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Religions on Education committee


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Hi

 

My name is Alasdair MacPherson and I go to the Brae Gospel Hall, one of the churches responsible for organising the camp in July.

 

Having read people's comments I am concerned that people misunderstand what is done at the camp as we aim to be open and transparent in what we do.

 

Just to start with, I too saw the documentary, "Jesus Camp" and was also disturbed at what went on and can assure anyone that that is not the way that we run the camp at Sumburgh.

 

We appreciate that parents entrust their children to us for one week and therefore we are in a responsible position and would not want to do anything that would adversely affect children in our care. To this end whatever maybe believed by workers at the camp we are very definite towards leaders and speakers that they do not preach "hellfire" to children. We do not view that as an appropriate subject for a child.

 

We do teach bible stories, and attempt to stick to what the bible actually says and not embellish that in any way.

 

For many children camp is an opportunity to make new friends and share experiences and activities with their friends. Often it is the first time they have stayed away from home and being able to accomplish these goals and many others provides a growth in a child's confidence, which we think is an important aspect of what camp is about.

 

We have three weeks of camp with different ages coming to the different weeks, the last week is for teenagers. We do tackle issues which are more relevant to teenagers. There were images this year taken from Mel Gibson's "The Passion" a mainstream movie, but care was taken that there were no images that were distasteful or which glorified the violence. Also at no time was there any anti Jew propaganda.

 

We do not promote any hatred of any group but rather love, again a positive message when there is so much ill feeling between people.

 

It has been stated that we look down with disdain on all who don't' go to our church, especially Jews. That is entirely against what we teach and how we try to live.

 

We would clarify that there were no leaders or workers of any description who left because they could not condone what individuals were doing. Also, any time those from social work have had contact with the camp the report back is that the authorities are very satisfied with the level of care and concern being shown to the children.

 

Over the past 15 years many children from all over Shetland have benefited from their time at the camp. Very frequently we hear feedback from parents who say who much their child enjoyed their week and how thankful they are for all that has been done for them.

 

However we are not perfect and there are always improvements that can be made. We would be very happy if people have any suggestions on how they think the camp could be improved. If anyone would like to discuss any issues further then either myself or others would be happy to speak. You can phone me on 01806 522482.

 

It is our practise to welcome visitors to the camp should someone wish to attend and watch first-hand.

 

 

thanks

 

Alasdair

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Hi

 

 

We do teach bible stories, and attempt to stick to what the bible actually says and not embellish that in any way.

 

 

But that's just it - the bible doesn't actually say, it is how it is interpreted. Personally speaking, I find a lot written in the bible totally derogatory and sexist towards women.

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@ Aly MacP:

 

Your reassaurance, as someone involved, of what is intended, and believed to be practiced at these camps is helpful. However I find what you have ignored/failed to acknowledge/failed to address here, to be rather concerning.

 

Whatever is intended to occur at these events, and whatever is believed to actually occur at them, is fine and well, but given the content of some of the posts on here, it would seem to be likely that things did occur at some point during one or more of the camps this summer that according to you were not intended to happen, and were not believed to ever happen. Namely that attendees, for whatever reason, are returning home reportin that "hellfire" style preaching, and an apparent anti-semitic/anti-believer attitude was being promoted by at least one person who was in charge of proceedings at some point.

 

Does it not concern you, even worry you, that this appears to have occured? While reassuring the public visiting Shetlink that such tactics and attitudes are neither intended nor are believed to occur at these camps is fine and well. Do you not think, having become aware, that for whatever reason, some attendees of the camps have gone home with the impression they apparently have, that an undertaking/offer to raise the issue with your fellow organisers, and attempt to ascertain why some attendees have left with the impressions they have, would be wise, if not necessary?

 

Bluntly, while its encouraging to know that you "do not run your camps in this way", that is wholly negated by the fact attendees, for whatever reason, have reported back to their families, that indeed you "do run your camps this way". On the face of it, it would appear something went badly wrong within your organisation, and at least one of your number overstepped the parameters of their remit concerning subject matter, or then presented their subject matter in such a manner that it was badly misunderstood by their young and impressionable audience. The alternative possible explanation of course is that a number of children are recounting a wholly fabricated story to their families, and that is most certainly a whole other can of worms that IMHO it would be extremely unwise to open, until and unless there is significant evidence to suspect it to be the case........

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Aly MacP

We do teach bible stories, and attempt to stick to what the bible actually says and not embellish that in any way.

I'm pleased you refer to them as stories (which is all they are) The problem is that you teach them as fact.

 

I wonder if you tell them the story found in Romans 1:31-32?

Or the one found in Matthew 10:34:36? I could cite lots more; as you know if you've ever read the bible, or do you do what most "Christians" do and just cherry pick the nice bits?

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you have had someone respond to the alleged complaints. they have given there phone number willing to help solve these alleged complaints why are you having a pop at the guy.

 

they may not be what you believe but they are giving up there time to help some kids. are those mocking doing the same.

 

now back to the religious rep on schools admin. its nothing new. so whats the big deal.

