U.S. Religious Zealots Sneak Into Scottish Schools Without Parents’ Knowledge to ‘Help’ With Lesson Plans

It’s déjà vu all over again.

My previous post was about Christian worship in public Scottish schools and looked at the galling fact that all pupils are signed up for it automatically, no parental permission necessary.

As if on cue, I then came across a minty-fresh example of where this state-sponsored indoctrination can lead.

British newspaper the Daily Record just revealed that a U.S.-dispatched group of Christians, affiliated with the Church of Christ, has been helping out in Scottish schools. Head teacher Sandra MacKenzie (pictured below) of the 400-pupil Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride knew what the missionaries were up to — the paper says she even invited them – but the kids’ parents were left in the dark. They only realized what was happening when their children came home with Creationist books they had been given at assembly. The books

… denounce the theory of evolution and warn pupils that, without God, they risk being murdered in a harmful, disgusting world.

Teacher Sandra MacKenzie (via East Kilbride News)

According to the paper, the American missionary group has been involved with the East Kilbride school for eight years. One of its members recently opened up about her intentions, and it wasn’t a desire to help with the standard school curriculum. Instead, she said, she wanted to bring the light of the Lord to Scotland, which she described as “a place full of darkness and emptiness that is in big need of Jesus.”

The Church of Christ have targeted Kirktonholme as a “mission” and have several members helping with classes and giving lessons in religion. …

Parents were also furious to learn that cash raised by children which they thought was intended for school funds had been given to the sect to build a church nearby. …

At an assembly at Kirktonholme on Monday, the sect handed each pupil two books, one called Exposing the Myth of Evolution and another titled How Do You Know God is Real?

[Parent Paul Sanderson] told the Record he could not believe their content. He said: “They looked fair enough at a glance and one had a dinosaur on the front, but it didn’t take long to see they were spouting crazy, right-wing nonsense about how evolution never happened — real flat earth stuff. The second book talked in such threatening terms about other religions, and compared those who didn’t believe in God to those who carry out abortions.

He decided to take the books away from his five-year-old son, and the boy burst into tears.

“When I asked why he was crying, he said the man who gave them to him told him they were really, really important.”

The U.S. missionaries have also been allowed to distribute books at Greenburn Primary, a local school for children with special needs. In all, at least 1,000 evangelical books seem to have made their way from the U.S. to the Kilbride schools in the past 12 months.

For some reason, the town appears to be a bit of a magnet for religious zealots.

A ministry set up by New Zealanders Richard and Mary Harp arrived in the town in 2010 for a five-year mission aimed at setting up a youth club to build relationships in the community and evangelise families through fundamental Bible study.

The district council has now condemned the methods of the evangelist meddlers as well as the poor judgment of the Christian schoolmarms they’re in league with, acknowledging that “these books do not feature in mainstream teaching. It was not appropriate for them to be given to pupils in this way.”

Amen to that.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • Brian Westley

    Yep, about all it takes is one dishonest religious zealot in a position of power.

  • busterggi

    I guess creats in Scotland still believe Nessie disproves evolution.

  • Heidi McClure

    If I were one of the parents who participated in that fundraiser, I would demand every red cent be returned.

  • A3Kr0n

    How early do kids learn to read in Scotland?

  • Colin Mackay

    Depends on how proactive the parents are, some kids can read before starting school. But from my own recollections of school, reading is taught from the start. (Age 4-5)

  • mywall

    I may be confused here but the fundraiser looks like actual fraud. As in the criminal offence. Wonder if any investigation will happen on that.

    Also, from the article: “Church leaders told their US flock in a video blog about their “work” at the school, and claimed that, out of a population of 5.1million, Scotland has only 700 practising Christians.” I can understand overlooking the mumbo-jumbo (assuming the headteacher belived similar) but I don’t understand how anyone so lacking in numeracy could possibly be considered for a job in education.

  • Gabriel

    That is fraud. They gathered money under false pretenses. I hope they are charged for criminal fraud. They need to be in prison.

  • Michael

    Ideally they will be forced to sell the church to refund the money and the building will be used as a supermarket.

  • Justin

    This is disgusting, but it’s typical of Christians. When you believe that anyone who doesn’t believe what you do is going to be tortured for eternity by a ‘loving’ deity, it’s only rational to use every sleazy tactic you can think up to catch em while their young and naive.

  • the moother

    It’s almost surreal… the colonies bringing religion back to the UK…

  • the moother


  • LesterBallard

    If I was that one kid’s father I’d be livid. I’m pretty fucking pissed as it is. I’d like to hear the reasons for those book’s importance. My guess is because “you’re a little worthless sinner and you’ll go to Hell when you die if you don’t believe in Jesus”. Scumbags.

