Photo Credit: Wesley Fryer
There is a real and present danger to children in Scotland’s schools. Thankfully Scotland’s newspapers are on hand to enlighten us and warn us about this upsetting, disturbing and dangerous threat. The Daily Record, led the way with an incisive piece of enlightened reporting, and then The Scotsman joined in with its greater understanding and in-depth analysis. No – we are not talking about paedophilia, drug dealers, Satanists or recruiters for the Hitler youth. We are talking about something far more shocking – people who don’t believe in evolution and who think homosexuality is a sin. At this moment in time, thanks to this shock revelation through our intrepid and fearless press, parents all over Scotland should be locking up their children and conducting background checks into all their acquaintances lest they too fall prey to this evil.
The story so far. Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride has a chaplaincy team. One member of that team is Alex Gear, who runs a club at the school and takes part in RE lessons. So far so normal. Mr Gear is however a member of an organisation called The church of Christ and made the cardinal error of sending pupils home with creationist books last Monday. At least one parent complained and now South Lanarkshire Council have demanded he have no more contact with the school and they are ‘urgently reviewing a number of practices across the area”. The head teacher, Alexandra Mackenzie is now in deep trouble. She had written, “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.”
Just to emphasise the threat The Daily Record, published a suitably scary photo of Mr Gear made up in face paint and eye shadow. The Record also can now ‘reveal that there are sinister undertones’ to the involvement of the sect in the school. These include the fact that they regard Kirtonholme as ‘a mission’ and they have several members helping with classes. One 22 two year old from Mexico even made the shocking statement on her blog that Scotland is “a place full of darkness and emptiness that is in a big need of Jesus”. How dare she! Clearly our children need to be protected from this kind of intolerant madness!
The Church of Christ is a sect. It believes that you can be saved through adult baptism only. It also is the Church of Christ – so there are no Christians outwith it. As a result it believes there are only 700 Christians in the whole of Scotland. I have actually come across them before, in Livingston and in Dundee – they are fairly eccentric and in Christian terms, theologically off the wall, so we should beware of them. So do they not deserve this coverage and should be not be thankful that they have been ‘exposed’?
In my view the headmistress was wrong to take this group into the school. She was wrong to allow these books to be distributed through the school and she was wrong to let the children collect money for the church building. I have no doubt she was well intentioned and I have a great deal of sympathy for her, now that she has been outed by the secularist militants who have set up the witch hunt led by The Daily Record. They, in the spirit of tolerance and investigative journalism, urged the readers to join in the hunt – “Do you have a story about the Church of Christ? Call us on 0141 309 3251 or email email@example.com”. And the militant secularists can hardly believe their luck. Having just begun a campaign to get the ‘opt out’ of religious observance changed to an ‘opt in’ (with the ultimate intention of getting Christian observance removed altogether from Scotland’s state education), and Edinburgh secular society issuing a report warning us about the dangers of extremist groups such as Scripture Union and others, along comes this gift horse. Secular Scotland at the last count had over 31 threads (sorry make that 32 – another has just been added as I type), on this subject on its FB page – is that not slightly obsessive and OTT? Last week I debated the chair of Edinburgh Secular Society on the subject of faith in education. It was enlightening. Gary was as pleasant and intelligent as ever, although his faith continues to surprise me. But some of the people in the audience were full of an anger and hatred for Christianity which was actually quite scary.
What caught my eye in the Daily Records report was the following sentence “One angry dad, Paul Sanderson, 33, told how his five-year-old son burst into tears when he took the books away.” I recognised the name. Paul is a member of the Scottish secular society and this was really too good an opportunity to miss. He is part of the campaign against religious observance in Scottish schools…he posted on his FB page “I can tell you that what we are going to try and put religion back in its box, where it is supposed to be, RE classes”. His page also contains a couple of horrendous blasphemous cartoons of Jesus. In a free country he is entitled to have that, but it would be helpful if the Scotsman and the Daily Record realised that they are being used to further a campaign of prejudice, ignorance and fear, which will take this one extreme and slightly loopy case, and use it to instil fear in others. Why do I say that?
Because both The Scotsman and The Record helpfully tell people how they can spot these weird and evil religious extremists. It’s not just that they wear face paint and try to be characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s the horrific revelation that they don’t believe in evolution and they think homosexuality is a sin. I know many Christians who do accept evolution, but I also know many who don’t. Should they be excluded from involvement in state schools? Is evolutionism the new religion? Is no one allowed to question it? And if believing that having sex outside marriage is a sin (whether heterosexual or homosexual) is beyond the pale, then it is not just a rather strange American sect that has to worry. Once they have finished with them they will come for the Catholics, and evangelicals. Come the revolution, I suspect that as a Free Church minister, my name is already on the list!
The militant secularists are using this extreme example to stir up mob hatred and try to ensure all trace of biblical Christianity is removed from Scotland’s schools. One sympathetic poster on Paul’s FB page even stated “also happy to pitch in on any angry mobs if necessary”. The militants are quite good at getting the angry mob/hate mail going – and sadly The Daily Record is happy to be used for that purpose. Nothing like a good old bit of rabble rousing to encourage the readership.
