Thousands of children in Louisiana are to receive vouchers to attend the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme which teaches controversial religious beliefs such as creationism. One of the things these children will be taught is that Scotland’s most famous mythological beast is a real living creature. One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads:
“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur”
Another claim, possibly inspired by Godzilla movies, is that a Japanese fishing boat once captured a dinosaur.
Boston-based researcher and writer Bruce Wilson, who specialises in the American political religious right, compares the curriculum to Islamic fundamentalist teaching:
“They are being brought up to believe that they’re at war with secular society. The only valid government would be a Christian fundamentalist government. Obviously some comparisons could be made to Islamic Fundamentalists in schools. One of these texts from Bob Jones University Press claims that dinosaurs were fire-breathing dragons. It has little to do with science as we currently understand. It’s more like medieval scholasticism.”
Wilson believes that such teaching is going on in at least 13 American states. However it is estimated around 2000 pupils study at more than 50 private Christian schools in Britain for the certificates as well as several home-educated students.
The courses are based around the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme, which originated in Texas in the 1970s.