Church of Christ response to Daily Record and East Kilbride

Church of Christ members pray, respond after Scottish tabloid calls congregation an extremist cult

Erik Tryggestad | The Christian Chronicle
September 06, 2013

Christians in Scotland and the U.S. are praying as they respond to a newspaper story that refers to Churches of Christ as an “extremist religious sect.”

The article also says that parents of elementary school students in Scotland are worried that church members are “trying to brainwash their kids.”

The front page of the Daily Record (VIA


DAILYRECORD.CO.UK)  The headline “Parents’ outrage as extremist US religious cult hand out creationist books and preach to kids at Scottish school” appears on the website of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, a tabloid newspaper based in Glasgow, Scotland. It was a front-page story in the paper’s print edition and details a controversy at a public school where church members distributed two religious books recently.

Underneath the headline is a blurry, ominous photo of Jared Blakeman — his face painted to resemble Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” The photo caption reads: “Face-painted Jared Blakeman is one of the ‘missionaries’ that has been in classrooms at the school.”

“That picture is totally unwarranted,” minister Alex Gear told The Christian Chronicle

Gear, a native of Scotland who preaches for the West Mains Church of Christ in East Kilbride, supervises Blakeman, an apprentice in Adventures in Missions, or AIM. The 40-year-old program is a ministry of Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas.

Recently, the church hosted an annual community day, which included games and crafts for children. Another AIM apprentice painted multiple eyes on Blakeman’s face — to resemble actor Johnny Depp’s character in the popular Disney film. Blakeman posted the out-of-focus photo on his Facebook page, which the Scottish newspaper lifted for its story.

Blakeman never entered the school wearing the face paint, Gear said. (Nor would the minister have allowed him to, he added.)

Gear said he has hosted students from the AIM program in East Kilbride for seven years — about the same amount of time that he, fellow church members and AIM workers have volunteered at Kirktonholme Primary School, where the controversy occurred. 

On the Facebook page of Adventures in Missions, Christians ask for prayers for the AIM team and fellow Christians in Scotland. (PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK.COM/ AIMSUNSET)

Sandra McKenzie, head teacher at Kirktonholme, invited the West Mains Church of Christ into the school eight years ago, the Daily Record reports. Gear said he served as a chaplain for the school, occasionally teaching Bible lessons and speaking at school assemblies. Members of the church and AIM students volunteered in classrooms, hosted a Monday evening youth club for students and built wooden garden huts for the school’s agriculture projects.

On Sept. 2, with the school’s approval, Gear and Blakeman distributed copies of two books to students — “Exposing the Myth of Evolution” and “How Do You Know God is Real?” — produced by Alabama-based Apologetics Press, a publishing ministry associated with Churches of Christ.

Some of the students’ parents complained about the books. One parent told the Daily Record that they contained “crazy, right-wing nonsense about how evolution never happened — real flat-earth stuff.”

McKenzie sent a letter to parents and explained that, “whilst I appreciate that not every family in our school are practising Christians, I was only too happy to accept this generous gift on your behalf,” the Daily Record reports. “I hope you will all accept it in the spirit with which it was offered.”

The newspaper also claims that parents at the school were “furious to learn that cash raised by children, which they thought was intended for school funds, had been given to the sect to build a church nearby.”

Gear told the Chronicle that the school occasionally raises money for local charities and had selected the church as the recipient. School children donated their spare change over the course of a few months, and the school presented the church with 220 pounds (about $343 U.S.). 

The school “sent a letter with all the children to let them know what was happening,” Gear said, and presented the money to the church at a ceremony attended by parents in June.

The recent controversy has forced Gear to resign from the chaplaincy at Kirktonholme and another school where he served, he said.

Truitt Adair, president of Sunset International Bible Institute, told the Chronicle that he had spoken with Gear to confirm that the AIM students were in no danger. He voiced support for the minister and said that he and the institute’s staff are praying for the congregation and the people of Scotland.

Bill McMurdo, a Scottish writer, speaker and consultant who blogs about football (soccer), was critical of the newspaper’s characterization of the church as an “extremist U.S. religious cult.”

“This is so typical of our media’s propensity to use smear and slogan to vilify people,” he wrote in a blog post. “The ‘cult’ in question is the Churches of Christ, a well-known denomination in Christianity and one considered fairly orthodox in the Protestant mainstream. The East Kilbride congregation sound a zealous lot and may have been a touch over-exuberant but this doesn’t make them a cult by any stretch.”

Since the article appeared, Gear said at least 20 church members and neighbors had stopped by his home to check on him and show support.

“I believe God’s got us here for a reason,” Gear said, “and that some good will come of this.”


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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

37 responses to “Church of Christ response to Daily Record and East Kilbride

  1. The Scottish Secular Society feel completely vindicated in raising this issue with the Daily Record, and indeed, as a submission to our recent petition to the Scottish Parliament that parents must be asked first before children are sent for Religious Observance which could expose them sects that promote homophobia or anti-educational stances on evolution. Secular Scotland on Facebook is all for helping the educationally disadvantaged, but allowing them to spend the money themselves might not be the best way.


  2. Dominic

    What a nonsense. Schools don’t have to ask parents before giving them information about the THEORY of evolution, or about secular matters. This is persecution – not particularly bad, but persecution nonetheless. The alleged ‘crime’ here is holding faith, and telling others what that faith is and says – allowing them to make up their own minds. Is that not the point of education?


    • Dominic – evolution is not a theory. You just don’t understand what that term means. Religion is a fiction and your desire to mould impressionable young minds into believing it is ridiculous. There is no god and those kind of tales have NO place within education.


    • David Carey

      No, Dominic, it is not perscecution. The parents at the school simply do not want their kids indoctrinated into this anti-scientific creationist nonsense that you people push. It is twaddle. The theory of evolution is the highest and most respected answer to how life evolved on this planet, starting 3.8 billion years ago. There is no god, no heaven, no hell! When your dead – that’s your lot! 25% of UK adults (Not children) are atheist. 67% of teenagers from 16-19 are atheist. Good. The sooner religion is consigned to the dustbin of history the better!


      • So you know everything do you? So 67% of teenagers have converted to the Weltanschauung that life is meaningless and worthless and there’s no such thing as morality or human consciousness. Great! Maybe that’s why there’s so much drug, knife and gun crime among teenagers!

        Religion is civilization and religion is humanity. You are preaching the suicide of individuals, our society and ultimately our species!


  3. Dear Sandy,
    I was quite shocked by the way the Daily Record portrayed this. The Church of Christ is not a sect or cult. The “Stone-Campbell” movement (known as the Church of Christ) is actually Scottish in origin, being the descendants of the Scotch Baptists and the Glasites. Most of the Churches of Christ joined the URC. A few more conservative ones stayed outside and with US patronage have increased slightly in number. I have known quite a few members, and ministers (although they claim not to have any) of these churches over the years, and although I disagree strongly with much of what they believe they have all been very peaceable people. In the spectrum of Christianity they are rather like open brethren or independent baptists. Very working class in their appeal. I am very unhappy at the way they are being portrayed in the press. Very unhappy indeed. I wonder how the Daily Record would portray a real cult? Answer they probably wouldn’t as a real cult would use lawyers to stop them.


  4. Wake Up

    Fantastic to see that finally parents are waking up to the non-sense that is being allowed into our Schools. Schooling is there to educate, not to allow fanatics who are only interested in trying to convert our children into believing a 2000 year old fairytale (most of which is stolen from earlier religions).

    Yes Evolution is a Theory, but one based on evidence and observation.

    Creationism is based on nothing, not one drop of evidence. Religion, especially Christianity is dying, and the faster it does the better the world will be for it. It’s time this mass delusion ends!


