To refuse the offer of a bible from local church for dd to commemorate starting school?

(260 Posts)

I have just received a round robin email from the school where dd has just started in reception. It says that as per the last few years the local church will be giving each child a bible to commemorate starting school, and to advise the office if for any reason you do not wish for your child to have one. I have replied saying no thanks as feel rather uncomfortable with this, but is this normal practice? I know that the school follows the standard guidelines for R.E. etc, but I am aware that the deputy head (who teaches one of the reception classes) is very active in the local church. She runs bible lessons after school one afternoon a week, and the church have an active presence at the school by doing the gardening in the flower beds and odd maintenance jobs. Am I reading too much into the bible thing or is it a tad pushy?

LFCisTarkaDahl Mon 15-Oct-12 15:03:49

I wouldn't turn it down, it's a nice commemoration and it might be a bit sad if she grows up and all her friends have theirs and she doesn't. It's hers just keep it for her. If she doesn't decide to be a Christian when she grows up she can chuck or recycle it.

Floggingmolly Mon 15-Oct-12 15:05:02

Pushy? hmm.

I don't know if it is normal practice but I would have a good think about it. We are a religion-free household but I think it is not a bad thing for a house to have a Bible know thine enemy. I read it as a child with atheist parents and it is just stories if you read it like that. It is also a frame of reference for so much of the English language, probably up there with Shakespeare.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 15:08:37


DS has been learning about world religion, he did loads about Islam, then Judaism, had talks and visits. Then for Christianity came home with an offer for a bible and load of leaflets about how much Jesus loved him. I thought he was meant to be learning about it not converting him ffs.

If you're not religious I'd just say "We want DD to learn about religion for the sake of tolerance and understanding, but we do not practice a faith at home, thank you for the offer."

Some Churches seem to give them out like Argos gives out catalogues. hmm

I'd have said no thanks, myself. And, unless the school is actually a church school, it's very presumptuous of them. OK, there's some lovely resonant prose in the King James version which an older child with an interest in literature and language might appreciate, but I expect the books they are handing out will be that nasty tin-eared 60s version.

And it's full of unpleasant ideas anyway. So don't feel bad about declining; it's not a good idea to let Christians of this type get away with these smug assumptions that everyone will welcome their crap-peddling ways.

LFCisTarkaDahl Mon 15-Oct-12 15:10:38

"I thought he was meant to be learning about it not converting him ffs."

He did learn about it - he learned that's it's an evangelising religion that trys to convert people grin

safflower Mon 15-Oct-12 15:10:58

Well if it is a church connected school, it is very kind of them to offer it. In fact any school it is a nice gesture. They are not forcing anyone to read it, so in your shoes I would accept graciously then pass it on to the next jumble or put it in the book bank or wherever.

aldiwhore Mon 15-Oct-12 15:13:41

I wouldn't turn it down. The bible is a good book. None of your household will be 'turned' into puritans and I think even if you don't have a specific believe, or hold a different one owning a bible can provide a good read, a slight insight into our own cultural traditions (in the UK) and provoke discussions about faith, belief and why we're here.

I don't practice any religion, I am not atheist either... I just don't have faith. The bible has still be valuable to me at times. I'm sure most religious texts would be.

My children go to a village school, central to the village community is the church, you cannot separate one from the other all the time, and I'm glad of it, I wish there were other religions in our village, but the Church is woven into the fabric of our community. I don't attend church. I do help the vicar each year with the tombola, because it's a village event. Being a vicar he speaks in God, I speak in Life, we rub along nicely.

Katisha Mon 15-Oct-12 15:14:42

Is it really so frightening/ dangerous to have a bible in the house?

PedanticPanda Mon 15-Oct-12 15:16:01

Yanbu, I would politely decline too.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 15:16:30

YANBU. The letter makes it clear enough you're at liberty to refuse.

I don't think its 'normal practice' , certainly not in non-faith schools. Yes, it is a more than a tad pushy to assume that the scriptures of one particular religion are an appropriate commemoration for starting primary school. A children's dictionary would be more suitable perhaps (DDs school gave them all a thesaurus when they left)

threesocksmorgan Mon 15-Oct-12 15:17:20

it is a free book, not poisen

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 15:18:50

>The bible is a good book
that's a matter of opinion! A curate's egg of a book at best.

Yes, its a necessary reference book when you're older, but you don't need a physical copy any more. Giving it as a commemorative gift imparts it a special status that not everyone would agree with.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 15:24:01

"Is it really so frightening/ dangerous to have a bible in the house?"

I think we're missing the point here, I could go round handing out copies of a River Out Of Eden or the God Delusion. Not going to hurt anyone to have it in the house, won't poison them. But is it appropriate or necessary? No.

A dictionary would have been a lovely thing to give.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 15:24:05

I would ask them whether they really consider that a book full of rape, incest, murder, genocide, blood sacrifice & instructions on how to treat a slave is quite the thing for a 5 year old.

A copy of On The Origin Of Species that they could treasure forever would be far more appropriate.

But Grimmayou need to know the quotes. My DM once really shocked our Christian dinner guests by commenting, as she was fiddling with her Victorian oil lamp, "wise virgins trim their wicks". Cue horror all round. She pointed out that they should be au fait with their own parables. I am now being facetious and will stop before people start shouting about how religion deserves automatic respect.

TiggyD Mon 15-Oct-12 15:25:22

Take it and bin it. That way the church would have spent money that they would have spent spreading evil.

worldgonecrazy Mon 15-Oct-12 15:27:44

crikeyohare got there before me. I was going to say exactly the same thing.

I really don't think it's appropriate to give special "commemorative" status to a religious book in a supposedly non-religious school. I would decline the offer.

Mrsjay Mon 15-Oct-12 15:30:52

It is a gesture most schools even if they are not faith schools with get a bible at some point in their school lives not sure why you refused it TBH but it is up to you of course I just think it is a nice gesture from the local church ,

It's a free book. I used to quite like reading my kids bible, all the Samson, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale madness.

I also went to Sunday School because it was a laugh.

I am one of the least religious persons to walk the earth. It's just a thing. Let them figure it out for themselves.

I feel fairly happy to have declined, and to be honest I do think that a childrens dictionary or similar would be a nicer idea. Once I've gained a bit more confidence in dealing with the school I might suggest the dictionary idea asd a nice alternative. I am still getting to grips with what's to be expected when your child starts school.

Calling the bible 'evil' is just silly though.

People believe all sorts of trite, it doesn't make them or the information 'evil'. Just daft.

TiggyD Mon 15-Oct-12 15:38:31

The bibble isn't evil but many of the churches ideas and beliefs are. Particularly if you're gay.

Hullygully Mon 15-Oct-12 15:41:03

It's got a lot of pervy sex and violence the old bible. I'd censor it heavily.

Free dictionaries are not to be expected when starting school. Who would sponsor these? The Church?? wooahh hah ha (evil cackle)

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 15:48:38

Calling the bible 'evil' is just silly though.

The Bible isn't evil, because there's no such thing as "evil". There are, however, many things that most decent people would consider morally reprehensible (for which we use the term "evil" as shorthand) - and the Bible is absolutely heaving with examples of this.

So - maybe it's not evil. But it's sick as fuck in parts.

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 15:53:57

She'll no doubt get given another one in secondary school when the Gideon society come to visit so it's not like she's missing out.

x2boys Mon 15-Oct-12 16:02:52

i,m never sure of these things i,m a lapsed roman catholic but still have my beleifs, and my boys are both baptised roman catholic eldest attends a R.C. school youngest will start going next september. so obviously my oldest comes home with questions about jesus was given rosary beads ,but i expect that. i made a coinscious decision for my children to be baptised and go to a faith school, if your school is not a faith school and you dont have any beleifs then i would expect its unreasonable for a teacher to be imposing her beleifs on others

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 16:12:20

Noble, if my school was anything to go by the Gideon Bible was very popular, makes great rolling paper according to some of the students.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 15-Oct-12 16:16:30


Why would a church want to pay for children to have a dictionary!?

I'm not religious, but if I was and I gave a lot of my time to help a religious school, then I'd probably feel quite offended at the suggestion that dictionary's be given out instead.

You were given the option to decline a bible, not an invitation to offer other suggestions. It's a bible or nothing. If you want your child to have a nice dictionary for starting school, then you pay for it.

But it is not a religious school, not affiliated to any of the local churches. It's just a bog standard village school. I am of a pagan leaning and my husband is atheist. I am all ready to accept the odd bit of teaching about christianity as I understand this is part of the curriculum, and am ready with the 'this is what some people believe, but mummy and daddy believe something different' line, but I'm just uncomfortable with it already.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 16:25:04

"Why would a church want to pay for children to have a dictionary!?"

Why should a school give out religious texts?

I believe the dictionary suggestion was more towards a suitable welcome gift than a suggestion it should be funded by the church.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 16:26:55


The local Church is offering you something which many would welcome, and have given you the option to refuse, as you have done, without much inconvenience as far as I can tell.

And as it's the Church making the offer of course it's going to be a bible, isn't it.hmm

Nothing stopping the local humanist society giving out Dawkins, or the local Mosque giving out the Koran. Both of which I might or might not refuse, but neither of which I would be offended or surprised at being offered. But they're not offering, which is surprising as both organisations are probably more aggressively evangelical than the CofE...

All a bit silly and hysterical IMHO.


cantspel Mon 15-Oct-12 16:27:53

What is the big deal? They asked and you said no so end of.

Some other parents will say yes and be grateful for it and others wont care either way.

expatinscotland Mon 15-Oct-12 16:28:37

My grandfather forced me to read the Bible as punishment. It was great, full of sex, violence, revenge and stories of lust.

ok, so general consensus is that IABU, thank you for your input. I shall look forward to many more years of reading too much into school memoes etc. Thank you for your input.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 15-Oct-12 16:31:57

"Why would a church want to pay for children to have a dictionary!?"

Why should a school give out religious texts?

Because its a religious school! It's a school that will be partly funded by the church, and the bibles will be funded by the church because they want children to have them, not because children actually need a present to commemorate starting school.

I understand that there is a problem in that there aren't enough non religious schools to choose from, so parents often end up using one when they would prefer not to, but if you feel that strongly enough about it then move. Or home educate. Or set up a free school. Or just politely decline the offer of a bible and keep quiet.

BreconBeBuggered Mon 15-Oct-12 16:34:08

YANBU to refuse any offer you like, but it's a useful cultural reference book. Just don't let your DD read it until she's old enough.

