my non religious beliefs, 3 years into my daughters attendance at a faith school. what to do?????

97


Discussion by: jacqui40

(please forgive spelling etc)

i have returned (an hour ago) from my daughter's curriculum evening at her school here in the midlands (uk). it was truely awful. i have rarely felt so confused about what to do. my daughter is 6 years old and is in year 2 at school. this is her third year at this outstanding school. their results, and ofsted report are outstanding. i should be grateful that she has secured a place here. last year after a long inner struggle (and many youtube debates / uploads), i came to the conclusion that i was without a doubt, (i cannot stress this enough,) an atheist. it has been the most liberating experience. this evening i sat in a school hall, packed with 'believers,' whilst the head teacher put up a large projector statement from the then pope (benedict) on how all little children should 'aim to become saints via their journey through the sacraments'. there was lots of nodding and clapping and prayers. i was worried at one point that i was about to develop instant tourettes, and jump up and scream that they were all crazy!!  i don't say this to make light of that condition at all. i felt so utterly frustrated at the total nonsense i was listening to, i was frightened that i actually would not be able to contain myself!!    

sainthood? what are you all talking about? what evidence? why are you all nodding?

 

i definitely don't wish to remove my daughter from her school. she is settled and happy and has lots of friends. i am just finding it so hard to 'deal' with the intense religious ethos there, when to me it is just utter nonsense, backed up by nothing. i feel guilty for putting my daughter in this position now. any ideas on how to redress the balance would be much appreciated. thank you

97 COMMENTS

  1. The choice is this:

    1. Stay in that school, and keep the old friends while being indoctrinated by those same friends who are being indoctrinated by their parents AND the school.

    2. Take the child out of the school, and into a new one. In a short amount of time getting new friends – and no indoctrination.

    Number 1 is a short time solution.
    Number 2 is a long time solution.

    I would personally want to go with #2 since the child is very young and still has many years ahead of her. Taking her out of the school now, after only being there for an extremely short period would be more gentle than having her suffer indoctrination at the hands of – excuse my bluntness – idiots – for many years to come.

    As for friends… Children makes friends in a matter of minutes. No need to have your daughter go through years and years of what I would personally consider to be mental abuse – just so she can keep her current friends which she has just recently befriended. In a new school she will settle in within weeks. Then consider weeks vs. years, and multiply that with the effects of religious bias and following indoctrination.

    Sincere, Kåre Olsen.

  2. Is the school nominally secular? If so, start by writing a letter saying you did not want your daughter indoctrinated into the Catholic faith. (Describe the incident. They may be unaware.) Politely ask, is there any alternative but to withdraw her from the school? You not promising to withdraw. You are not saying you are a wicked atheist. You could be church of England. Religious people terrify schools with a single complaint. You can too. If you have to take her out, get your word processor going and send personalised letters to everyone you can think of who might be vaguely interested. Put at least a sentence written in fountain pen on each letter.

    If the school is officially religious, I can’t think of anything you can do but withdraw your child (She will hate you. You are pulling her away from her friends and her established social status). You might then lobby to get tax money removed from religious schools.

  3. i am just finding it so hard to ‘deal’ with the intense religious ethos there…

    Your daughter will obtain maximum benefit if you can resolve those florid feelings of fear, loneliness and confusion associated with her education. Your feelings are important.

    i came to the conclusion that i was without a doubt, (i cannot stress this enough,) an atheist.
    i was worried at one point that i was about to develop instant tourettes…i felt so utterly frustrated at the total nonsense i was listening to, i was frightened that i actually would not be able to contain myself!!

    Your concern is obvious and your daughter will sense your worries and lonliness.

    i definitely don’t wish to remove my daughter from her school. she is settled and happy and has lots of friends.

    Yes, the welfare of your daughter should be paramount I think. Developing your own friends is the best solution, rather than blaming all of your personal woes on the school you have selected. Your partner or parents warrant careful consideration too. They evidently don’t share your concerns or feel (suddenly) irrationally disturbed by your daughter’s circumstances. Have you discussed this with your priest?

    • In reply to #3 by Len Walsh:

      Hold on Len; I hope I’ve misinterpreted your suggestions.

      Yes, the welfare of your daughter should be paramount I think. Developing your own friends is the best solution, rather than blaming all of your personal woes on the school you have selected.

      The OP has struggled with her faith, found it wanting in comparison with objective reality and cannot stand by as an ideology she no longer believes is inculcated in her daughter. Whilst she made this choice, buoyed by the school’s performance in educational league tables, in what way does the OP’s reaction suggest she is lonely, friendless and blaming the school for all of her woes?

      Your partner or parents warrant careful consideration too. They evidently don’t share your concerns or feel (suddenly) irrationally disturbed by your daughter’s circumstances. Have you discussed this with your priest?

      How do you know the OP, the OP’s partner or OP’s parents had any idea this was going on? Is it necessarily any of their business? They may not care or may be part of the ‘in-group’ who are encouraged by Benedict’s Powerpoint sermon that her daughter’s highest aspiration should be sainthood through Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Confession, Anointing and finally indissoluble Marriage? Naturally, being female she’ll have to skip the Holy Orders stage in the RC Seven-Step Program to Perfection. My parents clearly had no idea about my school’s ineffectual antibullying policy, asbestos flooring or my ability to write in octane on classroom walls (none of which was a barrier to being a Grade A student) but I’d like to think if they’d known, they’d have (non-irrationally) questioned it…

      Sorry Len, I can’t help but feel your post was rather ‘blame the victim’. The OP feels that the Ofsted trade-off isn’t worth it any more and is asking for help. I do agree though that talking to the priest/headmaster about whether this is the usual state of play will have an influence on the OP’s final decision.

      • In reply to #7 by Docjitters:

        In reply to #3 by Len Walsh:

        Hold on Len; I hope I’ve misinterpreted your suggestions…Sorry Len, I can’t help but feel your post was rather ‘blame the victim’.

        Correct. Hello Doc and thank you for noticing my point.

        The OP feels that the Ofsted trade-off isn’t worth it any more and is asking for help.

        My intention was to persuade this disenchanted Catholic mother to hesitate before taking any precipitous action which could impact negatively on her child. Earlier this evening jacqui40 was happy enough with the established arrangement her daughter was evidently thriving in. She was sufficiently enthusiastic to participate in the curriculum evening, despite having recently noticed atheistic youtube clips which had elicited doubt. Crucially this is not merely a superior institution but is apparently an “outstanding” school which has served her daughters needs for three years.

        My parents clearly had no idea about my school’s ineffectual antibullying policy, asbestos flooring…

        OK, but this little girl needs stability and responsible parenting. Implicitly her siblings and other family members are excluded from this discussion, when they’re crucial to her social development.

        How do you know the OP, the OP’s partner or OP’s parents had any idea this was going on? Is it necessarily any of their business?

        Yes, both parents get a say.

        Disenchanted Catholics will often imagine that they’ve become atheists whenever they feel doubt or succumb to profanity. True Catholics will often reject those lapsed, inattentive or cultural members of their cult as being inauthentic or atheistic; not Trooo exemplars.

        The barely controlled urge to make vulgar outbursts (coprolalia) occurring at this meeting, so suddenly, is a cause for concern and more sober reflection.

        Dr. Silbersweig (Cornell Uni) reckons the brain’s executive function is crippled by such limbic urges, so I don’t think now is the time for impetuosity, considering her daughter’s well-being is at stake. Such a sudden and florid reaction to the already familiar, standard Catholic doctrine is very disturbing indeed and I’m surprised others haven’t remarked about it.

        does the OP’s reaction suggest she is lonely, friendless and blaming the school for all of her woes?

        Following a decent sleep she may consider discussing this with her husband or friends, instead of racing home to write Dear Dorothy notes to unfamiliar internet forums, seeking advice from strangers.

        • In reply to #14 by Len Walsh:

          In reply to #7 by Docjitters:

          In reply to #3 by Len Walsh:

          Hold on Len; I hope I’ve misinterpreted your suggestions…Sorry Len, I can’t help but feel your post was rather ‘blame the victim’.

          Correct. Hello Doc and thank you for noticing my point.

          She was sufficiently enthusiastic to participate in the curriculum evening, despite having recently noticed atheistic youtube clips which had elicited doubt. Crucially this is not merely a superior institution but is apparently an “outstanding” school which has served her daughters needs for three years.

          Catholic schools with their authoritarian attitudes and parents who co-operate with the management led by priests, do perform well at examinations with trusting children accepting “given knowledge” which helps them do well reproducing it in examinations requiring factual memory and communication skills.

          However they are one of the most determined types of school at indoctrination, with children from a very young age, regularly crossing themselves every day in prayers grace, creeds etc. at every opportunity. They also teach the contorted thinking which permits the uncritical acceptance of magical miracles, dogmas, etc.

          There is a mental price to pay for the successful exam reputation which is also partially based on selecting co-operative children and parents in discriminatory admissions policies.

          I have considerable first hand observations and knowledge of these matters.

          My children were kept away from such schools and given a better education elsewhere – included a balanced education about religions.

          • In reply to #16 by Alan4discussion:

            There is a mental price to pay for the successful exam reputation which is also partially based on selecting co-operative children and parents in discriminatory admissions policies.

            It seems to me in Australia that the main advantage so-called “private schools” have is a much greater ease of getting rid of troublesome schools. Also they can push out students who will spoil their final (year 12) results. I spent the last two years 11, 12 at a Marist Brothers College. They had the wonderful notion of a “terminating pass”. People who were barely passing at year 11 would be given a pass and a very nice reference as long as they agreed not to use it to come back in year 12.

            To the OP I’m not sure what advice to offer as I don’t know the UK system well enough or what your alternatives are. Just remember it will get harder to move her as the years pass and she is going to be in there for a long time.

            Michael

          • In reply to #19 by mmurray:

            To the OP I’m not sure what advice to offer as I don’t know the UK system well enough or what your alternatives are…

            Michael, l enjoyed the terminating pass, every player wins a prize notion, thanks.

            I commenced with the nuns and had turtles upon turtles all the way to the end, culminating (matriculating) with the brothers, before both of these garbed species became virtually extinct in Oz.