The trouble is that this kind of unthinking mob rule (sadly sanctioned by the Scotsman’s rather weak reporting) is going to become more and more the norm. All you need is one militant atheist parent complaining that a teacher or chaplain is a ‘creationist’ or a ‘homophobe’ and the witch-hunt will begin. Why are the media not warning about the danger of militant secularist groups, or indeed militant homosexual groups like Stonewall? In every corridor in my daughter’s school there are Stonewall posters, ‘some people are gay, get over it’. Fair enough. But where are the ‘some people are ex-gay, get over it’, or even the ‘some people are Christian, get over it’ posters? Why are these groups infiltrating and indoctrinating our children? I have been involved in schools for my entire ministry – during these 27 years I am not sure I have ever spoken about homosexuality, and I have certainly not advocated young earth creationism. I am not a scientist and I don’t teach in science classes. However I do think that it is right that people of different views are allowed to express those views.
This does not mean that the state education system has to sanction them. However the state education system in Scotland at the moment does sanction Christianity. We are a Christian system. It may be that the atheist militants (under the guise of secularism and the myth of secularist neutrality) will finally get their goal of an atheistic education system, having cuckoo like taken over from the Christian state system, but until that happens those of us who represent mainstream Christianity should not be thrown out of the school system. And if that does happen then the State education system will need to allow for more choice. To leave us to the tender mercies of an atheistic fundamentalism or a liberal watered down hyper-useless hyper-spirituality, is not fair to those taxpayers who want the traditional Scottish education based on Christian principles.
There is however another danger for Christians. It is that those who are engaged with the schools end up presenting a version of Christianity that is nothing more than a watered down version of state moralism, using Christianity as a thin veneer. The Curriculum for excellence has some great ideas and I hope much of it will be followed. You can read it here – http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/roletter_tcm4-650445.pdf
Here is my fear. Please forgive me if I cannot quantify this and if I express it in too broad and general terms. I also place the caveat of saying that there are many C of S ministers who are chaplains (and others who are not C of S) who do a great job. But I can see a major problem arising. As the Church of Scotland is declining and its parish ministers seek for a continuing ‘raison d’etre’, I suspect that one will be to justify the empty pews by talking about a ministry to the whole ‘parish’ and especially schools. The bottom line is that they won’t want competition with that and I suspect that some will seize the opportunity presented by the above case, to present the ‘national’ church as the respectable, nice face of Christianity – in contrast to say those nasty extremists in the Church of Christ, and any others who can be tainted with the same creationist, homophobic brush. I can foresee an alliance between the new state sponsored secularist/Buddhist/atheistic morality and the liberalism of the state church. Both after all are really just versions of moralistic, therapeutic deism. The State will be happy, because it will have its religious thought police and its tame religion, the secularists will be happy because Christianity (with the possible exception of Catholicism – seriously weakened by the child sex abuse scandals) will have been reduced to a private club akin to a knitting club; and the establishment church ministers will be happy because their importance and value will have been reaffirmed – even in the midst of continually declining attendances. Their Sunday schools may be empty, but at least they get to provide ‘the spiritual’ in the State schools – as long as they continue to bow the knee to Caesar. Teach the new State morality and you will be fine. Challenge it and you are out.
This is not a new thing. The seeds have been there for some time. A number of years ago, I was a chaplain in a local primary school and got in enormous trouble at one school assembly. It was Christmas and I was asked to introduce one young girl who was to say a prayer. I told the pupils what prayer was and told them to put their hands together and close their eyes, so that they would not get distracted. The following day I was summoned to the headmistress’s office and given a dressing down by the depute head.
“How dare you ask the children to pray?””
“Because that was what I was asked to do.”
“ No – you were not. You were asked to introduce the prayer. It could have been offensive.”
“Not as offensive as you having a Muslim girl read out ‘behold this was the Son of God’ – even I wouldn’t have been that daft”
“You are not allowed to ask children to pray”
“Sorry – but the law says that each non-denominational school is to have a weekly act of Christian worship – prayer is kind of a big part of that. What’s the point in being a chaplain if you cannot pray! ”
“I went on a course. And I was taught that we are to lead people up to the point of worship but we cannot ask them to pray or worship”
And there was no budging the depute head. I was compelled to resign as chaplain. She was an atheist who had been on a course taught by a Church of Scotland minister that did its best to a) undermine the Christian foundation of the state education system and b) preserve the status of the clergy.
The dumbing down and increasing secularisation of Scottish society continues apace (I don’t think the two are disconnected). When the secular elites can call on the militant mob to stir up hatred and fear, and rely on the compliance of both the tabloid and broadsheet press, I guess we all have to wonder – who is next? What will happen to anyone who dares to challenge the new absolutist state morality? Our secularist fundamentalists have faith that human beings are fundamentally progressive and good and that the main thing that holds us back is religion. When their secular nirvana does not work out, they will reason that it is only because it is being hindered by the vestiges of a dying superstition. And so they will do their best to get rid of that superstition. Firstly by being nice, then by mockery and indoctrination. But will they stop there? The record of enlightened progressives throughout European history does not suggest they will. Scotland needs to wake up and smell the coffee, before we find ourselves in a totalitarian secularist society, where the State has replaced God, and the old freedoms established by Christianity are eroded and removed.
Anyway as it happens, in the providence of God, I will be speaking at the “Reason Conference” in East Kilbride this coming Saturday (7th of September) at Westwoodhill Church at 7pm, together with Dr Alastair Noble (The Case for Intelligent Design). The battle goes on…Christus Victor!
13th September 2013
The Scotsman article is here – http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/sect-s-preacher-spent-8-years-at-primary-school-1-3081113
The Daily Record one here – http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/parents-outrage-extremist-religious-cult-2254926