Im wondering if anyone can help or has any experience or advice on the above topic.
I have 3 daughters, one of whom is now in mainstream education and has just turned 6. She is very bright and already far above average according to her teachers so it doesn't surprise me at all that she questions everything they teach her, including things from the bible. Ive raised my children (one is 4 and along the gifted and talented spectrum and the other is 15 months and of course we're yet to see where she stands o it all lol) as freethinkers of course and its proving to have been a highly beneficial parenting choice as i'm proud they have the mental faculties to see the point of challenging authority (in a good way, not a rebellious way)
Long story short with the school. It's brand new and opened in september 2011 as the first primary school in the new housing development we moved to. The setting up of this community was charged to a local baptist minister, who when there weren't many families, visited new arrivals with welcome-baskets and evidently was on some kind of mission to indoctrinate them. By the time we got here she had done away with that but still came for a cup of tea to tell us all about the place. It's about 80-90% christian by all accounts and i know of 5-6 families who have since been baptised after moving here - in a pool, in the ministers garden. She holds church there every sunday as well as there's no local building (and i'm hoping it stays that way!)
she is also the chair of governors at the new school, and has started "Y Club" on a weekday for children who want to explore the christian faith. (this is a topic i could elaborate on but i won't distract from my original question, which i'm coming to)
its very clear that her hand in everything here is steering the Non-Denominational community primary schools down a christian path and i'm not happy with it. My eldest daughter has come home many times with questions about the bible, which i have answered with questions to her so that she can formulate her own responses to her own questions, that way my atheist opinion doesn't cloud it too much.
Im happy for her to be part of RE lessons as i think its important for her to understand why there are so many different religions and for now, respect that. My main issue is the assemblies that involve worship and prayer, the use of "dear god" and "amen" - she told me this week that "prayers don't do anything mum, no one talks back" which is straight forward logic for a child and of course correct.
i know 2 other parents who's children aren't of any faith (yep, just 2!) and i'm wondering (here's the question!) should i exclude my daughter(s) (and possibly see if other parents will with their kids too) from the worship part of assemblies or would that draw too much attention to her being not like the majority of her friends?
Hi. I spoke to the British Humanist Association about this and they explained the law to me. The school curriculum demands that RE is predominantly Christian - they have the freedom to make that 51% or 99%. The assemblies have to be broadly Christian in nature but reflect the community. The head teachers have huge power here. They can make Christianity 51% of RE and keep saying 'This is what Christians believe but other religions have different views and many people do not believe in gods at all' or they can pay some lip service to other faiths and present Christianity as a fact. This is what they did in my daughter's school. She is like me, thinks deeply about everything and worries and this worries her. The school was unsympathetic and because, apart from the creationism bit, they were sticking to the rules there was not a lot I could do except remove my daughter from RE. As I said, I am very lucky this year that my daughter has an atheist teacher who sees my concerns completely and shares them. I cannot take her out of assembly or she would never be in any plays,. concerts or be able to recieve house points or sports awards. This is the worst of it - 15 minutes broadly Christian collective worship.
I have found the best thing to do was to remove her from RE and teach her at home. We went through the six major religions - writing down some facts and then read some non -gory stories and danced to some music from each. I also got her a book about secular Humanism and the option to disbelieve in all gods. Because of the creationism she had been taught I showed her a number of creation myths and also some good cartoons about the Big Bang and evolution. She now has a number of songs on youtube which she loves - U2Bmonkeys 'Darwin's revolution' is fantastic and also fatboy slim's Right here, right now. Charlie's playhouse has some evolution games where you try to keep your species alive - the key is diversity and can devolve a photo of yourself.I can also recommend the book 'Our Family Tree - an evolution story' very highly.
By showing my daughter many religions and also the option not to have one and many creation myths which seem ridiculous and giving her the evidence of evolution, she has become sceptical of religion and no longer sees Christianity as the only religion. She also loves science now which is great! We have told her that we do not believe in any gods but that many people do and that you cannot tell people they are wrong or laugh at them - this conversation took place after she asked a boy talking about god making the world how he managed to make light two days before making the sun - she is quite bright.
If you find that your daughter is getting sucked into Christian belief you could raise some awareness of the Christian story mirroring that of older religions - Mithra, Horus, Krishna were all born to virgins on 25th dec and many more similarities. You can make it story time - my daughter loves this. I try very hard not to tell her what to believe but by showing her so many different stories she has naturally become sceptical of accepting any one doctrine.
I would say that if you are getting concerned by things your daughter says that you are right to be. She sounds a thoughtful child - after the Noah's Ark story my daughter's friend came out singing 'The animals went in two by two, hurrah, hurrah.' whilst my daughter was in floods of tears and asked me 'Couldn't the mummies swim with the children and stop them from drowning' We will consider putting our daughter back into RE next year if she continues to be interested in religion but not fearful of it or willing to accept any one doctrine blindly.
I seem to have written an essay about this! This is my big thing! My childhood was lost to fears of Hell - my atheist parents going mainly. I believed what my teachers said because they were teachers but I have found that educating my daughter at home in a respectful way about religions has been much more effective than removing her from anything at school. I wish you luck. :)
that's amazingly helpful, thank you SO much! that's such a sad story about noahs ark !
I've just had an argument online with a christian about that light before the sun thing - the guy in question told me god was the light - i left the conversation at that point!
i received magic of reality from my mum a few weeks ago and I'm hoping that will help a little way with my daughter although i still think she's a little young for the way it's written despite its obvious angle towards children/younger people.
i will show those songs and other things to my daughter when she comes home from school later, if she's interested - first day back she will probably be a bit tired. i'm always careful not to force my opinions onto her but i would like to make very sure that she knows she has a choice between following religion and not.
I don't think anyone can top Helens answer, as she pretty much answers it completely. But yes it is one of the main concerns of the BHA, as is faith based schooling.
Thanks for the friend invite AA,I also have 3 kids but all boys and they are all fine in my primary school as we have always discussed religion when it has ever popped up and I'm glad to say that their great little free thinkers already,Dawkins new book is excellent by the way and every R.E teacher in the country should have one as it discusses all religious myths and superstitions.I left them go to the school assembly's in the end as not to alienate them from the other kids as where I live near Cardiff the school is not that religious.
Our two weans attended a primary school at which the head teacher was an evangelical Christian. We were at first concerned about the degree to which her personal beliefs influenced the running of the school, but like you, we were also concerned that any intervention on our part would isolate our children (as an aside there were was no alternative school available unless we were willing to drive 30 minutes to and from lessons each day). I am sure that many other parents, especially those from an atheist, Sikh and Muslim background felt the same.
So, for the full seven years of their primary education they took part in the various services, morning prayers and other rituals and it actually worked out quite well. Taking part meant they were led to ask more and better informed questions and this offered an ideal opportunity to discuss things on their terms, directly addressing their concerns and, at the same time, offering a counter balance to what they were told at school. Both children have now progressed to higher education and self declare as atheists.