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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?

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.


Norfolkbumpkin Mon 15-Oct-12 17:58:46

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!

solidgoldbrass Mon 15-Oct-12 18:01:52

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

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