My brother and his family live in Queensland. Two of his children are at the local primary school, and a couple of nights ago, there was an Easter celebration there. Being a community minded man, my brother took his children along. There was singing and dancing and performances, and all went well, until the school chaplain took the stage.
This is a state school. With a chaplain.
Moving right along, my brother is happy for his children to learn about religion, and he expected that the chaplain might talk a little about the Christian festival of Easter, and some of the other festivals around it. But there was no mention whatsoever of spring festivals in other cultures or of Pesach. Just a bit offensive, he thought. And then there was the explanation of the association of eggs with Easter. The chaplain held up a hollow chocolate Easter egg and said, “This egg is hollow to represent the empty tomb of Jesus.” Then she held up a solid Easter egg and said, “This egg is solid to represent the solid rock that was in front of the tomb.”
Good grief. Not a fertility ritual in sight. As my brother said, being subjected to Christian intolerance in a state school is bad enough, but when it is coupled with patronising ignorance, it becomes ridiculous.
Contrast this with my elder daughter’s class. They have been studying the different cultural groups that have settled in New Zealand. Today they have a shared lunch, as an end of term celebration, and the pupils have prepared something from the particular cultures they have been studying. There is one Muslim girl in the class, and it seems that absolutely everyone has checked their plans with this girl, and adjusted them as necessary (getting halal meat, excluding alcohol-based essences, and so on) to ensure that she is not excluded from the meal. The children did this themselves: their teacher didn’t need to prompt them.
It is so easy to be inclusive, and in the process, to learn something. My brother is very angry that the chaplain at his children’s school couldn’t make even a minimal effort to remember that not everyone is Christian. And she peddled absurdities to boot.