            Despite the reservations being expressed by some posters this particular Midlands school is apparently excellent, as reported by the OP. Her problem isn’t with the school; it’s a personal crisis of faith.

            During the last three years this mother has suffered one bad night during which she reports feelings of unmitigated rage and contempt towards people she usually relates to quite normally. Travelling home she recalled seeing a video clip about atheism and rather than waking her husband, has instead furiously found an atheist site on which to ventilate her uncharacteristic disenchantment with Catholicism.

            A good night’s sleep followed by breakfast in bed would solve her major issues I reckon, and reconcile her with fellow parents again, her husband, neighbours and all those other family members she contemptuously regards as being “crazy” today. The only “balance” that needs redressing here is, respectfully, the mother’s I reckon. The child sounds just fine.

          • In reply to #22 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #19 by mmurray:

            The child sounds just fine.

            The mother too. Get over yourself.

          • In reply to #22 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #19 by mmurray:

            A good night’s sleep followed by breakfast in bed would solve her major issues I reckon, and reconcile her with fellow parents again, her husband, neighbours and all those other family members she contemptuously regards as being “crazy” today. The only “balance” that needs redressing here is, respectfully, the mother’s I reckon. The child sounds just fine.

            I’m surprised you didn’t recommend a cup of tea, a Bex and a good like down Len ? You don’t think perhaps you are being a little patronising here ? You are also creating a story based on very little evidence. We have no evidence she has a “husband” or any other “family members” or even “neighbours”. We also know her transition to being an atheist was the result of “many” videos not just “seeing a video clip about atheism”.

            I think most of the parents of the kids I went to school with would have ben disturbed to find the school was going to train their children to be saints. The only sainthood they wanted for their offspring was the secular kind that comes from getting a high enough score to gain entry to Law or Medicine. The supposedly better HSC or year 12 score was why they sent them to a Catholic school. That and the fact they couldn’t afford a really posh private school.

            Michael

          • In reply to #30 by mmurray:

            In reply to #22 by Len Walsh:

            You don’t think perhaps you are being a little patronising here ? You are also creating a story based on very little evidence. We have no evidence she has a “husband” or any other “family members” or even “neighbours”.

            Regretably my best efforts to be polite couldn’t manage to make my advice any more palatable. I’ve tried to engage with the only story that we’ve been told by relying on the available evidence, with the assumption that jasqui40 is normally connected in the social sense.

            We also know her transition to being an atheist was the result of “many” videos not just “seeing a video clip about atheism”.

            Disenchantment was the word I chose to describe her feelings of doubt and the ensuing inner conflict caused by those video clips. Far too polite I think, but more accurate than calling her feelings atheism. Very few Catholics react so floridly to a Hitchslap or Jim Jefferies video clip, unfortunately. Jaqui40 is first person I’ve seen to have reported such a miraculous “conversion” without any other social interaction occurring at all.

            I think most of the parents of the kids I went to school with would have been disturbed…supposedly better HSC or year 12 score was why they sent them…

            I agree with you completely Michael. I also support alan4discussion’s concerns and the similar reservations which have been expressed by others about faith-based schooling. However, the other parents at this school perceived the curriculum night rather differently to our correspondent and the press hasn’t reported the saint-making session either. Our concerned mum didn’t notice any other distressed parents. She was unable to find support on the night and so rushed home to write to us.

            My notes were intended to address the concerns of the OP while being mindful of her daughter sleeping peacefully. We do know a few things. We’re aware that her daughter is happy and well-integrated at the school selected by the mother, and that she does NOT wish to remove the child.

            It seems a bit rude to me to ignore the mother’s expressed wishes in this matter.

          • In reply to #40 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #30 by mmurray:

            In reply to #22 by Len Walsh:

            You don’t think perhaps you are being a little patronising here ? You are also creating a story based on very little evidence. We have no evidence she has a “husband” or any other “family members” or even “neighbours”.

            Regretably my best e…

            I understood your comments regarding jaqui40′s frame of mind, to be a possible backstory built on observations you have made of people in the past, and their motivations.

          • In reply to #22 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #19 by mmurray:

            To the OP I’m not sure what advice to offer as I don’t know the UK system well enough or what your alternatives are…

            Michael, l enjoyed the terminating pass, every player wins a prize notion, thanks.

            I commenced with the nuns and had turtles upon turtles all the way…

            I have read your comments and find them to be somewhat unfair to say the least.

            We don;t know here family situation, so we cannot comment upon why she is seeking advise, sometimes its easier to ask strangers with the shield of anonymity , especially if she feels guilt etc. over the loss of faith, which may well be very genuine. Having struggled for a long time with these feelings, and I wasn’t catholic, its takes significant time to completely adjust to the idea of being an atheist, without feeling that you are somehow doing something wrong, and wrestling with the possible consequences should you be wrong etc., long after your conscious belief in god has gone.

            If this is more than momentary doubt as you suggest, but instead a real loss of faith, which is the picture I got from the OP, then it is natural for her to question whether or not her child should be indoctrinated, and be horrified at what she saw, (it doesn’t have to be knee jerk, and to be honest I think you are showing unreasonable prejudice here). That is not a subtle background of religion, such as might be expected. That is blatant imposition upon the helpless children. In my opinion, that should be enough to close down the school, along with all other ‘faith’ schools that have sneaked into our culture and pollute our society, with deadly venom, but hey that’s my opinion.

            Myself I would pull my child out of there, the slight harm caused by her having to make new friends can be countered with additional affection and attention at home until she settles into the new school. The damage that indoctrination will do, will be long term or even permanent and she will be without a doubt, (if she cannot resist it), be far worse off for it. Any child of that age is far to impressionable to be put at such risk in my opinion

          • In reply to #92 by Malaidas:

            In my opinion, that should be enough to close down the school, along with all other ‘faith’ schools that have sneaked into our culture and pollute our society,

            This is not a school that has ‘sneaked in’. Catholic schools which existed before the 1944 Education Act were induced to join the state system by being granted the right to indoctrinate children at state expense, except for a contribution to the upkeep of the school building — their own property. It’s completely impractical to ‘close them down’. That would leave hundreds of thousands of children with no school to go to. A first step towards reducing the amount of religious indoctrination in schools would be amending the current Education Act to remove the clauses which make it compulsory for head teachers to provide religious worship and teaching of religion.

          • In reply to #19 by mmurray:

            In reply to #16 by Alan4discussion:

            There is a mental price to pay for the successful exam reputation which is also partially based on selecting co-operative children and parents in discriminatory admissions policies.

            To the OP I’m not sure what advice to offer as I don’t know the UK system well enough or what your alternatives are. Just remember it will get harder to move her as the years pass and she is going to be in there for a long time.

            It is hard to tell from the OP. If the girls stared primary school at 5 years old, she my have missed the opportunity to move schools at the end of infant schooling and the start of junior classes. Some schools are combined “primary” 4 to 11, others are are 4 to7 and 7 to 11. There are also systems which have “middle schools” with a change at 9years old. Some schools are 11 to 16, others are 11 to 18.

            If she is in a the final year of an infant school, a move to a 7+ class in a junior or primary school would be a good timing.

            Unfortunately there are “sink” schools in run-down areas where the troublesome kids who are not wanted in “faith” or private schools (which are legally allowed to have discriminatory policies – and/or ignore legal requirements), are dumped. This disadvantage can be either by discrimination in admissions, or by dozy parents who are unrealistic or late putting in applications after the better schools are full to capacity.
            The more perceptive parents try to avoid these poor schools, while right-wing politicians invent ways of playing the system, rather than fixing the problems. They can then look down their noses at the badly maintained underfunded and denigrated state education, which they are trying to mould into a cheaper second class service while “entrepreneurs” are allowed to play at setting up privatised “free-schools” using public money and untrained staff.

            Needless to say the “faith-schools” (in the middle) will take any opportunity they can find for proselytising.

            Some parents in some areas have the dreadful choice of an academically poor school, or an indoctrinating school.

            My children’s primary school was consistently better than the RC faith school 2 miles away, but I was the chair of its board of governors for 7 years to make sure that it was.

          • In reply to #24 by Alan4discussion:

            To the OP I’m not sure what advice to offer as I do…

            My children’s primary school was consistently better than the RC faith school 2 miles away, but I was the chair of its board of governors for 7 years to make sure that it was.

            Given the mother already approves of the school where she has managed to enrol her daughter, perhaps she should become more involved as you did.

            It is hard to tell from the OP.

            Yes, which is why I offered the controversial advice to stay put, which has upset others who are so certain this anonymous Midlands school must be inferior. To what I wonder?

          • In reply to #43 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #24 by Alan4discussion:

            Given the mother already approves of the school where she has managed to enrol her daughter, perhaps she should become more involved as you did.

            That does not work in a faith school. Usually priests are chairs of governors, some other governors are appointed by the “religious foundation”, co-opted by existing governors, or elected by parents who are a majority of believers (Having had priority in admissions because they are.).

            When I was an elected parent governor representative on an LEA advisory panel, there were more corrections needed to illegal discriminatory primary-faith-school admissions policies, than any other category.

            Those with defective policies, often had no representatives at the meetings where the requirements were discussed, so they did not seem to perceive any need to learn.

          • In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #43 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #24 by Alan4discussion:

            Given the mother already approves of the school where she has managed to enrol her daughter, perhaps she should become more involved as you did.

            That does not work in a faith school….

            Fair enough, although I really do think you are underestimating jacqui’s sober devotion to atheism somewhat. Her commitment to have her daughter’s school abandon their religious ethos, rather than to move her child, is very admirable I reckon.

            I’m certain jacqui will respect your considerable knowledge and therefore will regard your wise counsel quite thoughtfully before making her final conclusion. However I don’t think jacqui40 sounds anything remotely similar to those “dozy” and “unrealistic” parents you have referred to earlier. She sounds even more determined than you to ensure her child obtains a decent education.

            Perhaps she can successfully petition the Pope to intervene to effect change to all the RC school curricula worldwide, instead of removing her daughter immediately. In any event her determination is inspiring.

            To jacqui40:

            Bravo!
            I think you can do it.

