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Monday, 13 June 2016

MY TIME TEACHING IN A FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

From a Focus Learning Trust (Hales Exclusive Brethren/PBCC) teacher:
https://faithschoolersanonymous.uk/2016/06/exclusive-brethren/

“It did not take long for me to realise that this group of people were very different from those of mainstream religions, and to witness the damaging impact they have on young people.”

2016 06 07 LW v1 Exclusive Brethren 2My time working for the Exclusive Brethren (EB) ended in complete disaster, although it had not always been that way.

The Brethren school I worked for was a secondary school of around 32 pupils.  When I applied for the position as a Science teacher I had never heard of the EB before, but I am not biased as a person, and believe people should live how they wish even though it may be different to myself. As a humanist – I have many friends who do have faith of various sorts.  However, it did not take long for me to realise that this group of people were very different from those of mainstream religions, and to witness the damaging impact they have on young people.

Not everything about the school was negative – the fact that pupils did not have televisions, radios, computers, internet, newspapers, and many books meant that they seemed generally more sociable with each other than pupils I had taught at mainstream schools.  They were more alert and less likely to become distracted during class, and had good social skills (amongst themselves).  They were also generally very polite, almost too polite, thanking teachers after the end of each lesson, and respectful of everyone involved in the school – on the surface anyway.  There were many gifted and talented pupils for whom I felt most sorry for, since their future was to be tied up within Brethren businesses, whether they liked it or not. University education is strictly discouraged.

In my contract, I was issued with a set of rules for the classroom, including disallowing conversations regarding further and higher education.  All media that was used (clips saved on discs) had to go through the screening process first, and edited if necessary to remove anything which may go against their way of life / the bible.

Most importantly, for me, was the fact that evolution was never to be discussed (I taught all three sciences, and Evolution happened to be an entire unit, so this presented many difficulties!).  I soon learned that even the textbooks in the classrooms had had large amounts of material removed; for Biology there was nothing on reproduction and hormones, evolution, adaptation, infertility. For Chemistry there was nothing on radiocarbon dating techniques (I was told to teach that these were all flawed if asked), or the age of different types of rocks. For Physics there was nothing on the Big Bang / beginnings of the universe, red shift, doppler effect, etc etc…..the list when on and on.

2016 06 07 LW v1 Exclusive Brethren 1There was so much removed from the course, that I had to secretly provide pupils with information in order to pass exams – and pupils were generally accepting of this, as they too wanted to pass, and agreed not to tell their parents (a huge burden).  On confronting the people running these schools, I was told that parents would generally prefer pupils to fail science rather than have access to the information.  This obviously was hugely difficult, as at the same time “Focus Education Trust” were constantly aiming to increase the achievement of pupils in examinations.

Computer use was also highly restricted (they are called Wordex machines in Brethren schools), so much so that, in order for pupils to do the research required for science coursework, I had to print things at home, and give them out to pupils to select what they would use, all without the Trustees of the school or parents finding out.

The attitude of pupils was what I found most shocking after some time.  It became obvious that they (due to their confined living arrangements) were outwardly extremely racist, and homophobic, and due to the fact that they considered animals (other than humans – although to a Brethren pupil a human is not a member of the Animal Kingdom) had no souls, they abused them on a regular basis.  Brethren do not keep pets, but were very willing to share their experiences of torturing various different animals from birds to rodents, to chickens and cats, to the degree that I decided to invite the Scottish animal welfare charity SPCA into school to give a talk on the penalties involved in animal cruelty.  I introduced a gerbilarium into the science lab, which helped some students to eventually realise that other species were not useless, as they enjoyed handling these animals at any given opportunity, and were left puzzled at why they felt they bonded so much with beings that were soul-less. It was a very confusing experience for them, but one which I hoped would help to teach them respect for other species at least.  I also learned from discussions with them about animals or people different to themselves, that they had very little knowledge of the terms “ethics and morals”, and were even suspicious of them!  I found this astounding especially from 17 / 18yr old pupils.

I also took pupils on field trips.  These were always an experience to plan for, as being in a river, or climbing a hill, or working in rock pools are not easy when wearing a long skirt!! All girls were forbidden from wearing trousers, even out in the field, as were staff. It’s a very strange feeling standing in a river wearing a skirt and wellies (!).  It was obvious from their behaviour in the field that they had a very controlled life outside of school, so I organised as many trips as I could.

