By the time a fundamentalist child has spent any time in a fundamentalist school they have learned a fair amount of the three R’s (Reading, Writing, and Rhythmless Singing) but mostly they have learned an awful lot about what NOT to do.
They’ve learned not to question or express themselves. They’ve learned that it’s not what you do that counts but how people perceive what you are doing. And they’ve learned that perfection on the outside is actually better than perfection on the inside. In a thousand tiny unspoken ways they have begun to skip down the primrose path to fundydom.
By this point, they have also become well acquainted with the phenomenon of “chapel” which involves giving the men from the local Basement Bible College (and occasionally a visiting evangelist or pastor) a chance to bellow fantastic lies at a captive audience for forty minutes. What those children are subjected to in that time is the very worst of what fundyland preaching has to offer. For what is on display here is not the polished and practiced efforts of the veteran preacher, who has perfected his patter and picked his points. Nay, this is instead the sound and fury of those who are so unpolished they would not usually be allowed into a pulpit in front of an audience of adults so instead they are given young impressionable minds to practice on.
Middle school therefore becomes a time of terror for the student who is at all prone to believing what he hears as he is showered with tales of horrific deaths, terrible judgments, and new and novel sins that had been heretofore unknown. For not deterred by the fact that the children in the audience are all church-going kids from good fundy homes, the preacher inevitably assumes that the class of third graders in the front row are prone to the most heinous debaucheries he can imagine and delivers his rants accordingly.
If there were ever a case for homeschooling in fundyland the daily chapel service would be its strongest argument.