          • In reply to #48 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

            However I don’t think jacqui40 sounds anything remotely similar to those “dozy” and “unrealistic” parents you have referred to earlier. She sounds even more determined than you to ensure her child obtains a decent education.

            I think you have misunderstood my comments, which referred to parents who take left-over places because of their own perversity or lethargy. This is clearly not so in Jacqui40′s case, where she acquired the place of her choice, but found there were unforseen problems afterwards.

            The sort of dozy parents I had in mind were like the family who came to an appeal panel with a story that their daughter had been bullied at primary school, so did not want to be in the same secondary school as the bullies.

            However, instead of filling in the application form properly, the mother had put the same top-rated oversubscribed school as first, second, and third choice, and then appealed when the application did not get a high enough priority for a place that school.

            The consequence of this stupidity, was that the appeal panel threw out the implied ridiculous claim that no other school could meet the criteria of avoiding those specific bullies who had moved up together to their local secondary school – by which time many more of the best schools were filled to capacity with others taking the places they had failed to apply for. The unfortunate daughter was then offered places in lower rated schools, at a greater distance from her home, than could have been achieved if her mother had the brains to fill in a form properly, rather than wishfully thinking she could manipulate the system by making the same no-hope-choice three times.

            People need to take realistic decisions from the options available.

          • In reply to #49 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #48 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

            However I don’t think jacqui40 sounds anything remotely similar to those “dozy” and “unrealistic” parents you have referred to earlier. She sounds even more determined than you to ensure her child obtains a decent education.

            …she acquired the place of her choice, but found there were unforseen problems afterwards.

            I hadn’t thought it through I think.

            People need to take realistic decisions from the options available.

            The only realistic option available to avoid any future surprises is homeschooling. Under the circumstances I’m confident you would now support that too.

            It must have been a shocking surprise for a mother who was raised by devout Irish Catholics parents to discover a religious ethos was behind her daughter’s school. A really big shock I think, from her reaction. Sufficient to turn someone to drink or perhaps to Scientology.

          • In reply to #57 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #49 by Alan4discussion:

            People need to take realistic decisions from the options available.
            The only realistic option available to avoid any future surprises is homeschooling. Under the circumstances I’m confident you would now support that too.

            Not if there are good state schools nearby. Parents are unlikely to have the range of teaching skills or subject skills needed for effective home-schooling. There are also social aspects to schooling in building friendships etc.

            It must have been a shocking surprise for a mother who was raised by devout Irish Catholics parents to discover a religious ethos was behind her daughter’s school. A really big shock I think, from her reaction. Sufficient to turn someone to drink or perhaps to Scientology.

            The degree of mystical mumbo-jumbo in some Catholic primary schools is indeed shocking!

            Perhaps I did not mention that I spent quite a few years on a teaching trouble-shooting team, and despite myself being educated in a C of E grammar school, and having previous experience working in LEA and C of E schools, working in (several) RC schools was indeed a shock at sheer volume supernatural ritual and dogma involved, assemblies taken by priests, statues and crucifixes all over the place, ritual crossing themselves, chanting creeds etc.

            Perhaps you were educated in such establishments and regard them as normal!

          • In reply to #59 by Alan4discussion:

            a shock at sheer volume supernatural ritual and dogma involved

            Yet you were funding it. The taxpayer supports more than 2,000 schools in England and Wales, operated by the Catholic Education Service for the express purpose of indoctrinating children in the Roman Catholic faith. Don’t you think that they should propagate their faith at their own expense, rather than having a captive audience delivered to them by the state education system?

          • In reply to #60 by aldous:

            In reply to #59 by Alan4discussion:

            Yet you were funding it. The taxpayer supports more than 2,000 schools in England and Wales, operated by the Catholic Education Service for the express purpose of indoctrinating children in the Roman Catholic faith. Don’t you think that they should propagate their faith at their own expense, rather than having a captive audience delivered to them by the state education system?

            Unfortunately rather than dealing with this historical irregularity, the present and previous governments were inventing new ways for faithheads to take charge of stste-funded “free schools”! – like this one:-
            Al-Madinah free school to be damned by Ofsted inspectors as dysfunctional

          • In reply to #59 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #57 by Len Walsh:

            People need to take realistic decisions from the options available.

            Perhaps you were educated in such establishments and regard them as normal!

            No, and yes.

            I attended normal Catholic schools during my formative years and regard them as being incidental to my education. Maybe I’m wrong.

            Perhaps I did not mention that I spent quite a few years on a teaching trouble-shooting team.

            Thank you. I could have missed it.

          • In reply to #16 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #14 by Len Walsh:

            My children were kept away from such schools and given a better education elsewhere

            Mine too, however this mother is quite emphatic, telling us that she “definitely don’t wish to remove my daughter from her school. she is settled and happy and has lots of friends. i am just finding it so hard to ‘deal’ with the intense religious ethos there”

            Disenchanted Catholics need to resolve their own emotional issues without using their kids as facilitating instruments.

            The child’s father probably has a view too.

    • In reply to #3 by Len Walsh:

      They evidently don’t share your concerns or feel (suddenly) irrationally disturbed by your daughter’s circumstances. Have you discussed this with your priest?

      Patronising much?

      No, I don’t suppose that she has discussed it with her priest, her rabbi, her imam, or her astrologer, her shaman or local druid. Why should she?

      I don’t suppose that you would feel “irrationally” disturbed should your daughter be told at a school curriculum evening that her aim in life should be to become able to commune with her spirit guide via her journey into the spirit word through “sacraments”, would you?

      Would it seem to you to be utter nonsense and feel the urge to jump up and scream that they were all crazy as the school hall packed with “believers” applaud and nod their heads in agreement that the shaman is directing their children’s future in the correct direction?

      Just put yourself into that situation and think how you would feel!

  4. I think the best thing would be to take her out of that school. I’m sure that at her age she will make new friends very quickly. But if you can’t bring yourself to do that, try to withdraw her from religious education classes. Here in Australia, it is common for children of Muslim parents to go to Catholic schools and I’m sure they are not forrced to receive catholic indoctination. Finally, teach her the reasons why you are an atheist. When she is old enough, she will make up her own mind up about religion.

  5. When my daughter was at the same age her best friend attended a fundamentalist kids’ club on a Thursday afternoon. I thought long and hard about letting her attend as my husband and I didn’t want our kids to have any more exposure to religion than what was unavoidable. The program went for 3 hours and included dinner, games, singing and craft activities, interspersed with lashings of fundamentalist dogma and memory verses. They even had weekend events that included the family, ( a day of kite flying was one I recall).

    I’m pleased to say that our daughter has a very scientific turn of mind and wasn’t influenced in the slightest… Though she can quote chapter and verse in response to an argument.

    Some kids are more easily influenced. I’d take her out of this school.

  6. I might take the alternate route: keep her in. If it really is a good school, and if aside from the indoctrination it is teaching her to think critically and rationally (with the obvious exception of religion) then keep her in.

    Pulling from my own experience and that of my peers I would say the more important thing is that you inspire in her the importance of truth/reality.

    I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church in a small US town, I was baptized twice (the second time because I wanted to do it of my own volition), and I was in my church choir through my teens. The one thing that my mom always SHOWED that she admired was critical thinking – don’t just believe something because someone told you it was true.

    When I say “showed” that is what I mean. You can tell your daughter all you want, but she has to see that you and other adults give respect/deference to skepticism. From telling me about people she knew that got suckered into bad contracts to what was the best television to buy, she always was skeptical and always did her research. This eventually translated into my leaving the church and eventually full-blown atheism. (As Hemingway once said, “all thinking men are atheists.”)

    So she will likely be skeptical of your lack of belief but will likely also question her religious teachings. As children can often be contrarians for the sake of being contrarians, if you really push hard on disbelief you will probably see less of her skepticism than exists. If you show an admiration in science/facts/logic, however, it seems to eventually rub off – even if it takes some time.

    And here is the BIG benefit for the world: if she is raised to be skeptical and to question things then she will naturally do so in school. Even if this does not convert teachers, it can very easily plant the seeds of disbelief in other students.

    Best of luck.

  7. I suppose this is a Roman Catholic, taxpayer-funded state school. There are thousands of religious schools in the state system in England and they have the legal right to indoctrinate children in the school faith. I don’t see that there’s anything you can do about it.

  8. jacqui40, for what it’s worth I’m partly in agreement with dapperjim. You can inculcate in your daughter the habit of being skeptical. Asking good questions is a surer sign of learning than simply knowing the difficult answers. That said, kids do make friends and settle really quickly and at age 6, if you can find an alternative non-faith school there is no shame (or lasting damage) in this.

    That said (personal anecdote warning), some things do stick in the mind of the small and impressionable. It took me years to get out of the habit of praying (over minor things) and stop feeling like I was being watched from on high even after I realised I only ever believed by default. And this was in the rather genteel, non-Hellfire, non-church-going, background-hum of the Church of England,

    Only you can know what will be acceptable and a candid chat with the Head, and maybe the other parents is in order although I do not know if this might have repercussions for your daughter. The others at the curriculum evening may have been swept up in the occasion or they may genuinely be nuts. Either way, I don’t think there’s any avoiding it if you are to come to a fully-considered decision.

  9. Be vigilant at home and challenge her to read and think. She will be fine and, if it is the best education available, your choices are limited.

    One of the things that many people don’t see or live by is that school is a small percentage of a person’s education. Home owns the lions share. You are clearly aware and concerned and that, in my opinion, is a great signal that your home will educate your child just fine.

    • In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

      Be vigilant at home and challenge her to read and think. She will be fine and, if it is the best education available, your choices are limited.

      One of the things that many people don’t see or live by is that school is a small percentage of a person’s education. Home owns the lions share. You are…

      True. The question is, would it be easier and more effective to send her to an excellent school and try to counter all of the indoctrination at home, or send her to an average school and supplement her education at home?

      I would be on the latter. Also, she won’t feel so marginalized by being surrounded by faith-heads.

  10. If she is settled and happy, then I’d stick with it. Just make sure she doesn’t get spoon fed idiocies. Many atheists have gone the same path and none the worse for wear, au contraire. Kids are smart.

