Our Father, Our Heritage

There is a school in Lewis, I’m told, where the day no longer begins with the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer, for anyone who doesn’t know, was given to us as a pattern for how we should communicate with the Lord.

But someone – and I don’t know who makes these kinds of decisions – has taken it upon themselves to decide that children don’t have to know how to pray. There is someone in the local educational establishment who is so certain that we no longer require God, that they are prepared to take this step.

This person needs our prayers.

They need our prayers, not just because they plainly doubt the central message of Christianity for themselves. Somehow, through their role in education, they have been entrusted with important decisions regarding the welfare of children. And they have chosen to apply that status to this grievous step. Having, presumably, had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ for themselves, they have chosen to turn their face from Him.

But they are so assured of His irrelevance that they have decided that the children for whom they have responsibility do not need Him either.

I stand in awe of such self-belief.

The well-rehearsed argument of the secularists is that Christian parents should teach their own children how to pray. Yes, they should and, I imagine, do. But what about non-Christian parents? Their children will not be taught at home how to call on the Lord, or even that such a path is open to them.

‘My child can decide for himself, when he’s older’, they tell you. Don’t be fooled by the decisive tone in which this is said, however – hear the vagueness of what they’re saying. Their child will decide at some future point. Not now, though. So, when?

 

Children learn about world religions as a matter of course. The same parents who wanted an end to the Lord’s Prayer are perfectly happy to see their wee ones coming home with books about Diwali and Hanukkah. It’s okay to talk about Mohammed and Buddha, but keep Jesus out of it. Let them have superficial knowledge about what others believe, but don’t give them anything practical that they can use; don’t, for any sake, allow them to understand that they belong to a Christian heritage.

Don’t give them the life skill that is prayer.

Whoever has chosen this path is sending a very damaging message to the children. In an education authority where 44% of the population attends church, acknowledges God as its Father, and communicates regularly with Him in prayer, the children are effectively being told: this is nothing to do with you. You may hear prayers, you may know praying people, but what is that to you?

A curriculum which fails to reflect the local community is letting its young people down. I thought that the Western Isles had learned that lesson with the Gaelic language. There was a day when it was the norm for children to hear and speak only Gaelic  in the community; and to hear and speak only English in school. With enlightenment and the lifting of anti-Gaelic prejudice came a desire to let the school be an extension of the culture in which it was situated.

Everyone realised that this was the right way to educate children – the function of a school should never be to wean the child away from his heritage.

Yet, here we stand in 2017. Children from Christian homes, from Bible-believing homes, go to a school where prayer is not uttered. They sit down to eat, and grace is not said. God – their God, and the God of their parents – is not acknowledged.

When I was a child, my parents sent me to school, secure in the knowledge that the values of our home would be extended into my  school day. We began each morning with the Lord’s Prayer; we commenced each meal with a blessing. Nobody tried to impose anything on us – it was simply how the day was framed. Some of my peers have grown up to be atheists, some to be Christians. The place given to prayer in the school day did not ‘brainwash’ any of us – but it did affirm the values of our island community.

Those who became atheists are not, I pray, a finished product, but a work in progress.

I can pray for them because my Lord showed me how. And they, when darkness threatens to overwhelm, can pray for themselves because our school allowed them to learn that skill.

Whoever has decided to end the use of prayer in a primary school in Lewis has made a mistake. But God is merciful, and He allows second chances. He forgives those that trespass against Him.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with an acknowledgement of our Father in Heaven. It ends by giving Him the glory.

I pray, with the entire Christian community of Lewis, that this story will finish that way too.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Our Father, Our Heritage

  1. Some families have no religion. They have no belief in any god. They have no reason to utter prayer.
    So why should that be imposed in a place of education?
    The sooner this country moves towards full secularism, the better. Religion has no place in education, or indeed politics. Scotland as a Nation, now sees itself as more than 50% without religion, and thank goodness for that. We are not a Christian country. We are not a Muslim country. We are not Hindu, Buddhist, Seventh Day Adventist or even Jewish. We are a country that is very accepting of other creeds, colours, religions, and sexual orientation.
    Teach children to be accepting of others regardless of the above, and society will improve as a result.

    Keep religion for the church, or indeed your home. It has no place is a classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have waded straight in with ‘imposed’. Who has imposed, or is advocating the imposition, of anything? The Lord’s Prayer and the grace have been the norm in our schools for many years: their removal is the real imposition.

