Free Presbyterian cleric condemns humanist book for primary pupils in Northern Ireland

Free Presbyterian cleric condemns humanist book for primary pupils in Northern Ireland February 22, 2017

As a teacher, I find this a very interesting story, especially having worked in the faith schools sector, as I have. The hypocrisy here is unbelievable, especially given the context of religious sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The book, co-authored by famous children’s poet Michael Rosen, has been delivered to many schools in Northern Ireland as it is aimed at upper primary and lower secondary. It even has contributions from Stephen Fry and Philip Pullman.

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

Rev David McIlveen said there should be a “clear barrier” between the message of humanism and young children….

Rev McIlveen, who has retired from Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in east Belfast, said that while it’s important not to censor literature, there is also a right to challenge the contents of the book.

“We know that humanism is basically anti-God and therefore anti-Christian,” he said. “I think to advocate humanism can’t go unchallenged and I think it is important that people do have the opportunity to challenge that and I would appeal to Christian parents particularly to express a very strong and vocal opposition to the message of humanism.

“I feel that for a child of primary school age, humanism is not something that should be put into their mind.

“I think that they are far too young to even make that decision as to the rights and wrongs of humanism and I think this is an exploitation of young people to try and indoctrinate them into a view that many people in Northern Ireland would reject.

“I would feel very strongly about the fact there should be a clear barrier between the message of humanism and impressionable minds.”

Wow, what staggering hypocrisy. So humanism should not be put into children’s minds, but schools having Bible’s and RE classes where Christianity is taught as fact – well, that’s okay. I have seen dozens of school libraries, and they are packed full of non-fiction texts explaining religions and religious worldviews because that is part of the curriculum. Whether it be books on the major religions, such as Sikhism, Hunduism of all aspects of Christianity, or about particulars like Gurdwaras, or Hinduism in the context of India, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of books for school children concerning religion. That humanism is apparently off-limits is terrible hypocrisy that makes me very angry. To accuse humanists of indoctrination is irony of the highest order in the context of Northern Ireland.

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