Pensacola Christian College,
Where “Optical Intercourse” Can Get You into Trouble!!
by Mahmood Ketabchi
March 29, 2006
I don’t know if you have heard of the term “optical intercourse;” I have to admit that I have not heard of it before myself. “Optical intercourse” is a term that refers to two people staring at each other intently, that is, in a sexual way. It is among many offenses that are prohibited by stringent rules which control student lives particularly male and female relationship at Pensacola Christian College in Florida.
Other rules include:
1. All physical contact between male and female students are forbidden. This rule also applies to hand shaking.
2. Members of opposite sex have to use separate elevators and escalators.
3. Female and male students cannot go to the same beach.
4. They cannot socialize with each other without the presence of a chaperon.
5. Movies, even G-rated ones, are forbidden.
6. Students can only listen to classical music or music that has been approved by the college.
7. Access to TV, Internet, email, and library is strictly limited and controlled.
8. No student opposition is tolerated.
These rules and many other unwritten regulations are strictly and often capriciously enforced.
Students who break these rules or are perceived as having broken them face four types of punishments including:
1. Being “Socialed,” that is, they will be barred from speaking with a student of the opposite sex for two weeks,
2. Being “Campused,” which means students are prohibited to leave the college or speak to other students for two weeks.
3. Being “Shadoweded,” that is, students will be watched at all times by an agent of the college for several days. Plus, they are not allowed to speak to anyone but the agent who is responsible for the student being punished.
4. Being expelled from college.
Pensacola Christian College has been around for more that 30 years. It started as a Bible study college with 100 students, and now has nearly 5000 students.
The founder of the college, Mr. Horton, also established a Christian book publishing company called A Beta Book which is considered to be the largest publisher of Christian books in the world. It sells books to more than10,000 Christian schools across the country. It has also gained a large share of the home-schooling market. For many years, A Beta Books portrayed itself as a non-profit organization and evaded paying tax on their revenue. Finally, the IRS forced them to pay $50 million in back taxes.
The college prides itself in being the “most Fundamentalist” college in the country. What is interesting is that Pensacola Christian College is not an accredited college, and the college administrators are not forthcoming about it.
As I learned about this school, I thought of countries where Islamists regimes rule. As a person coming from Iran, I can see a lot of similarities. Pensacola College is a sort of Talebanite Christian fiefdom. It is a kind of life style that every right wing religious fascist would love to see spread and enforced across the world.
Right wing Muslims, Christians, and Jews, although they dislike each other, in many ways share similar values and principles. For example, they share the following:
1. Regulations and laws that governs every aspect of human life
2. Obsession with sex and sexuality especially female sexuality
3. Gender apartheid
4. Cruelty and zero tolerance for opposition and dissent
5. Deception and lies.
Religion and religious industries are by their very nature oppressive and brutal. The belief that there exists an omnipotent and omnipresent god is nothing but anti human and tyrannical.
I do not know of any other institution in the country that can do what the Pensacola Christian College does and get away with it. Although religion and religious institutions enjoy special privileges and receive the kind of legal protection that no one else can dream of, right wing religious demagogues keep complaining that they are being unfairly treated and discriminated against. They have vast resources including numerous schools, colleges, and universities all across the country to push their religion and indoctrination without obstacles, yet they are adamant about infecting public education with their prayer, and bogus theories of “intelligent design,” abstinence, etc.
Religion is like a killer narcotic that needs to be regulated. It can make people sick and/or kill. Religious industry is a medieval institution that must be swept away. It is a notorious industry with a long history of brutality and human right abuses. Today, when religious sectarianism of all sorts is on the rise, it is more important than ever to push religion out of public life into a private sphere.
In particular, religion must be separated from education both public and private. This is especially true for minors who are the primary victims of religious indoctrination and proselytizing. Children are protected in different ways. Although poorly enforced, there are many legal protections for children. We protect them from child pornography. They are protected from employer exploitation. We protect them from sexual abuse, etc. They are even protected against certain advertising and commercials. Here in the US, the tobacco industry is heavily regulated and prevented from targeting young kids.
The same should apply to religious industry. Kids need to grow in an open and free environment that enables them to develop an investigative mind of their own. They need to learn the skills to enquire and challenge what they are being taught so that they can approach the world around themselves consciously. Ideological and religious indoctrinations deprive children from developing a free and critical approach to the world. Religious superstitions, taboos, dogmas, and sectarianism are dangerous poisons shoved into children’s throat. It is hammered in their minds from early age that they belong to a particular and preferred religious sect. Organized religion produces a culture of meekness, fear, insecurity, obedience, sycophancy, and conformity. It shapes and moulds children not to become free human beings, but people who can be controlled, manipulated, and subjected to oppressors and authoritarians. Religious indoctrination aimed at children must be prohibited. That is a basic requirement for a truly free society.
To read a full report about the Pensacola Christian college, please refer to Chronicle of Higher Education, March 24, 2006, Volume LII, Number 29.