Whoah! The ignorance – it is strong in this one.

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.


19 comments on “Whoah! The ignorance – it is strong in this one.

  1. merc says:

    Inclusiveness is cool 🙂

  2. He didn’t really say that chocolate eggs are hollow to represent the empty tomb, did he?


    First of all, Cadbury Cream Eggs. Not hollow, but not solid, either. I guess they represent the squishy intestines of the Risen Christ?

    Secondly, BWAHAHAHAHAHA again!

  3. mimbles says:

    Oh wow. I have NEVER heard the eggs = tomb and rock thing before, that is seriously bizarre. It was always eggs = new life = Jesus rising from the dead. Which is a bit of a stretch in itself but at least still nods at the fertility associations a little bit. I wonder how she’d explain the rabbits.

    I love the way kids take on the business of being inclusive with such enthusiasm. I’ve seen the same thing with classes my kids have been in where there have been kids with allergies that need to be accommodated.

  4. Raymond A Francis says:

    Being exclusive is must almost one of the ways of defining a religion
    “We are the way” etc and the rest of you are f****d unless you do as we say

    Good on your daughter’s class being inclusive but is pandering to the extremes of a religion any improvement

    • mimbles says:

      An improvement over excluding a child from a whole class celebration because of choices made by their parents? Or over making a significant minority of children feel alienated during a school event? Let me think about that…


    • iheartpie462 says:

      We weren’t pandering. The girl in lived for most of her life in a different country, with a different religion, and now that she is here, we make sure that she isn’t excluded from a class celebration – especially one about different cultures!

  5. Muerk says:

    They aren’t pandering, they are being kind and respectful so that the Muslim girl is included.

  6. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Why am I so depressed that the chaplain is a woman? You’d think that at least might suggest a little more humility if nothing else. I bet she was parroting what she’d been taught by some fundie lunatic, though.

  7. M-H says:

    Don’t start me on this ‘school chaplain’ thing. It makes my blood boil that taxpayers in Australia, a country with an avowedly secular education system, are supporting a religion that is now actively practised by a minority of citizens.

  8. poneke says:

    My children were born in Auckland (I lived there before moving to Wellington). They went to the St Lukes kindy on Remuera Rd, which was attached to the St Lukes Presbyterian Church.

    The vicar of St Lukes at the time was a gay atheist, and his Christmas services for the kindy kids were a sight to behold. There was no mention at all of Jesus, or any god thing, just a long homily about the deprived poor of the world and all the bad things that happened in it which we needed to do something about.

    I don’t think Muslims have any problem with Easter. They certainly have no issue with Christmas. The Koran is full of verses about Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Jesus to Muslims was the last prophet before Mohummad. Many local Muslims go to Bethlehem along with Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus. One of the saddest such Bethlehem Christmases for me was the time the Israelis barred Yasser Arafat from attending a service there, as he had done every Christmas up to then.

  9. vibenna says:

    Personal Failure: LOL!

  10. Fentex says:

    Too bad if anyone at the inclusive meal finds Halal butchering inhumane.

    • Deborah says:

      Yes, it’s tricky, isn’t it. Part of the problem is that people seem to find any way possible to attack and denigrate Muslims. For my part, I’m very, very happy that my daughters’ classmates are alert to issues of inclusion at a very young age. In time, they will think through other moral issues for themselves, with the sensitivity they have already demonstrated they possess in full measure.

  11. TimT says:

    I don’t really have a problem with this. They’re a chaplain: Jesus/God is their job, their raison d’etre. Of course they’re going to tell it how they see it. I know pretty much everyone else will disagree with me though. 🙂

  12. WittyKnitter says:

    Poneke, I really have trouble with this: “The vicar of St Lukes at the time was a gay atheist, and his Christmas services for the kindy kids were a sight to behold.”

    How does an atheist accept a position within a Christian church, to do the job of supporting its members, administering sacraments etc? That feels weird to me…

    And TimT, see my comment. The taxpayers of Australia are paying for these ‘chaplains’. If the church were paying for them, and they ministered to people who self-identified as interested in or as members of that church, that would be a different matter.

  13. poneke says:

    How does an atheist accept a position within a Christian church, to do the job of supporting its members, administering sacraments etc?

    A number of gay people — men and women — became ministers in the Presbyterian church in the 1990s. This caused a schism, with the organisation passing some kind of law barring any more gay people from being ordained. I think that only the St Lukes minister was an atheist. The others were gay but believers — I discussed with more than one aspiring gay minister of that church around that time why they would want to be a minister in a church that hated them.

    There was a fabulous Yes Minister epsidode where Hacker was required to appoint a new Church of England bishop. Humphrey informed him that such appointee must be an atheist.

    This was not as silly as it seemed, as a number of atheists had been appointed to key positions in the Church of England at the time. When lightning destroyed the tower of York Minister, many of the faith said it was God retaliating for the high-profile appointment of an atheist bishop shortly beforehand.

  14. M-H says:

    I know about the Presbyterian events, but I’m still perplexed how someone who doesn’t believe in God can represent the church. It would make me wonder what the church actually stands for, and I really don’t understand why an atheist would want to take a position in an organisation whose fundamental belief system was so radically different from theirs. I mean, they could become a social worker or counsellor or something. And how can you say words of praise, every day, to a god you don’t believe exists?

    • Richard says:

      I’m still perplexed how someone who doesn’t believe in God can represent the church…

      Because they are representing the church not god.

      There is a large strand, particularly in Anglican christianity, that concentrates primarily on the humanist aspects of christianity; i.e. tolerance of others, care for the poor and weak, that sort of thing. For these sorts of christians the mythic aspects of christianity are collection of medieval irrelevancies or, at best, a set of illustrative parables.

  15. vibenna says:

    M-H – you could see God as an emergent property of human consciousnesses interacting in a social setting.

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