Crossteach is one of a number of Christians organisations that exist to brainwash schoolkids, but thanks to a growing awareness among parents that the messages being passed on to their children are designed to foster intolerance, they are facing increased opposition.
This most recent example of a parental backlash occurred this week when St John’s Church of England primary school in Tunbridge Wells cut ties with Crossteach after parents complained of religious extremism, and claimed children had been distressed by comments about gay marriage and a demonstration of “God’s power” in assemblies.
Dan Turvey, above, the headteacher, told parents in a letter that he was ending invitations to the charity to lead school assemblies and take lessons, after what he called a campaign by parents.
The group of parents said they had been raising concerns for several months, and that the school had failed to address a string of complaints.
Incidents included a harvest festival assembly in which a CrossTeach guest speaker attempted to demonstrate “the destructive power of God” by smashing a model boat.
One parent claimed her son had been told last week that:
Men can’t marry men.
The group of parents said in a statement:
We recognise and respect the school’s Christian values but think there is a brand of Christianity that is abusing that respect. The basis of [our] complaint relates purely to concerns over the welfare and safeguarding of children who we believe are being exposed to potentially damaging ideology.
One parent with a child at the school, who did not wish to be identified, said:
The fact that the school didn’t care or do anything about it is unbelievable. We have tried to engage with them but they weren’t really interested. What we don’t like is the hateful messages that have been given to our children.
Turvey said the parents believed CrossTalk and others from St John’s church had an “extremist set of beliefs” but said he had not heard extremist views being expressed at the school.
As a faith school, St John’s has more leeway to promote the Church of England and Christianity to pupils. But faith schools must still adhere to Department for Education guidelines regarding fundamental British values, including equality and non-discrimination in matters such as gay marriage, as well as respect and tolerance for other faiths.
Crossteach getting the boot has infuriated the Rev Giles Walter, above, of St John’s Church, who rounded on the parents and accused them of being the extremists.
In a statement he said:
The behaviour of this small group of parents has hurled a hand grenade into a previously happy and harmonious environment. They seem determined to drive mainstream Christian teaching out of our church school: and it is they and not ourselves who should be charged with extremism and non-inclusiveness.
Crossteach itself denies being extremist, and says on its website that it:
Aims to enable young people in schools to critically engage with the Christian faith in a fun and relevant way.
In a Q&A it plays the slippery eel by answering the question “Do you aim to convert people?” by providing this answer:
Crossteach is an educational charity and our aims are exclusively educational: to inform students and enable them to critically engage with the Christian faith.
It then hit out at the dissatisfied parents:
While the quiet majority of parents are satisfied with the quality of RE and Collective Worship at St John’s CE School, there has been a deliberate and targeted campaign organised by a small group of parents over a number of months bringing pressure to bear on the headteacher, Mr Dan Turvey. In his letter to parents Mr Turvey has reluctantly asked Crossteach not to take assemblies at the school any longer because of this pressure.
Mr Turvey does not have concerns about the quality of the work that Crossteach do in the school and he has concluded that Crossteach can continue to run an after-school club for children whose families wish them to attend.
In his letter to parents, Turvey bemoaned the influence of social media on the school during the campaign by parents.
It is my view that the use of social media can be destructive and counterproductive. In this case I believe that the damage caused by the use of this media will take a very long time to repair. Relationships have been soured and trust eroded.
With the school facing an Ofsted inspection and financial difficulties, he told parents:
The past few months have been stressful, tiring and a distraction from our focus.
The whole sorry affair highlights the need to eliminate faith schools completely, and allow kids to be properly educated without being exposed to religious propaganda, which, by its very nature, is hateful.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn