Tag Archives: Scotland

Losing my Religion

from the BBC News website

More than half of people in Scotland now have no religion, according to research.
Findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey show 52% of people say they are not religious, compared with 40% in 1999 when the survey began.
The proportion who say they belong to the Church of Scotland has fallen from 35% in 1999 to just 20%.
Other religious groups, including Roman Catholic (15%) and other Christian (11%) have remained steady.
The number of non-Christians has remained at 2%.
The research, published by ScotCen Social Research, also reveals attendance at religious services is at the lowest level recorded since 1999
Two-thirds of people living in Scotland who say they are religious “never or practically never” attend services, compared with 49% when the survey began.
Ian Montagu, researcher at ScotCen, said: “Today’s findings show that Scottish commitment to religion, both in terms of our willingness to say we belong to a religion and to attend religious services, is in decline.
“However, this change doesn’t appear to be affecting all religions equally. Affiliation with the Church of Scotland is in decline while levels of identification with other religions remain relatively unchanged.
“As fewer Scots are acknowledging even a default religious identity, it is affiliation with the national church that is the hardest hit.”
The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes survey interviewed a representative random probability sample of 1,288 people between July 2015 and January 2016.

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“Change and decay in all around I see”

 

 

Article in “The National” newspaper
Religion is losing influence on Scottish life … except in education
FEBRUARY 29TH, 2016 – 12:43 AM ANDREW LEARMONTH
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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The Kirk and Independence – Leader in The Scotsman newspaper

Leaders: Kirk limited in its power to heal wounds

 

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The debate at the Church of Scotland General Assembly. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Published on the 20 May 2014 in the Scotsman

 

IT WAS right and fitting that the Church of Scotland debated independence at the General Assembly yesterday. The Kirk has always been a crucible in which the future of the nation has been argued and discussed with intelligence and passion, and yesterday’s session produced some thoughtful observations on Scotland’s date with destiny.

Also to be welcomed was the Kirk’s recent decision to hold a service of reconciliation in Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral on 21 September. In this, the Church was responding to a letter from the Queen calling on people of faith to “work together for the social good of Scotland whatever the outcome of the independence referendum”.

There is little doubt that the tone of recent public debate has become markedly polarised and fractious. That is only to be expected, but it is a cause for concern. There has been much talk in this referendum of the importance of retaining the “social union” with England, but just as important is the social union between Scots within Scotland. The Church of Scotland is committed to a position of neutrality on independence. However, its members said it was important to reflect on issues dominating public life. Few would disagree either with the Church’s concern over the potential for rancour and divisiveness to persist after the vote, or its desire to promote reconciliation. And it is easy to underestimate how big a task this may prove.

But it is only sensible to recognise there are limits to the Church’s role in this initiative, and to its power to pull the country together. The Church has a positive part to play and its role as an exemplar should not be underestimated. But there is a limit to the extent to which the Kirk can be a healing power for all Scots after the independence referendum vote.

Scotland today is a much more secular country than was the case even just a decade ago. It may still adhere to values that generally coincide with Christianity, but attendance at church is increasingly a minority pursuit. And among those Scots who still adhere to religious observance, that observance is split across many different faiths and denominations.

The Church of Scotland, through its Articles Declaratory underpinned by statute, can justly lay claim to its historical role as the national church. But if there were ever days when it could speak for the whole nation, those days are long gone.

In the light of this reality, caution should also be exercised over the Kirk’s request for special recognition in the drawing up of a constitution for an independent Scotland, should that moment arrive. The Kirk can and should be a positive force for good in Scotland, and an important voice in the national conversation, but in the 21st century it has no claim to preferential treatment – or even inclusion – in a modern Scottish constitution.

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May 21, 2014 · 10:05

And then there were……. none?

Time for good deeds from the dying Catholic church
Amid shame and scandal, the church’s clerics do little or nothing; it needs another ecclesiastical convulsion

Kevin McKenna
The Observer, Saturday 15 March 2014 20.00 GMT

A woman of faith strolling elegantly through her 70s spoke to me last week about betrayal and hypocrisy. This lady’s Catholicism has nourished and sustained her every day of her life but now, though her faith remains, her respect for the people who lead her church has vanished. In its place there is only anger and bitterness.

Just over a year after Cardinal Keith O’Brien was forced to resign as leader of the Catholic church in Scotland, the consequences of decades of abuse and lies by priests and bishops have been laid bare.

The revelation last week that around half of the Catholic parishes in the west of Scotland may have to close in the next few years owing to a shortage of priests seemed at first to be shocking. But this has been whispered for years now and did not surprise those of us who have witnessed the slow withering of the Catholic church.

In Scotland, it is now barely fit for its purpose of bringing souls to their saviour and providing light and hope in places where there is none. It has nothing to say any more about the issues of the day and, frankly, who would listen anyway?