BeauNeidel Mon 15-Oct-12 16:34:51

YANBU, I'd say no as well.

nagynolonger Mon 15-Oct-12 16:41:23

If it is a childrens bible it won't have any rapes or murders. If you don't believe it's just another story book.

Mine were all given childrens bibles at Sunday school and they enjoyed the stories. They were given copies of the new testiment at scondary school and again when they joined the Air Training Corps. We still have them all......unused! They are the DC and I will not throw them away.

I do agree that it's not up to a parent to suggest that the church donate a dictionary instead.

Fishwife1949 Mon 15-Oct-12 16:44:27

I would take it and just put it on the shelf at home got some good stories noah and all that whats the issue

lovebunny Mon 15-Oct-12 16:44:37

i love the bible! it has great stories - get an apocrypha too.
its full of love, sex, war, fear, joy - a talking ass, children eaten by bears, a woman who drives a tent-peg through the head of a nasty man, 'the young men of the east, handsome as young gods every one of them', global disaster due to climate change (what else would you call a world flood?), rapes, rules against having sex with animals, how to get mildew off your clothes (wash with vinegar) and more.

don't turn down a bible. one day it might be just what you need.

But Outraged, why is it a religious school? It isn't affiliated to a C of E or catholic church, or are all state infant/junior schools funded by the church? I'm confused. I thought they were government funded. I obviously am very confused here.

ZiggyPlayedGuitar Mon 15-Oct-12 16:49:11

Our local church gave all of use one when we started seniors. Most kids destroyed theirs though.
If you don't think you'll get any use out of it then I would say no thanks.

No point wasting the church's money

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 16:50:22

All ordinary state schools have to provide worship of a Christian nature in the UK.

Some interpret this pretty loosely and are in effect non-religious. Some on the other hand are more Christian than some C of E schools!

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 16:52:19

I would refuse it personally.

It's more about indoctrination than education at such a young age IMO.

CelineMcBean Mon 15-Oct-12 16:52:50

I can understand if a C of E or RC school but otherwise it seems very presumptive.

Anyhoo, you've been given the option to decline so I wouldn't stress too much. You'll have harvest festivals, christingle services and all other manner of religious indoctrination to manage during the school years. Develop a strategy to cope now or it could make you very cross.

ohthedandy Mon 15-Oct-12 16:53:01

YANBU to have refused it, but I don't think they are being "pushy". Pushy would be your dd arriving home with it without you having been asked!

I don't understand how the school isn't a church school, but "the church have an active presence............"

Faxthatpam Mon 15-Oct-12 16:55:30

YANBU. Fine to refuse. As I understand it you are saying it's NOT a religious school, so therefore it's an inappropriate gift IMO.

LonelyCloud Mon 15-Oct-12 16:56:16

If you don't want the free Bible, you don't have to accept it. And you haven't.

I don't think it's a big deal. It won't be normal practice in all non-church schools, as not all local churches will make that offer, but giving pupils a Bible in itself is not a pushy thing. It's not like they're forcing the kids to read it. And as others have said, British culture/history has a fair number of Biblical references, so it may come in useful as a reference book at some point.

And Norfolkbumpkin schools are only church funded if they're specifically labelled as Catholic / CoE schools. Otherwise they're entirely state funded.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 16:56:28

Noah a 'good story' hmm - drown nearly living thing, lovely.

I mentioned a dictionary first - didn't mean you should suggest that the church gives it as an alternative, why should they. But its disingenuous of the church to say its 'to commemorate starting school' - if that was their aim they'd choose a book that everyone would find useful and acceptable. They probably mean well, but they're pushing their religion onto kids in a non-faith school.

GreenShadow Mon 15-Oct-12 16:57:58

At DS3's primary, children's bibles were given to all children on starting and used for RE throughout out the school. Much as they would use a book for history or maths, only they got to keep it.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 16:58:27

Freddos No, it is not a religious or faith school, as the OP has made clear.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 16:59:15

>I don't understand how the school isn't a church school, but "the church have an active presence............"

I think this is what is concerning the OP more than the bible incident, which she's dealt with.

Would everyone be happy with some other religious group having this sort of presence in a school?

catgirl1976 Mon 15-Oct-12 17:00:44

I would accept it.

I am not religious but I think the bible is a pretty important book. His education is not really going to be complete without reading it. Balance it out with books from all the other faiths if you like, but never turn down a free book.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 15-Oct-12 17:02:36

Sorry Norfolk, I assumed from your OP that it must be a C of E school, as many of them do give out bibles.

Even if its not, I would have thought the church, or a church, pays for the bibles. I can't imagine a school that is not affiliated to any religion would spend any of their precious budget on bibles as a starting gift. If they are, that's a bigger problem than what they decide to give!

I still think that you should say no without making a suggestion. It's like me inviting a friend round for a takeaway and her saying 'no, but I'd really like it if you'd cook me a roast'. It just seems rude somehow.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 17:03:34

Just going back to designerbaby's post...has anyone ever been 'evangelised' by a humanist? confused Not a phenomenon I've ever noticed. Anyway, they're a tiny organisation without the funding to go around handing out books unasked for... and as one of the things they're keen on is not 'labelling' children, I hardly think they're prime candidates to try infiltrating schools. ie that post was pretty ignorant

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 17:07:13

I'd missed that, Grimma!

The humanists are more evangelical than the Christians?!!

Sorry but PMSL.

Designerbaby, seriously?!

soverylucky Mon 15-Oct-12 17:08:17

Dh is an atheist. I am a christian who goes to church pretty much every week. He knows the bible better than me and has read it from cover to cover. It is an important book to both of us in very different ways. I would have accepted as would dh. I would also welcome books from other faiths. I would encourage dd's to learn about different faiths.

Himalaya Mon 15-Oct-12 17:08:50


Its no more appropriate than schools giving out commemorative statuettes of Ronald McDonald because McDonalds kindly donated them.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 17:12:57

"Nothing stopping the local humanist society giving out Dawkins, or the local Mosque giving out the Koran. Both of which I might or might not refuse, but neither of which I would be offended or surprised at being offered. But they're not offering, which is surprising as both organisations are probably more aggressively evangelical than the CofE... "

<Arf> at "Probably" DesignerBaby

Our visitors for DS' school from the local mosque were lovely. Phrased "We believe that <abc> and we show this by doing <xyz>." They were very non pushy.

Also I understand some Mosques don't believe in letting visitors leave empty handed. DP and his class all got a piece of fruit when they left. He loved it, he was beaten by a priest as a child but remembers his visit to the Mosque fondly.

"Probably" Hahahaha.

CelineMcBean Mon 15-Oct-12 17:13:18

Pmsl at Himalaya. I agree grin

And as for those Humanists, spreading their message of tolerance and separation of religion and state. The bastards!

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 17:21:53

Just wanted to add that I don't think all Christians are like the priest in my last post. Dare say no person with Christian values in this day and age would do that to a child.

Mrsjay Mon 15-Oct-12 17:24:35

MY dds don't go to a church school you don't get them here except R C schools anyway there is always pastoral care from local churches especially in primary end of term services etc , I see no harm in it we are non believers my DDs are non believers I do not think a bible can harm children but each to their own,

CelineMcBean Mon 15-Oct-12 17:25:03

For the purpose of education rather than indoctrination, here's what the British Humanist Association want: We want a world where everyone lives cooperatively on the basis of shared human values, respect for human rights, and concern for future generations. We want non-religious people to be confident in living ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.

Himalaya Mon 15-Oct-12 17:28:35

"There are free copies of the bible, the koran (or whatever)" by the front desk for anyone who wants one (this is an important book in the history of the world, you might want a copy etc...) would allow anyone who wanted a copy to pick one up (although why the couldn't order a free copy over the internet, or ask for one from a church I don't know...)

This is quite a different message to "now each of you will be given a commemorative copy of the bible as a special gift to mark the beginning our your time as part of our school community (except for you Youngnorfolkbumpkin whose parents declined)."

Do schools not see this? Do they not think, do you know what, it isn't our job to distribute commemorative gifts from outside institutions, it is our job to make every child feel welcome and included.

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 17:34:22

Can't people just say "thanks, but no thanks" politely.

Why the angst, and the taking of offence?

I don't mind what free stuff comes into this house - if I don't agree with it we discuss it and then bin it

We got Creation magazine for a while (sent by an evangelical next door neighbour), now that was an eye-opener. As was the Jehova's Witness bumph.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 17:36:29

Well, the humansits are advertising on the sides of buses these days. And Dawkins is pretty evangelical about his beliefs and what theories should and should not be taught in schools...

But anyway, the UK is, like it or not, a Christian country. And as such Christianity is a part of many institutions of the country, including government.

And in most villages the church is still a central part of the community, so whether or not it is a CofE school the village church is likely to have some kind of presence.

By all means campaign for the secularisation of the state, if you feel so strongly about it. But as the UK also a democracy you'll have to go through proper channels, and it may take some time, even if it is what the majority want (which I doubt).

Or you can move to France/China etc. where the separation of church an state is formal and written into law. It's simply not the case here, though.

PMSL at the hysterical 'the CofE is INDOCTRINATING and BRAINWASHING our poor defenceless DCs' line though. As far as I read it it was "Would you like your child to have a bible? No? OK then." Hardly an agressive pushing of a sinister agenda, is it...


WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Mon 15-Oct-12 17:41:47

YANBU to refuse,

but (as an atheist) some of the parables are really lovely children's stories, in the same way that Aesops fables and other cultural myths are, so it is a bit biased to turn it down just because it's religious.

The 'church presence' sounds a bit dodgy though. It might be worth finding out what religious input your DC receives that's not on the syllabus hmm

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 17:42:50

Maybe my experience of evangelical muslims is clouded by living for ten years in Finsbury Park...

I don't actually think the humanists are in any way sinister, (I don't think much about them at all, tbh, which is probably something they should seek to address) although I do find their "everything will be tolerated except intolerance" line somewhat flawed.


Floggingmolly Mon 15-Oct-12 17:47:30

Have none of you ever seen a Gideon Bible in a hotel room? It's not "pushy" unless they actually force you to read it.
Just say no, thanks, and put it out of your mind.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 17:49:09

>I do find their "everything will be tolerated except intolerance" line somewhat flawed

Don't think that is their line, actually - that'd be more like the Unitarians. grin

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 17:50:27

Actually presenting each child with a book is being pushy, of course it is!

