Whatever Happened to Freedom of Expression?


The school receptionist facing the sack for requesting prayer
Telegraph -Receptionist faces sack

Devonshire school receptionist, Jennie Cain, is waiting to find out whether school governors will let her keep her job after she sent an email to 10 of her closest church friends. Mrs Cain asked her friends to pray for her and her family and her children’s school after her 5 year old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus.

There are many things about this story, in our staunchly politically correct society, that are absolutely ridiculous. Not least of which is that Mrs Cain could be sacked.

That a five year old was told off for talking about her faith is, in itself, pretty extraordinary. After all, I doubt any teacher would risk telling a young Muslim child off for talking about Allah or Mohammed. Or a Hindi child for talking about Vishnu. So reprimanding this little girl for talking about Jesus seems grossly unfair.

As a openly born-again Christian I appreciate that on some level I am not totally detached from this story. However I am not willing to leave these obscene double standards alone. The United Kingdom is supposed to be a “Christian” country, or so the government would have us believe. Yet we leap at every opportunity to beat down even the slightest hint of God, fearful that other religions or ethnicities will offend. Why on earth should we? They are not falling over themselves in India, for example, to water down and conceal Hinduism for fear of what other religious groups will do or say or feel.

We pride ourselves of living in a country that allows freedom of speech and freedom of expression for all. This school has oppressed these rights entirely. In my experience, children learn a lot about life from their friends. I certainly learnt more about faiths and races from my friends during my school years and at university than I could have ever been taught from lessons in a classroom. Children should be allowed to express the things they are interested in, be it Barbie dolls, Nintendo DS or Jesus.

Telling this girl off for talking about Jesus does somewhat present a problem for the school for any future nativity plays, up-coming Easter events or celebrations of other religious festivals. Hypocrisy at its finest.

The school’s actions are teaching our children that is it not ok to talk about their faith – a critical component in their identity. This is wrong. Such suppression will achieve nothing but merely enhance already strained relations, as the next generation grows up with less understanding of other religions, ethinicities and races.

But this story carries another, more sinister question. How on earth did the headmaster of the school get a copy of the email sent from a personal email? Is there a secret Big Brother society rising up in Devon that is monitoring our every moment? There is a breach of privacy that should be investigated. It is unfair that Mrs Cain’s job hangs in the balance on a decision based on an email, probably sent with the best of intentions, obtained by undisclosed means.

If Mrs Cain loses her job, who knows what this means for the future of freedom of expression in our liberal democracy.

2 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Freedom of Expression?

  1. I saw that story today. It’s a difficult one. I still think children should be allowed to talk about what they believe openly. I maintain that in school, from my friends, was where I learnt most about other faiths and races etc. Perhaps in this case what was needed was not a serious reprimand of the child but a discussion with both children about the matter. I would hope that the five year old that made the comment about Jesus and Hell did not say it with intention to “threaten” the other child. From the perspective of the second news story (in the Times I think) it would seem that the second child, however, deemed the comment a threat. Obviously if it was said in a context that denotes some sort of bullying then yes the girl should have been told off.As I said though, within reason, children shouldn’t be reprimanded for talking about what they think or believe. Doing so is more likely to stunt their interaction and learning with others not enhance it.

  2. Hmm- from what I saw on another news website- I can’t remember which, but I’ll dig- the child was reprimanded for telling another child that they’d go to hell if they didn’t believe in Jesus. The child who that comment was directed to was upset as I guess it’s a really scary concept for a five-year-old.If that’s true, would it change your opinion about the child being reprimanded?Doesn’t negate the ick of the forwarding of the personal email though, that is a horrible breach of privacy

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