Help #ExposeChristianSchools

There’s a new hashtag floating around Twitter, #ExposeChristianSchools, prompted in part I think because Mike Pence’s wife just landed a job at one of those disgracefully bigoted schools. It’s full of short stories about how these evangelical indoctrination centers teach ignorance, like this one:

How about #CloseChristianSchools?

I was spared, so I don’t have any tales to contribute. I had a relative who started his very own private “school” dedicated to vile regressive nonsense inspired by the John Birch Society, and with his own religious bent, and it always struck us as more an attempt to isolate his daughters from liberals and brown-skinned people. My family wouldn’t have even considered for a second the idea of sending their kids to such a hellhole.


  1. lanir says

    I don’t have a twitter account. Might’ve been useful on occasion but social media companies are slime pits. So this is the worst/weirdest/stupidest thing that happened to me in xtian schools (in a short format, it’s a lengthy tale and the details make it even more ridiculous):

    Their calendar screwup + misinformation about scholastic award eligibility = me on probation all year for trying to take SAT.

    Was repeatedly assured that if I just took responsibility for their screwups they would punish me and get it over with. Teaching moments…

  2. simonhadley says

    I came up in a public school system in the 80’s, Midlothian, TX. It was (and probably still is) very conservative. While they didn’t have any explicit christian indoctrination they did go out of their way to whitewash virtually everything in the curriculum to avoid even a hint of controversy. In history we never studied the American revolution, civil war, civil rights movement or any of the gritty stuff. In 10th grade the world history teacher (a coach) spent six weeks on the Vietnam war and not once did we get into the reasons why we were there or that there were protests against it back home. In freshman biology someone asked the teacher (another coach) if we’d cover evolution and his response was, “I’m not even gonna touch that one.” At that age I literally had no clue what evolution was. There was no sexual education or even a hint of anatomy and yes, we had a LOT of pregnant students. The so called health class consisted of a semester of watching anti-drug videos such as 48 Hours on Crack Street, episodes of 21 Jump Street (I’m not kidding) and hearing a lot about washing our hands. Then there were the guest speakers, mostly overt Christians and they were allowed to preach their bullshit all they wanted. I figure we got six or seven of them per year.

    I guess my point here is that they don’t have to indoctrinate with their religious poison to be a christian school. They just have to numb the brain enough and let the churches do that part.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    If it hasn’t appeared already, I’m sure the Bible-humpers and Liberal Christians will counter with #NotAllChristianSchool.

  4. Sean Boyd says

    I told @jack to piss off some time ago, so no tweeting here, either.

    My brother went to a Xtian school for a few years. I was an unofficial TA for part of that time, although I was already starting to question the whole religion thing (but quietly, oh so quietly.) Never attended a Xtian school myself. As for public schools, I went to 13 different ones, but (fortunately) only one high school, where I had a very similar experience to @2 simonhadley. I never heard the word ‘evolution’ mentioned once in my freshman biology class. World history in my sophomore year saw my teacher (also the boy’s basketball coach, so well liked by most) asking how God could have allowed the Holocaust, but not in a “well, there must be no God” way, but more of a “his plan is ineffable” sort of way. Junior year was physics, in which the physics teacher told us, quite explicitly, that he wasn’t allowed to talk about God, but “suppose there is a…supreme being…” before diving into his “God”-talk. All three of the teachers mentioned were Mormon…the small town where I went to high school (Cave Junction, Oregon, if anyone’s heard of it…wish I hadn’t) had (has?) a very…robust Mormon community. Then there was the football coach/PE teacher, advisor to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club, which was the largest club on campus, IIRC…probably 50 members in a school that had fewer than 400 students. His claim to fame was that he’d played football at Montana, was in his mid 20’s, and that lots of rumors swirled around him regarding the young women at my school. (Last I heard, he was a truck driver…guess the teaching thing didn’t work out.)

    Of course, from my point of view at the time, none of this was particularly problematic. I had recently been baptized into the SDA church (14 is too young to “make” such a decision) and I was busy trying to reconcile what scant logical reasoning I could perform with the BS coming at me from all sides. And as pervasive as the Xtian mindset was at that school, I can only imagine what it’s like at a Xtian school, where the restraints come off and the teachers are free to preach, rather than teach. It took me not being in that environment, with the constant reinforcement, to be able (and not so scared) to truly question, and push back, and ultimately reject, said BS.

  5. says

    @simonhadley, I’m a bit surprised your history teacher didn’t bring up the Vietnam War protests, and claim they were the only reason America lost.

  6. raven says

    I went to public schools so we missed the usual xian fallacies. But not all of them.
    .1. In grade school, the school library got a new book on human anatomy.
    It was one of those where all the blood vessels were shown, a distinctive style of medical illustration by a famous artist whose name I couldn’t find on a Google search.