The Gideon bible is usually in a draw. You have to hunt it out, and it's not yours to keep.

Presents are a big deal at 4 & 5.

It's indoctrination!

GrimmaTheNome Mon 15-Oct-12 17:51:56

>Have none of you ever seen a Gideon Bible in a hotel room?
yes - don't much like that, but its not the same thing as giving it to a child as a special commemoration gift.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 17:53:19

Well, the humansits are advertising on the sides of buses these days. As does Marks & Spencer. Are they "evangelical"?

* And Dawkins is pretty evangelical about his beliefs and what theories should and should not be taught in schools..* Setting aside the misuse of the word "evangelical" yet again - you are completely right. Professor Dawkins would much prefer that children were taught FACTS and not FICTION in science classrooms. What a very silly man, eh?

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 17:53:46

Bold fail. Pfff.

Rosebud05 Mon 15-Oct-12 17:54:03

No, it's not normal practice in non-faith schools - no idea about faith schools.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 17:55:04

DesignerBaby. The humanist bus campaign was a request not to label children so young. The humanist bus campaign was a spin off from the atheist one. The atheist campaign was a response to in response to evangelical Christian advertising.Here is some info about it, the evangelical Christians went with "THERE IS A GOD", the Atheist campaign went with "There's probably no God". The humanist follow up was amazing,, as follows

"The posters display some of the labels routinely applied to children that imply beliefs such as ‘Catholic’, ‘Protestant’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Hindu’ or ‘Sikh’ mixed up together with labels that people would never apply to young children such as ‘Marxist’, ‘Anarchist’, ‘Socialist’, ‘Libertarian’ or ‘Humanist’. In front of the shadowy labels are happy children, with the slogan, ‘Please don’t label me."

The "somewhat flawed" slogan is a paradox.


aldiwhore Mon 15-Oct-12 17:56:43

Until very recently the Church and the state were so close they were each other's own spouse and relative, so although a village school (or any state school) may not be a Church school, they still often have strong ties with the Church. (and actually can think of a few state schools in areas where there's a large Jewish community, or muslim community where there is more a focus on judaism/islam but no formal 'allegiance'.

A traditional English state school in a village still has strong links with the Church (and farming!) which seems a little odd sometimes. I believe that all state schools should be a) active in the immediate community and b) secular... BUT that in itself can sometimes be difficult to achieve especially if the immediate community has as it's focal point, a Church.

I am absolutely against indoctrination and do think more needs to be done to walk that balanced line between community, education, and preaching. On the other hand, based on my own experiences of growing up in a rural village, not only did the influence of the Church not harm me, the relationship my school had with the Church actually enhanced my learning experience in many ways.

Not only did they not indoctrinate me, they didn't even tempt me, but I have also grown up with a healthy respect of the Church and it's place in English (in my case) heritage. My village was thought of as 'forward thinking' as the Church also invited other relgions to 'faith' classes, and the school celebrated every religious festival (they knew of) but perhaps with somewhat less verve than the Christian ones, because there weren't many other religions active in the community at that time... many schools do need to move on, step up and become more currently reflective though.

cantspel Mon 15-Oct-12 17:57:08

They offered the mother of a child a commemorative bible. Where is the force and indoctrintation in that?

The op doesn't even say if the child wanted the bible only that she has refused it

Kalisi Mon 15-Oct-12 17:57:37

I for one never turn down free stuff grin It will probably work in your favour anyway, nothing cements atheism more than reading the Bible IMO

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 17:57:43

Oh no, there's LOTS of things the Unitarians don't tolerate... grin

And the CofE would have no problem 'tolerating' the Humanist line as presented by Celine above. They'd LIKE everyone to believe (but any theological/ideological institution who suggests they wouldn't prefer everyone to share their beliefs is being somewhat disingenuous IMO) but they're hardly using threats and co-ercion to achieve this, are they. Merely making the offer.

In fact, if the other institutions/world religions aren't doing so, then they ought to be ashamed of themselves, really.


I fully appreciate that the bible is an important book and full of moral stories etc that can be used as a good reference point, but as dd has just turned 5 and is only just starting her school journey, it seems a tad premature to give her a book like this so soon. But that's just my personal opinion. I would like her to get good education on a lot of the world religions, but I don't know if this will happen. The deputy head who also teaches one of the reception classes is very active in the local church, and runs bible study classes for any interested children after school one day a week. This was advertised in one of the many leaflets we were given at home recently. 'always wanted your child to attend Sunday school but just too busy at the weekends? Well Why not come to blah blah club led by Mrs deputy head, every Wednesday after school!' She also arranges for church members to do various odd jobs, gardening etc, in fact anything that could be advertised as 'hey we need volunteers to help tidy up the flower beds around the school' is done by the church to regular praise in the newsletters. It is well known amongst pupils and parents alike that the current head is a very placid, rather timid chap, so if there's any enforcing to be done this is always carried out by the deputy. She def. wears the pants in our school!

I think the main reason for objecting to it is that it makes the assumption that one particular brand of superstitious crap is the default position for all children/families in the area. Which must make the children of Muslim/Sikh/Hindu/Jewish/all the other varieties of superstition families feel a bit excluded, singled out and Not Fitting In.

Is it a fairly whitebread area, OP? You do tend to get more of this lazy smug thoughtlessness in non-diverse places: people think that 'everyone' is at least culturally Christian even though most people these days are not.

cantspel Mon 15-Oct-12 18:04:52

what is wrong with having a bible study class after school?

It is the same as having a chess club in that those with an interest will attend and those without wont.

And you should be grateful to anyone who offers their time to enhance your childs school enviroment regardless if they are church members , from the local mosque or members of the WI. These people are all part of your community and it is because people do things like this you build a strong surportive community for your child.

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 18:05:53

Any civilised and cultured home surely has a bible already?

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 18:21:35

IIRC the Athiest bus campaign came first, followed by a response by a group losely affiliated to the CofE (but not ACTUALLY the CofE) and neither were aimed at children.

Presumably if I was a marxist, humanist or whatever, I would have no problem with my child identifying themselves as such. What an odd idea/campaign...

As for Dawkins, he is pushing for children to be taught his preferred ^theory to the exclusion of all others, including the Church of England's version(s) of events. None are yet proven, and as such I'm happy for my children to be exposed to all of them. I find his militancy particularly offensive because of it's blatant misrepresentation of the Christian faith, which is either dishonest or ignorant depending on your view of him.

Historically the CofE was instigated to try and mitigate religious intolerance.


CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 18:24:26

Any civilised and cultured home surely has a bible already?

Indeed. It's a useful thing to have around. Even the most cultured and civilised people run out of bog roll from time to time.

Actually - it's adults that Bibles are for, because only adults (and older children) can make the decision to belong to any religion. And any adult who wants a Bible will usually already have one.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 18:25:53

Also, despite being brought up in a rural norfolk community, at a CofE primary school, and with the church at the heart, I managed to turn out to be a pretty confirmed atheist until my late twenties.

At which point I changed my mind.



seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 18:29:51

Can you imagine the kerfuffle if the local mosque decided to comemorate the children's first day qt school with a complimentary Koran?

<wanders off, composing Sun and Daily Mail headlines>

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 18:30:02

Designer There are so many things wrong with your post, it's hard to know where to start.

If I was a Marxist, I would not call my child a "Marxist child". I am indeed a humanist, and my DS was NOT once referred to as a humanist child. Not once. Labelling children with the religions of their parents is morally wrong.

Evolution is a fact. No other "theories" are facts (they're not even theories, actually, just ideas). Science is about fact. Creationism is no more science than astrology is. Would you be happy for children to listen to lectures from Mystic Meg on astrology in the classroom, as an alternative to astrology?

If children are to learn about creationism it should be in RE, not science. And why not - everyone needs a good laugh from time to time.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 18:31:47

***alternative to astonomy, I mean.

Or how about alchemy in a chemistry class?

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 18:33:15

Sorry - to add again - humanism is, of course, not a religion. But it's as wrong to label children with their parents religion as it would be their ideologies.

maddening Mon 15-Oct-12 18:34:51

Yanbu to refuse

You would think a dictionary would be a.more apt gift for starting school.

eBook Mon 15-Oct-12 18:36:00

YABU. It's a free book, no strings attached at all.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 18:46:38

Ah Crikey got there first. grin

"IIRC the Athiest bus campaign came first" slams face into desk covered in gin You recall incorrectly. I linked to the history of the buses sad. It's nice to add facts to opinion sometimes.

"As for Dawkins, he is pushing for children to be taught his preferred ^theory to the exclusion of all others, including the Church of England's version(s) of events." This I have not the words for. I may need tea and a cake after this. <Cake or death? Cake this time I think>

I don't care if you worship a Christian God, Mother Earth, a range of deities, it's up to you. However, unless you've chosen a faith school, anything religious should be taught with a view to tolerance and understanding of others rather than as fact IMHO.

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 18:46:38

That would be fine with me seeker smile.

I'm happy to take anything free (except I'd prefer it to be in English so I could actually read it).

horsebiscuit Mon 15-Oct-12 18:47:38

I would have turned it down too. Any Christian family will have one already, so it's targetting non-Christians who, by definition, don't find it a relevant text. It's not exactly hard for anyone who wanted one to buy one FFS.
My BIL gives us religious texts for Christmas. They are "his thing". He knows we are atheists, but persists. It's what evangelising is about.

halloweeneyqueeney Mon 15-Oct-12 18:53:45

"Any Christian family will have one already"

not necessarily, we're a practicing family and only got one recently, had some at our parents houses but never got our own as adults till not long ago, and DS doesn't have his own yet, he does have a prayer book and various other religious bits like an arc with animals and story books based on the bible and some prayer bits in his bedroom, but he doesn't have his own proper bible yet.

So I don't think its targetting non-christians necessarily, I didn't get my own bible as a child until I made my communion, I very much doubt that many christian reception children have their own copy just yet. It would be a nice thing for him to get when he starts school

halloweeneyqueeney Mon 15-Oct-12 18:55:14

"It's not exactly hard for anyone who wanted one to buy one FFS"

very true, although I don't think many christians bought their own, they're usually given

The ones I had as a child were gifts, and our current one was given not bought

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 19:00:31

But if you don't want one, just say "no, thankyou" [baffled]

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 19:00:57

It's not like the kids are coming home with one and you are having to prise it out of their fingers and send it back lest they be polluted.