Another aspect of taking pupils outside of school on trips (or even into the playground for that matter) was that they must not eat with those outside of the Brethren – therefore I often found myself having to abandon my pupils on the top of a mountain, or on the beach, simply so that they could eat.  If for any reason I could not leave them alone due to health and safety, they refused to eat. Eating with outsiders is considered sinful, and brings disciplinary action, which pupils were obviously terrified of (if they eat in the presence of non-Brethren they will be considered unclean – a lot of the “rules” were originally taken from the Old Testament, although then changed to suit the Sect itself).

I often felt sorry for pupils leaving school, as they seemed to love it so much (an escape from their normal lives, where church is an everyday activity).  Outside of school, students would be up for church at 6am every morning, then on most weekdays there would be services after school, and the whole of Sunday consisted of multiple services, which meant pupils were exhausted coming back to school on Mondays, and usually had failed to complete any homework.  It was very obvious that schooling was very low on the priorities for the Brethren.  It was also quite clear that many of the older pupils (14 upwards) had been indulging in alcohol over the weekend; which the Brethren are well known for – with babies as young as 18 months old now having their first communion, with wine, and from then on every morning, very young children were being accustomed to the consumption of alcohol.

On leaving school, girls are generally expected to marry by the age of 21, and until then help out in businesses, but never holding a position higher than a man.  In church too women are to sit behind the men, and never to speak.  After marriage the girls are not to work at all.  Many have large families seemingly to compensate for this.  Those with learning difficulties are often the worst off, as they usually will never marry, and are treated as second class citizens and often mocked for their disabilities.

2016 06 07 LW v1 Exclusive Brethren 3Any pupils who were intrigued into life outside of the Brethren (they would ask endless questions in class, and teachers were “supposed” to not allow such conversations) were clearly frustrated about where exactly they fitted in / didn’t fit in, but due to the extreme level of control by the church, there was so much fear, that even those tempted, would find it too much.  On leaving they would lose everything.  All contact with family and friends, and be thrown into a world which they had been taught since birth was evil, and full of evil people, and that they would go to hell.

Pupils were absolutely terrified of the prospect of “hell”, so this was obviously used to control unruly behaviour outside of school.  The level of control has increased so much (as opposed to some other faiths where it has lessened) over the years, that there are now very few willing to attempt to leave, due to so much fear, whereas in the past quite a few families left the church.  As each new leader came into power, more and more control was exerted on the Brethren (the flock as they are known), until they can no longer even think for themselves (and if they do – this is condemned; again making teaching very difficult).

There is so much more information I can provide on working with this group of people, and their schooling, so I will try to provide more, and also about my personal experience with them that resulted in me leaving in the end.

Anonymous

28 comments:

  1. Pupils were absolutely terrified of the prospect of “hell”, so this was obviously used to control unruly behaviour outside of school.

    This is one of the saddest things I have read for a long time. these young people growing in a supposed "Christian" environment yet with no faith; no joy; no assurance; no peace.

    Exactly WHAT actual Christian doctrine is really taught among them? They used to be evangelical and preached the gospel of salvation in Christ, but it does not appear to be so any more. Sad, sad, sad.

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  2. This is a fascinating account. It highlights the impossibility of Brethren children receiving a normal education like every other child in the world - because of the extreme and misguided beliefs of their parent's religion. This 'normality' that the PBCC are at pains to use as a catchcry in every aspect of their daily lives these days, is anything but normal.

    How do you teach children about history and geography, biology or science when they believe that man has only been on this earth for about 6000 years. Archaeology immediately disproves this view.
    And at the end of it - as this teacher points out - what is the point of giving them a sound education anyway - given that women are not allowed to work after marriage and most if not all, must end up working for Brethren run businesses anyway. They are just going through the motions.

    Mind you - this sort of information censorship is not new. I remember as a small boy in the 60's, being given a curriculum novel to study in about year 10. Now hugely famous - it had only then recently won the Pulitzer Prize for its author- Harper Lee. Trouble was, my parents had been through it and crossed out any reference within it to anything that might upset their Brethren beliefs. As this book was based a black man being accused of the rape of a white woman, with this all removed, I had no clue as to what the whole thing was about apart from being a nice southern story. It was only after the exams - and the movie, that I suddenly realised what I had been forced to miss. The whole raison d'être of the book.

    This was always going to be a problem with the Brethren running their own schools to stop the supposed contamination of their young. They can ban universities- which they do - but you cannot ban primary and secondary education. It's compulsory. Which is why they pushed on to establish their own the world over, along with their own jaundiced curriculum. Given the millions they receive in taxpayer funds - it was no great strain on their own finances. But the end result is a large number of children receiving a highly sanitised, heavily edited syllabus which is nothing like normal school education. Well that is not quite true. The Muslims for example also teach their children what they want them to believe. Including all the awful bits. So a precedence had been set.

