Views from the News

Head teachers removed in row over ‘creationist’ church

Two head teachers who allowed members of a US-based creationist church to help out at a Scottish primary school have been removed from their posts. Officials at South Lanarkshire Council said they wanted to establish why the Church of Christ group, which does not believe in evolution and condemns homosexual relationships, had been allowed to provide chaplaincy for eight years.

Alexandra MacKenzie, and her deputy Elizabeth Mockus, have been assigned other duties while an inquiry is carried out into the involvement of the fundamentalist Christian sect over a period of eight years at Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride. The local authority issued a statement confirming that the teachers had been replaced and given other roles in the council while the inquiry was conducted. The investigation was launched following complaints by parents after children took home two creationist books, ‘How Do You Know God is Real?’, and ‘Exposing the Myth of Evolution’, which they had been given at assembly. Mrs MacKenzie defended the decision to give the books to pupils in a letter, saying: “While I appreciate that not every family in our school are practising Christians, I was only too happy to accept this generous gift on your behalf. I hope you will all accept it in the spirit with which it was offered.”

However, angry parents, at a public meeting, called for the teachers to be sacked, some threatened to remove their children from the primary school and one father said the books were an attempt to “brainwash" children. Jim Gilhooly, the council’s director of education, has now told parents that a “full investigation” into management practices at the school has been instigated.

Bible trek inspires £1m visitor centre plans

Mary Jones walked 25 miles barefoot across difficult terrain in a bid to obtain a Bible in her own language The story of a 15-year-old Welsh-speaking girl whose hunger for a Bible in her own language inspired one of the world’s most successful movements will be retold in a £1m visitor centre which will open next year. Planning permission has been secured to transform the de-consecrated site of St Beuno’s Church, at Llanycil, Bala, into a centre which will welcome visitors from across the world.

The story of Mary Jones, who in 1800 walked 25 miles barefoot across wild terrain from Llanfihangel-y-Pennant to Bala to get a Bible from the Rev Thomas Charles, helped trigger an unparalleled effort in international translations. According to local accounts, she had saved for six years to afford the book. She learned to read in a school Mr Charles organised and she would regularly walk two miles to a farm to study a copy of the Bible there. When she finally had saved enough money she made her way to Bala but learned that all copies had been sold. She was reportedly so distraught that Mr Charles sold her one that had already been promised to someone else. The clergyman, known for his passion for teaching children from poor families, was so touched by her determination that he helped establish The Bible Society four years later.

Mr Charles initially proposed to the Council of the Religious Tract Society to form a new Society to supply Wales with Bibles. In 1804, the British and Foreign Bible Society was established in London. There is now an international fellowship of over 140 Bible societies.

Dalmanutha: Biblical town referred to in the Gospel of Mark may have been discovered by archaeologists

In the New Testament, Dalmanutha is named as the location Jesus sails to with his disciples after feeding 4,000 by multiplying fish and loaves of bread. A town dating back more than 2,000 years has since been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel’s Ginosar valley. Archaeologists at the University of Reading now believe the ancient town could be Dalmanutha, after discovering it during a field survey.

The architectural remains and pottery suggest that Jewish residents and a polytheistic religion co-existed together within a community. Pottery pieces dating as early as the second century BCE also show that the town was prosperous and could have survived for centuries. The town is situated 500 feet away from another ancient town Migdal, which has been widely identified as Magdala, the birth place of Mary Magdalene, the first human witness of Christ’s resurrection in the Bible.

The fields stretching between contemporary Migdal and the coast have produced many archaeological discoveries, and researchers at the University have linked it to the 1986 discovery of a 2,000-year-old-boat found on the shoreline.


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