    • Bill

      Do you really think the world will be better for the absence of Christianity? Think again. Christianity helped make this nation Great. Mass belief in evolution has brought us to the verge of moral, social and economic catastrophe. There can be no future for a society with no absolute corporate moral foundations except decent into anarchy and death. Incidentally, you seem to imply that you realise that evolution is unproven but that the alternative is too difficult to face. Please kindly quote one genuine transitional fossil? There are none to find. Evolution is sadly the end time myth.


      • Brian

        Wait a second – “There can be no future for a society with no absolute corporate moral foundations except decent into anarchy and death.”

        Are you suggesting that humanity needs the corporate economic structures to avoid death/extinction?

        You also have problems understanding the theory of evolution clearly. It would only take a single fossil to fall outside of the rules for the whole theory to collapse. No such fossil has ever been found. Science unlike religion, and conservatism in general, is honest in its methods. However, the Christian cult keeps on getting hit with problems which show the current paradigm to be inherently falsifiable. Do Christians drop their fairy story when it is proven to be untrue? No.

        “Faith” is just another guise of moral perversion and/or corruption – it is insatiably dishonest by its definition, in fact it is wholly corrupted.

        The world is automatically a better place for the absence of Christianity, because to be blind to the truth is inviting extinction. Christianity, going by its guiding manuals, is in fact a death cult – you do realise that don’t you? The bit where you say about the “end times” – don’t you realise that ALL Christians have ALWAYS felt they are in the end times?

        I suppose it keeps the intellectually stunted at bay, and keeps them out of the way of progressives to some extent, but I feel this is a cruel fate for the abused wretches that crave its solace.


      • Jon Adams

        “Mass belief in evolution has brought us to the verge of moral, social and economic catastrophe”

        Bill, what utter nonsense. Should we just bury our heads in the sand and ignore all facts that are discovered? I think u have a grave misunderstanding of the very nature of science. It isn’t out to disprove your bible and your beliefs, it just happens to be doing so because the more evidence we discover, the more likely it seems that the bible was written by men a long time ago who knew little of what we have learnt since. Eg, no mention of dinosaurs, assuming their fossils had not been discoverd at the time of writing, no mention of kangaroos, Australia had not been discovered at the time of writing. I could go on but I won’t.

        You just keep your fingers in your ears in your childish I’m not listening way and let the rest of humanity progress from this outdated dogma you call Christianity.


      • David Carey

        Bill – You’re speaking utter nonsense. Wake up, get your head out of the bible and read something by Jerry Coyne. Get into the Real World!


    • Susan leggate

      Whole heatedly agree with the statement above. Good to see someone making sense in the 21st century.


    • Richard Cameron

      Sorry to disappoint you, but worldwide Christianity is growing exponentionally. Just thought I’d tell you seeing as how you evolutionists are keen on facts!


      • David Carey

        Wrong! All the latest opinion polls, of which there are many, show that over a 10 year cycle, 9% of people fewer worldwide are going to church and 3% are turning atheist. Religion should be extinct by about the mid-22nd Century, latest.


  5. Secularity Please

    This is a good thing. The head teachers have been moved on and rightly so.

    Brainwashing 5 year olds with religious nonsense should not ever have a place in schools.

    Well done the Daily Record. All religions are cults, they are just telling it like it is.


  6. Mossy

    What a shame it is that a minority of Christians insist on perpetrating this anti science, young earth nonsense. The notion of an earth only 5 000 years old is so absurd to anyone with eyes to see ad a modicum of intelligence that suggetion that it ha anything to do with Christianity can do nothing but harm for the wider church and turn people away from Christ.
    I am a Christian, to become so required a leap of faith, but since taking tht leap I have found that it simply “works”, but that faith in no way requires denial of the obvious.


  7. David Edwards

    Exposing children to the lies and fake morality of such an unsavoury group of deluded fanatics is a form of abuse. Perhaps some of the victims might benefit from counselling. It’s an outrage that should not be allowed to happen again.