    • In reply to #11 by obzen:

      If she is settled and happy, then I’d stick with it. Just make sure she doesn’t get spoon fed idiocies. Many atheists have gone the same path and none the worse for wear, au contraire. Kids are smart.

      I have already agreed (like) with this conspicuously accurate observation that you contributed earlier and I continue to do so.

      The child sounds just fine.The mother too. Get over yourself.

      Not quite fine episodically though Obzen, according to her fraught plea for help from total strangers anyway. She wrote especially to tell us of her own confusion, fear, despair, frustration and guilt while simultaneously reporting her daughter’s happiness and stability. Both mother and daughter have been successfully dealing with bog-standard Catholic doctrine to date and have been demonstrably satisfied each day for three long years now, with respect to her choice of schooling. Today she is probably fine again too, most likely recovered from what she has reported to be an extremely upsetting evening, and having reverted from her “non religious beliefs” to again resume her comfortable conformity. Jacqui40 doesn’t make mention of any recreational drug use on this occasion and I don’t insinuate that to be the problem here, however Catholics frequently resort to using ethanol socially which they imagine to be a pick-me-up, when the effect is opposite. She makes no such admission and also fails to mention the wishes of the child’s father. What she does choose to declare is her determination to NOT move schools.

      Many contributors have ignored her clearly expressed intention in this respect.

  11. I would suggest you start by getting your child involved in activities outside of school so that she can befriend kids who attend a different school – maybe soccer, scouting, etc. Then take her out of school – but only at the end of the term or school year after she has found some friends. (You might need to try several activities before she finds good friends.) When my niece was younger; she attended Catholic school. They could not accommodate her learning disabilities and made life hell for her. She was pulled out midyear and sent to public school. The transition was immediate since she had many friends from soccer in her class.

    • In reply to #15 by Lloydy1:

      A religious school that is also an outstanding school? Surely a school cannot be both.

      Why not ? Maybe you are confusing religion with biblical literalism. They aren’t the same thing. Most of the top private schools in Australia would have a religious affiliation and many of them are Catholic.

      Michael

      • I am Australian and I am interested in how you would define ‘top private’ school. I stand by my opinion that any school that embraces religion is not an outstanding one. In reply to #17 by mmurray:

        In reply to #15 by Lloydy1:

        A religious school that is also an outstanding school? Surely a school cannot be both.

        Why not ? Maybe you are confusing religion with biblical literalism. They aren’t the same thing. Most of the top private schools in Australia would have a religious affiliation and…

        • In reply to #31 by Lloydy1:

          I am Australian and I am interested in how you would define ‘top private’ school. I stand by my opinion that any school that embraces religion is not an outstanding one. In reply to #17 by mmurray:

          I guess it will come down to definitions but I would count the following as top schools. They are certainly regarded as such by the wider community and they charge like top schools!

          Xavier College, Melbourne — Jesuits

          St Peters, Adelaide — Anglican

          Scotch College, Melbourne — Presbyterian

          Prince Alfred College, Adelaide — Uniting Church

          Geelong Grammar, Victoria — Anglican

          In fact it’s kind of hard to find a non-religious private school. Of course maybe there aren’t any outstanding schools in Australia. Did you have one in mind ?

          Michael

          • I do not believe those schools you have listed qualify as outstanding schools. An outstanding school, in my opinion, is one that does not discriminate and is inclusive of students from all socio-economic backgrounds. The schools you have listed I would consider elitist and if you are looking for an outstanding school you would choose a public one. Schools that accept all students regardless of their religious or socio-economic backgrounds. In reply to #33 by mmurray:*

            In reply to #31 by Lloydy1:

            I am Australian and I am interested in how you would define ‘top private’ school. I stand by my opinion that any school that embraces religion is not an outstanding one. In reply to #17 by mmurray:

            I guess it will come down to definitions but I would count the following…

          • In reply to #37 by Lloydy1:

            I do not believe those schools you have listed qualify as outstanding schools. An outstanding school, in my opinion, is one that does not discriminate and is inclusive of students from all socio-economic backgrounds. The schools you have listed I would consider elitist and if you are looking for an…

            Most parents care more about getting their child into a school that will best help them on their way to a good career not as much on PC issues or even religious ones. In the US the situation for public schools right now is terrible. It is unfortunately sometimes the case that the best affordable school for someone may be a Catholic school or some other school with religious baggage. I agree that sending a child to a religious school would never be my first choice but I can see how people would make that choice given the desperate situations many parents have to contend with.

          • In reply to #37 by Lloydy1:

            I do not believe those schools you have listed qualify as outstanding schools. An outstanding school, in my opinion, is one that does not discriminate and is inclusive of students from all socio-economic backgrounds. The schools you have listed I would consider elitist and if you are looking for an…

            Outstanding is an Ofsted catagory, the top one in fact. Charity including church schools have always been part of the education system in the UK. In fact they were providing free education before the state. The 1944 education act effectively nationalised charity including schools. The quid pro quo was religious education and collective worship. The charities including the churches still own the buildings.

  12. It’s not an ideal solution but you can withdraw you child from religious aspects of assembly and also RE.

    It’s not ideal because it effectively places the child in isolation but if you do it then there is no need to tell the school your reasons and you may be better off not telling them.

  13. to me it is just utter nonsense, backed up by nothing

    There is not too much to fear from this then, Jacqui. Coming home everyday to your good reasonable self is all that is needed to undo any potential harm..

    The only real concern is if they have an intention of teaching your child about hell. Ask for clarification that they will not do this.

  14. I taught at a large and “outstanding” Catholic School (secondary) in the UK for two decades, and for the entire time I was an atheist. I did find it difficult at times, but I had my own reasons for continuing to teach there. I was expected to do ‘prayers’ with my form, but found ways around it without breaking the law or upsetting the management team (in the UK in state schools (ie ‘public school’) you are expected to do a ‘wholly or mainly Christian worship’ every day – but many teachers in this largely secular country don’t). I kept my head down, did my job well, and didn’t rock the boat. I was one of several atheists in the school. It wasn’t discussed, but neither was it difficult to tell – there were also Baptists, Muslims and Jews on the staff.

    I was lucky, the religious side of things was kept fairly muted, despite regular masses – I wouldn’t expect anyone to be behaving as you have described at a meeting. The truth is, many parents are lapsed catholics, but want their kids to go to the best local school – if that is catholic, then so are they.

    I am someone who is concerned about how the state education system is going in the UK – you need to make sure that your daughter has a good education throughout her school years. If you can get your daughter to another school then you may feel happier with that – but if there isn’t a good alternative (or if the only good secondary locally is Catholic – leave the Catholic pathway and you may not be able to get back into it), then perhaps you have to keep her there for the moment at least. If it is like the school that I worked in it may be better than other local schools for anti-bullying, pastoral, community involvement, encouraging girls into STEM, etc.

    What I would say is that, while the purpose of the system is to transmit the Catholic faith, it isn’t a given. Many of my students were atheist, or agnostic by the time that they got to the end of sixth form, particularly if they had a strong science background. I never discussed my beliefs with my students, but it wasn’t unusual for them to tell me that they were atheists. If you do decide to keep your daughter in the school, make sure that she realises that there are many other beliefs, and what you think, get her interested in science and explain why things happen – but I suggest that you also teach her not to say “My Mum says there is no god”.

    To those that suggest that you can remove her from assemblies and RE lessons – this is a catholic school, while it is generally accepted in many secular state schools, it won’t go down well in a faith school where parents expect their children to attend – they may well refuse. If the meeting was a bit religious, the head must know this, and condone it, so there is little point in discussing it further.

    My own kids were in a different, secular, state school, but they didn’t get such a good education as they would have done where I worked. What would I do in your situation? Wing it, keep your daughter there, visit lots of museums and do lots of kitchen science. Talk to her, explain everything, teach her to reason. Consider moving her out of the catholic pathway at secondary level.

  15. For what its worth , I think the more exposure the better as familiarity breeds contempt. I went to a Boarding school for preparing future priests and now I am an athiest, I just had overload….best of luck with your decision..

  16. Am I right to think that you have come to atheism after your daughter started at the school? Were you ok with the religious ethos when getting the place for your daughter? Is this why you feel guilty for placing her there? Or, maybe you had no strong views either way before, but have now become atheist.

    But, for a moment setting apart your own views of religion – what do you think will be best for your daughter? Has the school changed to become much more religious than it was when she started? Is the religiosity going to overwhelm the otherwise good education? And perhaps no less importance, how good are the alternatives?

    I share a lot of concerns about faith schools, in that they seem to include some quite extreme cases. That does sadly include Catholic as well as evangelical (in the UK, many more of the former than latter). Some children seem to take RC and other strongly religious schools in their stride, others seem to be traumatised for years. Which leads me to my last question – another one that only you might answer.

    Do you have a sense of how your daughter might handle it? Perhaps this is too simplistic, but If she is passive and nervous, the hellfire talk might do some real harm. But is she is more independent (maybe naughty!) she could do just fine.

  17. By leaving your (very young) daughter in that school, you run the risk of her developing a view of what she sees there as the norm. Think of your own experience with the parents nodding their heads and agreeing with the Headmaster. ALL of those around your daughter at that school will likely come from a home environment that endorses the views of the Headmaster, which are then reinforced by the school, and will just be “believed” by her peer group. It’s a TON of pressure that she’ll be under to conform – why put her through that? Do the right thing and remove her NOW from the mentally retarded and emotionally abusive environment that you have her in.

    • In reply to #32 by CyberGod:

      By leaving your (very young) daughter in that school, you run the risk of her developing a view…

      It’s a TON of pressure that she’ll be under to conform – why put her through that? Do the right thing and remove her NOW from the mentally retarded and emotionally abusive environment that you have her in.

      Faith-based schools are harmful I reckon, but most juvenile humans are smart enough to navigate them successfully, retaining artefacts of their experience for life, to varying degrees. Standard prejudices reliably flourish as each student generation obtains the scores to satisfy their parents and to usefully qualify themselves.

      Faith-based schools are flourishing worldwide and our Australian contributors illustrate the esteem the average Aussie affords to them. Aussie state funded or public schools were secular institutions before the current Terror War, aka War on Terror, erupted. Successive governments have introduced and expanded taxpayer-funded chaplaincy into non-religious schools so as to infuse “saint-making” values into every child, rather than risking some kids not adopting superior Xian standards.

