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← When does Religious Education become proselytizing?

When does Religious Education become proselytizing? - Comments

green and dying's Avatar Comment 1 by green and dying

She's old enough to decide to go if she wants to.

The difference between education and proselytising would be between telling the children things which are objectively true and things which aren't. So are they telling them "this is what's written in the Bible," "this is what Christians believe," "this is what happens in this Bible story" or is it "the Bible is inspired by God," "this Bible story is a historic fact," or "people go to Hell for not believing X"?

I would ask your daughter about it afterwards, and if it is proselytising make complaints.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 13:31:04 UTC | #876579

The Swiv's Avatar Comment 2 by The Swiv

I am seeing my son's head teacher Monday morning to discuss this very subject. I don't like contradicting teachers and he is getting upset that I do not agree with them

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 13:34:24 UTC | #876580

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 3 by PrimeNumbers

It has crossed the line:

1) Obviously the motives of the creators of the exhibit are suspect - they're christian men who have produced this exhibit for religious reasons.

2) the mention of truthfulness - a properly nuanced discussion of this is way beyond junior school. Given 1) above I strongly suspect the answer will be unequivocally - yes, it's all true!

3) the mention of the "message" - again, do we really believe this will be presented in a "this is what xtians believe" way, rather than - this is the message and it's true.

4) the gospel of John gift. "During this time over 600 000 children have experienced the Exhibition, read God’s word for themselves and all received a copy of John’s Gospel away with them."

I do think, by the sounds of it, your daughter is up to the challenge of this event, however it does go way beyond religious education into religious indoctrination.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 13:37:11 UTC | #876581

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 4 by Vorlund

True education permits people to make informed choices and challenge 'received wisdom' given the evidence. Proselityzing means to cause to adopt a particular faith. A version of the 'evidence' is provided and instructs the listener that it is the only correct version. It could be more sinister by making threats to an indivdual for dissent.

If you fear that is the case keep your child away from the trip.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 14:00:50 UTC | #876585

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 5 by BanJoIvie

Rather than asking "does this trip cross the line from education into 'proselytizing'?" I think I'd ask first, "does this trip rise to the standard of 'educational'?"

Seriously. Does a visit to this place have any valid educational justification other than "spiritual enrichment?" Because what little information I see in the link provided does not lead me to believe that the place is designed or run by scholars or historians or trained educators or anyone with a valid academic message for kids. The only qualifications listed for the creators is that they are "Christian"...oh and of course that they are "men." Not impressive. Not enough.

Also, the site states in no uncertain terms, "The objective from start to finish is to impress upon people the importance and relevance of the Bible to modern day lives." Someone needs to be made to clearly articulate how this objective contributes to the eduational objectives of a non-faith school.

While I think fact-based education about comparative religious belief and/or study of major religious texts as literature may be justifiable in a well rounded education, I see no such value in the brief description of this place.

Basically, I think a defense of "well, it's not actually proselytizing" to be woefully insufficient, even if it was unambiguously true (clearly not the case here given that it's borderline enough to raise the question.) Sitting a kid in front of a TV and showing cartoons for an entire schoolday is probably not proselytizing either, but I sure wouldn't call it educational. What is the clear educational justification for including this visit in a curriculum? For spending limited school funds on such a trip? For supporting these exhibitors with public resources?

I suspect that those who planned this field trip simply assume that exposure to the bible is "good" for kids; not to help them understand literary referrences, but because the bible is good. That is a religious motivation, not an educational one, whether or not they cross a line into open preaching.

I'd try to place the burden on the other side and make someone clearly state the reasons for the trip rather than having to express my reasons against it.

Good luck! Sounds like you're raising a great kid!

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 15:45:34 UTC | #876616

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 6 by paulmcuk

Sounds like your daughter would be more amused than confused by the exhibits. However, I do think it's worth raising the issue with the school. After all, not every child in the class will be as well armed against religion as she is. The key questions would seem to be:

  1. Why has the school chosen to arrange a visit to this exhibit?
  2. What form does the lesson plan surrounding this visit take? (i.e. does it explicitly or implicitly accept the exhibits as truth or are they presented in the context of a belief system that is open to challenge)

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 15:57:15 UTC | #876622

William33's Avatar Comment 7 by William33

Hello there,

If you read the 'about us' section then you will discover that their motives are not neutral.

