November 5, 2004

Offensive Saints

United Kingdom: In yet another account of political correctness run amok, the St Mary Magdalene Church of England Primary School in Islington has been asked by the council to drop the Saint from its name for feel of offending other religious groups. The parents, governors and teachers involved with the school are far from impressed.

The practice of calling schools after saints or bishops alienates people from other faiths and non-believers, say officials and councillors in Islington, north London.

Islington council plans to incorporate the existing St Mary Magdalene Church of England Primary School into a new City Academy for five- to 18-year-olds.

The church, which is giving £2 million towards building costs, has been told by the local authority — a partner in the scheme — that the name of the new school cannot be religious.
James Kempton, children and young people spokesman for the council's ruling Liberal Democrat party, said a consultation had been launched because of concerns over the use of the word saint.

We want to create a school that is open to everybody in the community, not a school that selects through the back door, he said. We need to ensure this is a school which is appropriate for Islington in the 21st century.

Church-going is now a much less significant part of people's lives.

Parents, governors and teachers at St Mary Magdalene, however, are determined to keep the name. John Stewart, the head teacher, said: We have been serving the community in the area since 1710 and there is no reason why we should change our name.

The name makes our Christian ethos clear to everyone and there are plenty of Church of England schools named after saints in Islington and elsewhere which take children from many other faiths or none who want the education and ethos we offer.

Most parents want to keep the existing name, however. Kate McMurdie, 33, said dropping it would be ludicrous and offend parents who took their religion seriously. Karen Hicks said that it would take away the school's identity and make it like any other.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the Jewish community would have no objection to the school being named after a Christian saint. We live in a multi-cultural country, he said.

School told to drop its 'offensive' saint's name - News.com.au, 5th November 2004.

2 comments

Don't tell the people of Bury St Edmunds -- they'll have to change the name of their town.

Light-hearted article in the Guardian, with a bit more info
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1348164,00.html

(Note: Edited to make the link live--Feòrag.)

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This page contains a single entry by Red Wolf published on November 5, 2004 3:04 AM.

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