There are, currently, only two men training to become priests from the from the church’s west of Scotland heartlands. In less than a generation, it is expected that barely 40 priests will remain. This is an optimistic figure as few Catholic families remain who would happily hand their sons into the care of this sick and corrupt institution. Meanwhile, the church will continue to haemorrhage serving priests disillusioned with their vocation or because they ought never to have been there to begin with.

Those of us who had hoped to see some signs of penitence or, at least, self-awareness from the hierarchy following the O’Brien scandal are still waiting. Catherine Deveney, the journalist who broke the O’Brien story in the Observer, has since told of her treatment at the hands of the officers of her church.

She has received abusive correspondence from senior clergymen and a “horrifying” letter written by the church’s director of communications, Peter Kearney, an individual who wields a baleful and disproportionate quantum of influence in the church and who similarly has long outlived his usefulness.

Leo Cushley, a Vatican message boy with next to no pastoral experience, has been parachuted into the top job in Scotland. He has said or done little of significance since his appointment, apart from a couple of Homes & Gardens-type press interviews. Do not expect that state to change soon

Another prelate, Archbishop Mario Conti, now lives in gilded retirement in a £750,000 grace-and-favour mansion on Glasgow’s South Side. His decade-long tenure as leader of the city’s Catholics passed without any distinction whatsoever, save for a bizarre and camp obsession with the shinier excesses of Italian culture, about which, of course, they talk of little else in the pubs and clubs frequented by his people.

Less than a mile from Conti’s Ponderosa, food banks are doing a brisk trade, while secular agencies seek action on the plight of 250,000 Scots children living in poverty. Well, at least someone is responding to them, even if the Catholic church isn’t.

On Tuesday morning, the Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan, former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, will discuss, for the first time, the details of the remit of the McLellan commission, established to undertake a critical review of all aspects of Safeguarding policy, procedure and practice within the Catholic church in Scotland. A more appropriate setting for this event would have been a recently locked stable with a big horse galloping gaily down the road into the distance.

Few doubt that McLellan will bring diligence and integrity to his task, but unless his remit includes looking at the causes and effects of priestly sex abuse in the Catholic church in Scotland it will achieve nothing.

Here are three main causes: a catastrophic failure of leadership stretching back 60-odd years; a recruitment policy that appeared to have been influenced by Willy Wonka and a pathological and sinister hatred of homosexuality. This simply drove many young, broken and fragile gay Catholics into the priesthood where they were expected to subsume their wretched sexuality in a life of celibacy and denial.

It was a tragic mixture of self-delusion and resentment and would leave many of them prey to the wickedness that lurked in the dark heart of this thoroughly discredited institution. Denial, self-delusion, bitterness, resentment and intimidation: the hallmarks of the Catholic church in Scotland.

Even in this its darkest hour, though, the church has a shining opportunity to make something good of its straitened circumstances. Many of the churches that may have to shut were built brick by brick by the poor Irish immigrants who revived Catholicism in Scotland. The land upon which they stand and the grand homes that were built to house their priests were purchased with the help of their self-sacrifice. More than 50,000 people have used a food bank to feed themselves this year while child poverty in Scotland has reached obscene levels.

As a good act of contrition and reparation for the damage it has caused to Scotland and the betrayal of its own, the Catholic hierarchy must give these properties back to their people for the purpose of providing succour to the poor, alms to the traveller and solace to those in distress.

Travelling through Lewis and Harris the other week, not for the first time I had cause to admire the stripped-down and spare beauty of the Free Church of Scotland. Unencumbered by careless devotions to forgotten saints and moving Madonnas, it continues to provide wisdom and discernment to those whom it touches. It is closer to what St Peter and St Paul thought God’s church should look like than that which Rome has constructed.

The Scottish Catholic church requires another ecclesiastical convulsion. In this, it would join with its brothers and sisters in the reformed traditions, minus a lot of the baggage it clung on to after the first one.

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Independence and the Tower of Babel

 

Scottish independence: Bible tale cited by SNP MSP

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John Mason MSP. Picture: TSPL
Published on the
28 December
2013 in the Scotsman

SNP MSP John Mason has suggested the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel could be used as an argument for Scottish independence.

Mr Mason, a committed Christian, has compared Scotland’s constitutional battle to the biblical episode, which saw God stop the people of Earth, who then spoke a common language, from building a tower to heaven.

The story, in the Book of Genesis, says God created different languages to confuse the builders and “scattered” them all over the world.

Writing in evangelical magazine Idea, the Shettleston MSP said he did not believe God was taking sides in the independence debate.

But in his article he asks himself what the Bible’s teaching on independence might be.

“I would maintain there is no one Christian line to take on Scottish independence,” he writes. “However, there is a principle from the time of the Tower of Babel that God split the peoples up as too much centralisation was a potentially a dangerous thing. So it could be argued that we should be wary of larger national units and supportive of smaller ones.”