      I dislike the insidious damage such schools cause but I’m not prepared to insinuate the mother who wrote the OP is behaving irresponsibly or threatening her daughter’s well-being quite so dangerously as you say by leaving her in her current school.

      I agree with Robert Briffault’s notion that religious indoctrination resembles syphilis and some neural scabs remain. But this woman sounds lonely and upset to me, through a crisis in faith which Catholics often perceive as atheism, while the daughter is reportedly thriving. I do agree with your characterization of religious schools as being “mentally retarded” and “emotionally abusive” too, but I won’t say that to jacqui40 who seemed quite upset for a minute but appears to be fine now that she’s had a good night sleep.

      I strongly disagree with those posters contemptuous of the OP determination to leave her child in this school to promote the wider cause of atheism. We can do that with our own kids but I wouldn’t recommend it to a disenchanted Catholic parent who by tomorrow may have converted to Scientology or joined AA.

  18. Hi there, I can share my own experience with you.
    I am an atheist, my wife is not.
    My daughter attends a catholic school here in Italy.
    I think what is really important is to avoid indoctrination. For example, in this school creationism is not teached, on the contrary, they use books in which it is clearly described evolution.
    Atheism cannot indoctrinate. So let us our children grow up free, even to join a religous faith. We must vigilant to avoid any form of fundmantalism and to give clear answers to our children. The environment is great, my daughter is happy, so I see no problem about that.
    Besides, I think that atheist can be proposed only to adults, inviting them to dismiss their “adultish” certainties!
    So, avoid fundmentalism and keep your child in the school (if it is not a fundmentalist one!).
    Sincere, Nicolò Scalzo

  19. You want to be happy, right?

    You and your family, will not get harmed if your daughter want to be saint or holy.
    If you let her study in that school, hope they will teach your daughter not to get drugs (isn’t great?), more study less doing vainly (you want her to be smart, yes?), not have sex before marriage (do you want your daughter pregnant before marriage? or caught HIV?).

    If you afraid your daughter will not have reason, as mr Dawkins said, dont worry, in Catholicism, science is endorsed by Church, in fact, Stephen Hawking is member Vatican Pontifical Academy of Science. Or dont want your children not believing Big Bang Theory? dont worry, the one who invented Big Bang Theory is a Priest. Or dont want your children not believing Evolution theory? dont worry, Catholic Church permit people to believe in Evolution theory.

    You want evidence based? not worry also, Roger Bacon, a Friar who forerunner the scientific based.
    evidence Sainthood? google the miracle of the saint who have been tested by secular scientist.

    if you dont understand what their utter nonsense, backed up by nothing, write the case , ask to prominent teacher who master in respective field, even if you ask to the priest, they have master in respective field, not all priest very good in philosophy.
    If you failed get the reasonable answer, ask to largest catholic forum in the internet : http://forums.catholic.com , you can ask broad question from science to tv series
    You dont want your daughter brainwashed, do you? get reasonable, get the answer, there is always have the answer.

    and dont worry :) , she got a lots of friends and happy :D

  20. To add another perspective, I attended as CofE primary school as a child.

    I still vaguely remember singing hymns in assembly and trudging to the local church hand-in-hand, with our teachers every Christmas and Easter, and the vague mention of something from the Bible here and there, but for the most part, I barely noticed that it was a religious school. Once I started secondary school, which was entirely secular, I had almost forgotten the religious aspects that I was now missing and it wasn’t until year 8 or 9 that I actually began to think for myself about these kinds of issues.

    My point is, learning all that religious nonsense didn’t harm me one little bit. In fact it gave me a foundation (albeit vague) of religious knowledge that I used to reject religion in my life.

    It is not the ideas and rituals that your daughter is subjected to that will define her (so long as they’re not traumatizing*), It is the ideas she does NOT experience that will allow her to fall back onto superstition.

    Knowledge can only be beneficial, so let her attend this faith school and learn about Christianity, but make sure she knows all about other religions as well, make sure she’s interested in science, don’t bore her but show her the fun stuff, make sure she’s always asking questions, and make sure she always questions the answers. Make sure she experiences many different things, different cultures, different stories.

    I firmly believe that it was my mother and I’s enjoyment of science fiction and fantasy stories, as well as ancient Egyptian history and various ancient myths, that grounded me and prevented me being sucked into superstition. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the immersion in fantasy, lots of different types of fantasy, is what enables someone to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

    It’s the schools job to teach her the basics, the academic stuff, and if it really is the first class school you say it is, then that’s probably the best place for her. But it’s your job to form her as a person, especially at her age now.

    *Regarding anything traumatic, christian stories of torture and hellfire can be traumatizing for children, and is in fact one of Christianity’s tools for converting the unbelievers. Before you reserve to keeping your daughter in this school, I would make sure that she’s not being subjected to such terrifying tales, as doing so could cause her to accept Christianity on emotional grounds on which it is not so easy to reason oneself out of. But if she does hear anything of the sort, make sure you reassure her that it’s just a story, a silly story meant to scare kids, like the boogie man.

  21. I was sent to a RC primary school by my non-religious parents for similar reasons to the ones you list.
    In practicality they will try to indoctrinate children, that does not mean they will succeed. Indeed it was this experience that turned me into an atheist.

    They will try to promote the life of a Nun for your daughter, (Monks for boys, possibly encouraged to consider the priesthood later) they may also pressure you to have her baptised.

    There will have her marched with the rest of her class into church for regular sermons and read bible stories to her.

    In my case I effectively turned off during the sermons, they were boring. When it came round to singing hymns you fumble uselessly through the hymnbook trying to figure out which one you’re supposed to be until you give up and try to copy what everyone else is doing, at least until you learn the power of miming. (this has the added benefit of never singling you out for choir practice).
    The point at which it became apparent to me that they were lying was First Communion – the ceremony of having the priest shove a wafer disc on your tongue whilst mumbling “Body of Christ”. Apparently you’re supposed to experience Jesus actually being there with you, the fact that he isn’t is fairly obvious to your average 7 year old. Hey presto – Atheism! You might want to go over the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes around this time.

    • In reply to #39 by Mr Greene:

      They will try to promote the life of a Nun for your daughter, (Monks for boys, possibly encouraged to consider the priesthood later) they may also pressure you to have her baptised.

      Catholic teach that nobody must pressurise people to have baptised, Catholic honour religious freedom, if you dont believe, read this yourself:
      http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

      and may be the teacher promote life of nun, monk, or priest, but take this point: marriage life is equal good with celibacy life (nun, monk, or priest) so, no enforce there.

      • In reply to #46 by sliverius:

        In reply to #39 by Mr Greene:

        Catholic teach that nobody must pressurise people to have baptised, Catholic honour religious freedom, if you dont believe, read this yourself:…

        Nevertheless my parents were told in no uncertain terms that me and my sister would have to be baptised or leave the school. The Nuns who ran the school were actively recruiting for their order, at the time Mother Teresa was held as the example we should be following with regular stories regarding her work.

        I suppose you might find something that says priests shouldn’t molest kids in choir practice either, alas reality rarely matches the proclamations of religious organisations…

        • In reply to #52 by Mr Greene:

          In reply to #46 by sliverius:

          In reply to #39 by Mr Greene:

          Catholic teach that nobody must pressurise people to have baptised, Catholic honour religious freedom, if you dont believe, read this yourself:…

          Nevertheless my parents were told in no uncertain terms that me and my sister would have t…

          agree… Church fill with saints and sinners..
          but sinner action not reflect the Church teaching.. they are hypocrite.

          in case of that, just show the formal teaching of Catholic, show them wrong.

          • In reply to #53 by sliverius:

            In reply to #52 by Mr Greene:
            agree… Church fill with saints and sinners.. but sinner action not reflect the Church teaching.. they are hypocrite.

            in case of that, just show the formal teaching of Catholic, show them wrong.

            No, they are filled with people, albeit people who seem overly fond of meaningless ritual and empty ceremony.
            The fact that some bloke in a dress poured water over my forehead when I was a kid is of no relevance. Of rather more practical value would be if they taught about any religion other than christianity, though given the only other religion ever mentioned was “protestantism” and then primarily in the context of catholic persecution, I wouldn’t hold my breath for an unbiased viewpoint.

  22. Many private schools have two great tools at their disposal to give the appearance of higher achievement. First they can exclude the non-performers in their midst and select well behaved, tractable students. Second, they can offer scholarships in any area they deem fit, in order to lure the best students to their school thus giving the impression of better tuition. Such scholarships are a marketing tool.

    • In reply to #42 by Nitya:

      Many private schools have two great tools at their disposal to give the appearance of higher achievement. First they can exclude the non-performers in their midst and select well behaved, tractable students. Second, they can offer scholarships in any area they deem fit, in order to lure the best stu…

      I agree with this and think it justifies atheists enrolling their kids to derive maximum benefit, confident their children will enjoy reporting the daily delusions after school at the dinner table, where the most durable values accumulate quietly, unseen.

      Within just a generation nearly everyone now believes expensive, private schools are inherently superior because graduates become wealthy, influential identities. Prominent local exemplars include Catholic old-boys Clive Palmer, Tony Abbott and the new federal education minister Christopher Pyne, all of whom hate non-religious schooling and climate science.

      When an ostensibly atheist PM can blithely expand a former government initiative to impose state-funded chaplaincy without objection a pervasive cultural problem exists.
      Soon there won’t be any kids in schools without compulsory biblegoddery.

      To jacqui40,

      Which video clips did you watch to disrupt your faith so comprehensively and who was the most influential atheist to you?

      Do you have a favourite clip to recommend, or, which was the most impressive debate you have watched?

      What did you see or hear to change your mind?

      Why did you never contemplate mentioning your inner struggle to anyone else of your acquaintance until now?

      Did you consider calling your local press to report such an unusually “intense religious ethos” overshadowing an otherwise regular curriculum night?

      How is your daughter today?

      Have you ever read an atheist book?