The Ayrshire Bible Exhibition was compiled and built over 20 years ago by a group of Christian men. The objective from start to finish is to impress upon people the importance and relevance of the Bible to modern day lives.

The Exhibition was built primarily for use in Ayrshire (Scotland). However since the work commenced we have been all over the British Isles and Ireland. From Shetland and the Northern Islands to Jersey and Guernsey. England, Wales to Northern Ireland.

During this time over 600 000 children have experienced the Exhibition, read God’s word for themselves and all received a copy of John’s Gospel away with them.

There is a massive difference between attending some type of christian establishment to learn about christian culture and going to a christian establishment where crazy mubo jumbo is explained as fact.

The question you should be asking is if this day trip or whatever benefits your child educational-wise.

I personally find it unimpressive. I would not be suprised to be preached at rather then able to learn how a specific group of people live, function from day to day.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 17:05:49 UTC | #876655

perkyjay's Avatar Comment 8 by perkyjay

Mr.Roddam, I would let your 10 year old daughter go the the Bible exhibit. I have 5 sons who now vary in age from 60 to 46. I didn't raise any objections when three of them expressed a desire to go to Sunday School during their "formative" years. The Sunday School "craze" didn't last long - each one of the three soon got tired of the woo that was peddled. Now, all 5 are like their old man - devout atheists.

Fri, 30 Sep 2011 19:08:05 UTC | #876713

halucigenia's Avatar Comment 9 by halucigenia

Comment 1 by green and dying :

She's old enough to decide to go if she wants to.

The difference between education and proselytising would be between telling the children things which are objectively true and things which aren't. So are they telling them "this is what's written in the Bible," "this is what Christians believe," "this is what happens in this Bible story" or is it "the Bible is inspired by God," "this Bible story is a historic fact," or "people go to Hell for not believing X"?

I would ask your daughter about it afterwards, and if it is proselytising make complaints.

This post made me think - would it be possible for you (the OP G.F.RODDAM) to actually go along yourself. As you say you were formerly the Chair of Governors I should imagine that you should be able to manage that. If so, then take the advice from green and dying and ensure that if there is any proselytising going on that you vociferously correct any proselytising statements in the form of "the Bible is inspired by God," "this Bible story is a historic fact," or "people go to Hell for not believing X" to "this is what's written in the Bible," "this is what Christians believe," "this is what happens in this Bible story".

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 07:45:45 UTC | #876862

besleybean's Avatar Comment 10 by besleybean

This approach changes something from being indoctrination to education.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 10:00:59 UTC | #876880

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 11 by Stevehill

I would say it's not proselytising if your child also visits a mosque, a hindu temple, a synagogue, and generally gets some reasonable tuition about (not indoctrination into) all of the major faiths. Which may be a big ask in Scotland....

The Bible's not a bad book, and there's some good literary writing in there as well as all the nonsense. No point pretending it doesn't exist.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 11:55:44 UTC | #876907

educationsaves's Avatar Comment 12 by educationsaves

Seems like you have a very religious teacher using his/her position to indoctrinate the children in his/her care. Beware as this will not be a balanced education and there will not be reasoned balanced discussion(Child -Is the bible true? teacher - Yes) Religion / Myth should not be taught as fact only as a history and let your child make her own decision with all the facts at her disposal. The field trip should not be to a religious display and it is a waste of resources, it should be to an educational display - maybe on evolution.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 15:15:02 UTC | #876940

aldous's Avatar Comment 13 by aldous

There are more than 2,000 Roman Catholic schools in the state education system in England and Wales, paid for by the taxpayer, but with a license to indoctrinate children in the Roman Catholic faith.

http://re-handbook.org.uk/section/schools/roman-catholic-schools#tab-3

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 15:51:58 UTC | #876952

aldous's Avatar Comment 14 by aldous

Comment 11 by Stevehill I would say it's not proselytising if your child also visits a mosque, a hindu temple, a synagogue, and generally gets some reasonable tuition about (not indoctrination into) all of the major faiths.

