Tag Archives: schools

“Change and decay in all around I see”



Article in “The National” newspaper
Religion is losing influence on Scottish life … except in education
SCOTLAND is losing its religion in just about all areas of public life, according to a new report.

When it comes to marriage and moral issues the church is no longer the powerhouse it once was, but in education faith organisations remain strong and influential.

Academics at Glasgow University have carried out an audit of religion in Scots law, poring over legislation to find out exactly what rights the country’s different churches and religious communities have in 2016.

Commissioned by the Humanist Society of Scotland, the purpose of the report was to make sure law- makers and the public were fully aware of the role and the power of religious groups.

Gordon MacRae from the society said the “increased public and political awareness of the changing role of religion and belief in Scottish public life” had prompted the commission.

Key findings include that church ministers receive a 50 per cent reduction in council tax; religious communities where people live, such as monasteries or nunneries, do not need to pay the minimum wage; and blasphemy is still a crime in Scotland, though there have been no prosecutions for well over a century.

Professor Callum Brown, one of the report’s authors, said religion’s place in Scots law was “by and large now being eroded by human rights legislation from Europe, Westminster and Holyrood”, but in education its influence could still be felt. The 11 members of the General Teaching Council of Scotland are required to include one member from Church of Scotland and one from the Roman Catholic Church.

The report said there may also be schools in Scotland that are, in effect, “quasi-denominational schools.” After a Catholic school is discontinued and its pupils are sent to another, non-denominational building, provision is made for those pupils to receive religious instruction four times a week from a Catholic Church representative and one hour a week of religious observance.

Currently in Scotland there are 366 Catholic schools, three Episcopalian schools and one Jewish school. The Humanist Society say that given Scotland’s history and institutions had been shaped by religion over centuries, the report was necessary as the country discusses “where it’s going”.

MacRae said: “Many people in Scotland will be surprised by the quirks highlighted in this report, such as church ministers getting a 50 per cent discount on council tax, religious communities being exempt from the requirement to pay a minimum wage, and the fact that Scotland never quite got around to repealing the blasphemy law. But for us the most significant theme is a weakening of the position of religion in Scots law in all areas, except education; where it has been significantly strengthened in recent years.”


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No room at the Inn….. (from the Telegraph)




By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor8:00AM GMT 02 Dec 2014
Christianity is being banished from school nativity plays as the annual performance of the Christmas story is replaced with bland “winter celebrations”, research among parents suggests.
Even in schools which retain religious themes, most now opt for a modernised version of the nativity story, often featuring elaborate twists and children dressed as unlikely additions such as punk fairies, aliens, Elvis, lobsters, spacemen and even recycling bins.
Examples cited in the survey conducted by Netmums, the parenting website, even included a retelling of the story modelled on The Apprentice. Others told of children dressed as ingredients in a Christmas lunch including carrots, sprouts and – confusingly – pumpkins.
Only a third of schools now stage a full traditional nativity complete with Mary and Joseph, inn-keepers, shepherds and magi, according to the survey.
Meanwhile one in eight had said their children’s school had dropped the Christmas story altogether for a modern alternative without religious references.
One in 14 said the school now opts for a fully secular event with neutral titles such as “Winter Celebration” or “Seasonal Play”.
A handful of those polled also said they had seen pan-religious school Christmas plays incorporating references to the Muslim festival Eid, the Jewish Hanukkah or Hindu Diwali.
The survey of more than 2,000 parents also showed that a significant minority now openly admit feeling aggrieved that their child had not been cast as a major character such as Mary or Joseph and many spoke of other parents attempting to pressurise teachers to give their child a bigger part.
It also showed that the image of children wrapped in household sheets and towels in a loose approximation of dress in 1st Century AD Judea as becoming a thing of the past thanks to supermarkets and online retailers offering cheap, mass-produced nativity costumes.
Overall just over nine out of 10 respondents said their children’s school stage some form of Christmas performance with contemporary versions of the nativity, mixing modern and Biblical characters, the most common Christmas celebration, performed at almost half of cases.
Only just over a third said their children still sing traditional carols and hymns as part of the performance while a quarter said they are feature festive pop hits.
Siobhan Freegard co-founder of Netmums, said: “Do they know it’s Christmas? At some schools, it seems not.
“While the UK is a diverse and multicultural society and it’s right children learn about all religions and cultures, many parents feel the traditional nativity is being pushed aside.
“It seems wrong to bombard kids with commercial messages about presents and Santa without them realising the true meaning of the celebration.
“This study shows many parents who aren’t religious look to the nativity as a comforting part of the Christmas celebrations and want their school to embrace and celebrate it, rather than make up a
version with perhaps less resonance for kids.
“Christmas is about peace, acceptance and tolerance, so let’s see more schools accept back this tradition.”
The study also highlights fresh concern that fears about safety and privacy are invading Christmas celebrations.
Only a minority (38 per cent) said the school allows parents to take pictures of the play freely, with one in six banning cameras altogether and one in seven restricting images to an official video which they have to pay for.
Significantly, one in three said the schools now ask parents to sign forms stating they will not share the pictures on social media.
Half of parents said they had provide a costume but most now buy with supermarkets the most popular option, while sites such as eBay and Amazon were also common sources.
Meanwhile almost one in 10 parents said their child’s schools now also stage a celebration for Diwali, while one in 20 cited Eid and Thanksgiving and three per cent of had Hanukkah performances.
Just one per cent said those celebrations were actively combined with Christmas nativity plays.

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from Huff Post:

Paxo, the great tormentor, has faced down some formidable opponents during his tenure as Newsnight’s chief interrogator. John Lewis from Christian Education Europe is not likely to go down as one of them.

Appearing on Monday on a segment on creationism being taught in schools, the somewhat baffled apologist found himself toyed with then dismissed by the Newsnight stalwart, particularly after Lewis tried to imply some bias in the BBC video suggesting a lack of education for those that believe in Adam and Eve.

Professor Alice Roberts, President of the Association of Science Education, argued on the side of sanity reason. Watch Paxo’s exasperation when Lewis refuses to answer how long it took God to make the world.

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June 17, 2014 · 11:13

Christian textbooks cull Loch Ness monster (article in Scotland on Sunday)


Loch Ness monster: Religious educators have cut Nessie from creationist textbooks. Picture: Contributed

Loch Ness monster: Religious educators have cut Nessie from creationist textbooks. Picture: Contributed
Published on the 28 July 2013 12:44

SCOTLAND’S most renowned mythical creature has been axed by religious educators.
• Creationist textbook culls Loch Ness Monster from lessons
• Mythical monster was cited to disprove theory of evolution
New editions of a Christian biology textbook will no longer contain the contentious idea that the beast may have been a real living creature.
Writers of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) biology textbooks had once taught that the existence of the Loch Ness monster disproved Darwin’s theory of evolution.
But the educators have now dropped the creature from their teachings.
Creationism is a religious position that largely believes the universe was created by a supernatural being.
It focuses heavily on evolution and many of its followers reject the notion of a scientific explanation to the creation of life.
It is estimated that around 2,000 students in the UK are taught creationism in private schools or through home schooling.
The previous edition of the schoolbook said: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland?”
It continued: “‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
It was also claimed that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur.
In the latest edition, both of these claims have been removed.
Jonny Scaramanga, from Bath, went through the ACE programme as a child but now campaigns against Christian fundamentalism.
He said: “In the new editions they’ve replaced Nessie with talk of folktales from China and Ireland… They still want to prove that dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time.”
Arthur Roderick, founding director of Christian Education Europe part of the ACE, said: “As with any textbooks… curriculum is subject to revision and change.”

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