I'm a teacher in a Church of England school and I'm an atheist.

The school was taken over by the CofE a couple of years ago, and has not really had much of a Christian character until recently. One of the staff has been distributing management sanctioned 'daily reflections' of a Christian nature. I've gritted my teeth and ignored them so far.

However, next week these reflections will lead to some kids watching an animated retelling of 'the Fall'. The teacher writing them clearly thinks the message from the fall is that one should take one's responsibilities seriously.

However, it doesn't take much thinking to realise how unpleasant the moral message of the fall is - it is after all about original sin and the idea that we inherit the sins of our fathers.

My dilemma is this: what do I do?

I won't show it to my own class, but that isn't enough for me. I could go and complain to the (Xtian) head teacher, but I'm sure she wouldn't even understand my objection. I could just bite the bullet, accept that I'm in a religious school and try to submit my own alternative contributions to the 'daily reflections' or I could start looking for another school.

I dunno. Any thoughts?

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If the film is morally objectionable, or has a clear religious message, then the most you can do is demand that parents are notified and given the choice as to whether their child watches the animation or not. Failing that you may be able to garner support from the school governing board. But I would advise talking to the head teacher before taking these actions.

Just so you know, I'm neither a teacher, nor have any qualification in the relevant areas, so it would probably be best for you to do some research of your own before taking my advice.

Unfortunately, I'm knowledgable enough to know that schools are required by law to have some sort of daily act of worship (which frankly requires a discussion within itself) so at some point in your teaching career you will have to be a party to ideas you find objectionable. This is of course if you teach at a primary school (which I assume you do?).
Oh no, I teach in a secondary school. I'm well aware that there is a requirement for a daily act of worship of a 'broadly Christian nature'. To be honest that isn't even the most objectionable thing about being a teacher :-)

The daily act of 'worship' (itself an offensive notion) doesn't have to be a prayer, or even genuinely religious. It just needs to be a moral reflection of some kind. On balance probably the better thing for me to do is to make my own contribution to these thoughts for the day and try to redress the balance that way.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 28 Comments

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