The local authority committees which decide the RE curriculum for community schools have a large clerical contingent. Of course, they aim to proselytize. It has to be a soft sell but the idea is that any religion is better than none. The Education Act should be amended to do away with compulsory RE and clerical influence.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 16:09:49 UTC | #876957

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 15 by The Truth, the light

I was reading through

http://www.bibleexhibition.co.uk/resources/School+Guide.pdf

Certainly doesn't sound objective, but neither does it sound full on in your face stuff either.

Wonder how open they are to questions of a critical and analytical nature?

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 20:45:16 UTC | #877011

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 16 by aquilacane

Maybe she will be able to blaze down some of the things she sees, in front of the other students, and give them something else to think about. Good, tough questions are great at these events, especially from young kids.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 22:42:53 UTC | #877030

ShinobiYaka's Avatar Comment 17 by ShinobiYaka

When does Religious Education become proselytizing?

When it’s “Religious Education”, it has no other legitimate purpose, but it begs the question, what is the difference between, education and indoctrination?

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 23:34:16 UTC | #877044

Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 18 by Valerie_

Comment 17 by ShinobiYaka :

When it’s “Religious Education”, it has no other legitimate purpose, but it begs the question, what is the difference between, education and indoctrination?

Education provides a student with information and the ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Education teaches a student to make an informed decision by considering all the evidence. It also teaches someone how to recognize when something is right or wrong. Education is for the benefit of the student.

Indoctrination does none of these things. Indoctrination pushes a perspective and stays with it in the face of all evidence. People who are trying to indoctrinate don't like evidence that doesn't support their points of view. Indoctrination is for the benefit of the person doing the indoctrinating (or the organization he represents).

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 03:59:40 UTC | #877076

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 19 by Premiseless

'Brothels for the brain, without conscience.' is about the best definition I can concisely apply to places which advertise myth as truth in spite of 21st century knowledge about their origins and politicised farming of humans.

It staggers me we are in a time of widespread education BUT their demands are critically defended? As if power is reliant on an inescapable evil! As if power cannot relinquish the poison that theism injects!

Beware of them and their pernicious psychologies!

When your mind is clear, the above will become crystal to your thinking.

Best of luck that all may find this truth! Much of life, and education, conceals this light forever.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 07:24:20 UTC | #877085

G.F.Roddam's Avatar Comment 20 by G.F.Roddam

Thanks for the comments everyone, due to the lag in submitting the post and it appearing the school trip has already happened. For the record, my daughter did attend and found it 'quite interesting'.

I met her class teacher beforehand to express concerns, who brought in the teacher who organised the trip. Some interesting points came from this meeting:

The trip was organised as part of the RE curriculum which was to learn about the bible. I've no problems with this. However the school decided to visit the exhibition based on a flyer recieved by the school and no member of staff had visited the exhibition in advance. Not good planning and preparation work. The two teachers were slightly embarrassed at this.

The children are given a pack at the end of the exhibition, the school decided not to allow them to be given the full pack. One of the items excluded was the copy of John's gospel. I do wonder if this would have happened if we hadn't spoken to the school in advance.

The teachers were very clear that their job was to give a balanced view. Using phrases like "but some people don't beleive that" and asking children "whether we should believe what the people at the exhibition said". While this is far better than the religious education I had at school, I do wonder how effectively other views are taught. As one commentator noted, there aren't any planned Koran, Talmud or other holy book exhibitions. I also wonder how much depth is given to non-belief viewpoints. Yes some people don't believe but why? And how does non-belief make them different from people who do?

Thanks for the comments.

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 10:29:14 UTC | #877100

anonymous.shyster's Avatar Comment 21 by anonymous.shyster

Good to hear you put the pressure on them to keep things objective and to potentially save a classroom of children from being brainwashed!

Sun, 02 Oct 2011 23:25:10 UTC | #877230

mysticjbyrd's Avatar Comment 22 by mysticjbyrd

There is no such thing as religious education, as it is an oxymoron.

Education noun 1. the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

Scripture does not provide any of the above for the vast majority. I believe the word you are looking for is,

Indoctrination noun the act of indoctrinating, or teaching or inculcating a doctrine, principle, or ideology, especially one with a specific point of view: religious indoctrination.

There is nothing to be learned from religion outside a history book, or philosophy book(subsection, fallacies).

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 06:11:59 UTC | #877290