    I am frankly amazed that there have not been more worldly teachers who have stood up as this one has, and stated what really goes on. The question is - how long will Educational bodies put up with the massive discrepancy. When will it be illegal to stop children from going to university of their own free will? Or from learning a full curriculum which is followed by every school in the free world.

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    1. Anonymous14 June 2016 at 02:41 the education bodies are aware that a large can of worms will open up once they decide to start dealing with this problem.Other groups could soon be put under the spotlight as well

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  3. As neighbours of a family in this group of Exclusive Brethren we became aware of changes in their school education arrangements over the years. In the mid eighties the children/young people were educated in normal state schools, but later on the last child in the family was at first educated at home by his mother and subsequently, when an Exclusive Brethren school was established locally, he was collected in a car containing other Brethren pupils and driven to and from school each day.

    I didn’t know in the eighties and nineties that John Hales, the leader of this group of Exclusive Brethren and father of Bruce D Hales, had said that he was opposed to excellence in school education and in particular he didn’t want boys to excel at school. (I’m sorry, I don’t have the ministry references to hand.) If our Exclusive Brethren neighbours knew this ministry it must have been very hard for the parents and their children/young people to negotiate the requirements and practices of the compulsory educational system in England.

    As a teacher myself, and someone who had been taught by two graduate Taylorite Exclusive Brethren teachers in a state grammar school in the 1950s (before James Taylor Jnr became leader of this group of Exclusive Brethren), I worry a lot about the limited educational opportunities within the PBCC/Exclusive Brethren, not just for children and young people of school age, but also for the young and older adults among them who might like to study history, languages, science and so on, but are prevented from doing so because of their allegiance to the Brethren.

    The education deficit imposed on its members by the PBCC may go some way to explain their ignorance and bigotry. It would be excellent to read one day that Bruce D Hales had moved on from his father’s ministry and given brethren the freedom to pursue, and excel in, whatever field of life-long learning interested them.

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  4. I suspect that more teachers do not speak out about what is going on because of the consequences - losing their job for starters, legal action taken against them or at least harassment. Some have spoken out in the past after leaving their posts, but not as bravely as this teacher has.
    I know who wrote this article - so I will be anonymous for this post.
    "Matthew"

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    1. Many would love to speak out certainly but are gagged by the terms of their contracts or by the terms of compromise agreements that the brethren strong arm them into when they decide they are no longer useful, or more often than not, cutting costs.

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    2. There is a section in the contract stating that the employee is forbidden from talking negatively about their employers even after their contract ends. But I learned that this was not actually legal.

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  5. The survival of Exclusive Brethrenism in its present oppressive and abusive form is utterly dependent on ignorance.

    Its followers have to keep believing at least six impossible things before breakfast. They have to believe that their leaders past and present are virtually infallible, that their current leader has a sort of divine right to dictate what they do, that they have a moral obligation to obey his every whim without question, and that their church has a unique ecclesiastical rectitude and a uniquely privileged insight into divine truth.

    All of these beliefs are as far from the truth as they could possibly be, and this would become glaringly obvious to any member that was allowed to think for himself or study these beliefs objectively and analytically.

    That is why the leaders try to prevent the young members from learning any of a million and one hard, well established facts that would contradict and undermine the teachings of several past and present leaders. Almost any subject of academic study, if pursued in sufficient depth, would expose the falsehood and immorality of Exclusive Brethren teachings.

    There is a bit of good news in all of this. The good news is that a cure for the evils of Exclusive Brethrenism does exist. It is called unrestricted access to reliable, objective information. It is a basic human right universally recognised and spelled out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The bad news is that it is difficult to deliver it through an iron curtain of deception and pretence. Until governments or legislatures tackle the problem of these unacceptable restrictions on the Brethren children, there is not much that an ordinary concerned citizen can do about it.

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    1. Ian, Dark ignorance has come into your mind and heart.
      There is no question as to EB survival. What God has taken-up, cannot ever fail or grow dim.

      Secondly, why do you want children to access evil and false knowledge?
      Lastly,the only restrictions needed, is for evil itself to be restrained and kept out of the believers houshold.

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    2. I suppose the EB will survive in some form or another; our liberal society allows for the existence of fringe and even extreme groups. Conversely, if society was governed by the EB (do not hold that thought for too long) fringe groups would, no doubt, have a tough time.