  8. Peter Chapman

    Hello Wake Up. So you don’t believe in Creationism? I assume you didn’t create the reply I just saw then??? You are a finite creator! But not infinite. You are seriously confused about the difference between Evolution and Natural selection – only the latter has evidence.
    I hope you wake up my friend before you lose your soul.


    • Brian


      So you want evidence? That’s a somewhat scientific mindset, which is fair enough. However, can you present us with verifiable evidence of the existence of the Jesus character? Does it not bother someone of your scientific mind that there is not a single piece of hard evidence that would stand up in court today, that proves this guy ever lived. There is however plenty of court admissable evidence to suggest that the tale was plagiarised from various Egyptian religious stories.

      Evidence is impossible to gather on evolution itself at this time (without the aid of time travel), but the example you choose is simply another rendition of the classic “God of the gaps” nonsense that apologists have been churning out for centuries. Once Evolution is proven, you’ll just move on to something else to try and validate your ignorance. See the post I made above about the dishonesty of faith.


      • Bill

        Hello Brian

        To say that Jesus never existed is in the same category as denying the holocaust.

        2000 yearts of time can diminish nothing of the facts.

        P.S. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think the late ambassador for modern atheism Christopher Hitchens ever once tried to get away with that bluff!



    • Jon Adams


      Evolution is caused by the process of natural selection. Your statement shows your fundamental lack of knowledge on the subject.

      Why do you think make animals fight other male animals in order for the right to mate with a female? For fun? No it is natural selection at play, so that only the strongest genes from that species get passed on to allow it to evolve into a species which is more suited to its environment making the species more likely to survive.

      Rather than just dismissing evolution without understanding it, perhaps you should educate yourself on the subject. There are basic tests which have been done which price evolution of animals over short generation periods, search for “guppy predator prey evolution experiment” on the Internet. Open your mind.


      • Thanks Jon.

        I have the same evidence as you do, and have researched it a lot once having believed the lie of evolution of man from apes, and understand the appeal of evolution – Hitler was very attracted to it for different reasons – if you want to believe it, that’s fine, but believing it has serious consequences for us and society at large, and I and many other Christians, non-Christians and in fact Muslims, etc. will speak out against this secularist religion and promote the truth of the infinite Creator.

        I also know Award winning professors who reject evolution. It’s because of the facts I have come to this conclusion, and as more evidence comes to light from genetics the whole evolutionary, long age, Big Bang fairy tale will be shown for the lie it is.

        The Human Genome project shows the staggering complexity of making a single cell. Don’t ignore the new evidence as it totally undermines the simplistic understanding of Darwin’s day. Research is moving on at an exciting pace, and only increases my wonder and awe at my Creator, His infinite intelligence, yet exposes the folly of rebellion against him.

        The whole of European history stands as proof of the existence of Jesus Christ, as the apostle Paul would not have turned the continent upside down had he not met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. People aren’t willing to die for something which they know is a lie.

        You too have a precious soul – human life is more than mating rights, survival, it’s ultimately about knowing the Creator of the Universe and in a fallen world finding repentance, forgiveness and peace through the only Saviour Jesus Christ. That’s the truth all of us need to hear. I write it in gentleness and love.


  9. Raven

    You should not have taken it upon yourselves to start preaching to very young children without parental permission. The bottom line is that most Scottish parents don’t want their kids being taught any kind of extremist stuff at school – unfortunately for your sect, creationism is widely viewed in that light, hence parental complaints. Incidentally, can you tell us why the Bible doesn’t mention the dinosaurs, or the various Hominids whose evolution has been proven by science?


    • Bill

      Hello Raven.

      The Dinosaurs etc.

      Thanks for your comments. Sadly, again, here is an example of the kind of brainwashing that actually underpins the cult of evolution. The Bible does refer to dinosaurs several times. In most references they are connected with places of death and darkness. I will happily provide the references later if you would like them.

      So, firstly, the present general anti Christian apologetic preoccupation with the dinosaur issue is actually something from the darker more sinister side of life. I am glad I wasn’t much into dinosaurs.