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Scottish witch report shows executioners’ crisis. (Scotsman article)

imageIT WAS a macabre and dreaded career to take, during one of the darkest chapters in Scotland’s history when superstition brought about a culture of fear and panic that claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

Now, research into the grim role of the men who ended the lives of the nation’s witches has revealed how they were handsomely rewarded for their deeds yet feared by ordinary people.

A new book exploring the history of witch hunting throughout the 16th and 17th centuries shows that there was a recruitment crisis for executioners.

Laura Paterson, from the University of Strathclyde, found that in many of Scotland’s smaller communities, no-one was willing to take on such grisly work, meaning that sons often followed their fathers into the execution trade.

Her research is published in a new collection of academic studies of Scottish witchcraft, Scottish Witches and Witch Hunters, edited by Julian Goodare, a reader in history at the University of Edinburgh and a leading expert in witchcraft history.

Ms Paterson, a postgraduate student at Strathclyde, said: “One of the most pressing concerns must have been to find someone who was willing to execute the witch. The large towns, including Edinburgh and Aberdeen, appear to have had professional executioners – the Aberdeen accounts consistently refer to the executioner as Jon Justice, possibly a pseudonym.

“However, in many of the smaller towns and parishes, there was no-one willing to carry out the gruesome task. The occupation of executioner was unpopular in the early modern period. The executioner was paid to torment, maim and kill people for money.”

The difficulty of finding people willing to take up such a bloody role often meant that the position of executioner was hereditary, Ms Paterson said.

In one instance, in Peebles in 1629, the son of the executioner was paid 12 shillings at the execution of three witches to act as dempster, an official who pronounced the sentence and was sometimes asked to carry out the dark deed himself.

However, Ms Paterson’s research shows that, if an executioner was able to “cope with the bloody work and with the infamy that came with it”, the job paid handsomely.

One executioner tasked with ending the lives of three women in Peebles in 1633 received the then eye-watering sum of £10.

Similarly, John Kincaid, an “infamous witch pricker” in the 17th century, was paid up to £6 a time for “brodding” a suspect witch, a process designed to elicit a confession by inserting needles into her body.

Even so, executioners were regarded as pariahs by Scottish society. One man, William Kirk, was the executioner in a case in Kirkcudbright in 1698. But no-one was willing to offer him shelter during his stay in the town, and he was forced to live in the local prison.

As Ms Paterson notes, the executioner was a figure feared throughout Scotland and beyond at the time.

“There was other instances throughout Europe where the executioner’s infamy was considered contagious, damaging the reputation of any who associated with him,” she said. “In some communities the touch of the executioner, or even objects he had touched, could be contagious.”

According to the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, a total of 3,837 people were accused of witchcraft, 84 per cent of whom were women.

It remains unclear exactly how many people lost their lives as a result. The record books indicate only 205 instances where the accused were found guilty and executed, but the figure is thought to be higher.

Ms Paterson’s research indicates that, although the most common method for executing witches was strangling and burning, there were other grim means used to kill the “guilty”.

An Edinburgh man, Robert Erskine, along with his sisters, Annas and Issobell, was beheaded at the capital’s Mercat Cross in 1614 after being found guilty of consulting with witches and “poisoning and treasonable murder”.

There were also, Ms Paterson adds, a small number of cases where the witches who had “committed a particularly serious and wicked offence” were burned alive.

• Scottish Witches and Witch Hunters is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

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Lockerbie

Prayer for Lockerbie Pan Am Flight 103 victims and survivors

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SYRACUSE, NY — The residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, where Pan Am Flight 103 crashed to the ground 25 years ago, are often noted for their lack of rancor over the event.

This prayer, composed by Graham Herbert, headmaster of Lockerbie Academy, and read by him in October at Syracuse University’s Remembrance Week rose-laying ceremony, captures that spirit of magnanimity and compassion. It is worth reflecting upon as we remember the 270 who lost their lives 25 years ago.

lockerbie

Prayer for Lockerbie Pan Am Flight 103 Victims and Survivors

With all the earth’s people we join as one to pray for a world where we can live in peace and harmony together; a world where there is no place for war, hatred or violence; a place where each and every one of us, regardless of race, religion or gender maybe valued equally.

Today, as we remember all those who perished in the Lockerbie disaster we give thanks for the lives each one led, be it short or long, and for the joy and happiness they brought to all those who knew and loved them. We pray for their families and friends, bereft so cruelly and suddenly. We know only too well that brave faces and cheerful smiles hide dashed dreams and broken hearts and we ask that when they face their dark times they may be comforted by the love that passes all understanding.

We who are gathered here today find ourselves bound by a common cord – a cord not of our choosing. We give thanks that this cord, created unwittingly out of an act of evil that sought to restrict and control us, has strengthened year on year into an unbreakable chain, woven from the threads of happy memories and forged in loving, thankful hearts. Today, we pray as we stand united in remembrance, side by side, hand-in-hand as the links in this chain, what we may show those who sought to destroy us that they have only made us stronger.