    I checked it out and read it. The chapter on human reproductive anatomy was sort of interesting.
    Not that long after, that section was cut out with a razor blade and the surrounding pages glued together.
    Some parents complained, no doubt.
    FFS, it was just a plumbing diagram and about as stimulating as a plumbing diagram.
    Even in the third grade in the 1950’s, I thought that was pretty weird censorship.

    .2. I never had much evolutionary biology in all 12 grades of biology. The teachers just skipped over it.
    In grade school, one teacher, a returned Mormon missionary no less, made it a point to actually teach a lot of evolutionary biology.
    He also would occasionally preach at us about god and jesus but we didn’t really pay much attention.

  7. simonhadley says

    @timgueguen He kept the reasons for our loss really vague by saying the politicians wouldn’t let the soldiers win.

    I forgot to mention our Civics/Economics class (yet another damn coach) was a joke too. At one point we memorized the amendments tested on them then promptly discarded the info with no discussion on why any of them were put in place. I managed to get through several good sized novels in that class. Seriously, his class was only good for extracurricular reading.

  8. raven says

    Good find.
    It’s been a long time since I saw that book but it reminds me of Frank Netter’s work.

  9. Paolo says

    @2 and @4

    As a history Ph.D. candidate, I wonder how it is possible to allow sport coaches to teach other subjects. Here in Italy middle and high school teachers have to get multiple qualifications before sitting behind a desk, and there’s no way a biology teacher could also teach geography (or viceversa) without at least a relevant degree.
    Honestly, looks to me like they put in charge whomever’s on hand, as long as they’re willing to teach anything at all.

  10. says

    The reaction is a another hashtag, #ExposePublicSchools.

    It’s true, public schools aren’t perfect. Mine avoided the subject of evolution altogether, which was a real shame to me, and I undermined it a bit. I took an anthropology class, and for a class project, put together a portfolio of drawings of hominin skulls. The teacher thought it was neat and didn’t object, at least.

  11. microraptor says

    Sean Boyd @4: Cave Junction? No kidding? I grew up not too far north of there. And yeah, Mormons are everywhere in Southern Oregon.

    I went to a Catholic elementary school where officially we were taught evolution and unofficially the teachers told us that Charles Darwin had recanted it on his death bed.

    We were given something they called sex education, which was basically telling us not to have sex before marriage without telling any of us anything about what sex was. Also, this being the late 80s and early 90s, we were told to not be gay or we’d die of AIDS. Without actually telling us what being gay meant.

    In high school, I was in a small, rural school in a heavily religious town. To give you an idea of just how conservative this place was, the Mormon students were considered liberals (though we did have some astoundingly liberal Mormons, somehow- the Mormon girl in my class was pro-choice). The science teacher, despite being quite religious, actually was pro evolution (and was also pretty tolerant of other religions like Judaism and Islam, apparently as a result of having a Muslim roommate in college). Nevertheless, evolution wasn’t really taught in class beyond Mendel’s experiments with peas, probably due to pressure from parents, the principal, or everyone else.

  12. Pablo Campos says

    The public school I went to in Eastern Washington was a mixed experience academically speaking. I had a Evangelical Christian science teacher who talked about God a lot. For the most part, he kept to the topic at hand and never got too preachy. He was super nice and cool so whatever. He homeschooled his own kids so we always found it ironic how he’s a public school teacher. The worst teachers by far were the sophomore math teacher and the senior social studies teacher. The former was a hardline Republican who seemingly out of nowhere rambled and ranted about liberals and whatnot. The latter teacher was a anti-science crank and even made us watch a climate change denial documentary. Both were Mormon if that makes any difference. I think the best experience was with the freshman biology teacher (his favorite subject being human biology). He was openly atheist and liberal. He taught us about evolution and even gave us a comprehensive sex talk. He was amazing. It’s odd looking back of the rather large numbers of teachers (who are mostly white) who were politically conservative in a school where the majority of students were (and still are) Hispanic and Native American. At the time, I didn’t notice the political bias of many teachers and didn’t understand or want to as those were the days before I became politically aware after Trump’s election.

  13. Sean Boyd says

    microraptor @12,

    Oh yeah, good old CJ. From late 1981 to mid 1988, with a few months in there somewhere living over in Rogue River. I love the scenery, but getting out of there was the single best thing that has ever happened for me. Somewhat (okay, almost completely) OT: There was an article in the LA Times back in 2016. It’s worth the read, especially for anyone not familiar with the area. In particular, the out of work mill worker, whose wife was in school full time, with a pair of kids, refusing Obamacare because he didn’t trust the government. I bet you can’t guess who he was going to vote for. Oh, you guessed right? Yeah, that’s Cave Junction in a nutshell.