  23. I was in a similar situation. My girls were in a Catholic school in the US and I, too, came to the conclusion I was an atheist. I was disturbed by the indoctrination as well, but while my oldest was still younger, it didn’t matter too much…we just didn’t re-inforce the concepts at home at all. But, as she got older and started to question more, it got more and more difficult to contain my discomfort with the situation, and eventually, we decided that we would take them out of the school. We are now homeschooling and it just happened that the first group of friends we met are also atheists, although they did not present themselves this way when we found them. We are all much happier and no longer have to hide/pretend. Not sure if homeschooling is an option for you, but thought I’d share anyway…Hope you find some peace and are able to find out what is best for your family. :)

  24. It surprises me that it seems not to occur to non-religious parents to campaign for a change in the law that requires religious worship and the teaching of religion in all state schools in England and Wales, whether Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, Muslim or non-religious. Why be content to allow time and money to be used for the promotion of religion when it could be used for education?

  25. Homeschooling is the only logical option for you jacqui.

    I’m disappointed it didn’t occur to me earlier, but now that I know you better, I think that would be the best way to redress the balance.

    Thanks to xcath715 for pointing out the obvious solution to your dilemma.

    they were all crazy!!

    sainthood? what are you all talking about? what evidence? why are you all nodding? i feel guilty for putting my daughter in this position now. any ideas on how to redress the balance would be much appreciated.

    thank you

    You’re welcome.

  26. Our daughter attended a Catholic school in Canada for one year. We didn’t have alot of choice since it was the only school that offered French Immersion. We were just honest with her. She was in year 2 at that time. Any conflicting views she had and the frustration she felt when she attended a weekly service were simply the forum for debate amongst us as a family.
    In one respect I can sympahtise with your frustration and long term I would consider other schools. However, for now, if she is settled and doing well in school, then religion doesn’t have to be a larger issue than it really needs to be. In some respects, our daughter recieved a great education in atheism and the hypocrisy of religious beliefs by seeing if first hand for herself. This de-mystified it and allowed her to see it in context. In some ways, it reaffirmed her atheism..!

  27. Most of the kids I know identify as atheists even if they’ve been educated at faith based schools. I wonder where this is headed in the long term. The school set-up will still be in existence and kids will continue to be instructed in an obvious fiction. Their parents won’t believe and they won’t believe and yet the sham goes on. At some point this has to stop!

    I only know of one kid who is still a believer after going to a catholic school ( small sample, I know). It’s almost as if the content of the RE is so ludicrous that it forces kids into a position where they have to reject it.

  28. (please forgive spelling etc)

    No problems jacqui. I understood your situation but I’m afraid you have confused many respondents.

    A:

    “i definitely don’t wish to remove my daughter from her school.”

    I do hear you.

    B:

    i am just finding it so hard to ‘deal’ with the intense religious ethos there”

    Yes, I believe you are.

    Fortunately however, your daughter isn’t.

    i came to the conclusion that i was without a doubt, (i cannot stress this enough,) an atheist. it has been the most liberating experience. this evening i sat in a school hall, packed with ‘believers,’

    This episode of a severe crisis of faith will recur until you sort out the acrimonious relationship you endure with your mother.
    richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/6/15/aa-and-a-higher-power#comment-box-37

    Show your daughter by example to ensure she doesn’t suffer similar confusion to that which you experienced during the curriculum night.

    • In reply to #63 by Len Walsh:

      This episode of a severe crisis of faith will recur until you sort out the acrimonious relationship you endure with your mother. richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/6/15/aa-and-a-higher-power#comment-box-37

      A clarity of mind is only “a crisis of faith” to those dominated by indoctrinated “faith-thinking”!

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/6/15/aa-and-a-higher-power#comment-box-37

      yesterday morning i watched as my mum tried to pursuade my daughter to go to church. it went on for nearly an hour. my daughter refused (which left my mum very cross with me. sigh.

      It seems that it is an interfering grandmother’s faith addiction which is causing the acrimony. Surrendering her intellect could buy some temporary relief for Jacqui , but she has identified the problem of beliefs in supernatural magic and the determined efforts to inflict these on others. That is how the RCC manipulates believers to divide families and cause destructive disputes as a means to getting its own way.

      @Len – Show your daughter by example to ensure she doesn’t suffer similar confusion to that which you experienced during the curriculum night.

      The discoveries at the curriculum night were an understanding of the realities of indoctrination. No confusion involved for clear thinkers!
      The comment @37 suggests that her daughter also did not want church indoctrination. The only way to remove the conflicting proselytising is a change of school, while bearing in mind that RCC members are likely to do everything in their power to oppose this liberation from indoctrination.

      Jacqui – @37- I feel like i’m surrounded by crazies, but they certainly got into my brain enough over the last 9 years to leave me doubting my ability to stay well via any other means. i certainly need to start surrounding myself with healthy minded individuals.

      So does your daughter!

      • In reply to #64 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #63 by Len Walsh:

        It seems that it is an interfering grandmother’s faith addiction which is causing the acrimony.

        Exactly.

        The discoveries at the curriculum night were an understanding of the realities of indoctrination.

        So far as we know the curriculum night was unremarkable, save for the episodic crisis of faith on the way home. Jacqui’s distress appears to have resolved after sleeping.

        The only way to remove the conflicting proselytising is a change of school

        Addressing the primary problem would benefit the child a lot more.

        Changing homes would be more responsible than blaming the school for her mother’s interference.

        • In reply to #69 by Len Walsh:

          So far as we know the curriculum night was unremarkable, save for the episodic crisis of faith on the way home.

          @OP – last year after a long inner struggle (and many youtube debates / uploads), i came to the conclusion that i was without a doubt, (i cannot stress this enough,) an atheist. it has been the most liberating experience.

          You seem fixated on “a crisis of faith”.
          Jacqui made it perfectly clear that she had reached her conclusions on atheism long before the curriculum night.

          You simply refuse to accept that atheism is an understanding of reality, a liberation from the inadequacies of “faith-thinking” and of domination by dogma.
          Many atheists have a wide and deep understanding of diverse religious views, but that does not mean that they accept them as valid.

          Addressing the primary problem would benefit the child a lot more.

          She is concerned about the indoctrination of her child, as many ex-RC atheists here have said they would be.
          That is the primary problem for her, even if the primary problem for you is RCC recruitment!

          • In reply to #70 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #69 by Len Walsh:

            So far as we know the curriculum night was unremarkable, save for the episodic crisis of faith on the way home.

            @OP – Jacqui made it perfectly clear that she had reached her conclusions on atheism long before the curriculum night.

            She insisted in fact, didn’t she? Her spelling may have confused me but it was her concern to convince total strangers that she was a bona fide atheist which caught my initial attention. An authentic atheist who needed you to accept her experience and credentials, stressing the point by bracketed emphasis to ensure any residual doubt you may harbour would be erased.

            You seem fixated on “a crisis of faith”.

            My concern for the child caused me to focus on jacqui’s difficulty finding friends and adjusting to her non-religious beliefs, by deliberately avoiding the peripheral issues that you favour so.

            You simply refuse to accept that atheism is an understanding of reality, a liberation from the inadequacies of “faith-thinking” and of domination by dogma.

            I do so aspire to overcome my more obvious limitations in order to become a real atheist like jacqui40 or your good self.

            @OP: “it has been the most liberating experience.”

            Jacqui, do it again.

            Next time tell a friend or acquaintance, or perhaps confide in another parent. That will be even more liberating than whispering in a confessional.

          • In reply to #72 by Len Walsh:

            In reply to #70 by Alan4discussion:

            She insisted in fact, didn’t she? Her spelling may have confused me but it was her concern to convince total strangers that she was a bona fide atheist which caught my initial attention. An authentic atheist who needed you to accept her experience and credentials, stressing the point by bracketed emphasis to ensure any residual doubt you may harbour would be erased.

            You really don’t understand liberation from dogma, or the struggles some people have in the process of freeing themselves, do you?
            Those steeped in dogma just can’t see the picture from the outside.

            I do so aspire to overcome my more obvious limitations in order to become a real atheist like jacqui40 or your good self.

            I spent decades studying, applying, and teaching science, using scientific methodology and integrity to get an optimum view of reality: – Atheism is just a by-product of working with the laws of nature, where it becomes obvious that the claims made for gods are totally useless!

            Next time tell a friend or acquaintance, or perhaps confide in another parent. That will be even more liberating than whispering in a confessional.

            Confessionals are for the slaves of dogma, who cannot reflect on their own moral decisions, remedy their own mistakes, consult with friends, and think through their own philosophy.
            There are indeed many forms of contemplation more liberating than being dependent on seeking reassurance in a confessional after being spoon fed a simplistic antiquated philosophy. It is very likely the Jacqui has already found some of these.

            Religious faith is like a crutch. Those dependent on its use have difficulty understanding how other people walk or run without using them and don’t fall over.

  29. I think it’s very narrow-minded and absolutist to suggest that the only solution for Jacqui is to take her daughter out of the school.

    It may be A solution, but as Len has also stated, Jacqui as explicitly said she doesn’t want to do this. It is a last resort scenario if that.

    Without further background information or perhaps even without meeting and talking to Jacqui about this, none of us can state this is the only thing she can do, and it’s shortsighted to state that staying in the school will not solve anything.

    We have to remember that her daughter is in primary school and therefore still very young, and her experience at her primary school will be vastly overshadowed by her experience at secondary school. Many, including myself, attended faith based primary schools and came out completely unscathed. In fact my atheism is enhanced by my experience, as without it I would probably be as ignorant of Christianity as I am of Islam.

    Religious indoctrination is easily countered by critical thinking. There is plenty Jacqui can do as a parent to encourage this which I touched on previously. (comment 36 I believe)
    Kids that attend faith schools aren’t that much more likely to hold onto that faith afterwards, it only tends to be those who attend faith schools AND have devoutly religious parents that this sort of indoctrination has any effect on.
    All in all, I don’t think this school is a threat to your daughter in the long run or her ability to think for herself.

    The biggest challenge is dealing with the school and associated community if it is truly that much of a problem. My opinion is that it won’t be much of a problem in the long term.
    Even faith schools in England cannot discriminate based on religious belief, so there should be no worry about your daughter being excluded in any way or even kicked out, and if there is then you can come down on them like a ton of bricks, an accusation of discrimination against a child would be devastating to their reputation.