Tabliope Mon 15-Oct-12 19:01:46

I'm not religious and my DS is anti-religion but he still wanted a bible. It helps also with GCSE RE which he has to do and his free one meant I didn't need to fork out for one. Get it and stick it on the book shelf. I had one given to me in high school. It's such small print I can't imagine any small kid being interested in reading it. I might get round to reading bits of it.

ontheedgeofwhatever Mon 15-Oct-12 19:04:59

Don't turn it down. Its a lovely offer.

I have the Quaran and the bible on my shelves and they were both given to me. The bible by a church when I was leaving primary school and the Quaran much more recently by people from our local mosque. I have occasionally looked at both and quite like having them.

mymatemax Mon 15-Oct-12 19:07:11

unless you have particularly strong religious beliefs then I would happily accept, after all its not your gift, it is for your daughter. She can always get rid of it later if she doesnt want it.

Viviennemary Mon 15-Oct-12 19:07:58

If it's not a church school I think you were within your rights to decline. But I don't think it will exactly do any harm.

S'up to you really, isn't it. Take it or leave it. No need to get annoyed or stressed over it, it's just a free book that you had the option to decline.

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 19:11:43

But doesn't everyone have a bible anyway? [baffled emoticon]

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 19:13:33

It's not really suitable for 5 year olds is it?

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 19:26:09

No seeker I don't. Why on earth would you expect me to have a copy of a bible? I'm a third generation Atheist, it's not something we just have knocking about.

Do you have a copy of the Koran? The Bhagavad Gita? The Dasam Granth?

No? Why not?

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 19:29:47

"it's just a free book that you had the option to decline."

Has no one ever heard of marketing?!

All those freebie products that companies hand out, they do that our of the kindness of their hearts just because they think you would like some stuff do they?

Or are they handing out promotional gifts?

A free bible is a promotional gift if ever I heard of one! And it wasn't offered to the parents, but to the children.

I would get really annoyed at this tbh. It looks like the Deputy is using the school as a recruiting ground for her church, and the Head is letting this happen.

Mrsjay Mon 15-Oct-12 19:32:26

I can hardly see a bunch of 5 year old marching off to church on their own every sunday confused

Yes seeker I have a bible at home in fact I have a few <lapsed christian>

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 19:34:11

You don't need to go to church to believe though do you? It's about what's in your head, especially as a child who has no say over whether they go to church or not.

aufaniae Mon 15-Oct-12 19:36:41

The only person my age I know socially, who I think is likely to have a bible at home is SIL, as she's an RE teacher.

(An atheist RE teacher, that is.)

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 19:39:45

"Do you have a copy of the Koran? The Bhagavad Gita? The Dasam Granth?"

The first two, yes of course. The third, no, but I should. I also have Shakespeare, the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Brewer, an atlas and a wide selection of classic novels in English. And a lot of poetry.

The Church has offered this to the children through the school. The school are asking if you want it. It is hardly indoctrination.
I am an atheist, my husband is a Christian. Whatever the children decide for themselves in the future (at the moment they are both VERY keen on God) it's important that they have a decent cultural understanding of religious festivals nd practices. Therefore we have a Bible and a Qu'ran on the shelf and we look things up if we want to. They also have books of myths and legends. I wonder what it is you fear will happen if they read Christian stories...?

ScarahStratton Mon 15-Oct-12 19:42:09

I still have my bible that I was given when I started school. Having said that, I agree entirely with Grimma that a dictionary would be a far more suitable book.

I wouldn't take it, it's pretty much proselytizing. Everyone claiming it 'isn't an evil book' probably hasn't actually read it either, it's a disgusting book full of murder, child abuse, racism, rape, genocide, incest, unscientific and immoral nonsense.

Mrsjay Mon 15-Oct-12 19:42:56

I don't think it is rare for R E teachers to be athiest after all the are teaching about all religion and moral issues, DD got the R E prize this year she doesn't believe in god,

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 19:43:58

So your 5 year old gets her brand new Bible. You sit down excitedly to read it together. What story would you pick to read first? Noah the drunk? Jezebel getting eaten by dogs? Lot having sex with his daughters? I mean, there are so many to choose from.

As for weather children have a say whether they go to Church or not, I sat happily through a Harvest service yesterday, next to my believer husband who hasn't attended for years, because the CHILDREN wanted to do it. It seems like there are many people here who are deciding for their children, assuming that children don't have a spiritual side until they are in their teens...

Whether not weather (blaming iPad)

Freaky, and so is Shakespeare...

Mrsjay Mon 15-Oct-12 19:46:14

History is full of murder poverty plague rape we don't ban history books do we

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 19:46:57

I bet it's a new testament anyway, not a bible. Not much sex and being torn apart by dogs in that.

clemetteattle Yes and clearly there is no difference between Shakespeare and The Bible (apart from people believing the Bible in the inspired word of a gawd that we should praise and worship) hmm

Or that some people can read it as a historical document like many others. You seem to think everyone who reads it becomes brainwashed.
The book itself has no inherent power - your issue, I imagine, is about how the book has been used. But that is your issue and not for you to impose on your children who may well interpret it in a different way.

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 19:51:47

We don't tend to give 5 year olds history books about rape and plague as a lovely gift to commemorate starting school, do we?

Chandon Mon 15-Oct-12 19:53:16

I am an atheist.

DS1 got given a lovely children's bible at school.

He reads it for pleasure, he wants to know all the stories, he wants to read all about Jesus.

I think it is great for his education, and I will give him the freedom to choose his own faith (DH is Christian, I am not).

I would also accept an Qu'ran (sp.?) if it was handed out, I am quite curious to read it myself actually and see how much overlap there is exactly with the old testament.

But I do not believe any of these religious works is "evil" despite being an atheist.

I was raised to be curious, and would like to raise my children with the same ideas. Reading something does not mean you become brainwashed.

but yanbu for refusing if you don't want one, I am sure you are not the only one!

By denying children knowledge of the stories at the root of our culture, whether they be Biblical, pre-Christian, medieval myths, stories from other world religions and cultures, or recent history, you deny them part of themselves. It is up to them how they choose to act on those stories.
I see my job as to gently challenge my children's current religious zeal. They understand that not everyone believes what they do (including me) and they are OK with that. That way tolerance lies...

Or that some people can read it as a historical document like many others.

A historical document that is historically inaccurate.

You seem to think everyone who reads it becomes brainwashed.

No, I think it's an inappropriate book to give to children and if people actually bothered to read it they'd realize that.

But that is your issue and not for you to impose on your children who may well interpret it in a different way.

I never said my children wouldn't be allowed to interpret in a different way, did I? No, I said that they wouldn't be reading it when they are children since it's an inappropriate book for them to read. They can read it and think what they like about it when I deem them to be mature enough.

Noble have you not read Horrible Histories? Our school sell them at their book fair... To five year olds if they want them!

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 19:58:16

Perhaps, clement, the parents should police their children's reading habits a bit more carefully if they are reading about rape and plague at 5 years old.

An "inappropriate book" which you will deny. I wonder how that will turn out...

I will out myself as having a PhD in history - which historical documents from 2000 years ago do you imagine ARE accurate? Or from 1000 years ago for that matter? Four hundred years ago people believed that Shakespeare was writing history when he actually made most of it up!

Or maybe the idea of "policing" is where we fundamentally disagree. My children choose their books and then we talk about the issues they raise.

My son is four and doing the Black Death at school. Shall I police his school?

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:03:36

Good lord! (sorry, it was too good to miss) I'm a rampant atheist, raised to be a thinking atheist and am the proud owner of three bibles, one of which was a school prize. They're nice to have. Accept it. Book banning is an atrocious crime in my view, possibly even worse than teaching children there's a big sky fairy watching their every move. Print on paper can't hurt you. Dogma can, whichever way it goes.

Applauds garlicbutty

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 20:06:05

Do you let your kids watch whatever films and TV they like too, clemet?

And actually, studying the Black Death aged 4 sounds fucking dreadful.

My children choose their books and then we talk about the issues they raise.

If you want to sit down and discuss with your four year old why gawd decided to drown an entire planet full of people, animals, fish, plants etc or why a rape victim must be forced to marry their rapist and never be allowed to divorce them, that's your business. I don't care what you do and I don't care what you think about my parenting choices, either.

halloweeneyqueeney Mon 15-Oct-12 20:07:49

its useful for lots of things, its part of our history, when I did A level Art History we were warned that if we didn't know much about the bible or the history of the church we would seriously struggle with the subject and should reconsider the subject choice as it would be too much to catch up on

*drown should be kill

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 20:11:46

"My son is four and doing the Black Death at school. Shall I police his school?"

What a seriously bizarre thing for a 4 year old to be doing! Why, in dawkins' name- why?

Himalaya Mon 15-Oct-12 20:12:05

Garlicbutty -

Telling an outside organisation that the school does not want to distribute their publicity materials is not the same thing as 'banning books'.

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:12:15

Ooh, thanks, clemett smile

seeker Mon 15-Oct-12 20:14:15

And I do so hope all the Christian parents on mumsnet make sure that they don't take their children to church, or practice their faith with them, and give them lots of information about other faiths and atheism-otherwise they would be -assuming that their children are Christians too, and not giving them opportunity to decide for themselves.

Titchyboomboom Mon 15-Oct-12 20:15:35

I would have taken it but not sure when I would have given it to DD... I liked having a bible when I was small and although I have not read it in its entirity, I liked dipping in and out of it although I am not a Christian. I am a very philosophical person interested in religion in general, and am interested in the religious texts of all religions

Sigh, yes because I don't believe in banning books my children are watching Slasher movies...
I wonder if you have ever seen a Lion's Children's Bible (the ones that Churches and some schools give out for free.) Cartoons and stories of love and kindness are hardly the stuff of nightmares. We have the Old and New Testaments as well of course but, unsurprisingly, my school-age children prefer the stories about Jesus healing the sick to "on the first day..."
As previous posters have said such strength of feeling on either side is damaging to children.

Seeker, why not. You can hardly do the Great Fire of London without doing the Plague... There aren't many periods of history that are free from death so what else could they do in reception??

By the by, last week I had seven pieces of publicity for private after-school clubs or magazines full of adverts that come through the school. Our school can't be the only one that sends all sorts of stuff home?

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 20:23:07

So you police their viewing but not their reading? Why not? A book can be just as inappropriate as a slasher flick for a young child.

And bloody hell, some of the stories in the OT definitely are.