 

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Rainbow Over Bridge Street, Lockerbie, Scotland. The left part of the rainbow is anchored at the Lockerbie Golf Course. The right, toward Tundergarth Mains. Both were major sites of fallen bodies from Pan Am 103. Photo by Lawrence Mason Jr. (Lawrence Mason Jr. )

And now, in the words of the Gaelic Blessing, we ask for peace in the hearts of everyone here today and for all those throughout the world who have been touched in any way by the tragic events over Lockerbie twenty-five years ago.

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may your God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Amen

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And God created…….

And God created…….
In the beginning, The Lord God Almighty, sitting on His throne on high, turned to His mate, the Archangel Gabriel and said “Gabby, today I’m going to create Scotland. I will make it a country of dark beautiful mountains, purple glens and rich green forests. I will give it clear swift flowing rivers and I will fill them with salmon. The land shall be lush and fertile, on which the people shall grow barley to brew into an amber nectar that will be much sought after the world over. Underneath the land I shall lay rich seams of coal.In the waters around the shores there will be an abundance of fish and beneath the sea bed there will be vast deposits of oil and gas”.
“Excuse me Sire”, interrupted the Archangel Gabriel, “Don’t you think you are being a bit too generous to these Scots”?”Not really”, replied the Lord, “wait ’til you see the neighbours I’m giving them”.

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More on the Church of Christ and East Kilbride (via the Daily Record)

Revealed: Blogger from the slums of Mexico says Scotland is a dark and Godless country as she tries to influence pupils

7 Sep 2013  

EVELYN Galvan Gracianom describes teaching Spanish lessons at Kirktonholme Primary School where she works as an unpaid classroom assistant to help her spread the Church of Christ’s message to pupils.

 
 Evelyn believes god chose her to work for the church
Evelyn believes god chose her to work for the church

 

A BLOG written by a Church of Christ disciple lays bare the sect’s attitude to Scotland – and how they attempt to foist their extremist views on to children.

The blog is written by Evelyn Galvan Gracianom – who the sect have based in East Kilbride 5000 miles from her home in the poverty-blighted Mexican city of Leon.

Her entries give a terrifying insight into the gulf in thinking between the right-wing, gay-hating, evangelical church and people in Scotland.

And it is clear that she herself may have been indoctrinated by the sect after one of their missionaries befriended her family in Leon, a teeming urban sprawl of 1.5million people, 200 miles north of Mexico City.

Statistics compiled in 2010 by Mexico’s council for the evaluation of social development Policy say an estimated 600,000 people in the city live in poverty.

Evelyn's blog
Evelyn’s blog
So it’s not suprising that 22-year-old Evelyn has become so devoted to a sect which helped her travel the world.

So swayed is she by the sect that she is convinced that only 600 people in Scotland are proper Christians – out of our 5million strong population.

Worryingly, she nonchantly describes teaching Spanish lessons at Kirktonholme Primary School where she works as an unpaid classroom assistant to help her spread the sect’s message to pupils.

Talking of living in East Kilbride, Evelyn writes: “Even though they are very friendly and nice, they have a really closed minded way to think or at least about God.

“This country was funded as a Christian nation but today the reality is other, most of the people don’t have a firm belief and most of them are either atheist or agnostic.

Evelyn's views on Scotland
Evelyn’s views on Scotland

 

 “There are Catholics, Presbyterians, Mormons, Jehovah witnesses, Baptist, between others.

“But I know thanks to some friends’ research that out of 5.1million people only around 600 are actual Christians or at least Church of Christ members, which is tragic.

“Because a nation that claimed to be Christian a few centuries ago, today is a place full of darkness and emptiness that is in a big need of Jesus.”

She goes into great detail about her routine at the school. Evelyn writes: “Every Monday and Wednesday some of my teammates and I volunteer in Kirktonholme Primary School, we are in different classes.

“On Monday I am usually in the morning with primary four. After lunch I am in a therapy class where I take some kids from different classes so they can learn how to interact with other kids.

“On Wednesday I have a busier day. I start with the kids in primary seven then again I help in language class.”

It appears from the blog that she and a colleague, called Rafael, are left alone with pupils to teach them Spanish – and preach about their extremist religious beliefs.

She says: “I have a Spanish class for the primary four kids, and we have around 30 kids; that’s not all, actually there were about 60 kids wanting to join the class but we only could take 30.

“They all are very receptive and willing to listen and learn. Hopefully at least we can let the kids know who Jesus is, and maybe someday that seed that we have planted can be grown by God.”

Evelyn also talks about a church-led Monday night kids’ club which aims to get children into the sect’s beliefs through football and game-playing.

She says: “We get together in the community hall where we usually gather to worship on Sundays, to have a night where older teens and young adults can come to hang out.

“The purpose to this club is to get to know younger folk and be able to bring new members to the church.

“We just started but we got a couple people already coming, please pray for us and that God blesses this new ministry. We usually have a craft club on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, along with free guitar classes that one of our church members gives.

