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10 Frightening Things That Happen at Conservative Christian Schools That May Be Funded With Your Tax Dollars

Inflammatory anti-choice propaganda? Lies about sexuality? We need to keep in mind what goes on in many Christian schools when we discuss vouchers.

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Many Christian school teachers also create lesson plans based on the teachings of self-styled “historian” David Barton, who has wasted many, many articles on “anti-Shariah”  fear-mongering. At his own Web site, Wallbuilders, Barton waxes paranoid about what he calls President Obama’s “preferential treatment of Muslims and Muslim nations” and contrasts this with what he interprets as Obama’s “anti-Biblical” positions when, “In fact, there have been numerous clearly documented times when his pro-Islam positions have been the cause of his anti-Biblical actions.” Most of his backing “evidence” is pretty vague. For example, Barton alleges that, in August 2010, Obama spoke “with great praise of Islam and condescendingly of Christianity.”

5. Punishment by gender. Teachers in Christian schools sometimes stereotype boys as more rambunctious and rebellious than girls. In practice, this means that boys are often the targets of harsher corporal punishment. In 2007, a  Chicago school was sued for injury and surgical costs after a forcing a 14-year-old boy to kneel in place for nine days, causing a hip injury. A few years later, in 2011, a Christian school teacher in  Orlando was arrested on charges of beating a boy at her home with a rusted broom handle. 

Many Christian schools punish girls more harshly because of perceived sexual acting out. In 2009, a California appeals court upheld a Christian school’s decision to  expel two female students simply because administrators suspected they were involved in a same-sex relationship. Just last year, a  15-year-old girl was expelled from another California school for writing on Facebook that she was bisexual. Luke Jones tells AlterNet of an incident he remembers from high school, when a boy and girl were caught having sex in a school bathroom. The boy “got suspended for a little while but then came back,” but the girl was expelled for the remainder of the school year.

6. Pregnancy expulsions and firings. Punishing girls who have sex also extends to pregnancy. In recent years, some students have started  fighting back with lawsuits on the basis of “civil rights violations due to discrimination based on race, sex and pregnancy.” In 2009,  Arkansas parents sued their daughter’s Christian school when she was expelled for pregnancy. She said she had been treated like she had a “communicable disease.” (Ironically, the blowback girls get for out-of-wedlock pregnancies may end up encouraging abortion -- several sources report girls in their schools turning to abortion in order to remain in school.)

In some schools, it’s not just students who are punished for getting pregnant out of wedlock.  Cathy Samford was a 39-year-old teacher at a Christian school in Texas when she was fired for getting pregnant while in a long-term committed relationship. The school alleged that the award-winning teacher had violated its “morals clause.” A  New York preschool teacher sued her former school for the same treatment in 2005. The school’s justification? A school  handbook requiring every teacher to “convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words or actions.” There are no well-publicized cases of male teachers being fired for impregnating adult women.

7. Revisionist evangelical history classes. In conservative Christian schools, historical events are filtered through the literal Biblical creation story, and can be understood in the context of sin, redemption and “God’s plan” for the United States. On its own Web site, Bob Jones boasts that its US history curriculum includes “special attention…to God’s providence and America’s Christian heritage.” A Beka curriculum  opens with a full-on endorsement of theocracy, stating, “All governments are ordained by God, but none compare to government by God, theocracy.”From there, the curriculum pushes the false belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

The racist history of the United States is usually whitewashed or romanticized in Christian school curriculum. Writing for AlterNet Rachel Tabachnik highlighted the following in a Bob Jones text: “To help them endure the difficulties of slavery, God gave Christian slaves the ability to combine the African heritage of song with the dignity of Christian praise. Through the Negro spiritual, the slaves developed the patience to wait on the Lord and discovered that the truest freedom is from the bondage of sin.” Another A Beka textbook says, “A few slave holders were undeniably cruel. Examples of slaves beaten to death were not common, neither were they unknown. The majority of slave holders treated their slaves well.” Even the Klan gets whitewashed. A  Bob Jones textbook states that “the Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross to target bootleggers, wife beaters and immoral movies.”

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