      I am not sure where God comes into it (in Peeb speak).There is no evidence that He or She is involved with the EB.

      AA

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    3. To suggest that God is in favour of Exclusive Brethrenism is about as blasphemous as saying he was in favour of nuclear warfare.

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  6. 'Brethren do not keep pets, but were very willing to share their experiences of torturing various different animals from birds to rodents, to chickens and cats'

    True to form, the cowardly PBCC pick on those unable to retaliate. This heartless attitude is born of a lifetime of separation from people with decent morals.

    Even when they are responsible for the death of other humans they show no remorse. Why take responsibility for your actions when you are told that others will do your thinking for you?

    The descent into dishonesty and downright criminality is staggering in it's speed. It really hurts to see family heading this way.

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  7. Focus schools suit the beliefs and general needs of its students to compete on a level playing field. Most students go on to secure stable jobs, buy detached houses and get married. By any standard, this is a great achievement. Academia for its own sake proves nothing.
    We have to remember, no school or organisation is flawless in performance, so let's give credit where credit is due. We can't blame them for deciding to
    open their own schools in recent years. I personally like the idea that children can be children, without being exposed or subjected to the worst of the stuff that goes on out here. There has been a noticeable hardening against Christian values, especially in the UK, so this is likely the main reason why the PBCC were compelled to take action to protect their families.
    Furthermore, lots of Christian parents and other faith groups choose to educate their children independently to ensure they are protected from wrong teaching.
    There is a very worrying decline in Christianity and traditional family life particularly in the UK which needs addressing before it's too late.
    Thankfully, there is still a remnant of Christian conscience within government, but for how much longer?

    Let's support these people and work together to bring back Christian values in our schools and institutions.

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    1. Students are only equipped to compete with others who were also educated in the same manner. The students do not have beliefs, they are told what to believe, and the schools cannot meet the general needs of such students. Buying detached houses is not evidence of students receiving well balanced education. Academia is not there for "its own sake" - it is there to equip students with the ability to think for themselves. Credit was given in the article above, for this particular school. The PBCC were compelled to take action since home schooling was no longer adequate. Yes, there are several different categories of Faith school, hence the website where the article came from, Brethen only being one such category. What do you mean by "wrong teaching" ? State Schools suffering from inadequate teaching are dealt with by the Government. Support these people to imprison hundreds more innocent children?

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  8. ' Most students go on to secure stable jobs, buy detached houses and get married'

    What exactly has buying a detached house got to do with being Christian? Did Jesus own a house of any kind? Even the great apostle Paul only had a hired lodging. Acts 28:30

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    1. Now there's a thought...Exclusive Brethren pupils working in stables. It might be a healthy way of life, but in view of the poor relationship that these people have with animals, I do not think it fair to saddle the poor horses with such lack of empathy and care.

      Zara Phillips

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  9. Goodness gracious me anonymous 15th June 11;48 - you know that Jesus was born in a detached stable and that it had a separate sewer. God doesn't get a look in any more Anon. It's the Almighty Hales now. And he's got a detached house! Unyoked from the world.

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  10. 11:48 Who has said you must own a detached house to be a Christian?
    You have avoided the point Anon made about the reasons and benefits of educating children in a right way.
    There can be no shadow of doubt, God has seen fit to protect those kids from the relentless decline in moral standards found in so many institutions in the UK and elsewhere. So unless you have anything positive or intelligent to say, put a sock in it.

    JC

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    1. Why do weasel-worded PBCC twist EVERYTHING?

      The question 'What has having a detached house got to do with being a Christian'? Is nowhere near saying 'you must own a detached house to be a Christian'.

      Peter Trivial

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  11. JC 12.35

    Decline in moral standards? It seems that it is only the thin blue/red line of *worldly* teachers who are maintaining moral standards in Exclusive Brethren students by trying to show them that animal abuse is wrong (and also criminal) and that homophobia, rascism and other bigotry should not be condoned. After all, Hitler and his Nazis were very prejudiced concerning race, homosexuals, gypsies and so on. Of course, there were closet homosexuals in the Nazi movement, as indeed, there may be in the Exclusive Brethren).

    The *moral standards* of which you are so proud can generally only be found among misfits and those who have grown up under the influence of extreme indoctrination.

    Alcoholism is institutionalised within The Exclusive Brethren (PBCC) it is reported that pupils come to school with hangovers; now that's a fine moral standard! I doubt whether the average school class contains pupils who almost all live in heavily drinking families and where they are also encouraged to drink from an early age. Would it surprise you to know that *normal* folk don't drink every day, every week, or even at all?