Really. Which book do you think my seven year old COULD read that was as inappropriate as a slasher film??
She reads the Children's Bible for goodness sake. You are sounding pretty hysterical! Which themes ARE appropriate in your mind? It's just that she has a bit of a thing for wizards, fairies and magical ponies and I am now worried that is the equivalent to a snuff movie in the minds of the permanently panicked...

eBook Mon 15-Oct-12 20:28:46

What version of the Bible will it be? If it's a full version then presumably it's a keepsake for when they are older, and they did say it was to "commemorate" so maybe it's not meant for just now? Or maybe it's a picture version with very simplified stories, which would be fine for this age.

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:30:01

I agree with those who've said knowledge of the bible is necessary to understand vast chunks of our culture and history - also that you don't get much culture at all if you edit out anything nasty! Himalaya, the church's publicity material would be worthy flyers and Alpha brochures, not a significant literary work that is pivotal to so much of our lives. My sibs and I managed to grow up free of sky fairies despite having an ordinary English education, bible-bashing grandparents and many copies of gospels & suchlike around the house.

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 20:31:34

Oh I see, Clemet, despite you calling the Bible a historical document that it is important for children to read and to be knowledgable about the stories it contains without policing them, you don't actually let them read it at all.

You let them read a heavily edited and fluffy version with all the really nasty bits glossed over or left out.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 20:35:18

a) Not sure where this argument is stemming from? Nobody is suggesting the labelling of children, Merely providing the opportunity, should their parents agree, to receive the book around which our society was founded. And every parent imparts their beliefs/ideologies to their kids, one way or another. I don't 'label' my children' CofE children'. Are you suggesting Christians do?

b) ah the old religion vs. evolution chestnut. I am both CofE and believe in evolution, sorry not to fit into your convenient box. A view supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, although his views are rather more nuanced than most. If you think there's a conflict between the two, then you've probably been reading too much Dawkins.

c) Actually love the atheist bus campaign. "There's probably no God". I actually thought that was hilarious.

I only became aware of the controversy from the atheist buses onwards though. (I never saw any of the first set, despite being a regular bus-user, not very memorable perhaps - or maybe I blanked them out!). I feel a bout the original crew probably something like moderate Muslims feel about Abu Hamza. That they're less than helpful, to put it mildly.


Tolerance and understanding of other people's religions might extend to not banning your children from reading the sacred texts of other religions though, surely? If my children would like to read the Koran, or the Humanist manifesto, the Gur&#363; Granth S&#257;hib or anything, then that's fine. I'd be happy they wanted to engage with the question of spirituality (or lack of) after which they'd be better placed to draw their own conclusions.

The OP, on the other hand and several others on here are advocating censoring her children's exposure to such texts. Which would be a shame, I think.


It is an historical document that it is important for all PEOPLE to read and understand, just as the Magna Carta is. They haven't read that in its original yet - their old English is not up to it...

LonelyCloud Mon 15-Oct-12 20:42:37

Norfolkbumpkin - having read some of the later posts citing the more unsavoury parts of the Old Testament, I'm wondering - did the school say what type of Bible they were giving out?

i.e. Children's Bible, New Testament, St James Bible or whatever.

Children's Bibles tend to have much less focus on the bits some previous posters are objecting too.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 20:42:45

Fgs she is 5! I'm 29 and can't understand the bible lol.
Bibles should be offered to teenagers who can read and think for themselves.
Although, we give kids fairy story books I'm sure it's on the same level, considering it is a book of them.

Indeed Chicken and think of the violence in fairy stories. All that infanticide. I hope parents are being vigilant.

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 20:46:26

My children's bible had the story of Jezebel being eaten by dogs in it, accompanied by a graphic picture. Put the fear of god into me, it did. I expect that was the aim.

I don't think that the aim of the church in giving young kids a bible is for them to study it as an interesting historical document. Get 'em young is probably more like it.

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:48:19

I'm with you, db - not in faith, obviously. I've read most of the world's significant religious texts, not always in full but including ancient mythologies (ie, religions that are no longer followed). I find it adds to my comprehension of the world around me and how it got this way. They are also poetic, thought-provoking in places and surprisingly similar in interesting ways.

I've got a carved crucifix, a Young Buddha, a set of worry dolls, some voodoo charms and some things made with traditional islamic geometry. They don't have any power, though part of their beauty comes from the powers some people ascribe to them. I'm glad I understand why they are as they are, and can appreciate them as objects. Life would be a bit two-dimensional without spirit.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 20:49:11

Put the fear of god!
Freudian Slip!

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 20:50:48

YY, Chicken & Clemett! Fairy stories are just another mythology. Most kids like being scared, don't they? I've never grown out of that ...

LonelyCloud Mon 15-Oct-12 20:55:03

On that theme, ChickenFillet, my mum gave me a book of stories (childrens versions) about the Greek and Roman gods when I was a child.

They had plenty of violence in them. Although a lot of the veiled references to gods merrily raping and murdering and transforming poor mortals on a whim went mostly over my head at the time. And these gods were all worshipped within the Roman Empire, at least until Christianity took hold.

aldiwhore Mon 15-Oct-12 21:00:45

I've read the bible. It was great. I have also watched horrible histories. It was great. I have a degree in Arty History, that was great too.

Human kind is full of stories, most of them involved some kind of awful nastiness, because you have to have comparison.

I distinctly remember going to Sunday School and hearing the story about Daniel and the Lion Pit... I did a little tole play with treacle the hamster and Sindy. Sindy won, just like the good lord said!

I learned many lessons. As I grew up, I learned the meaning to the stories, and most of them are understandable and interesting even if I am not a Christian, many of them have a common sense theme (don't murder, don't shag your mate's wife etc., ) and if nothing else are brilliant stories... yes there's a lot of darkness in the bible, a lot fo stuff I still think WTF?! WHY did you have to flood the entire world just because your kids weren't doing it right? I wouldn't get away with that.

I made me think. At a distance. Without a bit of outright evil, good is shit. The Bible covers both angles. (Although I never could get away from the fact I felt sorry for Satan just for arguing with God - best friend banished by a control freak).

Anyhoo. I hope my children feel the same. They aren't labelled. I was NEVER referred to as a Christian child and if I was, as an adult I can always say "nope, that's just not me".

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:05:05

All the RE teachers my DS has had have been atheists.

I think some people are being a bit disingenuous here. Let's be clear - the church are not giving this book away to the children because it's an important cultural tome, it's because they want them to join the gang.

If this were ANY other institution or group, it would be propaganda. If the Labour party showed up with a manifesto, we'd be hopping mad. Or how about the Scientologists with one of their batshit crazy books? The assumption on the part of the CofE that their particular holy book is somehow more special than any of the others is rather arrogant.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:10:57

crikey yes yes and yyyes

I agree it's a propaganda exercise... But the fear of that particular piece of propaganda is way beyond a rational response (which would be, in the OP's case either: yes please or no thank you.)

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:15:34

An awful lot of back pedaling there, Designer.

First you said: Presumably if I was a marxist, humanist or whatever, I would have no problem with my child identifying themselves as such. What an odd idea/campaign... You've managed to miss the point of the campaign entirely - it's not about children labeling themselves, it's adults doing it for them. So, you agree that children shouldn't be labeled now - so not such an odd campaign then?

You also said: As for Dawkins, he is pushing for children to be taught his preferred ^theory to the exclusion of all others, including the Church of England's version(s) of events. None are yet proven, The CofE's "version of events" is evolution. And your assertion that evolution has not been proven could not possibly be more wrong. I suspect, to be honest, that you don't really understand what the term "theory" means in science.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:17:55

Is not just propaganda you can say no thanks too.
It's join us or rot in hell.
That can be damaging. The child is 5, getting back to op.
I wouldn't say no thanks ... More like F off.

What rubbish. Many Christians dont even believe in hell.

I have just sent a polite email saying no thanks for the bible, and will just leave it at that. I do wonder what the take-up would be if we had to opt in to receive a bible, rather than opt out.....

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:27:37

*Is not just propaganda you can say no thanks too.
It's join us or rot in hell.*

Yep! "Now then children, God loves you very much. But he is somewhat lacking in self-esteem, so we should warn you that if you don't love him back (because that's really all he wants) he's going to burn you in a pit off Hellfire for all of eternity. Now, now...stop crying -it's all for your own good. You were born sinners, I'm afraid, so God has no choice". (All said in best Joyce Grenfell voice).


CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:30:13

Many Christians dont even believe in hell. Indeed. In spite of the fact that Jesus was quite explicit about hell. But what would Jesus know, eh?

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:31:28

Well they aren't really Christians! You can't pick and choose!

There seems to be a weird conflation of Catholicism, Anglicanism and other denominational views on this thread. Blimey, if you lot can't understand what each "team" stands for then perhaps you should do a bit more reading before you decide for your children?

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:35:04
noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 21:35:51

I wonder if the Christians who don't believe in hell never got beyond the fluffy edited children's bible version of events. The actual Bible is quite clear on such matters.

Chicken, of course they pick and choose. That's why there are 3 world religions based on one idea, nevermind the myriad of Christian denominations. How many Christians do you know who ACTUALLY believe the Old Testament for example?

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:36:47

Ultimately though, isn't this all the same bible? Or if not th same book, the same principles.
Anyway, I don't have kids so you can't be talking to me lol

Funny that, because there are also Christians who don't believe in the literal idea of Heaven either. Imagine being able to interpret the teachings of a book so freely. They must, of course, be stopped.

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 21:39:12

I quite like the picking and choosing. Least now we have some Christians treating women and homosexuals as equals.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:39:25

Honestly, I'm not having a joke. I'm shocked.
So what, people pick the nice bits like Xmas but don't do church, believe in hell ( I added the church bit, you didn't say hat but people who say Christian are expected in church)
Doesn't that slightly take the piss out of the sentiment of the whole thing?
Sorry, I'm all or nothing me.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:43:30

Blimey, if you lot can't understand what each "team" stands for then perhaps you should do a bit more reading before you decide for your children?

Nobody, but nobody, should be deciding ANYTHING for their children. Should we all be reading the Communist Manifesto to them, just in case they happen to grow up communists? I mean, isn't it a bit arrogant to assume they won't?

And sorry - but Christianity (whichever of the 33,000 denominations we're talking about) is based on the teachings of Christ. Who a) was very clear about Hell and b) was an ardent admirer of the OT & all of it's rules. That most Christians disregard all of this now speaks only to the clear fact that most Christians are more moral than the religion they subscribe too, and don't really believe most of it anyway. So, quite why they still call themselves Christian is anyone's guess.

