For those of you that don’t know, Reddit is a link-sharing site which kind of doubles as a forum. One of the most popular forumy aspects is the AMA (Ask Me Anything). Users post a title such as: “I lived next door to Ian McKellan for twenty years. AMA.” Other redditors then post their questions, and the original poster (OP) replies. OPs have to supply proof of their identity to the moderators.
Reddit gets hundreds of thousands of hits per hour. The most popular posts make the front page, where they can be seen by millions.
On Monday, the following AMA hit the front page:
I am a person who from 9-15 years old attended a school that did not have any teachers, you were required to teach yourself every subject from books at your own pace, while sitting in cubicles all day with very little interaction with other students or extracurricular activities. AMA
Obviously, this was about Accelerated Christian Education. The original poster turned out to be far from the star of the show, however. She didn’t seem to have any strong opinions; she merely thought her education was an interesting oddity.
But other ACE survivors came out of the woodwork and it became packed with incredible stories. Interestingly, as I’ve found on this blog, there were very few people coming forward to defend ACE (admittedly, discussion on Reddit is dominated by liberals and atheists). You can obviously check out the entire AMA, but I’ll be posting highlights here over the next few weeks.
I’ll start with probably the most heartbreaking conversation of all.
Now before you read this: Please don’t contact the author. At the end of the conversation thread, he wrote (in response to a request that he write a book about his experience):
One day. It’s still a little too fresh. As it is I am seriously regretting what I wrote. Save your prayers for me Christians. I don’t need them. What I want is you to leave me alone.
So I’m not posting his username here with my quotes. Obviously, it would be extremely easy for you to find him and send him a message, but please respect his wishes.
Here’s the conversation:
[ACE survivor]: I went to an ACE school K-12. I’ve spent the last 15 years learning on my own what I should have learned as a child.
[Redditor]: My wife and I are in the same situation. ACE is NOT ACCEPTABLE PERIOD. It is a brainwashing tool to dumb kids down and teach them to be ignorant little Christians good for nothing except house wives and preacher boys. I’m 30 years old and I swear I still have nightmares from that school. The abuse those “teachers” (really just moms that didn’t want to be there) is unbelievable. I heard recently the school was being investigated by CFS but I don’t know if anything has come of it.
I need to write a book. It would probably help. Discapline with a paddle was the norm. Usually every Wednesday for me. 100% obedience was expected and enforced by crazy middle aged women that looking back straight up hated me. Any disobedience or even a sour look wound me up with a paddling.
If I got under 80% on a test we would have to re-do the entire book. Which is about 3 weeks of work. Studying was important but again, it was useless information, mostly creationism and christian doctrine. Absolutely zero secular education.
Every year we would have to memorize a book of the Bible and we were only allowed 3 mistakes. If you couldn’t do it kids would be forced to miss lunch breaks, recess and other events until they could get them perfect.
Dress code was dress pants and a dress shirt and tie and a belt. Girls were to wear a long skirt/dresses and blouse. We all looked like Amish kids.
Zero tolerance for any worldly (secular) music, books, media or anything of the such.Our parents wouldn’t allow us to visit anyone outside of the church as separation was enforced, which often included family members that were not members of out cult. This now includes my wife and I. We have been dis-communicated and our siblings and parents won’t talk to us as we are now children of the devil and so forth.
It gets worse and I could type all day, but thats what we grew up in. My wife graduated in 99 and myself in 2000 and I swear that everyone that finished that school are totally useless people now. They are 100% dependent on that church. Without it they would have no friends, no family and are so ignorant they can’t function outside of it. They barely can hold a job and have no life skills. Many of them that left have serious mental health and substance abuse problems just trying to cope day to day.
My wife and I are lucky. I managed to get past all of that and got a community college IT degree and got a good job and am doing better now. Its been a long road but I can thank my wife for standing by me and not giving in to the fear mongering and outright lies. She put our family first and we got through it and day by day things get better.
The only true education stopped at grade 6. By then you could add and subtract and read and write. After that it was 100% indoctrination.
[The school was] Canadian actually. And we do have laws to protect us here that are being broken every day. They are good at teaching that we should obey God rather then men and even kids won’t speak up. I know of one kid that did and he was kicked out of school and the Pastor had his parents kick him out of his home even. Didn’t take long at all for him to hit rock bottom and without family or friends to back him up 15 years later he is still a mess. He’ll never be the same. They made an example of him and other kids are scared. He is regularly brought up as a bad example to other parents and children to keep them in line. He was a good friend and I made amends with him, but the damage was done, I don’t know if he’ll ever get over it.
[It] took me a long time to use the “c” word. But yea, [it was] 100% cult.
[Another user] What happens if you retaliate to a teacher trying to paddle you?
[Redditor]: It doesn’t end well for you. One time in particular I remember literally being black and blue from my lower back to the back of my legs. To top it off my Dad tried to paddle me again when I got home. I was 16, and wouldn’t take it that time. I was 100% innocent of the charges but the Pastor’s wife thought my parents weren’t disciplining me enough and took it upon herself to teach me a lesson. There was grounding and the usual to go along with that one. I wasn’t going to let that one slide though. I made her work for it.
[Yet another user]: Agreed. I attended ACE school (Canada) until middle school started then was moved to a school with a regulated curriculum. I was damaged but not destroyed; I had friends that couldn’t read. ACE should be outlawed. IMO, the federal gov denies funding to ACE schools as a way of discouraging their use. That isn’t doing enough though as the families that rely on them to maintain religious indoctrination outside the home will pay whatever it takes to keep their kids enrolled. In conclusion there are bunch of illiterate and scientifically stunted kids out there on their way to missionary school right now because ACE doesn’t even net them a GED.
[Redditor]: In a nutshell, exactly. I think my stubbornness is the only thing that saved my bacon. I knew they were wrong and was regually beaten and punished for it. My parents even knew I was being mistreated but wouldn’t do a thing about it. I was lucky to find a local college that didn’t look very deep into my Grade 12 credentials and accepted me so I got an IT degree so I ended up with an ok job and I have worked hard to get where I am now. No one I know from that school has been so lucky.