Making Christmas activities at school “biblical” out of line

Christmas

Katherine Hogg has no problem with Christmas activities in general at school, but she says making them biblical is “out of line . . . for a secular school.”

Hogg kept her 7-year-old son home from school last week to avoid lessons about the Christian origins of Christmas.

She said she was unhappy her son’s class was being asked to act out the nativity and take part in discussions about Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

So on Wednesday, her son stayed home from Stanmore Bay School in the north Auckland suburb of Whangaparāoa.

Her son didn’t want to join in the activities because he didn’t believe in God, but he was “upset” by the only other alternative – going to another classroom.

Hogg said the saga started when her son had a schoolyard debate about who Christmas presents came from – his parents or Santa.

He came home upset after a teacher told him off, Hogg said.

In a letter to the principal, she said it was “awfully hypocritical” for her son to be told to keep his beliefs to himself, only for the school to offer a forum for Christian students to discuss their beliefs about Christmas.

“While it is absolutely fine for children to hold their own discussions on Santa and religion on the playground, it should not be teacher-led within the classroom,” she wrote.

Stanmore Bay School principal Matt Sides said the school was looking into the concerns raised.

“The intention of this whānau (team of learners) has been teaching traditional stories, myths and legends across the term,” he said.

Under the draft Ministry of Education guidelines, primary and intermediate schools will have to ask families for their consent to give religious instruction and would have to provide alternatives for those who refuse.

The Secular Education Network (SEN) applauded Hogg’s stand, but faith leaders expressed disappointment.

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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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