      I’m also interested in your description of this country as ‘accepting of other creeds . . . religions . . .’ For something to be ‘other’, there must be a norm with which you’re comparing it. Unless you’re telling the plain truth, which is that people like you are accepting of anything at all as long as it isn’t Christianity.

      Secularism cannot teach children to be accepting of everything because secularists are some of the most intolerant people I’ve ever come across. I have recently been called ‘an entrenched bigot’ for being a Bible-believing Christian: is that the language of tolerance? Or does secularism only tolerate what it permits?

      Religion doesn’t interest me, Gus, but Christianity does. The day our island schools stop reflecting our values is a sad one for all concerned. You may think you want to see a secular state, as others have before you, but if we do experience it, I’m certain you will be very sorry you got your wish.

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  2. If you want a state run by religion, there are plenty in the middle east where you will find yourself right at home.
    Just because something is the “norm” doesn’t make it right. It was the “norm” in schools in the US as little as 60 years ago to educate white and black children separately. It was the “norm” that homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment too. Are you suggesting that it was an imposition to eradicate these horrid things from society?
    History will show which side is correct here, as it has on so many occasions before, where religion (mainly christianity) has been shown to be somewhat lacking in moral fibre. Slavery, Homosexuality, Divorce, same sex marriages. I could go on.
    Nobody is trying to tell parents what to do with regards to their children’s religious education at home or out of school, that is between them and their conscience. However, an outdated and somewhat archaic practice of praising a deity prior to learning, has to leave the classroom, and not before time.

    “Secularism cannot teach children to be accepting of everything” – but the bible can?

    That is a brilliant quote, when morality in the bible comes from genocide, incest, murder, slavery, bigotry, adultery, and sectarianism.

    I’ll tell you what, you have the last word, as it’s your blog. I will give you that, as there is none so blind as those that choose not to see. I won’t argue the point with you any further as it does neither of us any favours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps the people who do the most harm to Christianity are not the secularists, but a vocal minority of its followers. For example, one need only read some of the comments in the local and national press, mainly from so-called Christians, about the prospect of a mosque opening on Lewis to understand why many people outside the faith are utterly repelled by it. However powerful and important you feel prayer may be, it pales in comparison to the power of hypocrisy, both amply and spectacularly displayed by members (and ministers) within your own community.

    Be better Christians. And admonish others to be so, too. Lead by example and foster the kinds of qualities your faith’s namesake would want to be promulgated. Perhaps then, we might just consider your worldview and values something our young can aspire to. Until then, we’ll continue to limit the damage your messaging causes.

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  4. Christians are not salesmen, hawking a ‘worldview and values’ for the young or anyone else to aspire to. That you would suggest this tells me that you are rejecting out of hand something which you have not – yet – understood.

    What Christians are compelled to do is witness to the saving, transformative power of Christ. We are not saying, ‘look at us’; we are, in fact, saying, ‘please don’t look at us – look at Him’.
    And kindly stop using phrases like ‘so-called Christians’ and ‘be better Christians’, when you plainly don’t know what that means. You are making the same mistake all unbelievers make, judging Christians by the standards of a world which thinks just about anything is acceptable, as long as ‘you don’t hurt anyone’. No one has yet defined ‘hurt’, though.

    The Bible is the standard we go by, not ourselves, and certainly not human reason. In that respect, Christians have an independent verification system: we measure ourselves by God’s standard, which He has laid out clearly for us.

    How do secularists measure their behaviour? It is fallible human reason measured against the standard of . . . oh, yes, human reason.

    What could possibly go wrong?

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    • As Gus has already pointed out, if a two-thousand-year-old book steeped in slavery, incest, misogyny, baby-killing, and genocide is the moral standard by which you judge yourselves, then it’s no wonder you’re actually losing this battle — and losing it you are. I’d have thought the teachings of Christ might be a better yardstick; but hey, what do I know, right?

      It’s your blog. You carry on.

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  5. Well, now you’re just being silly. The Bible is not steeped in those things – the world is, and the Bible portrays people as they really are. Christ’s teaching, which I assume you have no truck with, is actually contained in my Bible; I don’t know which version you have.

    I’m sorry you think that Christ is losing the battle – sorry for you, that is. He actually won it a very long time ago. You aren’t just crowing your imaginary victory over Christians, but over Him. And I’ll pray for yourself and Gus, that one day very soon you’ll see that. You both have as small a claim on His grace and mercy as I do, but certainly no smaller.

    Meanwhile, yes, I’ll carry on. Thank you.

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