  • LesterBallard

    And I would be suing about the money being used for a fucking church.

  • MineApostasy

    Such complete arseholes trying to besmirch the country of Hume with their zealotry. Dinnae haste ye back, I say!

  • anniewhoo

    And is this church enjoying tax exempt status back in the states for their “mission work?”

    I went to a Church of Christ wedding once… very scary. A woman is to be subservient to her husband, to meet his every need. I was half expecting the groom to grab his new bride by the hair and drag her out of the church at the end.

  • Shoebutton
  • C.L. Honeycutt

    When I saw that, my first thought is that that asshole was lucky he wasn’t within reach of the father right that minute.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Why not both?

  • http://www.devitaylor.com/ Devi Taylor

    Methinks some money changed hands between the church and the administrator (beyond the fundraiser thing). That’s usually what motivates these sort of things.

  • Obazervazi

    A superbrothel!?

  • Nebuladancer

    Ahh, I see in this article that the COC did not act alone. They were working with Adventures in Mission. THAT explains a lot. I had the unfortunate experience of working with this group on a mission trip as a teenager. Most of my youth group participated and were were horrified to discover how completely manipulative, controlling and backward thinking this organisation is. Our team leaders privately confirmed with us after the experience that they would no longer recommend working with AIM to our church board. Sad. I can completely see AIM being involved in a scheme like this.

  • http://www.devitaylor.com/ Devi Taylor

    Awesome. I wish we could see that kind of action here in the states.

  • sam

    No Sir, that wasn’t luck. That was intentional, for 2 reasons. 1) If you hand the books out at school, the books acquire more legitimacy in the child’s mind and 2) that asshole was far too much of a coward to attempt to brainwash another man’s child right in front of him.

  • DougI

    If you ever wanted to know what the fundies are up to just listen to their conspiracy theories about groups they hate. They believe Communists and Homosexuals are going into schools to recruit children. No evidence of that of course but fundies often engage in the practice of projection. They accuse others of being equally abhorrent as they are.

    Never trust a fundy.

  • Paul D.

    Although 3.3 million Scots identify as Christian (mostly Church of Scotland or Catholic), the Church of Christ is a cult-like sect that does not consider any other denomination to be Christian.

  • Jim Jones

    ‘Christians’ lying to children. Well, who could have predicted that?

  • doug105

    If you need any proof of just how evil the U.S. religious communities can be you would be hard put to find worse than Scott Lively.

  • Spuddie

    Why would that be the case?

    Anyone who has been paying attention to Nessie knows he is of extra-terrestrial origin and was part of a plot to disrupt the 1st International Energy Conference in London in 1975 which was foiled by unnamed members of the United Nations Intelligence Task Force.


  • Atheistiana

    They should be charged with brainwashing… plain and simple. They did not have the permission of the parents to teach this nonsense and should be arrested and held accountable.

  • busterggi

    None of them really do.

  • busterggi

    The dragging by the hair is considered sexual and only to be done in private.

  • http://iamchristianiamanatheist.blogspot.kr/ Christian Kemp

    Guess they are losing their base support in the US and they are moving aboard. Like Bob Larson and his exorcists in Eastern Europe. Send them to jail for fraud.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Probably a better idea than a brothelmart, overall.

  • fjpor

    Lying bastards one and all

  • LizBert

    Church of Christ is a bit more strident in that. I grew up Church of Christ/Christian Church and they are almost unbelievable in their belief of their own superiority. They broke with the Disciples of Christ because they DoC are too ecumenical. They are utterly convinced that they are the only proper interpretation of the religion. Most other denominations of course think they’re right and everyone else is a bit misguided but at least they’re Christians, right? Not the folks from the Restoration Movement.

  • doug105

    And if you want to see just how evil they can be google Scott Lively.
    The man has made a living off of selling hate across the globe.

  • Randay

    In France, public schools are legally secular. No religious intervention is allowed and of course no nonsense like anti-evolution is allowed. Recently the National Education Ministry issued a rule that students could not be exempted from classes in the national curriculum because of their religious beliefs.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    If logic and reason can convince you that god belief is irrational nonsense, then surely you are able to explain this to your child. To quote Louis CK, it is your shitty kids, spend some time with it and tell them why you think the way you do, or something like that.

  • Mick

    They’ve got a foot in the door. They will never go away. Certainly not while the Scots are gullible enough to build churches for them.

  • Katherine Hompes

    I can’t speak for Scotland (I’m Aussie), but I had assumed that most 5 year olds (in developed countries) could read. My five year old can.

  • ragarth

    Hopefully that superbrothel will have a nice gay strip mall. That’d be Fabulous!