    Even that slanted intro to evolution would’ve been something. I remember learning a bit about Mendel, a bit about DNA, and craploads about classification. It’s almost like our teacher saw biology through the lens of a library assistant…making sure everything was put away where it belongs, with little to no emphasis on WHY things go where they do. Then again, my HS math teacher was a sociology major in college, so…

    PZ @11,
    I’d still take public school over church school any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. (Or on Saturday, depending on the church in question!)

  14. chrislawson says

    It’s more the culture than the Christianity. I went to a private Anglican school in Melbourne and despite making it clear that I wasn’t a believer I never experienced any negative effects from that other than having to go to compulsory school chapel where I was bored out of my mind for 45 minutes every week — it was a poor use of time, but at least I learned a lot about rituals and practice that I would never have known otherwise.

    At one stage the school appointed a chaplain who happened to be a creationist. The school had no idea until he gave a sermon about the evils of Darwinism and the rightness of Christian eschatology. The response was to have him removed from the chaplaincy and to have the head of chemistry give a special, compulsory-attendance lecture to the entire student cohort extolling the scientific evidence for evolution.

    Meanwhile, just over a decade ago ago students at public schools were subjected to a grostesquely evangelical “religious education” program foisted upon them by our proto-theocratic PM John Howard. Which means that I got a better and broader, non-proselytising religious education in a school that was an official partner of the Anglican church than kids in constitutionally secular public schools.

  15. Onamission5 says

    @Sean Boyd and microraptor:
    Holy shit, the internet is a weird place. Alum of Selma Elementary– back when there still was such a thing– and Lorna Byrne Middle here! We moved “to town” in ’83 but my grandparents lived in CJ until they died a few years back.

    I didn’t attend the Christian school that was located (in a church?) I think) across the street from LBM, but several members of our Pentecostal church sent their kids there. Our church was, if either of you heard of it, a nameless congregation which met initially in the old ice house, then in an old red house, then shared space with the JW’s, then finally landed in a building that was the former cafeteria for the middle school. Does not speak well for the Christian school that that’s where members of my church felt most comfortable sending their kids, imo.

  16. microraptor says

    Sean Boyd @15: Yup. I even knew a few people who’d worked at that mill. And while I’m sure you’re already well aware, I’d like to point out for everyone else here that that part of Oregon is infamous for having been a major KKK stronghold for decades and, probably not coincidentally, is also one of the least ethnically diverse places in the country.

  17. Sean Boyd says

    Onamission5 @17,

    I kind of remember the church near LBMS…I didn’t get to CJ (via SoCal) until high school (in ’81), so never set foot in the middle school. Then again, there were churches all over the damn place. There should never be more churches than bars in a town! My brother went to the Adventist school, which was way out halfway to Takilma. Didn’t know Selma Elementary was gone. But I think they’ve got a few new stoplights in town now, so that’s exciting.

    microraptor @18,

    KKK, militias, all sorts of nasty shit. There were areas in parts of the national forest bordering the valley that one simply didn’t go to…it was an open secret that there were massive growing operations up there, and it wasn’t deemed safe to stumble upon them. There was a mechanic my dad went to a couple of times. Had a shop near the corner of Caves Hwy and Redwood Hwy (for the uninitiated, that was the major intersection in town, and had one of the three stoplights at one point in time!) Horrible mechanic, couldn’t get jobs done on time or on budget. Turns out his gun-running was getting in the way…I think he was raided by ATF at some point, although he’d skipped town. Another guy (my folks rented from him when we first moved to the area) was a big-time follower of Bo Gritz (pretty sure PZ has mentioned him at some point…he’s notorious), and was convinced that the US economy was going to collapse in September 1987, after which the world would be run by those with reserves of…wait for it…aluminum. Oh, and since there was going to be a nuclear winter at some point in there, the only way to grow things would be via burying tires in the soil so the roots of plants retained heat better. Or something. This nut had (by his own estimate) 30,000 tires piled up on his property. And an acre or so of old appliances, ’cause aluminum.

    Good times. (shudders quietly.) Good times.

  18. microraptor says

    Sean Boyd @19: One of my dad’s friends worked for the state, tracking invasive plant infestations: Gorse, Scotch Broom, Blackberries, the usual. He retired early when they wanted him to start going down into the area with the growing operations.

    It was not a secret at all that they were there: I remember the local NBC station out of Medford even ran multiple stories about it.

  19. rietpluim says


    The school I attended, was located in the Dutch bible belt. So they avoided calling themselves “public”, made no mention of evolution in the biology curriculum whatsoever (despite they were supposed to prepare us to scientific education) and dramatically limited sex education to the most basic physiological facts.

    I’ve learned more about sex and evolution from this blog than I did on high school.