Suffer the little children . . .

26 12 2007

Ah, Christmas. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Halls decked with boughs of holly. A time of “genuine peace and goodwill,” according to The Daily Telegraph, when we can all put aside our petty differences–theists and non-theists alike–and strive to follow the teaching of the figure whose birthday is officially celebrated this time of year:

that we should treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves, that just as kindness, tolerance, compassion and understanding are the virtues most prized by the Almighty, so they are by all good men and women.

A time, especially, for Christians to show we unbelievers the shining, tolerant, inclusive face of their religion.

And how the Christians of Cluny Primary School, a council-run school in Banffshire, Scotland have come through for their non-believing brethren!

Teachers banned a nine-year-old boy from his class Christmas party because his parents had barred him from RE lessons. Douglas Stewart was forced to stay at home while his friends received presents from Santa and tucked into ice cream and jelly.

His parents were told he was not welcome at the celebration because they had pulled him out of religious education classes earlier in the year. (Daily Mail)

Religious Education and “Religious Observance” is mandatory in Scottish schools, except in those cases where parents exercise their right to withdraw. The rationale given in a Scottish Government policy document is as follows:

Each individual within a school community should be enabled to develop as a successful learner, confident individual, responsible citizen and effective contributor. Religious observance should have an important part to play in this development.

Why religious observance should have any part whatsoever to play in the education of schoolchildren is explained by means of an appeal to tradition–“In recognition of Scotland’s Christian heritage, schools are encouraged to use the rich resources of this tradition when planning religious observance”–as well as the notion that it is the role of schools to promote the “spiritual development” (whatever that means) of students.

The document acknowledges that contemporary Scotland is a far more multicultural society than the days in which William Wallace routed the English at Stirling Bridge, and emphasises the need to accommodate the beliefs of students from different faith backgrounds. On the other hand, parents who exercise their right not to play along with this ridiculously anti-democratic charade are to be reminded that:

Scottish Ministers consider that religious observance complements religious education and is an important contribution to pupils’ development. It should also have a role in promoting the ethos of a school by bringing pupils together and creating a sense of community.

And if that doesn’t convince them, why, just have their children shunned! Heartwarming stuff via




6 responses

26 12 2007
Sean the Blogonaut

Good will to all men as long as they worship a deity.

27 12 2007

I fully support the proposition, mooted by Daniel Dennett and others, that comparative religious studies be made an essential element of the curriculum. Given the multicultural nature of most contemporary Western liberal democracies, learning about the various religious belief systems of the world is as vital to a sound and comprehensive education as learning about the various countries and regions of the world, as well as the ideologies and philosophies that have shaped them.

Religious indoctrination, on the other hand, has no place in a liberal democracy. And when it is instituted on a mandatory basis in a public school, that is even worse.

27 12 2007
The Worst of Perth

My sister went to midnight mass, and said the priest was berating the easter and christmas only attendees. Like banning the kid, that’s exactly the sort of behaviour that turns people off. If you want them to come, don’t tell them they’re c*nts for not being there the whole year.

27 12 2007

Yes: instead of berating them, the priest ought to have considered it an opportunity to muse upon why members of his church don’t attend more regularly. It is a demonstration of institutional arrogance that he didn’t, and an institution that behaves in such a fashion deserves to fade into obscurity.

28 12 2007

Ah’m a Scot messel’, but ah left when ah wiz a wee bairn. Still have the accent tho. En a paper somewhere, cawing me a presbee fer Chrise sake. Its werse than the American sooth, en it? It’s aw that Calvin’s fawt, ye ken? He needed a feckin hot douche up his arse and a good skelpin, and nae bletherin.

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