Parents are speaking out after their children were told to sing ‘baby boy Jesus’ rather than ‘Lord Jesus’ in the Christmas carol ‘Away in a Manger.’
According to the Christian Concern, headteacher Zakia Khatun at East London’s Whitehall Primary School, told students that the change was necessary so that “all pupils can participate in the celebration.”
One parent named Margarita said, “I picked my children up at the end of the day and they were so upset, saying to me, ‘Mummy, today in assembly the headteacher told everybody that she would be changing the words to the Christmas song.’ I was so shocked. As a family we go to church, pray together and celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus as the Son of God.”
During a meeting with parents, Khatun said that the school is inclusive of all children and claimed that 60 students did not attend last years’ service because of their religious beliefs.
Despite concerns from parents, the school followed through with change and the service will take place at a local church on Dec. 17.
Margarita argued that parents had not been properly informed and the decision to alter the song would not solve the problem of inclusion – rather it would lead to exclusion.
“I am not alone. Teachers and other parents are not happy about this. I believe my children have been discriminated against and they have been denied the freedom to fully express their faith,” Margarita said. “I am taking this stand as Christian belief and tradition, which means so much to so many people of all generations, is being sacrificed and silenced in the name of inclusion and political correctness.”
A spokesman for the school, which has 485 students, said: “We are a community school serving children from a range of faith backgrounds.”
“In the past, not all were able to come together to celebrate Christmas, so we have worked hard with our local church to ensure the celebrations this year are accessible to all our children to participate in, together, as one.”
Another outraged parent said that the changes were distasteful and compared it to taking ‘Christ’ out of Christmas, Daily Mail reports.
“If he was just a baby boy named Jesus, there wouldn’t be a celebration in the first place. He is our Lord and Savior and King of all Kings – that’s the whole point,” she said. “Ms. Khatun doesn’t want the people who don’t have the same beliefs to feel excluded, yet it’s OK to exclude Christians.”
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said, “We need to respect the original form of the carol and the intention with which it was written. The words ‘the Lord Jesus’ occur three times in the carol and point to the central message of Christmas which is God is with us in Jesus.”
“Everything in the church, where the nativity play is being held, points to this central truth of the Christian Faith.”
But the school said that it supports British values, including “tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.”
Nazir-Ali added that “If parents do not wish their children to participate in a Christian nativity play and any accompanying worship, they should be able to opt out and the school should provide an alternate activity for such children, but basic Christian teaching should not be changed just to accommodate everybody.