    My impression is that your confusion stems from your recent deconversion more than the actions of the school themselves, in which case the best solution is time. As a non-believer you have to get used to keeping thoughts to yourself (or between you and your daughter) and leaving religious people to their kooky beliefs. This would be especially hard for you as a new atheist because the last year has been an emotional struggle for you and you’re probably viewing the church and the school as an enemy or threat right now. As I said, time will change that, and it would help if you had other people in your life who shared your views. It may even be that there are parents of other children at this school who are atheists, it’s not THAT unlikely, you’re one of them after all. I would simply make lighthearted conversation with other parents, like the ritual and dogma is a bit full on or intense or preachy, and say that you’re not sure what you really believe, and see what their reactions are. Some might be confrontational or try to ‘reconvert’ you, but just politely fob them off saying you’re not asking for any help or advice in that respect, but I would assume most would agree that it’s a bit over the top even if they’re christian, and you’ll find out which ones aren’t. Failing that I’m sure you can socialize with others outside of the school community, this is Britain after all, not the deep south of the US.

  30. This is very difficult. I had a similar issue with my daughter same age (6) being at a school where a local church came in to teach RE. Now the teaching was pretty creative and hard to complain about. But the people teaching it were the senior people from a local church which holds essentially young earth creationist views. Now I’ve countered this to a degree by talking to her about earth history and evolution and things, but really – six year olds aren’t really old enough to understand these concepts.

    She’s since moved school, ironically to a church school because she was unhappy at the other school for other reasons. The important thing is for your children to enjoy school and like education. If your children are enjoying school then they’ll engage with education. You can always teach the counter-argument at home. I found it most uncomfortable when my daughter started talking about ‘Jesus’ all the time. This was at the other school. The trouble is we allow our children to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, so should we allow them to believe in a heaven for the deceased? It might help them to cope with grief. It’s difficult, maybe one day religion will go the way of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and it’ll be seen as something which we are sad for a children to lose, but which is necessary for their mental and emotional development to let go of. Difficult, personally, I would put your child’s happiness first and be prepared to teach the alternative view at home.

    • In reply to #66 by Martyns:

      I found it most uncomfortable when my daughter started talking about ‘Jesus’ all the time.

      In England and Wales, the Education Act imposes RE and religious worship on all state schools. In thousands of state religious schools, children are liable to get a heavy dose of the school faith. Even in non-religious state schools, if there are any particularly religious members of staff, they can make use of the law to emphasize what they see as the importance of religious belief. Strangely, parents are too apathetic to campaign for a change in the law. Perhaps it’s not so much apathy as a failure to realize that this situation is not just the way things are but something that can be altered by removing a few totally obsolete lines from the Education Act.

      • In reply to #67 by aldous:

        In reply to #66 by Martyns:

        I found it most uncomfortable when my daughter started talking about ‘Jesus’ all the time.

        In England and Wales, the Education Act imposes RE and religious worship on all schools. In thousands of state religious schools, children are liable to get a heavy dose of the s…

        Yet the British population, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly non-religious.

        Which I think just goes to show how unimportant religious education in primary school is, it simply doesn’t leave that much of an impact on most children. When they attend secondary school, which include comparative RE and are much less likely to emphasize any kind of worship, they get a healthy dose of reality that counters any previous indoctrination.
        The most prevalent form of indoctrination comes from religious parents and church attendance.

        The important thing is to show, as a parent, that religion is not important.

        • In reply to #68 by Seraphor:

          Yet the British population, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly non-religious.
          Which I think just goes to show how unimportant religious education in primary school is, it simply doesn’t leave that much of an impact on most children.

          If it’s largely a waste of time and resources that’s hardly an argument in favour of imposing it on children at taxpayers’ expense. It’s really very odd to justify funding indoctrination on the grounds that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the sense that attendance at churches (but not mosques) is in decline. Teaching respect for the supernatural, however, surely plays a part in the thriving market for the ‘spiritual’ and pseudo-scientific. Besides, handing over money to faith organizations puts them in a position to employ teachers and allocate school places with the consequences that that has for parents and children and the system as a whole.

          • In reply to #75 by aldous:

            In reply to #68 by Seraphor:

            Yet the British population, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly non-religious.
            Which I think just goes to show how unimportant religious education in primary school is, it simply doesn’t leave that much of an impact on most children.

            If it’s la…

            Don’t think for a second that I endorse it, I just don’t see it as a threat.

            You’re absolutely right that it’s a waste of resources, time and money, at our expense, and is completely unjustified. My comments are in the context of Jacqui’s dilemma with her daughter attending a faith school.

          • In reply to #77 by Seraphor:

            Don’t think for a second that I endorse it, I just don’t see it as a threat.

            I think it’s unreasonable to believe that years of religious indoctrination have no effect. True, it may not halt the decline in the numbers of those who go to church. As Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland points out, however, in his speech to the Oxford Union religion
            ” encourages us to believe implausible and untestable assertions on faith, by which I mean believing things because we want to believe them, disproportionately to the evidence. It encourages us to believe implausible and untestable assertions on faith, by which I mean believing things because we want to believe them, disproportionately to the evidence.”

            In secular Britain, these irrational beliefs may not take the form of attendance at mass but I suggest that ‘spiritual’ beliefs in witchcraft, psychics, feelgood creeds and a host of other new-agey fads are fostered by the respect for supernaturalism that is taught in schools, particularly faith schools of course.

            The OP illustrates the dilemma for parents that is created by the anachronistic consequences of the funding of faith schools by the UK government. Surely it’s possible to provide an education for children without handing them over to the Catholic Education Service?

          • In reply to #79 by aldous:

            In reply to #77 by Seraphor:

            Don’t think for a second that I endorse it, I just don’t see it as a threat.

            I think it’s unreasonable to believe that years of religious indoctrination have no effect.

            Why is it unreasonable? I think it’s entirely reasonable, as it happened to me.

            I, and others on this board, and many many others not posting here, attended a faith primary school in England. If anything, it helped me come to the conclusion that Christianity was a load of hogwash, because It enabled me to contrast my experience at primary school, which involved hymns and prayer, with my experience at secondary school, which was entirely secular and featured comparative RE.

            Despite attending a faith school, religion was simply never an important part of my childhood and I never considered whether it was true or not until I was in secondary school, it was no different to make-believe or the fuss around Santa Claus or Father Christmas as we called him back then before everything became Americanised, and I put that down to my parents who never pushed religion on me.

            Now if as a parent you avoid endorsing any religion specifically and fill your child’s life with other myths and legends and fantasy, and science to contrast it, then there is no reason to expect they won’t come to the same conclusion. My parents did it without any special effort and just led by example, if you set out to do this specifically I’d say your chances are quite good.

            Exposing your child to information (that doesn’t traumatise them) does no harm, it can only do them good.
            Hiding things from your children or prohibiting them from certain experiences does the opposite of what you would want, they want those things even more. Now if Jacqui’s daughter has already settled in to this school and has friends there, then this will be doubly so, she will hold some form of resentment to her mother for taking her out of that school. She will want to know what she’s missing and may not trust her mothers judgement on other things, such as religious belief.

            As I said earlier, we’d have to know what this school is teaching specifically to make any kind of definitive judgement, if they’re teaching any of the more wacky fundamentalist stuff like scaring them with morbid depictions of hell then it may be worth taking her out of there. However baring such extremes I’d say keep her in, and teach her the values of critical thinking yourself.

          • In reply to #80 by Seraphor:

            Now if as a parent you avoid endorsing any religion specifically and fill your child’s life with other myths and legends and fantasy, and science to contrast it, then there is no reason to expect they won’t come to the same conclusion.

            Putting the onus on non-religious parents to ‘debrief’ their children is not an argument for funding faith schools or giving tacit approval to the provision in the Education Act which imposes RE and religious worship. In a specific case, such as the OP, the lesser of two evils may be submitting to the dilemma posed by the control over neighbourhood schools of the Catholic Education Service. That’s not an argument for allowing the hard choice to be imposed on parents.

            Your other point is that it is a good thing that children should be aware of religion. This can be done without the drastic option of giving up your children to be a captive audience to suffer the best efforts of the Church to enlist them in the Faith. It is certainly part of education to inform children of religions and their history. Education about religion should be part of the national curriculum, perhaps as a standalone subject, perhaps as part of other subjects, history, for example.

  31. As with every choice in life, choose the one that will give you the least regrets. Think about the consequences in the long run, for you and your daughter. Because she probably won’t see your decision as something with her interest in mind.

  32. I don’t think there is enough information for me to say “what to do”.
    What does your daughter have at the moment?
    Friends, settled, a good academic education.

    Is she being ‘indoctrinated’? How much religious stuff is there? Have you sat down and discussed with her? Perhaps explained what your thoughts are? Perhaps explain she can think for herself on religious angles? If she started asking awkward questions at school, would they kick her out? Are you underestimating your daughter’s ability to think for herself?
    Are you in any way concerned about possible stifling of “real science” at the school? If so, have you approached the school on this?

    Too many questions for me to say “take her out” or “leave her there”.

    I went to the regular “Church of England” schools from an early age, which meant a 30 minute assembly each morning with prayers and hymns. No pushing of religion at home. I knew from an early age, I didn’t believe any of it.

    If I would suggest anything, it would be, talk to your daughter.

  33. aldous, can you get some perspective please.

    I have already said I do not condone faith schools, or agree with the tax payer footing the bill for any kind of religious indoctrination or of it being enshrined in legislation for such “education” to be provided.

    Given the opportunity, I would eradicate all faith schools and in turn allow non-faith schools to reclaim the higher leader board positions that faith schools have an unfair monopoly on due to their selection processes.

    The topic at hand is Jacqui’s dilemma. Her daughter is already attending a faith school, an incredibly good one at that, and she doesn’t want to take her out of it.

    I am saying that despite the negative sides to faith schools in general, it is probably best for Jacqui to keep her daughter in this one, and that she needn’t worry about her daughter becoming indoctrinated providing she has a role in promoting critical thinking and a greater perspective of religions in her daughters life. I am saying it is not a bad thing to learn about religion.

