A letter writer in this week’s NSS Newsline reveals that several schools in her hometown in Lancashire have been allowing evangelical Christians to take over lessons for a week – apparently without the consent or knowledge of the pupils’ parents.
Freethinker subscriber Nicola Holt was first made aware of this clandestine evangelising campaign when her partner’s children were subjected to it at their secondary school in Rossendale. Further investigation revealed that the group, Vision, had successfully infiltrated five other schools in the area, only one of which is church run. The others are all secular.
Vision, which runs a parallel website called catchafire.net, takes over PSHE, Drama, Art, Music, PE and RE lessons for “Ignition” week, bringing children to Jesus with a mixture of rock, dance, and impressive ball skills:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=D8igHKSpcIE That such a group is allowed to peddle their particularly dumb and pernicious brand of Alpha-course Christianity to susceptible young children without the consent – or even the knowledge – of parents is disturbing. Yet they have so far been able to operate unopposed, and intend to expand next year. In an email to Nicola, a Vision spokesperson said:
Each year we add a new subject to our range of workshops and so next year we will plan to develop this further, possibly to include more sports.
Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society informs us that this kind of stealth evangelism is on the increase up and down the country. A similar organisation, the Spinnaker Trust, operates in south London and even targets primary schoolchildren. It has also been the subject of complaints, which is possibly why its “About” page takes the trouble it point out:
It is our policy to be open and honest about the aims and content of our work, and about being a Christian organisation.
This implicitly acknowledges the existence of shady and dishonest Christian “educational” groups, while at the same time distancing themselves from them.
At the time of writing, a formal complaint has been made to the Board of Governors at one of the schools in Rossendale. Further inquiries are being made to the other schools in the area regarding how much they knew about the organisation to which they handed over the children in their care, and what steps – if any – they took both to inform parents and to ensure that no child was forced to attend the brainwashing sessions against their will.
We will keep you informed.