    Only recently, there has been even more news concerning tragic road fatalities, involving the Exlusive Brethren, to which reckless driving and drinkng may have been a contributory factor.There have been references to avoidance of responsibility and blame by leaving the accident scene.In another case, the hiring of expensive lawyers to prove some obscure medical condition.. The Exclusive Brethren (PBCC) organisation does not have integral moral standards, this is why it has to resort to the best argument, that tax payers' money can buy, in an attempt to prove a case to their advantage.

    Finally, to return to your opening gambit, concerning who said what regarding detached houses and Christianity, I believe that detached houses came into vogue, as did alcoholism, from former leader James Taylor Jnr onwards. It was one of the perverted ways Exclusive Brethren could show off their pseudo Christianity, through separation. The doctrine of the *great men* (in girth rather than mental stature) from that time has been that Christianity is only to be found in the Exclusive assembly. As Bruce Hales, great sales supremo, has said - you cannot leave the Brethren (by implication, also a detached house) and still claim Christianity.

    John Walker



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  12. God hasn't see fit do anything. The brethren established their schools to try and cloister their children from "worldly" kids and to stop them learning anything not approved by the peeb hierarchy. The decline in moral standards so complained about sounds to me just like any old Daily Mail reader whinging about how much better things were in the past.
    Why God should be blamed rather than the deluded parents I'm not sure.
    I'm so thankful that in my time in the brethren I was at least able to attend a normal school. Education should be about imparting knowledge not ensuring your children are as repressed and narrow-minded as you.

    Ricardo

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    1. Dear Anonymous 15 June 2016 at 10.37,

      I was most interested in your contribution and would like to respond to two of the points you made.

      First, of course academic success and intellectual achievement aren’t the only virtues, but it is part of the Christian way that we should love God with our mind, as well as our heart, soul and strength. I probably feel strongly about this because I was well taught by two Taylorite Exclusive Brethren teachers in my adolescence. They had high standards in the classroom and I’ve built on that - “Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem testa diu.” (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 BC, Poet Laureate to Augustus Caius Octavianus.)

      Christians are indebted to the many scribes and scholars who for three millennia have written, preserved, transcribed and translated the biblical documents. I’m often puzzled, therefore, that the PBCC gives the impression that intellectual inquiry and achievement aren’t valued in their fellowship. A distinguished exception to this has been the UK ‘brother’ from Lancaster, Peter Trevvett, who has published a book on the apostle Paul’s journeys. Peter was in contact with me for a while because he was considering writing a book on the transmission of the Bible and, as I’ve studied this subject a bit, I was able - at his request - to send him material that might be useful in such a huge undertaking. I wish him well with it.

      Second, it concerns me that people in this group of Exclusive Brethren often make reference to their detached houses. (People in other churches live in all kinds of housing.) For forty-eight years we have lived in a tiny terraced house - probably you could have fitted three houses like ours into our Brethren neighbours’ detached house - but it hasn’t meant that we are disreputable or unstable. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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  13. An anonymous wrote "What God has taken-up, cannot ever fail or grow dim."

    That may be true, but where's the connection with the EB?

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  14. Horse feathers
    As with many of the topics on here, the authors tend to have over lively imaginations. I know of half a dozen teachers who think very highly of thr peeb schools and often comment on how nice the kids are.
    Joan, academia is most certainly not a virtue and moral intelligence goes way beyond the interlect of mankind.
    The holy spirit of God was over every word written in the bible. It's the inspired word of God and not from the mind of man, which is of the natural.
    The mind of man is defective and works against the truth. It is linked with the spirit of this world and the Man of sin who is shortly going to emerge on this scene and deceive many.

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  15. Being the apparent "inspired word of God" does not mean that it is right. People brought up outside the EB do develop imaginations, as they are constricted and told what to believe, and this is healthy. Half a dozen teachers......thats 6? DO you consider this a representative sample ?! On reading the article above, the author has commented on how nice the kids are and given credit where due, so I do not understand the above comment at all.

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  16. "moral intelligence goes way beyond the INTERLECT of mankind"

    LOL! Oh the irony of it. Fuckwit.

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    1. To Anon F........t
      Hey You are not allowed use swear words in public
      or before the Lord thy God.
      In any case, it conveys a lack of respect and intelligence.

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  17. Yes Moral intelligence is a product of mankind; there is very little in the way of morals taught by organised religion; more intolerance. I.e. for one there is no "doctrine of Separation" amongst those with no religion at all, or even most other religious groups; this is only one aspect of intolerance taught by this sect....

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