Investigations have revealed that fundamentalist Christian schools in the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s took part in beatings and exorcisms according to ex pupils. The children lived in an environment of fear and were too afraid to complain for fear of retribution.
A former pupil claimed that a school assembly in the 90’s heard “blood curdling screams” as prayers were said for the Holy Spirit to rid children of demons. The alleged string of abuse began in a number of schools many years ago as part of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. This system originated from the Southern Baptist states of the United States.
Former pupils came forward after The Independent revealed that some schools still condemn homosexuality as unnatural, teach girls to submit to men and affirm creationism as fact. The pupils said the article awakened memories of those school years.
Over 1,000 4-18 year olds are currently taught in 30 ACE schools in the country, all are registered as private institutions. Although these schools are regulated by child protection services and safeguarding, former pupils want assurance that the schools will be regulated more heavily than their time.
One former student claimed, “We were told that we were the children of God and the world was out to get us. So we were isolated and couldn’t speak out. There was nobody checking on us. I just took it.”
Another former student of the 1990’s said, “Exorcisms used to happen at school assemblies sometimes. There would be 20 or so children and perhaps five adults. We were told that the Holy Spirit would come through children. I started convulsing and I couldn’t stop. Even when I went to bed I kept convulsing. I was terrified, I really thought it was the Holy Spirit.”
“We would all begin convulsing. I remember them screaming blood curdling screams and then we’d all pray rigorously to get the demons out. Teachers would physically push us. They’d lay their hands on us when we prayed and they’d push us down. If you didn’t fall it was said that you weren’t really ‘feeling the Lord’. It was a very dark thing. It really was insanity. It got completely out of control.”
Another shocking story from two former students claimed that young girls were groomed for marriage with older men, these were arranged by church communities that ran the schools. In some schools, girls were encouraged to marry straight after 16 years of age as it was “God’s will”.
Children were also beaten with a wooden paddle or cane in a ritualistic manner as punishment for wrongdoing.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education, said, “Schools are held to account much more rigorously than was the case some 30 years ago and every institution, independent or state, must promote the fundamental British values of democracy and mutual respect for all. They are also required to adhere to the Equalities Act.
“Any allegation that those values are not being promoted or discrimination of any kind is taking place in the classroom will be investigated. If upheld, we will take swift action including, where necessary, the removal of an institution from the register of independent schools.”