A British couple has filed a lawsuit against a local Church of England school after claiming that their children continue to be indoctrinated with religious ideas during assemblies.
Lee and Lizanne Harris have claimed that Burford primary school in Oxfordshire encourages their kids to take part in Christian prayers and watch dramatic performances of Bible stories.
When the children enrolled at the school it was a community school with no religious affiliation. However, in 2015 it became associated with the Church of England, joining the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST). As such, some of the school’s activities shifted in nature.
“When our children go to school they shouldn’t have to participate in Christian prayers, or watch biblical scenes such as the crucifixion being acted out, nor should they have to hear from evangelical preachers who spout harmful and often divisive messages,” the couple said in a statement, according to The Guardian.
The parents removed their children from school assemblies when they discovered the spiritual message behind some of the presentations. Now, they are demanding that the school provide a more inclusive assembly as a suitable alternative.
Bizarrely, the parents don’t seem to fully acknowledge that the school is now officially under the administration of the Church of England. “We enrolled our children into a state community school – which is meant to have no religious character,” they said, noting that over time they “noticed harmful aspects of evangelism spreading into assembly and other parts of the school” which they believe is a violation of their “children’s rights to receive an education free from religious interference.”
According to the school’s website, the daily assemblies allow space for students “to develop a reflective approach to life, and the ability to express their thoughts.”
The ODST also makes it crystal clear that it is “motivated by Christian values,” and facilitates a daily time of “collective worship,” as per the statutory requirements for church and community schools. However, it also notes that the school does “not impose those values” on anyone and “welcomes those of all faiths and none.”
In a statement made in response to the impending lawsuit, the trust said it was “confident that Burford primary school, as a community school, has acted entirely appropriately, and has followed all statutory requirements.”