Critical ThinkingEducationReligion

Pop Quiz: Back Door Creationism

It’s always the same. There you are, all ready to put up a very exciting Pop Quiz about literacy levels in school and college students, when BAM! An unexpected creationists-sneaking-in-through-the-backdoor story appears and ends up being faaaaar more interesting.


A story broke over here this afternoon regarding a small primary school in a suburb of Glasgow. The school had two Head Teachers / Principals (some kind of job sharing deal, I think), and today they have both been suspended from their posts. They’ll be redeployed to positions elsewhere. They’ve been given the boot because of their relationship with an American religious group called The Church Of Christ.


Members of this church had been volunteering as helpers at the school in various capacities and their presence had attracted a small amount of controversy in the past. The whole thing exploded this week, however, when members of the church handed out a book to every child in the school during some special assemblies. The books were your typical designed-for-kids creationist propaganda, full of bright colourful pictures of human beings playing with dinosaurs and so on. I assume that some parents complained more forcefully to the council and/or the media when their kids got home from school, and everything snowballed from there.


Details of the story are still emerging but I’m impressed with the level of news coverage it’s getting. For someone like me who’s read a lot about how creationists having been changing their tactics with regards to school access, this sneaky “oh we’re just volunteer helpers” approach isn’t really surprising. It seems to be the standard approach used by these groups in the USA now, especially in areas where the courts have stomped down hard on more overt approaches. This is pretty rare in Scotland, however. Creationist groups definitely do operate here and I’m sure this isn’t the first school to have been infiltrated, but this is by far the highest profile incident I’ve heard of in my own country.


I remember listening to an episode of the Skeptic’s Guide To The Universe a while ago where they were discussing the possibility of the UK becoming a “new front” for creationist groups, given that schools in the USA are getting wise to their tactics. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more and more stories like this as times goes on.


I’m really pleased at the stern and rapid response of the council in this case. They’ve made it clear that the promotion of beliefs like these is unacceptable in schools in their area. However, there is a huge hypocrisy here. We do have formal religious observation in our schools, and I’d feel far better about seeing a bunch of creationists kicked out of a primary school if I wasn’t going to have to sit through an assembly about the joys of Jesus next week. This Christ good, that Christ bad.


Have you ever been aware of creationist influences in your educational establishment? If so, what forms did they take? How did people respond?


Given the relatively high level of attention these groups have drawn in the USA, do you believe that creationists are taking the fight elsewhere?


The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Featured Image Credit: Amy Watts

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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

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