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‘Alarming’ evidence of Christian fundamentalism at Welsh state school

03 Jul 2024 5 minute read
Head teacher Dan Owen

The National Secular Society has given further evidence to a county council of what it sees as an “alarming” campaign of evangelism at a Welsh community school.

Videos on the Facebook page of Llanidloes High School in Powys reveal that children were evangelised in regular “Scripture Slots” in online assemblies apparently made during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

The school is already being investigated after the NSS uncovered large murals with creationist messages around the school, children being directed to a Bible studies course, and children given Bible references as “help” for issues including abuse and suicide.

Elder

The school’s head teacher Dan Owen is an Elder at Newtown Evangelical Church, which believes the Bible is the “infallible Word of God”, “God created the world in six days” and “unbelievers and all who reject salvation will find themselves in the eternal sorrow and torment of hell”.

Parents have said they fear the issue is being “swept under the carpet”.

In one assembly, Mr Owen talks about the “authority” Jesus has over “evil spirits”, before cutting to a sixth former reading a passage from the Bible about Jesus exorcising people “who had demons in them”.

Exorcism beliefs can sometimes contribute to the “spiritual abuse” of children.

In a second assembly, Mr Owen introduces John Price as a “guest speaker” who is a “regular visitor to the school”. Mr Price says the Bible tells us “not to trust in our emotions that can be fickle and that can change every day”, but to “trust in God”. He then prays for God to “help us to think about what it means to trust in you”.

In a third assembly, “guest speaker” Monica O’Day tells a story about a man who sacrificed his hands for his brother, and says Jesus “endured much more than just damaged hands” for “our sakes”, because he “sacrificed his very self”. She concludes: “Thank God for showing us how much he loves us and cares for us and especially for sending his son Jesus for our salvation”.

Tips

Another video uploaded to the school’s Facebook page features Dr Christoph Schultz, a governor at the school and a GP, offering “tips” for pupils’ mental health. Dr Schultz says: “I sometimes see my faith as having a premium version of some kind of app that unlocks features that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to”.

On struggling with anxieties about the future, Dr Schultz advises: “God wants to have these things and deal with them. He is much more powerful and much better equipped to do that than you are”.

Dr Schultz has apparently evangelised at the school before. In one assembly uploaded on a previous date, Mr Owen mentions that Dr Schultz had said in an assembly the week before that Jesus “had authority over illness itself”.

Homophobic views

The NSS also raised concerns about the homophobic and sexist views expressed on Newtown Evangelical Church’s website.

The website’s “What we believe” section says: “Sexual intimacy between a man and woman who are not married to each other or between two people of the same gender, regardless of any commitment they have made to each other, is sin.”

In a sermon entitled “God’s Good Design and Homosexuality”, Elder Tim Gill says “all homosexual sex is sinful – no exceptions.” He says the “sinful choice” of same-sex relationships “will keep you out of Heaven”, and describes homosexuality as “broken sexual desire”. He also says God “may” change one’s sexual orientation to straight – an idea which can underpin ‘“conversion therapy”.

In another sermon entitled “God’s Good Design for the Workplace”, former Associate Pastor Lloyd Pritchard says women are “free to exercise and to rule over men in the secular workplace, provided they don’t undermine the authority that a man might have at home, or a man might hold in church”.

He says: “If you’re a woman and you’re in a leadership role at work, the way you treat your male subordinates will inevitably affect the way you submit to your husband”.

He tells women, “you can make life easier or harder for men by the way you act, speak, and dress”.

Alarming

The NSS told Powys County Council: “It is alarming that the leader of a church which holds such views is attempting to impose his beliefs, including creationism, on the school he leads”.

Councillor Pete Roberts, Cabinet Member for a Learning Powys at the council, said in response that local authority officers “are currently in discussion with the Welsh Government, the headteacher and Chair of Governors to address concerns raised through the appropriate processes”.

