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Girl, 5, told off at school for talking of God

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: February 13, 2009

Primary school receptionist Jennie Cain, from Crediton, is facing a governors' investigation

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A HEADTEACHER has defended his actions after a religious row erupted at a Devon school where a five-year- old girl told a classmate she would "go to hell" if she did not believe in God.

The youngster, a pupil at Landscore Primary School, Threshers, in Crediton, complained to her mother after she was told off for the comment.

Her mum, Jennie Cain, who works as a receptionist at the school, is under investigation for professional misconduct after she sent a private email to friends about the matter.

Mrs Cain, of Queen Elizabeth Drive, Crediton, initially complained to Jasmine's teacher.

Her daughter had come home in tears and said she had been told off for "talking about Jesus".

The 38-year-old mother was then called into headteacher Gary Read's office about the matter.

The email, written after this meeting, which asked friends to pray for her and her daughter, fell into the hands of Mr Read.

It allegedly contained claims against the school and its staff.

Mr Read defended the school's treatment of the matter and said they encouraged all children to "think independently", but would not condone one child "frightening" another.

He said: "We have 271 children in our school from a diversity of backgrounds.

"We encourage all our children to think independently and discuss their beliefs with their teachers and classmates when it is appropriate to do so.

"What we do not condone is one child frightening a six-year-old with the prospect of 'going to hell' if she does not believe in God.

"We conveyed to her mother, in a perfectly respectful manner, that we do not expect it to happen again."

Although Mrs Cain, who also has a son, has not been suspended, an investigation by the governors of the school is being held over the matter.

Mrs Cain, who has worked part-time at the school for two-and-a-half years, said her and her children's beliefs had not been respected.

"My daughter said, 'My teacher told me I couldn't talk about Jesus' — I couldn't believe what I was hearing," she said.

"She said she was taken aside in the classroom and told she couldn't say that. I was so shocked, I didn't know what to do."

Mrs Cain added: "I feel my beliefs are so central to who I am, are such a part of my children's life.

"I do feel our beliefs haven't been respected and I don't feel I have been treated fairly."

The mum has described herself as a "quiet Christian" who would never force her beliefs on others. Religious groups have condemned the school's action.

Mrs Cain's case is being supported by the Christian Institute, which says the case is an example of a Christian being persecuted by society.

Mike Judge, from the Christian Institute, said: "It is really getting to a point where it has to stop. I think the Government has got to start looking at its legislation.

"Christians are in the firing line, not other minority groups."

David Hutchings, spokesman for children and young people's services at Devon County Council, declined to comment on the current investigation but said: "The study and diversity of world religions is an integral part of curriculum."

Last week, nurse Caroline Petrie, from Weston- super-Mare, was told that she could go back to work, having been suspended for two months after offering to pray for a patient.

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  • tony1976  |  February 15 2013, 12:09AM

    With all due respect 'Sirman,' you really need to brush up on your history, past and present. As head of Humanities, which involves History, I can assure you that your comment implying that 'religion' - as you call it - is a major cause of problems in the world, is entirely incorrect. In fact, the truth is that 'Nationionalism' has, and still is, the major cause of all the conflicts of the last few centuries and even earlier. All the major wars ever known stemmed from nationalism, and scores of other smaller conflicts. At times you may get the odd conflicts caused by Islamic fundamentalists, or such like. You mentioned the 'Crusades,' which it appears you did not know that that was a 'political Roman Catholic' endeavour, about which general Christianity across the world was not in agreement with, the Imposition being a similar situation. Concerning your comment about the persecution of Christians, you may not be aware that officially, world 'watchdog' agencies report that Christians are being martyred (killed / murdered) for their faith across the globe at the rate of 'one every three minutes.' They are not stupid enough to die for a religion, but because of a relationship they have with a 'living' God, which happens to be the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we have a prevailing present day secular problem where someone who has decided not to believe in Jesus Christ, professionally bullies some small child who does. People need to know that religion is not God made, but man made. Jesus did not bring yet another religion, but He brought hImself. He brought the offer of a relationship with Him, which tens of millions are experiencing, but many reject, to their loss.

  • Slrman  |  October 21 2012, 2:50AM

    As always, christians cry, "persecution" whenever they are prevented from persecuting other, like telling them they are going to hell. Most of the problems of the world have been caused by religion. Think of the crusades, the inquisition, the dark ages, the witch burnings, the restrictions on learning, free speech, instilling guilt and shame into children, and the wars fought in the name of religion. More recently, think of family planning clinic bombings, oppression of gays and non-believers, murders of doctors and homosexuals, imposition of religious beliefs by force of law, and illegal use of public funds to promote particular religions. Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.

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  • beninlondongreenwich  |  March 02 2012, 12:22AM

    spottyginger, they were not criticising the child's belief just telling her she shouldn't go round telling other children they are going to burn in hell for not believing in the 'right' deity.

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  • sailinchick  |  February 28 2012, 10:39PM

    in our school we would have been told off for just sayin the word hell as it was considered swearing, and thats got nothing to do with the religous side of things

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  • spottyginger  |  February 28 2012, 3:06PM

    Under no circumstances should an adult, except for a parent, be allowed to chastise a child for that childs' beliefs. If the opinion of the child is at difference to the School Ethics and principles, the Head Teacher should take the matter up with the School Board and the Parent(s). That child has been irrevocably scarred for life mentally by some unthinking goon who thinks he knows better than any God, if even one does exist.

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  • grumpygit  |  February 28 2012, 2:44PM

    Did the internet just reach Plymouth or something? Such an old story. Hopefully peace broke out and everyone involved lived happily ever after. I'm off now to find my 'Carrie' DVD.

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  • Demshur  |  February 28 2012, 11:39AM

    The child was only 5 for heaven's sake. She should be taken aside and quietly spoken to about what she said and whether that was the right time and place to say it. I make no comment on the right or wrong of the statement merely that the child was too young to understand the outcome of what she said.

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  • Jon_33  |  February 28 2012, 11:24AM

    @ theheadzy You are of course correct. If she hadn't been so intolerant herself, and then passed it on to her daughter, the situation would never have arisen.

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  • theheadzy  |  February 28 2012, 10:12AM

    @Jon_33 you are right, but she shouldn't be defending her child's actions, she should be educating her about religious tolerance and understanding

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  • Jon_33  |  February 28 2012, 9:43AM

    It's actually nothing to do with her child. It's about HER professional misconduct, and she's raising the religious aspect as a means of evading the issue; she was in a position of trust and she betrayed it; that's why she was suspended, but doesn't have the courage to face up to it.

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