Local Evangelical K-8 SMCCCD Graduates Talk About Religious Fundamentalism – The Skyline View
A Breakdown of the Fundamentalist Highlands Christian Schools Program
Just a four-minute drive from Skyline University, first-year Trojan horse Sheryll Estipona looked at the text required for the 8th-grade Bible class – six chicks innocently glanced under the title in bold “Love your neighbor”. The teacher quickly asked him to turn to Chapter 14: Homosexual Sin.
Espitona’s Alma Mater, Highlands Christian School, stands proudly atop a hill overlooking the Skyline community. The K-8 school strives to integrate gospel values ââinto their students through their curriculum. Evangelical Christianity is characterized by its fundamentalist approach to the Bible, which means that the text is interpreted literally.
Each chapter of âLove Your Neighborâ presents a social issue through a spiritual and secular lens, ranging from euthanasia to cloning to pornography. At the end of these chapters is a short âChristian Answerâ to the question. The answer to chapter 14 states, âThe Bible condemns homosexual sin. Homosexuality is a perversion of God’s gift of sex.
“Why be bothered by someone’s own sexuality?” Estipona said in response. âThe literal name of the book is ‘Love your neighbor.’ If you love your neighbor, wouldn’t you respect who he’s attracted to? I have the impression that some Christians blindly believe everything in the Bible.
For Michelina Ng Solano, a CSM student and Highlands Christian Schools graduate, the impact of this mindset rocked her family indefinitely.
âMy half-brother was gay and he was brought up in a Catholic family. He died 16 years ago from HIV and AIDS, âsaid Ng Solano. âIt was only when my brother was on his deathbed that my father came to accept that homosexuality was validâ¦ [The stigma is] exactly the reason he didn’t ask for help. I think by the time it came out it was already too late. He was already very ill.
But not all HCS alumni perceive their curriculum as harmful or judgmental. Skyline student Marion Fuller believes Highland Christian Schools and âLove Your Neighborâ have given her the foundation to extend love and respect to others in her personal life.
âHighlands was definitely a place where I grew up a lot as a Christian. I am proud to say it. â¦ One Highland takeaway that I have really insisted on in my life is to love your neighbor as your friend or as yourself. Especially today there is a lot of hate going around. Stop hating, you just gotta love, âFuller said.
Highlands incorporates his fundamentalist views into all aspects of its curriculum, not just Bible lessons. In music class, students sing hymns and songs with Bible messages. In geometry class, students write articles on biconditional statements in the Bible. The history textbook is written through the Christian lens. However, Estipona remembers something that was missing from science class.
âIn our science textbook there was a chapter on evolution. We would go through all the chapters of this scientific book except the one on evolution, âsaid Estipona. âThe professor didn’t really want to tell us why. “
For Estipona’s developing mind, this meant accepting the gospel belief of creation at face value and without scrutiny.
âMy friends and I were in a science museum on our trip to Washington. We were in the evolution section and we didn’t care about the whole idea. We were like, âoh my god, we come from chickens, we come from gorillas,â Estipona said wistfully. We were so close in spirit. We were against everything Highlands said.
Ng Solano also believes that the environment has created a feedback loop that is not conducive to an open market for ideas.
âThey say if you say these words you will go to hell. If you don’t believe it, you are going to hell. It’s to the book with them. I believe there is a God, but there are some flaws in trying to tell someone what to believe.
Although Estipona still remains spiritual, she carries a deep guilt and shame for having strayed from the Gospel interpretation of the faith.
âEvery time I forgot to pray, I thought I was going to die that night. I would convince myself that âoh my god I’m going to die tonight because I haven’t prayed to God so much today,â Estipona said. “I’m still afraid of going to hell.”
Alternatively, Fuller credits Highlands’ emphasis on the scriptures for his ability to lead a well-balanced life, either in relationships or in himself. Initially, he considered memorizing long Bible verses boring.
âAs I got older I realized that these Bible verses made more sense,â Fuller said. âIt makes it easier for me to understand what is actually said in the Bible verse and why we analyze what we read. “
While Highland elders may not share the same beliefs, they all agree that it is imperative to keep an open mind.
“I had friends who canceled me because I was a Christian and because I believed in what I believe in, because I was everything that they were against, you know, and that’s right. life, âFuller said. âBut why can’t we just accept that everyone has their own opinion? “