Many Christians don't go to Church because they don't live near a congregation that share their own views and interpretations of the Bible. Going to church is not compulsory for Christians, although believing in God is (although there is also an allowance for doubt).

I do think its important that you understand these nuances before you make blanket statements about "all Christians."

Crikey, the Communist Manifesto is on my shelf as well as Mein Kampf. They are not very exciting though so it might be a struggle to get my children to read them...

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:49:14

This is am open forum and we are hopefully adults. I would never try and influence anyone in rl about religeon at all, but I am allowed an opinion and I don't have to know each detail to have one.
S I assume everyone here is an adult, if they are comfortable in their position won't give a fuck about me and I can say what I like without being an expert.

I'm not being rude, but I'll take you at face value, I know a priest actually, and I'll ask him if you can be a Christian but pick and choose which bits of the whole religeon you aRe allowed to believe.

I'll let you know how I get on.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:51:40

I. Probably just bitter as I am bisexual and will go to hell for indulging myself in homosexual acts.
Okay I'll lighten up a bit.
I've had fun talking to you and I will ask my priest smile

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 21:53:42

I did History, Clem so they're on mine too.

And you can use the term "interpretation" all you like - it's cherry-picking, pure and simple.

Crikey, I consider myself a socialist but I also "cherry pick"from Marxist ideology. So am I not entitled to be called a socialist?

PumpkInDublic Mon 15-Oct-12 21:56:02

Chicken, I know you probably know this, but I just wanted to say: If you believe in Jesus he taught about love. Any form of love is a good thing in this world. We need a damn bit more of it, no matter the gender of those who love. If there is a God I doubt he'd be punishing someone for bringing a little more love in the world.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 21:58:44

Haha, I'm not too worried, it's done now smile.
Fwiw, if I was going to he'll, I'd do t all again ;)

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:10:05

Not quite the same thing, Clem. Marxism is an ideology, Christianity is a religion.

An ideology stems from the word "idea" - it's subjective. A religion is supposed to be based on an objective fact - in this case that God exists & gave his only begotten son, blah, blah. Seems the height of arrogance to say, "Well, yes, I believe in Christ, but I'm going to ignore most of what he said".

Your etymology is not quite accurate. Religion is based on theology which is human interpretation of written and oral ideas. And humans interpret things in different ways. Hence the different denominations of all world religions.

I really do fail to see how it is "arrogant"

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 22:16:03

So honest respectful question, how do you interpret hell?
You can't ignore it I assume, but interpret I now see,musing ha example, explain to me? X

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:19:17

Er no. Theology is "the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths". The religion came first & theology is the study of it.

I am not a Christian and don't believe in God so Hell doesn't mean anything to me...

I have a Theology degree. Fuck knows how. <helpful contribution to thread>

No, that's theology according to Wikipedia (tut, tut). The only way the Bible could be objective fact would be if it were the direct words of Jesus and given that it is a number of books, each giving a different or separate interpretation, written many years apart and then translated, retranslated and translated again, only the very extreme would argue that it is the "word of God"

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 22:24:04

So I am not sure of your qualifications on your judgements how I should be able to make the statements I have now, think ill stick with them for now.

JennyPiccolo Mon 15-Oct-12 22:26:55

I haven't read the whole thread but think about this: you wouldn't call a child a Tory, or a socialist, even if you wanted them to have certain beliefs and you intended for them to follow that path. So why a Christian, or anything else? Giving a child a bible, to me, seems as absurd as giving them some political propaganda. I would decline.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:27:13

I really do fail to see how it is "arrogant"

Really? To think you know better than the creator of the universe is not arrogant?

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 22:27:57

Crikey not back paddling at all... Pretty down the line, me.

I think Dawkins view of evolution and it's relation to God might JUST be a little different to the Church's views, which is, broadly, that evolution is the best explanation of the way things are that we have, but that it was God's idea.

And I find your assertion that bringing my children up aware of what their parents believe and why, because I'm a Christian, means I'm 'labelling' them, but an atheist, who, presumably is bringing their children up with an idea of what their parents believe and why, isn't 'labelling' them. It's all a bit of a bollocks argument. Sauce for the goose etc.

I get a bit defensive that the atheists/humanists often seem to always think they have a monopoly on rational thought and tolerance, and that anyone who has faith is either an idiot or a bigot or both. Thinking that it's not possible to look at the facts and come to a different conclusion is rather arrogant, no?

Jesus speaking on hell - well he doesn't go into much detail, actually, using old testament references mainly, which, as a Rabbi was the customary way to describe it. If you understand it as a metaphor trying to communicate their perception of a life without God then it's all a bit more complicated that "Join us or rot in hell" becomes 'Join us or face an eternity without God'. If you believe in God than that's the very worst thing you could think of, and you look for ways to try and communicate how awful you think that would be. If you have decided that you don't believe in God then it shouldn't really a problem for you.

The bible is metaphor, parable, poetry, tone-poem, letters, philosophical musings, prophesy, dreams all all sorts. Choosing to take every passage literally, whilst convenient, is stupid. Sadly some branches of Christianity are equally to blame for doing this as those who use the same approach to attack the faith.

And yes, a lot of the old testament is rendered null and void as we are under a 'new covenant'. Which is why I could, if I wanted, wear a poly-cotton bouse. I wouldn't though, because it would make me sweat. I do enjoy a bacon sarnie though. Same thing.

So no, I don't believe you can pick and choose, actually. But you can use your intelligence to work out what kind of literature you're reading, what the intention was at the time, what the historical context was, and how it applies today. And you can take the time to understand what the New Covenant means, what parts of the OT it supersedes and why.

But that all takes effort.

Short version for those that can't be arsed: The Bible - more complicated that you might think.


Slaps head, you do know that some Christians don't believe God created the universe don't you...?

noblegiraffe Mon 15-Oct-12 22:29:33

So when Jesus says 'If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched' people can say 'mistranslation, he didn't mean that' but when he says '‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself' everyone nods and says 'absolutely'?

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 22:30:21

Ooh, clemett, I've got to make sure this thread stays on my active list now! Your post at 22:22 reads like a direct challenge to some highly articulate Mumsnetters, who do actually believe the bible is the word of god. I think at least one of them is a christian theologian. I love those threads! <settles down>

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 22:31:25

Yes I do. They aren't fucking Christians then!
Don't head slap, I'm to a Moron, maybe purist is the word, I dunno.
Probably not knowing me.

garlicbutty Mon 15-Oct-12 22:31:33

I'm often surprised by the paucity of handless, one-eyed, one-footed christians, Giraffe.

MrsWolowitz Mon 15-Oct-12 22:33:33


Its a bible and a nice commemorative gift.

Just let her have it or put it away and ask her if she wants it when shes older. Its a special thing starting school and its very kind of the church to give a gift to commemorate it.

Wow, some people really do look to take offence at anything no? hmm

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:34:16

The only way the Bible could be objective fact would be if it were the direct words of Jesus and given that it is a number of books, each giving a different or separate interpretation, written many years apart and then translated, retranslated and translated again, only the very extreme would argue that it is the "word of God" Ah, well on that I entirely agree. But, given those facts, on what basis have you decided that any of it's true?

If you don't like Wikipedia, OK.....

The Free Dictionary:1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
2. A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
3. A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary

Merriam Webster:

: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world
a : a theological theory or system <Thomist theology> <a theology of atonement>
b : a distinctive body of theological opinion <Catholic theology>
: a usually 4-year course of specialized religious training in a Roman Catholic major seminary

Oxford Dictionaries:

Definition of theology
noun (plural theologies)
[mass noun]
the study of the nature of God and religious belief:
a theology degree
religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed:
in Christian theology, God comes to be conceived as Father and Son
[count noun]:
a willingness to tolerate new theologie

Sorry, Clem tut in your patronising way all you like. You're wrong. Theology is the study of religion - so quite how have you decided that religion is based on it?

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:35:28

Slaps head, you do know that some Christians don't believe God created the universe don't you...?

Name one.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 22:36:18

You could always get further than the first paragraph of wikipedia. In the next section you get:

Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity".

Which is talking or thinking about God.

No more complicated than that.

In fact that's what we're doing here, in a sense. shock

Quick, MNHQ, pull the thread before everyone gets INDOCTRINATED.


CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:46:11

Designer Er yes - God. God that is've got it....via a RELIGION!

Religion & belief in a deity came first. Sorry, but I'm astounded that anyone's trying to suggest otherwise. You appear to be confusing philosophy with theology, both of you.

The root of the word is "theos" (or something, can't recall) which means "God/gods". It's from there that we get theism/theology & even a-theism. Theology literally means "talking about god/the gods".

Crikey, I assume that you have read the whole thread and know that I am NOT a Christian ... But I am dead good at Latin.

As for a Christian who doesn't believe God created the universe - my husband (I just woke him up to check details of his interpretations - he is a dreadful cherry picker but is also a pretty nice man who is caring, tolerant and liberal so it doesn't seem t be doing anyone any harm.)

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 22:57:21


No, I think you'll find that the CofE & Dawkins (and every single biologist on Earth, btw) are pretty much of one mind about evolution - that it happened & explains the diversity of life on this planet. Where they may diverge is with regard to abiogenesis - what got life started. But that's actually a whole other subject and has nothing to do with evolution (other than that abiogenesis had to happen first).

Again - you are misunderstanding my argument & that of the Humanist campaign. That children are labeled as "Christian children, Muslim Children, Catholic children" is without question. Yes, I'm an atheist - but I never once said that my son was an atheist, or even that we are an atheist family. He was a Buddhist for about 3 years, although he's an atheist now. I have no idea what you call your children - and the campaign isn't actually about you, is it?

No, there's no "New Covenant". Jesus is the person that introduced the idea of Hell in the first place (wasn't even mentioned in the OT) & he quite explicitly said that all of the OT laws would remain in place until the Earth ceases to exist. I believe that the Earth is still here??

I don't think all Christians are bigots or stupid. I think the beliefs themselves are stupid and bigoted, yes. And so do most Christians, that's why they disown them.

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 23:00:34

Agree that God came first. (but I would wouldn't I!)

I think that Clement is suggesting that the plethora of religions and particularly denominations, are as much the result of hundreds of years of 'thinking about God' as they are the* cause* of it.

