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To be uncomfortable with (evangelical?) christian organisations in schools?

(38 Posts)
KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 16:16:12

My DCs have mentioned doing something at school called "Bible Explorer". I've googled it and it lead me to www.bible.org.uk. Their website says:

"Bible Explorer is an educational programme taught exclusively in schools to children in Key Stage 2 years 5 & 6. There is a series of five one hour lessons for the Old Testament and five one hour lessons for the New Testament. The aim of Bible Explorer is to teach children the storyline of the Bible - the big picture. Bible Explorer is non-denominational, non-confessional and non-conversionary. "

<just noticed that bit about Y5&6 - neither of my DCs are in those years....>

Reading elsewhere on their website, they are part of a larger organisation called Walk Through Ministries, whose rationale is:

"....... to encourage Bible reading which, with the help of the Holy Spirit, results in real life-change."

They also say in their statement of faith:

"We believe that the Bible is God’s written revelation to mankind, and that it is verbally inspired, authoritative, and without error in the original manuscripts".

So we are talking Bible literalists I think. This is ringing alarm bells for me in suggesting a strong evangelical and fundamentalist basis - am I wrong?

These seminars are being offered free to all schools (they suggest that schools may wish to donate to the Walk Thru Ministries charity, but they don't charge a fee for the Bible Explorer sessions).

I will admit to a level of ignorance about how much RE kids in KS1 are supposed to be doing. I am not a Christian and the DCs' school is not CofE. They seem to have regular visitors from local churches who teach them Bible stories as "fact" - is this normal? Is this what the National Curriculum calls for?

I am really, really uncomfortable with the idea of RE being taught by people from international Christian organisations. AIBU?

ThatBloodyKnid Wed 10-Oct-12 16:22:09

YANBU! I would talk to the school about this.

EmpressOfTheSevenScreams Wed 10-Oct-12 16:22:24

YANBU. Unless your DCs are at a faith school I don't think they should be prioritising any religion and taking the Bible word for word literally, well... I just don't see how you could? And which original manuscripts?

AgentZigzag Wed 10-Oct-12 16:23:01

If it's just teaching the storyline of the Bible does it matter who put the program together, so long as they're not putting their own slant on it.

worldgonecrazy Wed 10-Oct-12 16:25:48

YANBU - children are very impressionable and have difficulty thinking critically about what adults in positions of authority tell them.

I would have major reservations about letting young children be exposed to this.

MrsWolowitz Wed 10-Oct-12 16:26:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 16:32:04

Mrs Wolowitz, I absolutely agree that children should be exposed to all kinds of other religions and cultures. My concerns are (a) that this appears to be an evangelical organisation and (b)I have not seen evidence that they have had similar time given over to other religions or faiths. I suspect the school have booked the seminars because they're free.

I've asked my kids what they think of the lessons, and as they do when I ask them anything about school, they shrug and say "it was all right". But then months down the line I have one of them arguing with me that people can't evolved from monkeys as Mrs X in assembly said that God created people.

Viperidae Wed 10-Oct-12 16:34:01

I think YABU. Would you complain if they were learning about Dawkins and atheist viewpoints?

I believe it is good for children to hear different viewpoints and my job, as a parent, is to help them consider all of those points and form their own opinions from them. I don't think it is for us parents to censor what our children learn (other than distressing or nasty stuff obviously) but we should keep discussing things and help them to learn how to assess information and form their own beliefs.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 10-Oct-12 16:37:57

That sounds ... dubious.

Incidentally, if they have the 'original manuscripts' of the Bible, they are 1) worth a bloody bomb and b) keeping remarkably, remarkably quiet about it.

EmpressOfTheSevenScreams Wed 10-Oct-12 16:37:59

Aware of other religions and cultures, absolutely. Ideally in the context of 'some people believe'. But the 'literally true' bit...

DW is doing a PHD in Theology and I've picked up enough to know that the statement about the original manuscripts is barmy.

KeithLeMonde Wed 10-Oct-12 16:41:32

Can I just clarify, I don't mind them learning Bible stories. I don't mind that at all. I don't mind them learning Bible stories from people who believe those stories to have religious significance (whether literally true or not).

My main concern here is that they're learning it from an outside organisation who look, from some basic Googling, to be affiliated to american evangelists who believe the Bible to be literally true. That makes me very very uneasy.

My secondary concern is that they are getting very large chunks of Christianity at school and very little about other religions, but that's another matter really.

DesperatelySeekingPomBears Wed 10-Oct-12 16:42:48

I think YABU. Would you complain if they were learning about Dawkins and atheist viewpoints?

No, Viper, I don't think anyone minds their children learning about science.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 10-Oct-12 16:44:14

YANBU.

Proudnscary Wed 10-Oct-12 16:44:21

YANBU. With academies and free schools you do have to do your research and find out anecdotally what the school preaches teaches. Many academies are sponsored by religious organisations and imo that is sometimes played down to prospective parents.

ArthurShappey Wed 10-Oct-12 16:46:20

YANBU. I would not like this one little bit!

DilysPrice Wed 10-Oct-12 16:49:18

I'm very twitchy about schools outsourcing their statutory Christianity in this way, because although the school is happy saying "And now here's some Christians to talk about their religion, nothing to do with us" potentially these organisations effectively get to define what Christianity is - including eg Creationism which is not part of mainstream Christianity in this country.

AMumInScotland Wed 10-Oct-12 16:57:48

I think the question you have to put to the school about this is "And how will you ensure opposing viewpoints get equal coverage? Oh and how do you encourage critical thinking?" They need to be providing sensible answers to those kinds of things.

Oh and the "original documents" line doesn't mean they claim to have them stashed under the mattress, it's just a convenient line for them to use to dodge the more glaring inconsistencies - "Oh the original (which we haven't seen) wouldn't have that problem, you just have to believe all of it even with the inconsistencies" and trust that God will make it all clear eventually.

madhairday Wed 10-Oct-12 16:58:12

Hmmm. My dh is a CofE priest and goes in to do assemblies, he does some bible stories with a bit of drama and fun and that's it. He often talks about being kind to others, caring for the poor, that kind of toxic stuff grin

Saying that, any organisation claiming to believe in the inerrancy of the 'original manuscripts' might raise my eyebrows somewhat, as there are no original manuscripts. There are thousands of fragments of early manuscripts, which, I might add, are fairly consistent to one another and to what we know now, but any organisation claiming no error are not really talking sense. Saying that, they're probably only telling bible stories. Most christian organisations have a certain evangelical nature, by the very fact that they are a christian organisation - thus telling others.

So not sure if YABU or YANBU. I'll fence sit awhile smile

LadyPeterWimsey Wed 10-Oct-12 16:58:44

Just to clarify that I think they are not claiming that they have the orginal manuscripts but rather that they believe the Bible is infallible in the original manuscripts, rather than in subsequent copies and translations. That is a fairly standard expression of belief about the Bible from evangelical organisations.

BitOutOfPractice Wed 10-Oct-12 17:03:58

OP YANBU and I would be twitchy too

foslady Wed 10-Oct-12 17:16:00

I know where you're coming from. Last year dd's school said they were having a story teller coming into the school one afternoon. When I googled them they were from a religious group who's website said the kids that went to their bible clubs mainly joined after they'd visited their schools. I was a bit hmm as that to me is different from the person being a storyteller, to me it was gospel spreading. I wasn't objecting to them going into school, more the way it was promoted.

Solola Wed 10-Oct-12 17:34:27

I think YABU. They say they are 'non-denominational, non-confessional and non-conversionary' I'd be comforted by this.

Also their aim of teaching the children the storyline of the bible is a good one IMO. So many references in our culture, in literature, idioms, sayings etc come from the bible.

I think as long as you're talking through what they are hearing at school and encouraging them to think and respond for themselves (and not just promoting what you believe) then these lessons can only be helpful not harmful.

EllieorOllie Wed 10-Oct-12 17:50:06

I am an evangelical Christian and I think YANBU!

It doesn't matter how non-conversionary they claim to be, that will always be their guiding purpose (understandably).

If I was you I would be up in arms about this!

EmpressOfTheSevenScreams Wed 10-Oct-12 17:52:34

I'd mention the monkey argument to your DC's teacher and ask them what the school's official teaching is on evolution. Might be a bit over the top but should get the point across.

MayaGoldfever Wed 10-Oct-12 18:03:09

Keith... just a geeky point of scientific clarification on the monkey issue. Humans are not evolved from monkeys, but share a common ancestor. They're our evolutionary cousins, rather than our grandparents iyswim smile

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