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

(260 Posts)
Norfolkbumpkin Mon 15-Oct-12 15:01:42

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?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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