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1. #TeacherAppreciationWeek is complicated for me. Not in the abstract--U.S. teachers are woefully undervalued--but on a personal level as an alum of right-wing evangelical Christian schools.

I started the hashtag #ExposeChristianSchools b/c these schools have major issues.
2. In parts of America public schools often fail to be this, but schools should be places where kids learn to be good citizens of a democracy, a prerequisite for which is acceptance of pluralism. Christian schools explicitly teach rejection of pluralism:

cstroop.com/2019/01/20/wha…
3. I went to Christian schools from 1st through half of sixth grade, then 7th through 12th. Mine were of the more "rigorous" kind. They teach creationism but still want high SAT scores and high college placement rates; they embrace Billy Graham rather than find him "too liberal."
3-a. Billy Graham was, by the way, anything but liberal. With theocracy rising under Trump, we are largely living in Billy Graham's America, and it's not a nice place.

playboy.com/read/in-billy-…

#Exvangelical #TeacherAppreciationWeek #EmptyThePews #ExposeChristianSchools #Resist
4. Evangelical Christian schools exist on a spectrum of fundamentalist extremism. They exhibit degrees of anti-intellectualism. In the more "academically rigorous" kind that I attended, you get a sort of pseudo-intellectualism. The cognitive dissonance became unbearable for me.
5. And in this environment--one that offers AP classes, one where we all took a practice PSAT before taking the actual PSAT, so that we were well prepared for the SAT--I was still mobilized for the culture wars and taught that Christians must vote GOP.

cstroop.com/2017/03/06/edu…
6. Nevertheless, in these rabidly right-wing Christian schools--a large-scale generational social experiment that none of us who were experimented on consented to (they accuse liberals of "social engineering, ha"--I did have teachers who cared about me. #TeacherAppreciationWeek
7. All these teachers were misguided in devoting themselves to schools that are authoritarian indoctrination machines rather than preparation for democracy. They were socialized into an abusive system and perpetuated the abuse. Fundamentalism *IS* abuse.

cstroop.com/2018/06/14/esc…
8. Even so, in Christian schools there are teachers who resist the authoritarianism to varying degrees. There are those who show themselves to be more human than the ideology they insist is "absolute Truth" in various ways. Sometimes they change their minds but are stuck.
9. There are those who haven't rejected evangelicalism, but who try to work within the abusive theology of biblical inerrancy to make evangelicalism as humane as possible. It was my 7th-grade English teacher who first taught me to question patriotic truisms and boot-strapping.
10. I owe a lot of who I am today to a lot of evangelical Christian school English and drama teachers in fact. They held more space for questioning than many of my other Christian school teachers did. #ExposeChristianSchools #Exvangelical #TeacherAppreciationWeek
11. They taught me to write, encouraged me to enter competitions. One sent me as our school's representative to a Hugh O'Brian Youth Foundation leadership conference. I thought she might be understanding when some time after graduating I told her I couldn't be evangelical anymore
12. And she wasn't harsh when I told her, but she was sad. She gave me a little apologetics book called The Agnostic Who Dared to Search. It was what she'd been trained to do. She was too invested in the ideology to give it up. But she gave me some of the tools to deconstruct it
13. That was a very sad moment for me. For both of us, I'm sure. The cruelty of authoritarian religious-ideological systems is that relationships can never be the same when someone leaves. I appreciate that teacher to this day.

cstroop.com/2017/06/07/whe…

#TeacherAppreciationWeek
14. The only reason I'm not naming names in this thread, in fact, is because I don't want to get any of these teachers who represented the best of what is possible in evangelical schools to be embarrassed or get into trouble if they're not retired. #TeacherAppreciationWeek
15. There were others who mean a lot to me too. My high school German teacher, for example, who led the first trip I ever took to Europe. That was eye-opening. I came back willing to suggest that (gasp!) universal healthcare might be a good policy. Evangelicals. Don't. Do. That.
16. My mom still teachers in the elementary of the K-12 school I graduated from. Before retiring, her mom was a 4th grade teacher in a public school. Like my grandma was, Mom is very dedicated to her students. She works long hours after the school day is over, and on weekends.
17. She does it for very low pay. And while I think the system within which Mom works is rotten to the core, I also do not think that her life's work has no value. She has made the lives of kids who would be in that system anyway better. But it's a sticking point between us.
18. I can absolutely never give money to the school I graduate from, or any school like it, because these schools as indoctrination machines have contributed mightily to the decline of American democracy. Because they perpetuate bigotry. For many reasons. #ExposeChristianSchools
19. But I do save the Box Tops for Education off my cereal boxes for my mom and occasionally give them to her. I don't have kids of my own going to school to give them to their school district anyway. I do it as kind of a peace offering. I love my mom.

#TeacherAppreciationWeek
20. It was Mom, and my grandma, and some more distant relatives--one a professor at a small liberal arts college, one a public school science teacher--who I think in no small part encouraged me to pursue education to the extent I did, getting a Ph.D. and wanting to teach college.
21. And for a while I did teach college, and maybe I'll pick up some courses again someday when I can do so on my own terms, though I'm leaving academia since it's clear there's no TT job in my future.



#RealAcademicBios #TeacherAppreciationWeek
22. I would never have considered teaching at an evangelical college or university. While there are profs in those schools who are more progressive than almost any K-12 Christian school teacher could get away with being, in this moment they are often being forced out in purges.
23. Purges are a feature of authoritarian institutions, of course. I've done quite a bit of journalism about this; here's my latest on the subject (with links to my previous work):

rewire.news/religion-dispa…

#TeacherAppreciationWeek #ExposeChristianSchools #Exvangelical
24. For more details on evangelical colleges, faculty purges, and LGBTQ advocacy, see this expose I did for @PRAEyesRight:

feature.politicalresearch.org/the-struggle-f…

#FaithfullyLGBT #TeacherAppreciationWeek #LGBTQ #Exvangelical #EmptyThePews #MondayMotivation #TheResistance #Resist
@PRAEyesRight 25. Anyway, life is complicated. I suppose we all live with some contradictions. And it's difficult navigating the rejection of an authoritarian religious community you grew up in. Really, really difficult. There is no one-size-fits-all way to do it.

#Exvangelical #EmptyThePews
@PRAEyesRight 26. If you value the content I produce and can afford to pledge a few dollars a month or more via @Patreon, I currently depend on that income as I work toward making my post-academic path sustainable. Much love to my past and current patrons!

End thread

patreon.com/cstroop
*graduated
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