Views from the News
Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
Rising numbers of children no longer read Bible stories
A study by the Bible Society finds that a large number of children are failing to read or hear Christian stories. They found that exposure to the Bible had declined significantly over a generation. Christian stories such as the Nativity, Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and the Good Samaritan risk being ‘lost to future generations’. Figures suggest that the number of children regularly reading or hearing Bible stories has halved over the last 20 or 30 years. It emerged that 46 per cent of schoolchildren read or hear the Bible at home or in the classroom at least once a year compared with almost nine-in-ten of their parents’ generation. The study found that large numbers of children did not even know that many of the most famous Christian stories came from the Bible.
The findings emerged as the society launched the ‘Pass It On’ campaign designed to encourage parents to share classic Bible stories such as David and Goliath and Jonah and the Whale to their children. It comes just months after Ofsted found that many pupils were leaving school with a ‘very limited understanding’ of Christianity because of a dip in standards of religious education. James Catford, Bible Society chief executive, said the latest study indicated that ‘the Bible’s brilliant and engaging stories could be lost to future generations unless people take action’.
It emerged that almost a third of children did not identify the Nativity as a story from the Bible, rising to 41 per cent for Samson and Delilah and 59 per cent for both David and Goliath and Jonah and the Whale. A fifth of children could not identify Noah’s Ark or Adam and Eve as Bible stories. Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, said it was difficult for academics to teach crucial literary and historical texts without an understanding of the Bible stories.
Nigel Farage: Ukip would strip Christian weddings of legal status
Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, has said that the traditional Christian wedding ceremony should be stripped of its legal status. Mr Farage suggested that couples who want to wed in church should have to undertake two ceremonies, one recognised by the state and one a religious ceremony. He also said he would not abolish same-sex marriage, despite having campaigned forcefully against the bill before it came into law. His call for French-style reforms of the marriage system came after similar proposals by Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat justice minister.
In an interview Mr Farage urged gay, lesbian and transgender people to join his party. He said, ‘We propose an augmentation of the civil partnership awarding it equal status to marriage and enabling it to be available to all. We would rather the legal and religious endorsements of wedlock are separate’. He also said that UKIP could oppose foreign aid to countries which have poor records on human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. However, he defended a former UKIP councillor who said the government’s decision to legalize gay marriage was to blame for the floods. He said that while his comments were ‘certainly eccentric, and to many unpalatable’, they were the opinions of an individual councillor not the UKIP party.
London Mayor to be probed over gay bus ads. ban
London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, will be investigated over whether he banned a Christian charity’s gay bus advert for political gain. The Court of Appeal ruling follows new evidence detailing emailing exchanges that suggest Johnson may have acted for an ‘improper purpose’.
The Christian Legal Centre, which supported the charity, says its bus advertisement campaign came during a time when ‘the Conservative Party was courting the LGBT vote’. Core Issues Trust ran its campaign in response to an advertisement by homosexual lobby group, Stonewall, that stated, ‘Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!’
The charity’s legal team said that Transport for London (TfL) must have a ‘level playing field, take down Stonewall posters and be content neutral’.
Last March, the High Court maintained that the TfL ban on the Christian charity’s advertisement was lawful and that the decision was ‘solely’ Vernon Everitt’s, TfL’s managing director of marketing and communication. Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said however, that fresh email evidence ‘unequivocally states that the Mayor ‘‘instructed’ ’TfL to pull the advertisement’ ahead of the 2012 mayoral elections. Last year the High Court saw a string of emails, including one from the Mayor’s office asking Everitt if the advertisement was ‘’happening’’.This was in response to a story that the Guardian published earlier that day, which stated, ‘Christian group books anti-gay ads. to appear on buses’.