Spot the problem

I got this notice home from school today (identifying information covered up).

letter3

It’s a poor quality image, I’m sorry. I don’t have a scanner at home so I used my camera to copy the notice. Here’s the text (sans housekeeping details).

CHRISTIAN OPTIONS – EASTER PROGRAM

Dear Parents/Caregivers

Once again, the local Christian churches (interdenominational) are visiting our school, presenting a program leading into Easter.

The presentation will take place on Thursday April 9. If you have any objections to your child participating in this session please notify your class teacher with a return of the slip below.

Yours sincerely, etc.
__________________________________________

Student Name: …

I do not consent to my / our child participating in the Easter presentation by the interdenominational Christian churches.

A virtual Easter egg if you spot the problem with the notice.

My children won’t be attending (their choice). But last year, the presenters gave Easter eggs to all the children who attended – nothing like a cargo cult. I’ll be putting Easter eggs in my girls’ lunch boxes so they don’t miss out.

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17 comments on “Spot the problem

  1. innercitygarden says:

    Well, it’s usual with an excursion/incursion to ask for permission, not start with the assumption that everyone is going unless they opt out.

    You could always ask the Christians why they think it’s ok to hand out Easter eggs to celebrate the death of Christ, given that most of the world’s chocolate is grown by child slaves (and hey, it looks like these here ones are not certified fair trade). A surprise attack for them, something different from the anti-religion in school bit.

  2. Chally says:

    Opt in/opt out? It irritated me when I was at (public!!) primary school that it was expected that everyone would attend Easter services. I feel so sorry for all those kids who are going to be uncomfortable or feeling left out. …if I got it right, may I request a virtual chocolate bunny instead? 😛

  3. Ah, but surely you get letters sent home asking whether you’d like your children to opt out of Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Baisakhi presentations as well.

    It seems very awkward and inappropriate to have a form which, rather than asking for permission, instead asks for objections.

    If any of the kids at this school are anything like I used to be, they’ll let this form get screwed up at the bottom of their bag. Too bad about Mum and Dad’s objections then.

    I remember in my Primary school days (I went to a public school) Easter was celebrated, but the staff focused very deliberately on the Easter Bunny/Bilby and Chocolate and left out most of the Religious overtones.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Here in Sydney, we have to opt out from religious instruction at our state school all year (my kids go to “non scripture”- which is fine now they are happy reading to themselves).

    Which caused its own storm this time last year, when the school failed to separate out those children from the easter service, and they all got exposed to the very evangelical Good Friday message from the local pastor (also head of the School Council, which makes it tricky).

    My boys are fine – they know enough to know it’s “what some people believe”, but I’d hate to be a muslim Iraqi refugee (one of the children in my younger son’s class).

  5. Carol says:

    She’s a hard row to hoe, being an atheist parent at your primary school! Crikey.

  6. Carol says:

    PS get yourself on the Board of Trustees, Deborah, and change the system.

  7. Adele Villemez says:

    The problem I would have with this is – what exactly will my children be doing during the presentation if I do not give permission? Staring at wall?

  8. stef says:

    opting out…

  9. Deborah says:

    Virtual Easter eggs for everyone who spotted the ‘opt out’ problem. This is an improvement from last year, when we had to write a note to the principal to get the children out of the service; at least this year they gave us a form to use.

    There’s only a few kids who opt out of the service – some because they are of other faiths, and some because they are godless aetheists like us. I’m astounded by how many just go along with it, but South Australia does seem to be more committed to Christian religious education in schools than NZ is.

    Last year all the heathens spent the time in the school library. And you bet I would raise merry hell if the kids were ‘punished’ by being made to sit and stare at a wall.

  10. Deborah says:

    Ah, that would be a virtual chocolate Easter bunny for Chally.

  11. M-H says:

    My friend Sally (who has no children) has been discussing the teaching of Christianity by Christians in NSW public schools on her blog recently: http://pompoms.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/mumbo-jumbo-father-christmas-and-the-tooth-fairy/ I thought that the comments were really interesting.

  12. Helen says:

    Is there some nice pagan who can come and hold an easter egg / fertility / rebirth of nature ceremony? (Complete with opt-out form, of course!)

  13. blue milk says:

    My partner and I love reading about your adventures in atheist parenting in a state school… nice to know what lies ahead for us.

  14. artandmylife says:

    Helen, while we usually do the pagan stuff at home, I would love to one day.
    Our school has a 1/2 hour a week “religious studies” class. I asked if the would be talking about buddhsm and Islam as well and politely suggested they call it Christian education instead when they said no.

  15. […] April, 2009 by penguinunearthed Inspired by Deborah’s great series on atheist parenting within the public school system, I share with you this conversation with […]

  16. […] in atheist parenting: here, here, here, and here from In a strange […]

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