“Basically we have some kids and we make some crafts with them, just like the youth club and seventy times 7 club, it’s to give kids a place to go – also it gives us the chance to influence them.”

Also online is her account of how she came to be in Scotland – which will many will find disturbing reading.

She says: “I grew up and studied most of my life in a Catholic school.

“But thanks to God, and for what he had planned for me and my family, we got to the Church of Christ in 2006.”

She reveals her family were recruited by one of the “missionaries” whose ranks she has now joined.

Evelyn writes: “This guy later came back to Leon as an AIMer (Adventures in Mission worker) to work with the church.

“My sister and I started taking Biblical classes in English with some of the AIMers, and after a few months I got more involved in the church and with the members in the congregation.

“After several months, I took the decision to give my life to Christ. And since then I have been a part of the Church of Christ.”

Evelyn was initially reluctant to commit to travelling on the church’s behalf – but she was talked into it and was sent to the city of Lubbock in Texas to be “trained”.

She says: “I started to work and spend time with the AIMers and missionaries that came to Leon, and they encouraged me to think about AIM.

“We talked about it, prayed, saw the possibilities and opportunities that I had, because I wasn’t sure about my decision.

“But as always, God intervened. Through the missionaries and their contacts, I got the support that is required for living in Lubbock during our training time.

“In that moment I saw that God is in control of all situations, so I decided to go to AIM.

“Now I am serving faithfully in East Kilbride, Scotland, with the Church of Christ here.”

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Creationism alive in Scottish state primary school – from “Leaving Fundamentalism”

Examining Christian Fundamentalism in the UK

  • Creationism alive in Scottish state primary school

Posted: September 7, 2013
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Today I can reveal that children in a Scottish primary school have learned that humans once rode on carts pulled by triceratops.

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The estimable Paul Braterman, of the British Centre for Science Education, sent me these pictures which are apparently from a book handed out to pupils at the school.

The Scottish Daily Record reports:

HORRIFIED parents fear an extremist religious sect has been trying to brainwash their kids after it was allowed to infiltrate a Scots primary school.

A head teacher invited the US Church of Christ, which rubbishes evolution and counts homosexuality as a sin, to minister to pupils.

Many parents at 400-pupil Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride only realised their children were being exposed to the evangelical group’s agenda when kids brought home alarming books they had been handed at assembly.

The creationist books, defended by head teacher Sandra MacKenzie, denounce the theory of evolution and warn pupils that, without God, they risk being murdered in a harmful, disgusting world.

Parents have called for emergency talks with education chiefs, where they will demand the sect’s removal from the school.

Good old Scotland. Having seen the way ACE gets covered by the local press in the USA, I’m pretty sure American media would have given this story a different slant.

Still, I’m not sure if I would have reacted quite the same way as some parents have (admittedly, I’m not a parent):

One angry dad, Paul Sanderson, 33, told how his five-year-old son burst into tears when he took the books away.

He said: “I think it’s fair to call it brainwashing because when I took them from him he started crying.

“When I asked why he was crying, he said the man who gave them to him told him they were really, really important.”

What do you do in that situation? I’d be tempted to let the child keep the book, tell him it’s just what some Christians believe, and give the child a load of good quality science books for children as well. But how on earth is a primary school meant to weigh the evidence properly?

But the Record can reveal sinister undertones to their eight-year involvement at the school.

The Church of Christ have targeted Kirktonholme as a “mission” and have several members helping with classes and giving lessons in religion.

Church members like Blakeman – photographed as a scary Pirates of the Caribbean character – were allowed in to work as classroom assistants and help with homework and in other mainstream roles.

Parents were also 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.

One of the church members, Evelyn Galvan Graciano, 22, from Mexico, describes Scotland as “a place full of darkness and emptiness that is in a big need of Jesus”.

And she has told pals she uses classes to get into the heads of Kirktonholme pupils. She said: “They all are very receptive and willing to listen and learn.

“Hopefully at least we can let the kids know who Jesus is. Maybe someday that seed we’ve planted can be grown by God.”

The Church of Christ, based in the US Deep South, believe the Bible predicts the future and is 100 per cent accurate. They have called Scotland “A Field Ripe for Harvest”.

Church leaders told their US flock in a video blog about their “work” at the school, and claimed that, out of a population of 5.1million, Scotland has only 700 practising Christians.

One of the informants for my PhD recently observed that you can spot a fundamentalist whenever they refuse to accept any label other than “Christian”. They tend to reject terms like “evangelical”, and denominational ties. They’re simply “Christians” – and anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe isn’t a Christian. Hence the number of 700 Christians in Scotland – all the Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians don’t count.

Read the rest of the article here. It’s worth it.

