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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?

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

Norfolkbumpkin Tue 16-Oct-12 20:17:37

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

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.

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

Happy to tolerate you too DuelingFanjo 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.

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


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.

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

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

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...

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.

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.

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

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

"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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.


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 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.


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.

clemetteattlee Tue 16-Oct-12 00:11:07

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.

clemetteattlee Tue 16-Oct-12 00:03:46

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

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