In a communication to parents and carers last week, Mr Owen defended his evangelism by saying the school is “careful to comply” with the law requiring daily acts of “broadly Christian” collective worship in all state schools in Wales. The NSS argues this law should be abolished.

NSS head of campaigns Megan Manson called the videos of the school’s assemblies “alarming”.

She said the videos “reveal the scale of the evangelism that’s been happening at this school, often engaging external speakers with a proselytising agenda. The disturbing views promoted by the head teacher’s church make the issue even more concerning.

“The assemblies also demonstrate that the law requiring Welsh schools to hold daily acts of collective worship is easily used to turn school assemblies into mission fields.

“The government must now look to remove the archaic collective worship law. The majority of people in Wales are not religious: imposing worship on children in such an irreligious and diverse society is illiberal and increasingly unjustifiable.”

Mr Owen was invited to comment.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
11 days ago

Put a stop to it, now…your kids have suffered enough harm the last few years…

How many politicians have their own churches in the Senedd ?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
11 days ago

High time that secularism became a legal requirement in our schools and that religiously based schools be phased out. This disgusting example of indoctrination should be held up as an example of how not to run a school. People would be up in arms were the school promoting an extreme right-wing, or left-wing political agenda, religious agendas are just as bad. Of course, children need to be taught about religion and politics, but in no way should it be in any manner that can be seen to encourage any particular system of belief. Those running the school should be barred… Read more »

Alun
Alun
11 days ago

I believe that all schools, primary and secondary should be secular, with schools being given the option to opt out, if they want to create a specialist environment where religion is taught.
I don’t believe religion has any place in modern society and feeding it to impressionable youngsters is disturbing but I understand that some people want religion in their lives.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
11 days ago

Remove and replace.

CapM
CapM
11 days ago

Such religious indoctrination is wrong whatever the religion.

However I have to admit that if it had happened at the school I attended I would have relished going head to head with these faith peddlers.

A guilty pleasure though as there would have been pupils who would have paid the price by being negatively affected by such ideas.

aled rees
aled rees
11 days ago

It seems this odious Dr shultz ia a governer at this school but the question must be asked where on earth have the other governors been..Welsh gov should clear out this evil temple as it where and replace with normal people.
This kind of teaching may have a place in adult life,if only as a freedom of choice,but it has no place in our schools.

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
11 days ago

Some odious views and devious indoctrination of young people. Keep your vile wrongheadedness for your church if you must but public schools are most definitely not your hunting ground.

j91968
j91968
11 days ago
Reply to  Martyn Young

State schools, they are called state schools.

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
11 days ago
Reply to  j91968

You’re right, my apologies.

Erisian
Erisian
11 days ago

If you can distract yourself from the terror of mortality by turning off critical thought and regressing 2000 years – go ahead. Just keep your delusions to yourself.
Your hobbies have no place in a state school.

Jones Arfon
Jones Arfon
11 days ago

Even as a traditional Christian I would be unconfortable with my children attending this school.

TRACY
TRACY
5 days ago
Reply to  Jones Arfon

Then you are not a Christian

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
11 days ago

There should not be any ‘speciality’ schools full stop!

Riki
Riki
11 days ago

And what’s wrong with being a creationist? Evolution and creationism prove each other! I would agree evangelicals are probably the most radical of all Christians. But please don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans
10 days ago
Reply to  Riki

Creationism is directly opposed to Evolution.
Creationism is a strict reading of Genesis and the Old Testament. Everything is made to God’s plan and the Bible is the timescale in which God did it.

GwynJenkins
GwynJenkins
4 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The place for religion is your church and not a school.
Keep your religious lies to yourselves. Allow children to decide for themselves when they’re older and without brainwashing from the church. What are you afraid of?

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
11 days ago

I don’t agree with certain aspects of evangelical fundamentalism yet the Bible is The World’s best selling book.

Ewan
Ewan
6 days ago

Seems all the commenters were indoctrinated not to believe by their schools, they had no problem with that…

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