Paul also sent me these pictures from the book:

Cart pulled by dinosaurAnd check this out:

Added together, these three numbers equal about six thousand years. It may be that a few hundred years could be added within the geneaologies, but it is impossible for millions of years to fit in them... We can know for sure by consulting the biblical genealogies that the Earth is not millions or billions of years old, but only a few thousand years old.

Added together, these three numbers equal about six thousand years. It may be that a few hundred years could be added within the geneaologies, but it is impossible for millions of years to fit in them… We can know for sure by consulting the biblical genealogies that the Earth is not millions or billions of years old, but only a few thousand years old.

ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY RECORD:

Parents’ outrage as extremist US religious cult hand out creationist books and preach to kids at Scottish school 6 Sep 2013 07:30

THE US Church of Christ which rubbishes evolution was allowed to minister pupils at East Kilbride’s Kirktonholme Primary.

 

Face-painted Jared Blakeman is one of the 'missionaries' that has been in classrooms at the school
Face-painted Jared Blakeman is one of the ‘missionaries’ that has been in classrooms at the school
Daily Record

HORRIFIED parents fear an extremist religious sect has been trying to brainwash their kids after it was allowed to infiltrate a Scots primary school.

A head teacher invited the US Church of Christ, which rubbishes evolution and counts homosexuality as a sin, to minister to pupils.

The “missionaries” at the school include face-painted Jared Blakeman, pictured in a T-shirt with the slogan AIM – short for “Adventures in Mission”.

Many parents at 400-pupil Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride only realised their children were being exposed to the evangelical group’s agenda when kids brought home alarming books they had been handed at assembly.

The creationist books, defended by head teacher Sandra MacKenzie, denounce the theory of evolution and warn pupils that, without God, they risk being murdered in a harmful, disgusting world.

Parents have called for emergency talks with education chiefs, where they will demand the sect’s removal from the school.

Head teacher Sandra McKenzie
Head teacher Sandra McKenzie
East Kilbride News

One angry dad, Paul Sanderson, 33, told how his five-year-old son burst into tears when he took the books away.

He said: “I think it’s fair to call it brainwashing because when I took them from him he started crying.

“When I asked why he was crying, he said the man who gave them to him told him they were really, really important.”

The book row, which broke out this week, has brought the group’s presence at Kirktonholme into focus.

But the Record can reveal sinister undertones to their eight-year involvement at the school.

The Church of Christ have targeted Kirktonholme as a “mission” and have several members helping with classes and giving lessons in religion.

Church members like Blakeman – photographed as a scary Pirates of the Caribbean character – were allowed in to work as classroom assistants and help with homework and in other mainstream roles.

Parents were also 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.

One of the church members, Evelyn Galvan Graciano, 22, from Mexico, describes Scotland as “a place full of darkness and emptiness that is in a big need of Jesus”.

And she has told pals she uses classes to get into the heads of Kirktonholme pupils. She said: “They all are very receptive and willing to listen and learn.

“Hopefully at least we can let the kids know who Jesus is. Maybe someday that seed we’ve planted can be grown by God.”

The Church of Christ, based in the US Deep South, believe the Bible predicts the future and is 100 per cent accurate. They have called Scotland “A Field Ripe for Harvest”.

Church leaders told their US flock in a video blog about their “work” at the school, and claimed that, out of a population of 5.1million, Scotland has only 700 practising Christians.

At an assembly at Kirktonholme on Monday, the sect handed each pupil two books, one called Exposing the Myth of Evolution and another titled How Do You Know God is Real?

Paul told the Record he could not believe their content.

He said: “They looked fair enough at a glance and one had a dinosaur on the front, but it didn’t take long to see they were spouting crazy, right-wing nonsense about how evolution never happened – real flat earth stuff.

“The second book talked in such threatening terms about other religions, and compared those who didn’t believe in God to those who carry out abortions.

“It was really creepy and alarming. I can’t believe these people could be allowed to infiltrate a school to this extent.”

Paul said he confronted MacKenzie about the books, but she stood her ground. He is refusing to let his children to be involved in any religious observance at the school until the issue is dealt with.

Other parents have made official complaints to South Lanarkshire Council about the books, and some have threatened to withdraw their children in protest.

One told us: “I could not believe a head teacher could sanction this crazy stuff. It’s sinister as hell. I don’t want any of these people anywhere near my children.”

In a letter to parents, MacKenzie defended the decision to distribute the books.

Blakeman at work
Blakeman at work

She admitted the Church of Christ was part of the school chaplaincy team. And she said of the books: “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.

“I hope you will all accept it in the spirit with which it was offered.”

Both books were written by American Kyle Butt, whose other works include a book called Homosexuality – Sin, or Cultural Bad Habit?

His books are printed by Alabama-based Apologetics Press, who are closely affiliated to the Church of Christ.

MacKenzie invited the West Mains Church of Christ into Kirktonholme eight years ago. After initial contact by church minister Alex Gear, church leaders in Rogersville, Alabama, were told East Kilbride could provide fertile ground for the church’s doctrine.

