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Compulsive Worship or discrimination for my children at school...

(576 Posts)
recall Fri 17-Jul-15 13:58:53

My three children attend a Primary school, it is not a CofE School, or any other type of faith school. They have an assembly once a week and "Open the Book" come and act out plays taken from the Bible. At the end, ask the children to prey. My daughter who is 8 said recently that "God does exist" "God is all around us" I asked her who had told her this, and she said it was the Christians in Assembly. She said she bowed her head when everyone preyed because she did not want to upset anyone.

I have spoken to the Headmaster regarding this, and he said they have to have 15 minutes of Christian worship a week.

I feel this is so wrong, that Christians are proselytising to children as young as four at school where I as their parent am legally bound to ensure that they attend. They are being taught individual's personal beliefs as if it is fact. I see this as a violation of their human rights - its is compulsory worship, they are too young to decide whether this is desirable. I am told that I am able to excuse them from these assemblies, but this is segregation and discrimination. It is heart breaking that children are being segregated from each other due to religion in school, a place of education. Christians are free to proselytise anywhere else, why must they do it in schools? This is dividing the community unnecessarily.

So this is my choice as far as I can see it....either I allow the compulsive worship, or my children are excused/excluded.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can come to terms with this ? sad

antimatter Fri 17-Jul-15 14:03:14

Does the school have Christian ethos mentioned anywhere? That would explain "have to have 15 minutes of Christian worship a week."

recall Fri 17-Jul-15 14:08:03

well, I have only had the chance to have a quick conversation with the Head this morning, and he said that it is compulsory. I am not aware of any Christian ethos at the school. He is putting me in touch with one of the Governers who is also against this practice, so I will find out more. I got the feeling from what he said that it was compulsory in all schools ...?

recall Fri 17-Jul-15 14:13:53

it seems he is right here

antimatter Fri 17-Jul-15 14:30:04

Ah, that is "the daily collective worship".

Primary school where my kids went had that too (and the christian ethos) and I decided not to worry about it. Both my children are teenagers now and one an atheist and the other agnostic. I let them find out for themselves and both did it at their own pace being exposed to prayers, christmas carol concerts and plain in nativities grin

Also our kids will have compulsory RS which I totally agree with.

BTW - I am an atheist too.

fourtothedozen Fri 17-Jul-15 16:07:34

antimatter would you also feel happy if your kids were taught to recite passages from the Koran, or to bow to Mecca- would you also be fine with that too?

Tuo Fri 17-Jul-15 16:10:35

Unless I'm mistaken, you have the right to withdraw your children from collective worship if you want to. Just write to the school and tell them.

Alfieisnoisy Fri 17-Jul-15 16:17:19

Tbh OP, I think I'd be a bit concerned in your situation too...and I say that as a practicing Christian.

I know schools have to do something broadly Christian as a collective thing once a week or so but they can interpret this widely. The school I worked in literally used to do a bowed heads thing and "lets give thanks for our health" type stuff. No God was named and it was literally "lets be thankful for the good stuff in our lives".

Even in my son's Catholic primary school it was low fact "Grace" sad before lunch was mostly the Head rubbing his tummy and saying "Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub" which made the pupils laugh and also acknowledged that not everyone in the school was Catholic or religious.

In a non religious school I'd expect very little Christianity and the worship stuff interpreted as widely as possible.

TheNumberfaker Fri 17-Jul-15 16:29:45

Schools have to have a daily act of worship, of a broadly Christian nature.
That this is the LAW is a pile of crap, but that is the law...
having sat through many of these assemblies, I am pleased to note that most pupils in Upper KS2 can see through them...

recall Fri 17-Jul-15 17:01:19

TUO You are right, I can withdraw my children, but this is the part that saddens me - segregating children in school. The Christians are diving the community. So my children get singled out, and excluded from assembly, its so unnecessary, why do they have to do this in a school ? They are free to proselytise everywhere else. If there is a God - I wonder how chuffed he is with his forced devotion confused

Backforthis Fri 17-Jul-15 17:18:11

From a quick search, 'Open the Book' is a Bible Society project that gets volunteers from various Christian churches to go and act out bible stories in schools. They are supposed to stick to a script and sign up to a code of practice that includes not giving sermons and being sensitive to those of other faiths and atheists. I would want to find out what church the volunteers at your child's school are from and might print off a copy of the code of practice for the head.

recall Fri 17-Jul-15 17:50:51

BackforthisThanks for the suggestion smile When I spoke to the head today, he said that one of the Governors who shares my views regarding this has studied their script, and also has sat in on several of the assemblies to ensure that they followed the code of practice. She said she was satisfied that they did. However my 8 year old came out with "God does exist" "God is all around us" and said that they prayed during the assembly - she felt obliged to bow her head rather than offend the Christians sad

I am planning to meet this lady Governor and discuss it and check out exactly what is being said in there.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 17-Jul-15 17:58:07

This happens in all schools and the dc make their own minds up in the end.
I am a Christian dh isn't and the dc have all believed, then not, and still question now.
It's not a biggie tbh, they won't be turned into Christians against their will.