      And, secondly, what is the term the Bible uses for dinosaur? To answer that question some “unbrainwashing” needs to happen first. When was the word dinosaur first used in common English? It was actually first coined by Sir Richard Owen in 1843. The word itself comes from the greek for fearful lizard.

      So what is the word the Bible uses instead of dinosaur? You are probably about to fall off your seat with laughter. Yet this in itself is evidence of the brainwashing which has already affected too many in this dark, end time generation.

      The word is dragon.


      • David Carey

        Bill – You’re a complete lunatic! How can you possibly believe that nonsense? Are you a child pretending to be an adult? Christianity, along with Islam and Judaism, are simply evolved versions of Buddhism brought back to Macedonia by Alexander The Great’s empire. Religions evolve like business systems and germs. You’re actually worshipping Buddhism! JC was non other than a local con-man out for a free feed and a woman – bit like your televangical’s! Are you so niave?


  10. Bill

    Hello Raven

    The Hominids etc.

    Sorry, I meant to say something about the above in reply as well.

    The hominids were either apes or humans. The fossil record boasts not one genuine transitional fossil. All attempts (ie. Lucy, Java Man, Piltdown Man etc) were frauds and fakes. They were often comprised of a toe bone here, a knee bone and a jaw bone there, which were often found miles apart from each other! These so called hominids are the inventions of false witnesses, men who were infidel scientists.

    Finally, you cannot believe in evolution and in Jesus Christ. Jesus clearly teaches that God made mankind … at the beginning of the Creation (Mk.10:6.) This teaching of Jesus validates the literal six day creation account in Genesis as well.

    I am very glad to believe Jesus Christ and not modern so called true science. Incidentally, true science always agrees with the Bible.


  11. It is okay to teach the theory of evolution however giving the other side of the debate is banned? Surely children are better educated when they are faced with all the sides in a debate. And just for the record I don’t believe in evolution, not just because I accept the creation account, but also because there is no evidence whatsoever in macro-evolution, where one species can evolve into another species, none at all


  12. Praise God for the common sense shown in this situation by those who now realise that there is no issue with Christians going into schools and no issue with schools asking them or benefiting from their help. All across the UK this is happening and it is of course open to all faiths as well. In many parts of our Union of Nations there are Jewish men and women going into schools. Moslem men and women going into schools and so on. Each school and each nation just according to the demography (of the locality) and wishes of the parents involved. Nothing is hidden it is all in the open.

    So far as I can tell in this instance the real and only meaningful debate ought to be with those parents who’s children attend the school itself and what they want to do about what they now know. If they were ignorant of this young man Jared then it is because they were ignorant about the whole process itself. The young man is just a trainee he is not the instigator, or the initiator and he is not the governing body of the mission he is involved in, or the school or the church of anything else. He is just a sincere and caring young man. To those who want to lay hold of others and shake them down come and pick on me. I am a grown man and would welcome the fight. Leave him alone and stop behaving like thugs.

    Jesus Christ is Lord


  13. The church in question has been taken advantage of children and trying to sneak in to the schools without permission from the children’s parents if this was an Islamic school the teachers of this cult and when I say cult I mean it in the strongest possible way would have had there life’s at risk for doing so where these ignoramus type of men and women should be jailed or banned from teaching biblical nonsense if a church or school which has a book of forged ,doctored and added text to soot there way of thinking witch they won’t admit to them a prison sentence should be mandatory to all who break the law this is no to be swept under the carpet but should be a warning to all parents in Scotland to be on the guard against this mission that has targeted Scotland .we Scottish men and women do not need to be saved but they need to be put into their place its not nice to teach false information to children with an agenda to brainwashing their delicate brains.


    • Bill

      Hi Mark

      You believe in evolution then?

      Incidentally, where are the fossils to prove evolution? As far as I’m aware many prominent evolutionists realise their theory is in trouble. But the alternative is too unthinkable.

      Evolution is a lie, a fraud.

      Guess we’re about even in the debate.

      (Psa.16:1) The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.”