Gear wrote to HQ last year to tell how the “outreach” was progressing. He said staff had “gone the extra mile” to make the group welcome – and told how pupils had raised money to build their church.

He wrote: “Many of you will know Kirktonholme Primary have been raising funds to help with our church building fund.

“Yesterday, just before the worship service finished, I was presented with a check for $350 from the children. They had been collecting change and saving it up for us.”

Gear also told in the letter how Kyle Butt had given him “absolutely fantastic material on creation and exposing the myth of evolution” to take back to Scotland

Gear confirmed to the Record: “Our mission team has been helping out in the school. Whatever the staff can use them for, they have done, on an outreach basis.

“We believe the teachings of the Bible, which tell us evolution is a myth. The Bible also states homosexuality is a sin.”

He denied trying to indoctrinate children, saying: “We have not been trying to make people change their minds about anything. We believe information in the books is accurate and not otherwise in the public domain.”

South Lanarkshire Council say they were only told on Monday about the religious leanings of volunteers at the school.

A spokesman said: “We have received complaints from a small number of parents at Kirktonholme Primary after books were given out at assembly.

“We have investigated, and the head teacher has been advised that the material should not have been distributed through the school.

“The books were gifted by West Mains Church of Christ, who spoke at an assembly and are part of the school chaplaincy team.

“The membership of the chaplaincy team is being considered, as is the role church groups play in school life.

“All our schools acknowledge the Christian tradition and encourage young people to engage with and explore a wide range of beliefs and religions.

“However, the theories explored in these books do not feature in mainstream teaching. It was not appropriate for them to be given to pupils in this way. Guidance on the distribution of commercial materials will be reviewed.”

THE Church of Christ, who preach that homosexuality is a sin and evolution never happened, should never have been allowed access to Scottish kids, says RECORD VIEW.

6 Sep 2013 08:42

Missionaries have been working as classroom assistants
WE cherish our children – and we want to raise them in a safe and forward-looking environment.

We give them moral guidance to help them forge their future based on a clear idea of right and wrong.

In their earliest, formative years, such lessons should provide the most basic of building blocks. They should not be handed tablets of stone that scare the living daylights out of them.

School – like home and holidays – should be a time where learning and fun go hand in hand. Sending primary-aged kids home with fire-and-brimstone-style tracts is entirely the opposite.

Telling them that, without God, they are disgusting and risk being murdered, is itself disgusting.

Parents have rightly been horrified, as we report today, to discover this extremist literature has been thrust into their sons’ and daughters’ tiny hands.

And if that’s what the school saw fit to send kids home with, they’re justified in demanding to know what else they’ve been exposed to in class.

Here’s what beggars belief – the ignorant and extreme views of the gay-hating, right-wing US-based Church of Christ sect can be unearthed by the most basic research.

If the school’s headteacher or her bosses in the education department at South Lanarkshire Council didn’t check out this sect before inviting them in, it represents the most basic of failures.

But if they’ve been preaching their twisted agenda to children with the blessing of those entrusted with their education, that is far more sinister.

People in the chain of command must have known this was going on. Question is, why didn’t they do anything about it?

There must be a full and transparent investigation into what has been allowed to go on at Kirktonholme Primary School.

But the first priority is that the whole sorry sect are thrown out of the classroom.

And they can take with them their vile agenda of hate and doom.

School bosses kick out extremist US religious cult as parents demand answers from head teacher after Daily Record’s revelations    7 Sep 2013 08:23     

PARENTS of pupils who attend Kirktonholme Primary were sent letters saying their children would no longer be exposed to the extremist teachings of West Mains Church of Christ.

 Blakeman with kids at outing to the theatre
Blakeman with kids at outing to the theatre
Daily Record

THE US sect exposed by the Daily Record for infiltrating a Scots school were kicked out by council bosses yesterday.

A letter was sent to parents of pupils at Kirktonholme Primary, saying their children would no longer be exposed to the extremist teachings of West Mains Church of Christ.

South Lanarkshire council chiefs also launched an investigation into the sect’s eight-year involvement in the East Kilbride school.

And they admitted that the group had infiltrated another school in the area whose pupils have learning difficulties.

The council took action after the Record revealed how “missionaries” from the sect were invited into Kirktonholme by head teacher Sandra MacKenzie.

Unbeknown to many parents, several of the extremists worked as classroom assistants. They also helped with homework and performed other mainstream roles.

And at assembly, pupils were handed two alarming books spelling out the sect’s controversial theories.

A council spokesman said the group would no longer be involved in any school in the area.

Referring to the books given to pupils, he added: “The theories explored in these books do not feature in mainstream teaching and it was not appropriate for them to be given to pupils in this way.

“We are carrying out an investigation into how this came about.”

The spokesman said the sect’s Jared Blakeman will no longer be a chaplain at Kirktonholme or at Greenburn, the other East Kilbride school involved.

The decision to hand out the books – one of which warns pupils they risk being murdered in a world without God – was staunchly defended by MacKenzie.