In which she has a point. For example, without theology we wouldn't have the shed loads of Christian denominations we (sadly) do. I love theology, and think it's necessary and desirable to examine what one believes and why. But it causes no end of hassle, frankly, because people are hell bent on trying to make sure everyone thinks they've got it 100% right.

And frankly, IMO the only person ever to do that would be Jesus. And He had an unfair advantage. grin

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:04:10

Theos is Greek, Clem - so perhaps your Latin needs some work.

I never said you were a Christian & I'm sure that your husband is perfectly lovely.

Although, admittedly, I think your "Slaps head" comment is so ridiculous I can't even be bothered to comment on it further.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:05:08

Pssssst...."Deus" is latin for God. That's where we get "deity" from wink.

ChickenFillet Mon 15-Oct-12 23:05:40

Te comment at oly extreme Christians beleive the bible is the one that gets me.
It's not, it's the true ones who beleive it and the lax ones who cherry pick the best it's for the own gain.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:07:32

I think that Clement is suggesting that the plethora of religions and particularly denominations, are as much the result of hundreds of years of 'thinking about God' as they are the cause* of it.*

That's not actually what she said - not even close. If that's what she meant, then she needs to say what she means.

But anyway. Good night all smile

This is the problem with zealots on either side - they are so determined to prove a point they can't concede that the reality does not conform to their over-valued opinion. Whether or not it suits YOU and your argument, the reality is there are people who describe themselves as Christians who do not believe in lots of the Bible, so your argument is with a book, not with followers of a book, and that's pretty ridiculous in itself.

You asked at 22:32 why I thought any of the Bible was true; I don't, but I am fascinated by the myriad of different ways those wh do believe in it process their belief.

That, of course, is theoria as opposed to religio.

Chicken, as I said it is extreme to believe that the Bile is the literal word of God.

Crikey, I said very clearly that modern religion is based on years of theology. I think you were too busy looking things up on Wikpedia to notice.

Bible rather than Bile grin

designerbaby Mon 15-Oct-12 23:19:47

"No, I think you'll find that the CofE & Dawkins (and every single biologist on Earth, btw) are pretty much of one mind about evolution" apart from the rather significant idea about who's idea it was/is.

I am probably misunderstanding the humanist camapign - because if I'm not labelling anyones kids, and you're not labelling anyone's kids, then who is this aimed at? I'm in the advertising buisness and it seems an ill-conceived concept to me. Wouldn't have made it past the first brainstorm anywhere I've worked.

FWIW my children won't identify themselves as Christian until the point when they decide, of their own free will, to 'confirm' their belief, either through confirmation or adult baptism.

"No, there's no "New Covenant". " Yes there is. That's Christianity 101.

"Jesus is the person that introduced the idea of Hell in the first place (wasn't even mentioned in the OT)." Bollocks. Google 'sheol'.

"He quite explicitly said that all of the OT laws would remain in place until the Earth ceases to exist." Context. Audience. Message & application. Also in the context of other stuff He said. but it's too late to go nto all that now. Suffice to say that's Christianity 102. Not stuff that Christian theologians are losing sleep over.

"I think the beliefs themselves are stupid and bigoted, yes. And so do most Christians, that's why they disown them." None of the ones I know. And I'd be willing to bet I know more than you do... grin

As for Clement - she can speak for herself, but I read "Religion is based on theology which is human interpretation of written and oral ideas. And humans interpret things in different ways. ^Hence the different denominations of all world religions.^" as saying pretty much what I said above...

Anyway, too late for theology.

Nighty night. Don't let the Christians bite. grin


It's not so much about wanting to forbid DC reading the bible or whichever book of special fairytales they might fancy reading. Christian myths and superstitions are just as culturally relevant to the UK as Greek and Roman and Norse and Celtic ones, all of which have had direct and lasting influence on the way we live now. It's about peddlers of one specific brand of crap taking it upon themselves to peddle their crap and their imaginary friend to five year olds in such a way as to make it seem extra important and significant, and official. A more suitable present for DC starting school would probably be a dictionary or a book of poetry, but there is no particular reason why any person or organisation should fund such a gift.

I think the OP#'s annoyance might actually be similar to mine when a rubbish pop group played at DS school and he came home with stickers and stuff - I thought it inappropriate that a record company should basically use a school for free advertising - to 5 and 6 year olds, it seems as though this particular pop group was endorsed by the school and officially Good. (It was The Wanted, FFS.)

Kalisi Mon 15-Oct-12 23:24:50

Hahs Bile. Freudian slip there wink

MummysHappyPills Mon 15-Oct-12 23:26:11

We all got given a gideon's bible in school. Not a church school.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:27:34

Erm...actually you didn't. You said: "Religion is based on theology which is human interpretation of written and oral ideas." Which is completely wrong, so I don't blame you for trying to pretend you didn't really say it.

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I'm a zealot <sigh>. I always know when I've won the argument, because out come the ad hominems. You have that in common with many Christians, at least.

My "problem" (if I even have one) is with people who claim to follow a book and then ignore most of it.

I'm sure you are a very nice person, Clem - but I have found your arguments this evening to be the daftest I have encountered in a long time.

(Christians who don't believe God created the universe hmm?)

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:32:21

I am probably misunderstanding the humanist camapign - because if I'm not labelling anyones kids, and you're not labelling anyone's kids, then who is this aimed at? Erm....people who are?

I will address the rest of your post tomorrow, Designer. I totally agree that it's too late for theology.

You are tiresome now. I can't really be bothered to explain the bleeding obvious and if it pleases you to point score then so be it.
I am unclear however because you started off finding the Bible problematic and now you find Christians who do not interpret the Bible problematic. Which one is it? And if it is the latter, why would you bothered by people who believe there is a higher entity and that the spirit of that entity is love, and whose belief in that entity is also compatible with a belief in the Big Bang theory?
I don't share that belief (because I don't believe in the entity) but I am ENTIRELY puzzled as to why that belief would bother you?

Should read "do not interpret the Bible literally."

noddyholder Mon 15-Oct-12 23:45:58

I would refuse it. I think it's wrong to try and set the tone like that. It's a waste of money so they must have certain motives to go there. It is trying to set Christianity as the default religion.

CrikeyOHare Mon 15-Oct-12 23:57:23

I am not deliberately "point scoring" - but I agree I am scoring the points wink.

I am unclear however because you started off finding the Bible problematic and now you find Christians who do not interpret the Bible problematic. Which one is it? Both, perhaps?

I am not bothered by the "belief". But beliefs inform actions - and therein lies the problem. Actions like handing out copies of a Holy Book without invitation to children; trying to teach them nonsense in a science class (and yes, that's happening); preventing equality within society; demanding special privileges & the right to break the law because of those beliefs. To name but a few.

And that's just in this country. Head abroad (say Uganda, Nigeria etc) and let's see just how "loving" Christianity actually is, shall we?

So what is your problem with people who interpret and practice Christianity in none of those ways?

Actually, don't bother. I have managed to break of my own rule of "don't argue with a bigot" so I will take my oh-so infuriating liberal-minded tolerance off to bed.

CrikeyOHare Tue 16-Oct-12 01:39:42

So what is your problem with people who interpret and practice Christianity in none of those ways? None. But this thread is not about such people - it's about those who "hand out copies of a Holy Book to children without invitation" so my view on this matter would therefore be relevant here.

I am not a bigot. But if insulting me before running away makes you feel a bit better about the monumental mess you've made with this discussion, feel free.

I'd be embarrassed too wink.

designerbaby Tue 16-Oct-12 08:55:40

OK. I have work to do but...

FWIW I don't think anyone on here is a bigot, actually...


The bibles were 'offered' with an option to refuse, not 'handed out without invitation'.

Christianity is, like it or not the state religion. If I was raising my family in an islamic state, I would fully expect them to receive a copy of the Koran at some point in their school career. In most Islamic states there would not, however, be the option to politely refuse.

So yes, in law, Christianity does have 'special status'. That's the country we live in. Lump it or campaign for change, but don't be 'shocked and surprised' it's hardly news. [Interestingly I suspect as many Christians as non-christians would welcome a greater separation between church and state. I'm on the fence on that one, actually.]

The good news is that what also enshrined by law is 'freedom of worship'. This goes hand in hand with a Christian state, and the Christian faith, because of the emphasis on free will. Faith in God is a relationship based on love. It's not love if you force someone, against their will. It has to be their free choice, you can;t compel someone to have faith, to love God. Free will. It also causes all sorts of mess, confusion and doubt and leaves the way open for humans to make a huge hash of things. But it's central, unavoidable and instrinsic to what I, as a Christian believe.

And lastly, I think of Christianity as a bit like white chocolate magnums. The first time I had a white chocolate magnum, it was head-explodingly good. Simply the best thing I'd ever had in my mouth, EVER. So, naturally I'm going to go to my friends and say "Oh my goodness, have you TRIED a white chocolate Magnum!? You REALLY should.". I'm not going to think, "This is AMAZING. I mustn't tell anyone I know about this, I must keep it a secret. No-one must know how much I like White Chocolate Magnums, or how good they are." Now, anyone I tell about white chocolate magnums, is fully within their rights to say "I don't like white chocolate" or "Ice-cream hurts my teeth." or "I'm on a diet" or whatever. I would have to accept that they are not going to share my love for white chocolate magnums, but I would also feel like they were missing out.

So I may feel you're misguided in your rejection of Christianity. But I would defend to my dying breath your right to reject it. Because if you didn;t have that, then it wouldn't be a religion of love and free-will. It wouldn;t be the God that I know, and who invites us to love him, but never, ever, compels us to.

You have the option to refuse. Always. But I, as a Christian, will keep making the offer. Always.


Himalaya Tue 16-Oct-12 10:05:00


Yes it is a Christian state (historically, nominally, for what its worth etc...)

But in this case it wasn't the state handing out bibles to all children to commemorate starting school (which would be a whole nother kettle of fish)

It was one Deputy Head thinking it would be a good idea to allow an organisation to which she is affiliated to distribute its literature/free gift as part of a school ceremony.

They had the sense to think 'you know what, some people might not appreciate this: lets send a letter home to find out', but they didn't have the sense to think 'perhaps it is just not a good idea to commemorate an important shared experience in the school's life with an item that is not inclusive'.

I think in this case the school should have refused the church's offer.

designerbaby Tue 16-Oct-12 10:33:15

"It was one Deputy Head thinking it would be a good idea to allow an organisation to which she is affiliated to distribute its literature/free gift as part of a school ceremony."

