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Feb 16 2012

God gonna torture you so ha

Update: I missed the date, which is 2009. I probably blogged about it three years ago. Possibly word for word, in which case I think I’ll take up basket-weaving.

More entitled bleating from an entitled Christian about the requirement to “respect” her religious beliefs no matter how vicious they are.

A five-year-old child at a school in Devon told a classmate she would go to hell if she didn’t believe in god. The school told the child not to do that kind of thing, and the child told her mother, and her mother pitched the usual kind of fit.

Mr Read defended the school’s treatment of the matter and said they encouraged all children to “think independently”, but would not condone one child “frightening” another.

He said: “We have 271 children in our school from a diversity of backgrounds.

“We encourage all our children to think independently and discuss their beliefs with their teachers and classmates when it is appropriate to do so.

“What we do not condone is one child frightening a six-year-old with the prospect of ‘going to hell’ if she does not believe in God.

“We conveyed to her mother, in a perfectly respectful manner, that we do not expect it to happen again.”

Sharp intake of breath in shock-horror. The school dared to tell the child’s mother that threats of hell are not wanted in the school??! How dare they!?

[Jennie] Cain, who has worked part-time at the school for two-and-a-half years, said her and her children’s beliefs had not been respected.

“My daughter said, ‘My teacher told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus’ — I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said.

“She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn’t say that. I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do.”

Cain added: “I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children’s life.

“I do feel our beliefs haven’t been respected and I don’t feel I have been treated fairly.”

She does feel her beliefs haven’t been respected to the point that her children are allowed to thrust them on other children at school, no matter how frightening, squalid, bossy, depressing, and wrong they are. She feels it is not fair for her children to be told not to thrust frightening threatening “beliefs” on other children.

What if another child with a vivid imagination and a sadistic streak made up a story about a troll that lived under a nearby house and caught the occasional child and ate it, slowly, for lunch? Would it be unfair for the school to tell the child not to do that?

I say no. I don’t know what Jennie Cain would say.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Ray Moscow

    What if another child with a vivid imagination and a sadistic streak made up a story …

    Religion explained!

  2. 2
    Yessenia

    Threats of hell are the favored tool for Christian kids to bully and harass kids that seem gay or just gender non-conforming. The idea that if someone uses religion to harass another student, it’s ok, is how that kind of “You shouldn’t be so queer – fire burns, you know” bullying can happen (in my case) in the classroom right in front of the teacher. Religious beliefs are one thing, but they don’t give anyone license to harass and threaten another student. Good for the school for standing up to this moron.

  3. 3
    Cafeeine

    Never mind the troll story. Imagine if a kid from an family of atheists told her kid that its god is a fairy tale, and it is silly to believe it.

    How quickly do you think she would howl and demand that the school prohibit any other child ever telling her child anything that she personally disagrees with?

  4. 4
    Cafeeine

    This is exactly a scenario JT posted about today. If a Christian brings up religion, they are being kind and helpful and trying to help you avoid hell. If an atheist brings up religion, they’re the asshole.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2012/02/16/a-sneaky-double-standard/

  5. 5
    Sastra

    It’s an interesting case. Technically, children have to be allowed to talk to each other about their religious beliefs — or lack of them. The separation of church and state restricts the government (in this case, the public school). It doesn’t apply to individuals (in this case, the students.)

    But what do you do when the made-up “truths” violate the normal school rules and guidelines for good behavior? There’s a problem here because religious beliefs are supposed to exist in this weird, invented category of “faith” — factual but not, you know … factual in the ordinary sense of what can be objectively knowable. Factual in the sense of ‘I know it but you don’t.’

    Religion shouldn’t really have this special status. I wonder if the school would have been okay with it if the child had told her classmate not “you’re going to hell if you don’t believe in God,” but “it is my religious belief that you’re going to hell if you don’t believe in God.” Because that’s so different, you see. There’s often this big song and dance about hey, say it’s a BELIEF and it’s okay. It’s not a threat, it’s a *wink*wink*nod*nod “threat.”

  6. 6
    Bruce Gorton

    What if another child with a vivid imagination and a sadistic streak made up a story about a troll that lived under a nearby house and caught the occasional child and ate it, slowly, for lunch?

    My teachers were not amused.

  7. 7
    Marshall

    “My daughter said, ‘My teacher told me I couldn’t talk about Jesus’ — I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said.