      • Secularity Please

        Hi Bill

        It is interesting that you require proof for evolution when you so blindly believe in other things for which there are no proof.

        Evolution is the best theory that human kind has produced to explain the origins of life based upon the evidence observed. If you can come up with a better theory based upon the evidence observed, then you should perhaps write a paper on the subject for peer review, i would certainly be interested to read it.

        Science has no interest in creating lies about evolution, if you think that then you have a grave misunderstanding of what science is. If evidence were to be produced which disproves the theory of evolution, then science would go with this, as yet, there is nothing, so evolution stays as the best fit.

        On a side note, if you study evolution to a high level, you may understand it and why it is the best theory around for the development of life on Earth. Get yourself to college or university, enlighten yourself instead of blindly following dogma probably fed to you since birth.


      • Hi bill i take it unlike myself you don’t understand evolution or you just close your eyes when you see something that destroys your happy place. I have read the forged books of the Bible and koran starting with the Bible you have a collection of books with over 400,000 mistakes , made changes for the benefit of the people in power at the time with almost hundreds of breakf-away churches each with a promise of the true why to worship there chosen sky god from men and women who when they all speak to the god , angel, they all do so through dream state or versions brought on by illness or epileptic seizure no one can be trusted in this state of mind or encouraged when they have a mental disposition we are taken information from deranged men and women and have brought untold misery to all generations since. The a science book had such nonsense they would be removed and shown as false with experiments and tests to make certain .if all you have is someone who thinks missing fossils is a i got ya get out of that? Try taken a look at any of the science books and show the world what is uncorrected and if you are correct it would be then taken out .science won’t demand that the work be sacred and faith must be shown to accept the answer.if shown to be nonsense and all made up you would be totally inept to say anyone who won’t take it as fact they are an unbeliever and should be burnt to death when you show that type of thinking you won’t only loose every argument but will do unjust damage to your own wellbeing and sibling .your cult is based on what happened to a dead (if indeed the criminal was dead) body who enraged a church very sad and stupid “religion was invented when the1St conman met the1St fool” David Hume


      • David Carey

        Bill – There are millions of fossils that prove the evolutionary pathway. There no evolutionary scientists who think that the theory is in trouble – except in your head!


  14. For all you followers of the good book that told you all that the world was made in 7 days and live your life hopping and praying for the end of days good luck when you enter the everlasting dark and empty space and time witch all living organisms that has ever lived have gone at least you will be okay as you have temporal lobs and frontal lobs to think of a happy place to go because you won’t grow up and except the wonderful world we have in the hear and now you don’t have any memory of before and you want have one after you die because your to self centered you want to live forever .hear hear to the Scottish secular society for the good work of the free thinkers


  15. For Brian who said that jesus did not exist i think you may get confuse with the biblical teaching that has evolved by word of mouth and written text that has made a mortal everyday criminal to become a living god through forged scripts and man’s agenda to paint a pitcher of man turn immortal and fear from the Jews that they were the chosen people and if ya don’t have a ticket ya can’t get in to club immortal what happened to the body of Jesus hasd a big affect on how the followers of there leader would believe and convert the unbeliever and have faith in what his teachings would bring to the church for over 20 year’s the story was past on mouth to ear agents the 1St written document was made them copied with added mistakes and copied and mistakes and so on we have no original script only copies of copies of copies of copies with no named authors until1000 years after the death of the criminal in Jerusalem when Mathew, mark, luke and join arrive in our everyday teaching having trouble how to put Jesus into the story where you have a monotheism to polytheism witch they then doctored to new testament witch made up the trilogy father son Holly gost nonsense and intended books since 100 years after the death started the antisemitism .when you hear people tell you children must get taught everything evolution and creation remember when we have a debate if we don’t like what you pay we won’t the timyou to a steak and burn you for having your own opinion we are open to debate but they won’t ever change their mind but that’s their rite remember they have a thought process which they have no proof they have to show evidence but won’t look truths in the eyes they have blindness to truth


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