The head teacher was not at Kirktonholme yesterday to witness parents venting their fury about their kids being exposed to the sect.

Council chiefs are under mounting pressure to suspend her – but last night she remained in post.

MacKenzie, who shares the head teacher post with Elizabeth Mockus, was due to face a meeting with parents on Tuesday.

But she will no longer attend. Parents will only be able to discuss the issue with her if they make a one-to-one appointment.

One parent said: “It’s the head teacher that caused this mess, so it’s ridiculous that she is the one to sit there and take the sting out of any complaints.”

Yesterday, parents were sent a letter from the school saying: “You will be aware that earlier this week, pupils received two books which had been donated by West Mains Church of Christ.

“In discussions between the school and the church, it has been agreed that the chaplain will withdraw from the chaplaincy team and neither he nor the AIM (Adventures in Mission) workers will have any further input into Kirktonholme Primary.

“This brings to an end the association between the school and the church. The headteacher will discuss the matter with the parent council next week.”

The Church of Christ, who denounce the theory of evolution and believe homosexuality is a sin, are based in the US Deep South.

Mum Michelle Blackwood, 28, came to the school to demand answers about how the sect had been allowed to infiltrate Kirktonholme.

She and her husband Gary were disgusted by the books given to their son, who is in primary three.

She said: “My husband has posted the link to the Daily Record article all over Facebook to warn other parents of what has been happening. The books went straight in the bin. I was christened Catholic, my partner is Protestant but we wanted our child to make up their own mind.”

Karen Maxwell, 52, whose grandson goes to Kirktonholme, said: “It is shocking.

“Parents should give consent for any sort of preaching at all. It’s a nondenominational school.

“I will be going to that meeting on Tuesday and I will have questions.”

There was also shock from across the political spectrum.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “It’s very disturbing that this extremist group has been peddling its absurd ideas in Scottish schools.”

Labour’s education spokeswoman Kezia Dugdale said: “The involvement of external organisations within the school environment must always be carefully considered.”

East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani said the books handed out by the sect were “entirely inappropriate”.

She added: “I was contacted by several local people who had very real concerns.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the situation in East Kilbride is being monitored.
also from the Daily Record:

TEXAN Jared Blakeman was a well-known and trusted face at Kirktonholme and Greenburn schools.

This week, he supervised pupils from Kirktonholme on an outing to the King’s Theatre in Glasgow to see the musical Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But many parents had no idea about his extremist religious agenda – and they were horrified when they found out what their children were being exposed to.

Blakeman, from Wichita Falls, was taken on by the 400-pupil school as a volunteer to help with non-educational support.

He is a key member of the church’s Adventures in Missions (AIMS) Team Scotland, who seek to indoctrinate kids and implant their version of Christianity on Scots.

Arrogantly, the Church of Christ targeted Kirktonholme as a “mission”.

The Record revealed yesterday how the church tell followers back in the States that Scotland is a spiritual wasteland, where only 700 of a population of 5.1 million are practising Christians.

The reality is that there are 700 Church of Christ parishioners in 20 branches UK-wide.

Blakeman lined up with Heidi Carter, from Castle Rock, Colorado, Heather Powers, from Virginia, and Rachel Pearson, from Sheridan, Arkansas, as outreach missionaries sent forth to East Kilbride by the church in the States.

And they were very successful in worming their way into the community.

The infiltration at Kirktonholme Primary is the most alarming example of progress by the church.

They even managed to get pupils at Kirktonholme to raise funds to build a church for the sect – although some parents thought the cash was being used for school funds.

The sect managed to gain a foothold at Greenburn Primary, a school for pupils with special needs. Parents with children at Greenburn were also alarmed at receiving the sect’s books.

The church’s minister Alex Gear has written glowing dispatches for the church’s HQ in Alabama to tell of huge success in connecting with Scottish youngsters.

Last year, Gear wrote “June was a busy month and also a very productive one.

“The Greenburn visit turned out to be a memorable visit and the children had a fantastic day.

“The head teacher at Greenburn cannot stop talking about the day.

“She continually reminds me of how special the day was for the children and the staff.

“My aim is to hand out the books to all the children at Kirktonholme Primary and Greenburn Primary.

“The 1000 books are on route as we speak and hopefully they will arrive sometime in July.

“This material I hope will open up a few doors for us and I pray that many people will be challenged to have a serious look at the truth about our creation.”

Incredibly, East Kilbride has been targeted by other rival Church of Christ movements.

A ministry set up by New Zealanders Richard and Mary Harp arrived in the town in 2010 for a five-year mission aimed at setting up a youth club to build relationships in the community and evangelise families through fundamental Bible study.

The mission brazenly set about indoctrinating kids first, in the hope of then reaching parents and the rest of the family.

The Harps’ website states: “After a child comes to the club, we will visit their parents and family, informing them that we are there to help their children and to help them as well.”

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