When I did my training on school assemblies we were advised to always take a script which can be produced if anyone complains and also has the advantage of preventing you from busking it and slipping into church jargon. I always make it clear to the children that when it comes to prayer time I will pray and if they want to make the prayer their own they can say amen at the end. Perhaps you could ask to see one of the scripts that are used or go along to observe one. The point of Open the Book is to present the stories of the Bible simply but not to preach or proselytize.

TTWK Fri 17-Jul-15 22:03:52

*This happens in all schools and the dc make their own minds up in the end.
I am a Christian dh isn't and the dc have all believed, then not, and still question now. It's not a biggie tbh, they won't be turned into Christians against their will.*

I bet if the law changed to make it 15 minutes of Islamic worship, or some other religion, you'd be up in arms. It would be a biggie then allright, and you'd be concerned about the influence this might have on your young children.

Most sensible schools get around this nonsensical law, my kids' Primary did, by using the 15 minutes to discuss in assembly general issues of morality, doing the right thing, tolerance of others etc. All of which can be passed off as Christian themed to any offsted inspector.

recall Sat 18-Jul-15 11:48:06

This is definitely a biggie !!! This is a violation of a child's human rights. It is compulsive worship. It is proselytising young children (mine are 4, 6 and 8 ) I am obliged by law to ensure that my children attend the school which is in turn obliged by law to enforce Christian worship. Not just Religious Education, but an act of worship !!!! This is fundamentally wrong on so many levels. It only serves to undermine Christianity, a religion that enforces the devotion to its God by exploiting vulnerable children. As a parent, the only alternative I have is to withdraw my children - single them out - segregate them. This is discrimination on religious grounds. It is forcing me to separate my children from the rest of the school when they meet collectively.

TTWK it is not only Offsted that have to approve, it is the local Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE)

VikingVolva Sat 18-Jul-15 11:56:51

It is only when people vote with their feet, or rather their children's feet, and actually use the opt out that there will be any momentum for change. And as something like 65% of the population self-identify as Christian, it might be a long time coming.

Also schools can apply for permission to have non-Christian worship.

Peoples of the Book are usually OK with being in each other's services.

Learning about standing respectfully (maybe with head bowed) is useful in a diverse society when attendance at another faith's events is quite likely.

Most schools use the full scope of both the wording of the law 'broadly' Christian, plus the amazing latitude of CofE stance, and can have assemblies that meet the legal requirement but next to never mention God.

recall Sat 18-Jul-15 12:02:17

It is still the enforced devotion of children

recall Sat 18-Jul-15 12:03:09

Schools are not the place - Churches are

recall Sat 18-Jul-15 12:06:07

VikingVolva How about Christians respecting children at school, and not forcing them to respect Christians by bowing their heads. Why the need for any child to bow their head at school ? A place for education of evidence based fact and logic ? Why the need to worship in school ?

recall Sat 18-Jul-15 13:38:15

Actually, I've just been reading about SACREs stance and guidance on Collective Worship, and I think it's the interpretation of this by the School and our local Open The Book group that is at fault. I think that I will try and get involved with the Head and the Governers in an attempt to address this. There is room for change - hope.

TTWK Sat 18-Jul-15 15:22:19

A place for education of evidence based fact and logic ? Why the need to worship in school ?

100% right Viking. Don't pray in our schools, and we won't think in your churches. Seems like a fair deal.

antimatter Sat 18-Jul-15 15:26:45

I am obliged by law to ensure that my children attend the school - I think that's not true because you can home school your children.

As a parent, you’re legally responsible for making sure your child attends school regularly unless you’re home-educating.

OP you have choice in that matter!


Would I be happy for my kids to recite verses from Koran and bow to Mecca?

I believe that would not have happened in that school as it had Christian ethos written in it's rules. TBH as I didn't ever have to worry about your question during my kids education it never crossed my mind.

Rules in the link by OP states "Collective worship in county schools and equivalent grant-maintained schools must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, though not distinctive of any particular Christian denomination."

Trying to throw Islamic prayer into this particular discussion IMHO isn't adding to it any value.

As I said - I would trust my kids to make their mind up. After all they were singing christmas carols and church hymns for many years, attended services at least once a term and that didn't turn them into believers. They were praising Christian God from the age of 3 until they were nearly 12.

They were surrounded by family who are staunched atheist and this I am sure that contributed towards their current choices in that matter.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 18-Jul-15 15:40:10

But you aren't obliged by law to send your children to that or any other school.
I can"t see the problem at all tbh, i'm sorry you don't like it.
Maybe as some have suggested go along and observe the assembly and then decide what you want to do.
I know you don't want to segregate them, but it is your right to withdraw them from collective worship.
It is true though, they will make their own minds up. At a time when nobody really believed in our household dd asked for me to take her to church, no influence from school as she was H.ed at the time. She went a few times and then said she didn't want to go again.
I really don't see it as a biggie, but as it is to you, I would go and observe for a while.

fourtothedozen Sat 18-Jul-15 15:48:39

Learning about standing respectfully (maybe with head bowed)

No way!! I have no respect for religion. I teach my kids to respect other people but not religion. Why should my kids stand with their heads bowed?

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