    Faiths schools are certainly a problem for the intellectual well-being of the upcoming generation in general, but I do not believe that they are a threat to individual children who’s parents are atheists or just non-religious and aware of the pitfalls of indoctrination.

    But yes, every onus should be on the parents, it is as much the parents role as the teachers, to ensure their child grows up to be a well rounded person. They do not get to pass the buck. The school has a curriculum, everything else is down to the parents.

    • In reply to #82 by Seraphor:

      she needn’t worry about her daughter becoming indoctrinated providing she has a role in promoting critical thinking and a greater perspective of religions in her daughters life. I am saying it is not a bad thing to learn about religion.

      It’s not a bad thing to learn about religion. Being exposed to people whom Mum thinks have ‘crazy’ beliefs is not an obviously good way to go about it. It’s quite unrealistic to maintain that his tension between home and school and the ‘crazy beliefs’ themselves will have no negative effect. This is the kind of unhappy compromise that parents have to make in the anachronistic school system in England. Mum (judging by the pseudonym) has expressed no intention of sending her daughter to another school (no mention of Dad’s view’s on the issue). All she is asking about is ‘redressing the balance’. Fair enough. I don’t fancy myself as an agony aunt and I’m unable to offer any specific advice or reassurance in this particular case.

      What I am underlining is the contradiction in your claim that faith schooling has no negative effects on children while saying that you ‘would eradicate all faith schools’ . In fact, you go as far as to say that it’s a positively good thing and exposure to nonsense sharpens up critical thinking.

      You are making the anecdotal case that your faith school ‘never did you any harm’ because your parents provided an antidote to the ‘crazy’ beliefs you were being inculcated with. You are undermining the case against faith schools by overconfidently generalising from your particular experience. This is especially unfortunate since government policy is to create even more faith schools and wealthy and well organised faith groups are eager to take advantage of the opportunity.

      • In reply to #83 by aldous:

        In reply to #82 by Seraphor:

        she needn’t worry about her daughter becoming indoctrinated providing she has a role in promoting critical thinking and a greater perspective of religions in her daughters life. I am saying it is not a bad thing to learn about religion.

        It’s not a bad thing to learn ab…

        Let me spell it out in black and white because there seems to be a communication issue here.

        Faith schools are not a good thing, at best they are a poor use of tax payers money and obfuscate issues surrounding performance with their biased selection processes, at worst they can result in indoctrination and stunt a child’s intellectual progress.

        But this is not a one-sided issue, parents have a great deal of influence in a child’s life as great if not greater than the influence the school has. The role of the parents makes the difference between the best and worst scenarios I’ve mentioned above.

        If parents are aware of the issues around possible indoctrination, lead by example and make a point to encourage critical thinking, then they will experience the best case scenario, which does not pose a significant threat to the intellectual well-being of their own child, although their child’s school-friends may not be so fortunate.

        If parents aren’t concerned, they may experience some of the worse aspects of a faith school. However the only sure fire way to instigate the worse case scenario is if the parents actively indoctrinate their children in conjunction with the school.

        The example I provided about my experience in a faith primary school made it very clear that I hold my parents responsible, not the school, for my lack of indoctrination.

        Now, taking all of this into account, in an ideal situation, parents should avoid faith schools. However, if their child is already attending one, like Jacqui’s, or the best or only school in their area is a faith school and they feel they don’t have a choice, then it is not a losing battle and they can still bring their child up to be a well-rounded individual.

        This is the biggest problem with faith schools, parents often do not have much of a choice if any, because of their monopoly on performance figures due to their selection processes. However, due to their high performance ratings they still provide some of the best primary education in England. This is the trade off all rational parents have to weigh up. It is an issue, there are people working on it, however complaining about it doesn’t help the parents who are currently dealing with the problem right now, who have children in faith schools or who are looking for a school for their child. They have to do something about it, and that is to make sure they influence their child’s development in the way the faith school isn’t.

  34. If the worst they are teaching her is to be a Saint when she grows up I’m sure she will survive. The thing is that at that age they dont really tell you what the sacraments are actually about. Neither do they tell you the …erm …more awkward parts of the Church’s teaching so it seems entirely innocent. The political meaning of the rituals is cloaked by the church for as long as possible. For example the Eucharist is about brand control (if it didn’t become the body and blood of Christ anyone could do it). Confession is about creating a feeling of shame and getting the child/adult to share their emotions with the church and build an emotional bond. Marriage is about … well, condemning gay people amongst other things… Baptism is about being the ONLY true faith and everyone outside being damned (although they have watered this down).

    I went to a United Reformed school despite being a Catholic and I found it interesting the different cultures. For example – the complete banishment of icons by the URC and the fact that everyone mumbled the prayers with intentional awkwardness where at an RCC service no one would even have any self conciousness. Unlike the Catholics who were trying to believe impossible things unquestioningly all the time the URC spent its time rationalising the Gospels about what could and couldn’t happen and to what extent God might bend the rules of the physical world. Which seemed silly to me as if God can bend the rules he may as well bend them in a big way rather than a small way. Where the RCC was obsessed by sex, the URC seemed to be obsessed by drinking and gambling.

    I also went to the CofE quite a bit due to being in the Scouts and was amazed how their services were more like a social club and everyone talked through the Vicar as if to point out that they were the most important. The fact people had their own knee rests (not that they did much kneeling) also fascinated me as in the RCC the individual, of course, is totally unimportant and would not be allowed their own items (except a missal and rosary). All very odd. But I found it interesting to see different versions of the same patterns.

  35. Tough decision. I’m the opposite. My mother (as most believers) struggle with the indoctrination of secularismin public schools. Not all can afford private Christian schooling. So, it starts in the home. The same way you feel about parents being crazy believers is the same way my mother felt about 5th grade teachers teaching how to have protected sex versus abstinence and waiting for the “right time”. I wouldn’t say school changed nor challenged my faith in God though, it actually affirmed it as I learned in high school science about evolution and physics. Now, I’m an Anthropologist, very fond of secular literature and humanitarian work. I’ve studied shammanisn, experiential anthropology, anthropology of consciousness, archaeology, neurophenomenoloy, evolution, existentialism, etc… Ironically, all this just affirms my faith in Christ. Not because I was indoctrinated (as my relatives and friends would say) but because I had a supernatural experience with Christ’s that no Objective observer or institute could change. Basically, no matter what you say, my experience remains the same and that is that there’s a living God. In the end your child will eventually decide, just like you did.

    • In reply to #86 by lhern009:

      but because I had a supernatural experience

      I’ve been present when people had such experiences. Its different when you’re outside looking in. As Aldous said with 100% certainty your own brain generated the experience for you. Not that I want to take that experience away from you, you must value it highly, but amongst the other things you could study is how easily how frequently our brains fool us.

      These are astonishing lectures from Robert Sapolsky giving a detailed insight into the issue.

      We all at times get to dance on the edge of these experiences. We lose access temporarily to semantic memories (our store of knowledge about how the world works). The brain in its absence fills in. This is itself another general principle of brain operation. As we get older we experience more and more hallucinations as our inputs become restricted (Aural and visual mistakes are made)

      • In reply to #88 by phil rimmer:

        As Aldous said with 100% certainty your own brain generated the experience for you.

        Nothing is ‘absolutely certain’ if you allow for philosophic doubt.

        If a human being has an experience, it’s natural. You would have to be a supernatural being to have a supernatural experience, whether ‘your own brain generated’ it or not.

        • In reply to #89 by aldous:

          In reply to #88 by phil rimmer:

          As Aldous said with 100% certainty your own brain generated the experience for you.

          Nothing is ‘absolutely certain’ if you allow for philosophic doubt.

          Darn. I’m usually very careful about those things. Thanks to you and all who issue correctives.

    • In reply to #86 by lhern009:

      Ironically, all this just affirms my faith in Christ. Not because I was indoctrinated (as my relatives and friends would say) but because I had a supernatural experience with Christ’s that no Objective observer or institute could change.

      The details would have had to be indoctrinated. There are no historical records giving details of any such person. – Only assorted Biblical myths – most of which were made up decades or centuries after supposed events.

      Basically, no matter what you say, my experience remains the same and that is that there’s a living God.

      Of course there is. It is the parts of your brain which produce the self-referencing delusions.

  36. Clearly this is a Catholic school and you can expect that they will teach the Catholic faith. Only you know your daughter but personally I wouldn’t worry too much. I think young children take a lot more notice of their parents when they are younger and the home culture generally dominates. Why not be honest with her? Tell her you are sending her to the school for all its good qualities but you don’t hold with the religious stuff. Let it just go over her head. Counter any fears she has about hell etc with discussion at home.
    My own daughters joined a fundy youth group in their early teens and went to lots of happy clappy services. I have to admit I was quite happy about it as it gave them lots of well-supervised fun with their peers without the worry of alcohol and drugs etc. We discussed the religious stuff at home and they weren’t too taken in by it. They are both atheists now as adults.
    However, you need to see exactly how the religious stuff affects her. If she is very sensitive and has nightmares about hell etc, then you might need to move her.

  37. Don’t feel guilty for a start, that’s the kind of way they’d want you to feel.
    Be straight with your daughter, I went to a CofE school, that was ironically less religious than the catchment area one I was meant to be placed in.
    I was told why, but my home environment was not at all religious and neither am I, the impact you will have as a parent is much greater.
    Unless your daughter starts to be ostracized or taken in, worried by hell, then you may have to consider a move.
    Are you able to homeschool her?

  38. Our daughter attends a rather more laid back but still Catholic school while I am atheist. I worry too that this means she might be brainwashed into believing something that I would consider delusional. However we tell our daughter that belief is a personal thing and that we do not believe there is a god or any form of afterlife. She knows there is no tooth fairy and no Santa and I suspect she has probably already lumped God into the same bag.

    I attended a Methodist school myself and escaped relatively sane. Teach your daughter to look for evidence in the world and to question everything. When she is in school she should obey the school rules but when she is at home she should obey your rules. If she comes home having been taught something you object to (perhaps that women have a lesser role, or homosexuals are an abomination, or that atheists will burn in hell, or (later) that contraception is the work of the devil) then put her straight.

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