    What a ridiculous reframing of the problem. The problem wasn’t that her daughter mentioned Jesus, the problem was that her daughter told another student that THEY WERE GOING TO BE TORTURED FOREVER if they didn’t believe in Jesus as the son of God. If this mother can’t distinguish between the two… well… actually that isn’t all that surprising, now that I think about it.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Sastra – I think maybe the law restricts the school in that way in the US, because of the free exercise clause. I’m not sure it does in the UK. This particular school is in the UK.

  9. 9
    Aratina Cage

    The perfect real-life illustration of this comic.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Oops. I should add that the story is three years old. I usually notice that, but not this time…

  11. 11
    Jon Jermey

    The first time you get warned about Hell, it’s really scary. The tenth, or fiftieth, or hundredth, not so much. This appalling child might be doing us all a favour by desensitising her classmates at an early age to the kind of nonsense they’ll be hearing for much of their lives. Five is not too young to learn how loathesome self-righteousness can be.

  12. 12
    Cafeeine

    Jon Jermey, you’re assuming the first few times don’t do the job its supposed to, which is install the primordial fear that no reasonable argument can eject in adult life.

  13. 13
    anat

    My first encounter with the concept of hell was in second grade, when an art teacher showed the class some of the artistic representations of the torments of the damned. This was at an international school in Europe – I have no idea under what rules this school operated. Anyway, gave me nightmares for a while.

  14. 14
    davidct

    As offensive as christians are about pushing the more vicious ideas of their faith, there is no practical way to stop them without bringing our freedom of speech into question. Since we cannot stop our children from being exposed to this nonsense, perhaps we should use such incidents as an opportunity to explain that some people believe foolish things. We can go further and explain why these stories make no more sense than monsters under the bed.

  15. 15
    Ian MacDougall

    davidct: Good point.

    Looking on the bright side, would an an eternity spent in psalm singing and Lord-praising be all that much better than one spent in a blast-furnace? After all, all the interesting people will be in Hell: freethinkers, rationalists; aficionados of bucolic pleasures: wine, women and song and all that.

    The downside will be that one will also have the enforced company of insufficiently repentant televangelists, Irish bishops and popes from way back, as well as the usual collection of bent cops, thugs, pickpockets, murderers, swindlers, bankers and corporate control freaks.

    Frying pan or the fire? No reasonable god could have set up such a choice. But as a theological issue, a bit hard to explain to a child.

  16. 16
    rogerallen

    Never mind the troll story. Imagine if a kid from an family of atheists told her kid that its god is a fairy tale, and it is silly to believe it.

    How quickly do you think she would howl and demand that the school prohibit any other child ever telling her child anything that she personally disagrees with?

    Oddly enough, our children had this problem years ago in nursery school with Santa Claus. They first heard about him at school and wanted to know why they didn’t get presents from him as well as their families and when we explained that it was a story and that no-one got presents from Santa, both the children and the staff were outraged we didn’t go along with the myth,

  17. 17
    rogerallen

    Looking on the bright side, would an an eternity spent in psalm singing and Lord-praising be all that much better than one spent in a blast-furnace? After all, all the interesting people will be in Hell: freethinkers, rationalists; aficionados of bucolic pleasures: wine, women and song and all that.

    Dorothy Parker’s opinion:

    Who loves not wisely but too well
    Will look on Helen’s face in Hell,
    While he whose love is thin and wise
    Will view John Knox in Paradise.

  18. 18
    Godless Heathen

    Ian @15:
    “aficionados of bucolic pleasures: wine, women and song and all that.”

    *ahem* And men, for those of us into that.

  19. 19
    Ian MacDougall

    rogerallen: Good quote from Parker. Filed.

    As for Santa, on of my fondest memories as a thespian was playing him at my kids day nursery Christmas party (a few years ago now). They did not recognise me under the false white beard and red suit, but the expressions on their faces said that there was something strangely familiar about that fellow Santa, that they couldn’t quite place. Priceless as a moment.

    Godless Heathen: whatever floats your boat. I was only speaking for myself, of course.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    davidct – well schools can tell parents of small children to tell their children not to frighten classmates with hell, I think – that’s not a free speech matter but a school management matter. Free speech doesn’t really apply to 5-year-olds, I think. (Which raises the question of what the borderline is, and I don’t know. 8 maybe? 9?)

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