  • Sean Slater

    Scottish Schools come in two main flavours – Catholic and non-denominational, both are entirely state-funded. The Catholic schools are under the control of the local-authority and follow approved curriculum, but the local Catholic church will have a strong say and control in the “ethos” of the school. In Religious Studies (a mandatory subject) Catholicism is almost exclusively taught and the school will have strong links to the local church’s activities. I attended a Catholic Primary (age 5-12) – though several decades ago – and was released from classes to be an Altar Boy for some masses. We also held a School mass every Friday, fund-raised for catholic charities and got taught about St Mary, Sacred Heart etc.

    Nowadays, pupils do not have to be catholic but if the school is over-subscribed, then they will likely get priority in admission.

    With Non-Dom schools, Religious Education (or RE) is supposed to be inclusive of all religions but “emphasising the role Christianity has played in the life and history of Scotland”. “Christian” morals and ethics are highlighted in these classes. Sometimes talks on ethics and morals are given by the affiliated chaplain.

    All schools are required to have chaplains and most local-authorities will have a list of 3 approved individuals. They are usually, though not exclusively so, taken from local Church of Scotland ministers but – and this seems to be the case here – they are sometimes taken from more evangelical sects promoting creationism and sectarianism. Such sects are using this “chaplaincy” process to actively proselytise without the parents’ and in some cases the schools’, knowledge.

    The various Scottish Secular/humanist and sceptical societies have been up in arms about this recently. Edinburgh Secular Society produced a report about it:


  • DaveDodo007

    It’s worse than that as the colonies are bringing Christianity back to a Christian theocracy. :-)

  • MD

    Scotland has its own educational system, but it’s probably similar to the English National Curriculum, in that children start reading between 4 and 5 years old.

  • Chupper

    What’s with these evangelicals and their fear of a “dark” Scotland? Remember the late 90′s when Pat Robertson called Scotland a “dark land overrun by homosexuals”?

  • tracy two crows

    As if the food,cheese,wine and art weren’t enough of a draw,France does it right once more for education:WIN!Now,if they could just get the reich-wing anti gay Christian Fascists out of there they’d be as close to paradise as it gets!

  • Sheila Galliart

    Exactly. One is taught from the cradle that the CoC is the ONLY church and that it IS the church described in the New Testament. Finally escaped from this cult in my mid-40′s.

  • baal

    Um, the religionists in the OP are being coercive and abusive to 5 year olds with the blessing (or at least negligence) of the Scottish state. You shouldn’t have to expect that american style creationism is being taught to them nor be an expert in deprogramming your kids.

  • Amor DeCosmos

    …trying to work in a no true Sctosman joke here…

  • Guest

    Waitaminute… are you suggesting that there are strip malls that aren’t gay? Pfft!

    Next you’ll be telling me that the only open storefront at my nearby strip mall, a place called “Real Deal” with sweepstakes ads out front, isn’t operating completely legitimately when it’s open all night, 5-6 days a week, with blacked-out windows and an obvious-yet-not-uniformed guard nearby while all the police in the area have mysteriously moved elsewhere.

  • Sheila Galliart

    Check out an article on the same subject by a fellow Patheos blogger; please feel free to comment: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/09/a-scottish-tabloid-libels-the-churches-of-christ/

  • LizBert

    Cheers to getting out! It’s always nice to meet others who have left, CoC is so much smaller than the mainlines that I rarely ever meet former members.

  • Mairianna

    or….Mac ann diabhal! Scots Gaelic for Sons of the Devil!

  • Steve UK

    “Kyle Butt”?! You couldn’t make it up. Hopefully my Scottish Christian friends will be as disgusted as I am with these so called missionaries, this headmistress also needs disciplining, then again, the Scottish Nationalists led by Alex Salmond would probably support her. As for inveigling their way into a special needs school, words just fail me. I hope the parents sue these miscreants and this stupid woman who fell for their lies.

  • mywall

    Sing with me!
    “… Till we have built Amsterdam,
    In Scotland’s high and windy land”

  • Randay

    More has come out on clarification of the rules. It is called the Secular Charter. Ostentatious religious symbols are not allowed. Among the goals are to explain the values of the Republic and the difference between knowledge and convictions. The teachers’ unions strongly approve it. Only about a dozen pupils and students were excluded each year for violations in the past.

    Gay marriage is now the law and it is only a Catholic fringe that still carries out some protests. The usual suspects.

  • Sean Slater

    Why would Salmond and the Nats support her? Whilst Salmond can be too touch feely, lets include all religions in schools for my liking, I don’t believe he would support fundamentalists such as these guys.

    The local authority is a staunch Labour area, not Nationalist.

  • Hardcore