Sep 23, 2013

RE vs Halloween

My kids attend "RE" (religious instruction) at school, although I'm an atheist. I do not send them because I think religion teaches them ethics or "how to be good". They go because of a mix of personal philosophy, circumstances and compromise which include:
  • most of the kids including their friends go
  • I'm happy for them to have "some religion" as it's part of our culture and history and this way they will understand it
  • their dad is mildly religious and wanted them to go
Last year when I found out one of my daughters wasn't enjoying RE I took her out, and she joined the small group of children doing drawing or writing practice in the spare room. She was happy doing that, and she has only recently gone back to RE because she wanted to (friends again).

I've had my squirmy moments when the kids came home and spoke earnestly or lovingly about Jesus and God, but there has been nothing too bad.  In their prep days we just went with it, and in grade 1 and 2 I've started to slowly put on the brakes. I let them know in various ways (less subtle as they get older)  that it's really not my bag.   I've told them that RE is not like the rest of school and it is optional and I don't mind if they don't go. When they ask me if such-and-such is true I say "Well, no one really knows", and if they ask me if I believe something I will say "I'm not sure", or "Not really", or I'll launch into "Well, some people think x and some people think y, and really we just don't know."  Very occasionally, I've flat out said "No, that's not true." The last occasion was not something an RE teacher said, but a classmate who told A. that her mum said people who don't believe in God go to hell. Charming!

I asked A. if she asked her RE teacher about her friend's mum's comment, and she said she did and the RE teacher said there was no such thing as hell. Whew.

HOWEVER. We have recently had our first ideological collision with the RE instructor, and it was not over the expected battlegrounds like hell, church attendance or non-Christian religions.

Last week during A's RE class the kids started talking about Halloween and whether they'd be doing Trick or Treat, and A's RE teacher said she would never let her children take part in Halloween because it celebrates evil, and evil creatures.

Curly's Halloween GIFs

Stuart Miles/

"Er, no - that's not right," I said firmly. "It's just a bit of fun; there's nothing evil about Halloween."

What's more, apparently, Jesus and God hate Halloween.

"That's definitely not true," I said even more firmly. "God doesn't care if people celebrate Halloween, and Jesus lived 2,000 years ago and no one celebrated Halloween back then, or at least not in Jerusalem, so that doesn't even make sense!" I would never disrespect my kids' teachers, especially not right to the kids' faces - EXCEPT if they say something really dumb and judgmental like this. Which the real teachers, of course, never do.

A. was not too worried and was happy to know she could still dress up and terrorize neighbors for sweets without making Jesus unhappy.

I've written before how I'm a big fan of Halloween. RE? Not so much. If one of them has to go, I know which one it will be!

You're one strike down, RE - watch yourself!


  1. I don't agree with RE in schools, it should be taught in Sunday School to kids whose parents want them to go and go to church themselves.
    We had RE and were made to go, so I did, but didn't pay attention. I simply wasn't interested. In high school it was optional, so I didn't go to the classes. By the time my kids started school, RE was no longer in the curriculum, unless you were at a private church run school, even then the classes are optional. My grandson is at such a school, the education there is excellent, they hold a mass in the mornings which is optional. He doesn't go.

    1. I don't think it belongs in school either. I wish they'd get rid of it. I have to admit I was a little more accepting of it before the kids started than I am now. I'm annoyed that it's even being offered in public schools, putting us in this position.

  2. I wish adults would think twice before they dump all this partially true/completely untrue crap on kids who then have to spend a lifetime sorting through the swine to find the pearls.

    1. Well, funnily enough I did actually give it quite a bit of thought. But I'm not that happy with my choices as you can probably tell. I'm unhappy that schools even offer RE these days. I do think that these days where society as a whole is more progressive than it's ever been and atheism widely discussed and celebrated, maintaining religious belief is probably going to be a struggle for today's kids :)

  3. Is this a PUBLIC SCHOOL? Most schools can not even say God in school, which is absurd, but I would think that RE in school even if "voluntary" would not pass the Church and State test.

    Halloween? Loved it as a kid, and when my own were really young...otherwise I friggin HATE IT!!! Still, don't ruin it for the kids!!

  4. It was 'scripture' when I was at school and more or less compulsory. Except that I got thrown out and banned when I said that I liked the music to 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. The person running the class was very, very narrow minded. I didn't mind being evicted, and never went back.

  5. I find it strange that they even think about teaching kids religion in schools at such a young age - and if they are, why isn't about what they believe rather than getting into the dogma of it all. Very glad we didn't have religion in school - Sunday School only brought out the hypocrisy of the church and put me of Jesus for good - but as an adult, I love learning about religion (and history, customs, beliefs etc) But I'm an adult - confident in my beliefs. Don't blame you for being reticent about sending them along - even if in theory - it would be good to give them exposure to other religions of the world - in a gentle fashion.

    1. You've totally nailed it - how I feel exactly. Thanks



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