EAST KILBRIDE, Scotland – Two Christians have been removed from teaching positions at a Scottish school after officials discovered they were allowing students to read books about Biblical creation.
Alexandra MacKenzie and Elizabeth Mockus were both instructors at Kirktonholme Primary School in southern Scotland. According to media reports, the two instructors are affiliated with a local Church of Christ assembly, and allegedly distributed two Christian children’s books to students: How Do You Know God is Real? and Exposing the Myth of Evolution.
According to its description on Amazon, How Do You Know God is Real? “explores simple reasons why we can know that God exists.” In addition, the book “satisf[ies] children’s curiosity and equip[s] them to … defend their personal belief in God.”
After school officials were told of the Christian book distribution, they quickly apologized to students’ parents. Jim Gilhooly, the local school council’s director of education, said in statement that a “full investigation into the management practices within the school has been instigated.”
“In order to assist with this,” he continued, “the current headteachers have been moved from the school and redeployed to other duties within education resources, with immediate effect. A temporary senior management team has been put in place. The council will continue to work with the parents to ensure that Kirktonholme Primary School now moves forward with educating and caring for the community’s children.”
Furthermore, Gilhooly mailed a letter to the student’s parents, further detailing the school’s course of action in this situation.
“It has been agreed that the West Mains Church of Christ will no longer [have access to] the youth club, or any other activity,” he stated. “In my discussions with the parent council, and during the larger parent meeting, it was clear that everyone was keen to see the school move on from the current situation. Hopefully these initial actions help to achieve this and I want to assure you that the safety and education of your children are paramount in all of our minds.”
Patrick Harvie, a member of the Scottish Parliament, publicly denounced the teachers’ actions, calling their beliefs “extremism.”
“I very much welcome an investigation,” Harvie said, according to The Scotsman. “But I hope it doesn’t just focus on one school, but take in other schools so that pupils aren’t exposed to this sort of extremism.”
The Telegraph, a prominent news source in the U.K., described the Church of Christ teachers as members of a “fundamentalist Christian sect.” The Herald Scotland called the Christian distribution a “scandal,” and voiced concern that the students were “exposed to the evangelical group’s agenda.” And the Daily Record slammed the teachers for trying to “brainwash kids” with “alarming books,” saying the church’s involvement with the school had “sinister undertones.”
Comments on news sites have been similarly critical of the Christian teacher’s actions.
“Extreme religious views of the kind that were peddled at Kirktonholme Primary School are very dangerous to the development of a proper questioning attitude to the world,” one individual suggested. “They represent a closed mind attitude and intolerance to science and social interaction. The Church of Christ … actively strive to prevent humanity moving forward by insisting on living by tenets and codes of behaviour which stifle tolerance and progress.”
However, others argue that students should be presented with differing viewpoints and allowed to make up their own minds.
“I have always believed that it is best to give people exposure to ALL views and let them be free to question these views and then form their own conclusions,” another person wrote. “For the secularists to demand the silencing of one view while demanding that their own view is promoted is nothing more or less than the same religious zeal they are trying to silence.”