get along in the world.
My school was so small that there was an average of 30 or so kids in K-12th, all in the same room. There was only 4 girls in my class including me. Its pretty hard to choose your friends wisely when there is such a small selection. 1 girl disappeared when her dad was revealed as one of the resident pedophiles who also ran a day care. The other became a druggie and my 1 “normal” friend got the hell outta there. Her mom retained her brain; thank God ! Me, I became the vulnerable, regular child molestation victim of one of the older boys that attended there. His Dad was a police officer and a deacon at our church, he was a freak as well. I was born talented, ambitious and feisty. I loved music, but it was forbidden. I loved fashion, we had to wear solid red white or navy dresses in the snow. My brother and I were paddled for not “worshiping” properly in chapel (raising hands,tongues etc…) After awhile I lost my voice, and the cubbyholes would not have contained my screams, not that I thought anyone would listen anyways. I stopped trying or caring. When you are raised in what feels like hell, you begin to think it is normal.
How is it the evil idiots who ran the “school” thought that they knew me better than my Creator is beyond me. Us students were made to believe that somehow the God that created us as individuals made a mistake if we didn’t fit the mold. They thought that somehow they, as uneducated judgemental extremist’s had some responsibility to decide who we were supposed to be. God gave us a brain so that we could use it, not turn it off. The Creator of the universe would have made robots with no free will if that is what he wanted. There is no glory in people following you because they have no choice. I don’t care who you are, if you say you believe something but don’t know why, then you never owned that ideal in the first place.The theory behind A.C.E. is about power and control, not God or Love. Sadly some of those who adhere to this doctrine aren’t aware of the damage they cause. As far as I’m concerned they are deceivers who give God a bad name.The irony of it all is that so many of the things that went on are actually not biblical at all. Oh sure, you can pick some of Gods words and take them out of context, then turn them around to suit your needs. That is not truth. when God says he will take you under his wing, that doesn’t mean he’s a chicken. In fact Jesus (or god incarnate) I’m sure is outraged that he is being so misrepresented. Just like he was at the pharisees for pointing out the splinter in someones eye when they had a log in their own. In fact even Satan himself used words from the Bible to try and deceive/tempt Jesus. The strategy is to use an ounce of truth to sell a pound of lies. Sorry, i am trying to keep the rampage under control but there is much anger and despair even 30 years later, which is not typical of this otherwise compassionate mother of 5 wonderfully well adjusted kids who bless others.
Schools that are run like this, A.C.E. or not, are not a safe haven for your precious little ones. They are a breeding ground for sickos. They breed fear into impressionable young minds. It’s not O.K.. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind..
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