It was the local CofE church, FFS, not the Klu Klux Klan. The OP lives in rural Norfolk, (where I, too was brought up) and where, legally and culturally, the local church is at the heart of the community.

This is honestly RIDICULOUS.

If my children were brought up in a certain part of North London which is predominantly Jewish (and they very nearly were, except the houses were too expensive) and the local Rabbi/synagogue offered them a copy of the Torah to mark the start of school, I would honestly, honestly think that was a nice gesture. I would accept, and have a discussion with my DC about who it was from and what it was. I would explain that Mummy and Daddy have different beliefs, but that many of their classmates go to Synagogue instead of Church.

I honestly don't know why this is perceived as so sinister and scary. It enriches our children, and makes them more aware of the beliefs of others. I'm all for open discussion of beliefs and welcome anything that prompts that.

Including this, slightly weird, thread.


GrimmaTheNome Tue 16-Oct-12 11:25:05

I don't think I read anything that implies the OP thought that it was 'sinister and scary'. Having politely declined, she was just wondering if this sort of gift was normal - in the light of the deputy possibly having a bit of an agenda.

'Am I reading too much into the bible thing or is it a tad pushy?' - well, some think the former, some think the latter. Its funny how threads can mutate from 'a tad pushy' to 'sinister and scary' grin

Scholes34 Tue 16-Oct-12 12:34:17

It's a kind gift, and one you can say no to if you don't want it.

The school is very lucky to have volunteers from outside the school to help keep the school environment looking good.

The vast majority of people I encounter who volunteer through their church do so to be helpful to those in need of help and sometimes unable to help themselves rather than because of any hidden agenda of indoctrination.

A local Baptist church runs a youth club two of my DCs attend, with no requirement or suggestion they might attend any services, no guilt trips if they don't go to their services (and they don't). For 50p each a week, they get to hang out with their friends in a space large enough to accommodate them with some excellent youth workers and volunteers from the church.

CrikeyOHare Tue 16-Oct-12 13:01:35

Hi, Designer I'm going to address the points you made last night, because I promised I would - then let's agree to differ, OK?

(And thank you. I may be a right pain in the arse "militant" atheist - whatever that is - but I'm not a bigot).

I had to look up "Sheol" because I've never heard of it - but I see it's another name for Hades, which I am aware of. Sheol/Hades is not "Hell". It was a place that the dead went to - not as a punishment, not as an alternative to Heaven. All dead people went there - good, bad & indifferent. The concept of "Hell" - a place of torment waiting for bad guys (who didn't love God enough usually) originated with gentle Jesus, I'm afraid.

The "New Convenant" did not do away with the OT Laws - you are confusing the two issues. Jesus was a Jew, had great respect for the laws laid out by the Hebrew Bible and made it clear on more than one occasion that he hadn't come to abolish the laws, but to fulfil them: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." I am aware that later on Paul claims that Jesus abolished the need to live by those laws, but whose word would you rather take - Paul (who never even met the guy) or Jesus's. No, I have not taken the verse out of context.

And, frankly, if the OT Laws have no more relevance, then why do Christians revere the !0 Commandments? What do you think they are?

"I think the beliefs themselves are stupid and bigoted, yes. And so do most Christians, that's why they disown them." None of the ones I know. And I'd be willing to bet I know more than you do... I'd be willing to bet far more that you don't. Christian cherry-picking of what they do want to abide by and what they don't is so extremely well known that I can't even be bothered to argue this with you. If you lived your life as a good Christian woman, following the Bible as you should, your life would be total shit - that's why almost nobody does.

But here's the thing, Designer - Christian state or not (and that's only true in theory, we are overwhelmingly secular here, as we should be), rather a lot of us do not accept that your God exists, that Jesus (if he'd lived at all, which is doubtful) was more more divine than Frank Bruno & we'd prefer that you do not keep trying to thrust your beliefs into our lives. Because, frankly, we're just not interested. That the local church thought that giving a copy of their own Holy Book (--of bronze age fairytales--) would be a good thing to do strongly suggests that they not only consider it "special", but think the rest of us should too. And that's presumptous.

And on that note - I am fucking off. smile

CrikeyOHare Tue 16-Oct-12 13:03:34

*No more divine than Frank Bruno, not more more. Sorry.

DuelingFanjo Tue 16-Oct-12 13:15:14

yanbu. I would refuse it too.
they get them when they are young and can't resist.
A dictionary or a story book would be a better gift and really the school shouldn't allow the religious to try and sneak things like bibles into homes which is basically what they are doing through your children.
Sounds to me like the headmistress is totally out of order.

Scholes34 Tue 16-Oct-12 13:34:29

Dueling - they're not trying to sneak bibles into people's homes. Parents were able to say they wouldn't like to accept the gift.

Dictionaries are more appropriately given as gifts to Year 6 children when they're a little more useful.

"Get them while they're young" "sneaking" the Bible into people's homes?! shock

PS Crikey, I have been around these parts a fair few years and thankfully it is not often someone debates in your style (mean-spirited, unnecessarily aggressive) thank goodness, but for the record, a bigot, from the French root, is
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Grown ups don't generally debate by accusing one another of "running away" or playing "I've got more points than you." Most people are able to express a difference of opinion without being that obnoxious.

brandysoakedbitch Tue 16-Oct-12 13:49:09

OP I think this is all about you making a little stand, bucking the trend rather than it this having any substance. It's much more about drawing attention to yourself ( and defining yourself as 'different'0 than you actually making any sense whatsoever. It's a book love, that is all.

This is your first child isn't it? YABU

DuelingFanjo Tue 16-Oct-12 14:36:23

"Dictionaries are more appropriately given as gifts to Year 6 children when they're a little more useful."

How is a bible in any way useful for a small child?
It IS an attempt to get religion into the hands of small impressionable children.

I am not in any way intollerant of grown ups deciding to believe in god/gods (though I think they must be a bit stupid as it makes no rational sense) because they have made up their own minds, I am intollerant of this shoving and pushing of religion into schools and the minds of young children.
Pisses me off greatly that my son will get all this garbage phased into his life by school/parents/society when he was born totally free of religion and any of the stuff associated with it.
I will be keeping him away and out of it for as long as I possibly can and I really do resent the fact that at some point I will have to do the whole 'well this is what some people pelieve' speech. Why can't he just continue to grow up without having to listen to these fairy tales and told they are true.

aufaniae Tue 16-Oct-12 14:38:36

brandysoakedbitch patronising much?

I totally understand the OP's reasons - I would do the same - and it's nothing to do with being PFB or attention seeking, how ridiculous.

Himalaya Tue 16-Oct-12 14:39:07

Nice isn't it?

'Here is a little gift, of course you are free to say no.'

But do be aware that if you do say no you will be seen as unreasonable, 'making a little stand', drawing attention to yourself, being precious about your PFB etc...

garlicbutty Tue 16-Oct-12 14:40:48

clemetteattlee Tue 16-Oct-12 13:39:26 - smile

Scholes34 Tue 16-Oct-12 14:52:41

Dueling - I was quite happy to accept you're not intolerant, and then, ooh, a bit of a rant crept in there.

The OP, and any other parent at the OP's school, is quite able to say no thank you without drawing attention to themselves or being judged. By broadcasting via AIBU, then of course the comments will fly in.

designerbaby Tue 16-Oct-12 15:06:40

Hi Crikey, I need to keep this brief:

Sheol and Hades are not the same thing, actually. Hades was a convenient substitute when the Hebrew texts were translated into Greek, but it's misleading, and the two words have very different connotations. Certainly by Jesus' time, the idea of sheol with areas for the righteous and the unrighteous was well established. Honestly this isn't complicated. The assertion that Jesus made up Hell is just rubbish, as only a the most cursory amounts of research will show.

Secondly, Jesus was the fulfillment of the old testament laws, which I admit is not quite the same thing as abolishing, but in practice it works out pretty much the same. He's done the work. Again, this really is theology 101, basic Christianity.

The Ten Commandments and the Levitical laws are different things.

But look. I'm happy to debate Christian theology, but there's no point when your grasp of it is so lacking, and yet your views so adamant.

You might want to try Christianity for Dummies for starters.

"If you lived your life as a good Christian woman, following the Bible as you should, your life would be total shit" I try to, and it's not. Far from it. Nuff said.

I don't cherry pick, but I do use my intelligence to try and get to the point behind the scriptures, and live accordingly. As do most of my Christian friends, including clergy, respected theologians and regular, run of the mill 'trying-to-work-it-out' Christians. That's not cherry picking though. Its understanding what the bible is and we're supposed to do with it.

And of course we consider Christianity 'special'. Otherwise we wouldn't be Christians, would we? (Musilims presumable consider Islam 'special'. Jews consider Judaism 'special'.) By which token we obviously think everyone else should too, whilst accepting that not everyone will. If we believe that it's true then it's true for everyone, by definition. It's not presemptious, it's the obvious, logical view if you believe something to be true.

There are of course ways and means of doing this, which respect people's right to reject what you're saying. And offering a commemorative bible with an option to politely decline is hardly bashing them over the head, is it.

But by all means f* off. You have free will, and you can do whatever you like. It's the Christian way, dontcha know. grin


DuelingFanjo Tue 16-Oct-12 15:38:31

I tollerate the religious, as in if they want to have faith in something then that's absolutely fine. No worries. Good for them and their lives.
When they start trying to push it into my life or my child's life then I find that annoying and I find that behaviour hard to tollerate as it's uncalled for.

eBook Tue 16-Oct-12 17:32:09

Happy to tolerate you too DuelingFanjo grin

noddyholder Tue 16-Oct-12 17:56:59

If everyone who stood up and voiced their objections to things they really don't believe in was branded as making a little stand it would be a sad world. Thank god people with strong beliefs stand up and say so rather than think they may be drawing attention to themselves hmm.

No brandy, I have more than one child so don't feel I am being pfb. I have also politely refused the offer of a bible by email direct to the school office as instructed. I did not give reasons why, and I haven't spoken to any of the other parents about it. It is my personal decision, but the beauty of getting opinions on here is that this is an anonymous forum, so I am only drawing attention to my username smile

WhenLifeGivesYouLemons Wed 17-Oct-12 16:53:04

My little sister accepted a free bible that was offered at secondary school. When I asked her why she accepted it (as she is pretty openly atheist) she said she wanted to sell it on ebay wink

A fledgling capitalist

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