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you have had someone respond to the alleged complaints. they have given there phone number willing to help solve these alleged complaints why are you having a pop at the guy.

 

they may not be what you believe but they are giving up there time to help some kids. are those mocking doing the same.

 

now back to the religious rep on schools admin. its nothing new. so whats the big deal.

 

The response means that either the kids or those reporting their accounts are not telling an accurate story, or the respondant is not giving an accurate account (either because he is not telling the truth or is unaware of what is happening in his camp).

 

If the tutors at the camp are from Shetland then perhaps naming them here may clear things up a little.

 

Whether they are giving up their time to help kids very much remains to be seen because there is a difference between a bible camp (not that I would personally regard this as helping anyone but as you say that is by the by) and one that teaches the kind of allegations we've seen here.

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we have known a number of no religious kids that have been to it they have never complained in fact they were really keen to go again. however born agains can be rather keen. who knows what happened apart from the kids and the folks running it. ps naming folks on shetlink is a nono.

 

but its really simple the clue is in the name christian youth camp. what do you think they would teach.

 

RE in schools is very diffrent from the good old days. if in doubt ask to see the subjects being taught.

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To this end whatever maybe believed by workers at the camp we are very definite towards leaders and speakers that they do not preach "hellfire" to children. We do not view that as an appropriate subject for a child.

 

 

It has been stated that we look down with disdain on all who don't' go to our church, especially Jews. That is entirely against what we teach and how we try to live.

 

 

There were images this year taken from Mel Gibson's "The Passion" a mainstream movie

 

I really think you need to have some internal review or investigation then.

 

It is bizarre for a kid with limited knowledge of religion to claim that they were told all other religions apart from Christianity were invented by satan.

 

Also can't see why they would claim they were preached hellfire and damnation and is now worried about going to hell when they never had any concept of a place called hell prior to attending your camp.

 

Also why do you raise the big bang theory and then dismiss it to the kids. This elaborate tale about fireworks and watches is too complex for a kid to make up. They would have no idea about the blind watch maker so could only have got this from the camp.

 

And the story about the speaker breaking down in tears reading the bible again is just too far fetched for a kid to make it up in my opinion. They also were infomed of this leaders past social problems, which I will not repeat here to respect confidentiality, but I also think it was completely unneccessary and inappropriate to tell young kids that. The reason I mention it is that there is no way this kid could know this leaders history unless it was conveyed and this shows that his reports of the camp have consistency. So I have no reason to disbelieve the allegations you have denied.

 

Others on here have also stated some of these points and we are all anonymous so no chance of us getting together to make anything up.

 

I also think you significantly undermine your position on inclusivity of other religions by using the passion of the christ as a tool for teaching your beliefs. Mel Gibson is more widely known as an anti semetic than an actor these days and the extreme version of catholicism he subscribes to is decidedly unpleasant and sectarian in anyone's book I would have thought.

 

I don't think you would find a jewish person on the planet who doesn't take serious offence at this movie and there are hundreds of internet sites pointing out inaccuracies and exaggerations in the film relevant to the religious context.

 

And I don't think you could ever call this movie mainstream. That is a misunderstanding of the movie business if you ask me.

 

It is also 15 rated because of scenes of violence and torture. The kid I know told me they were shown pictures of a nail going all the way through a real persons hand with the blood and gunge oozing out. (He thought this was real picture of Jesus!) How many under 15s did you show this to?

 

But it also shows that you have confirmed he was correct in one aspect of what he was saying. I see no reason why he would then make up the rest.

 

There not too much humility or apology in your post... At the very least you should acknowledge there are some serious allegations and offer to look into them. Were you there every night? Do you know your leaders and speakers complied with your policy? Some of us are really concerned about how our bairns minds are developed and I think we have every right to raise this without being told that we are somewhat in the wrong because you are giving up your time to help kids.

 

I am also always helping my bairns pals looking after them, running them here and there, babysitting them, fitba coaching etc etc. But I never, never, never try and impose my beliefs on them! Helping bairns dusna give you a get out of jail card for everything you do to them. We have seen enough evidence of that in religions all around the world, Mr. Gibsons in particular!

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you have had someone respond to the alleged complaints. they have given there phone number willing to help solve these alleged complaints why are you having a pop at the guy.

 

they may not be what you believe but they are giving up there time to help some kids. are those mocking doing the same.

 

now back to the religious rep on schools admin. its nothing new. so whats the big deal.

 

Based on the accounts provided by the quoted attendees, I think its reasonably fair to say the majority of folk would consider the kind of "help" that's allegedly been offered, to be "help" kids would be better off without.

 

Yes, a phone number and name has been supplied by the respondee, that's fine, its a good start. Yes, these camps have been ongoing for several years, without (as far as I'm aware) any significant complaints or concerns voiced, that too is a positive. However, despite having a good track record, earlier posts suggest that for reason(s) not as yet established, the camps operated this year do not apprear to have maintained those previous standards.

 

The lack of acknowledgement by the respondee that "something" "may" have occured this year that shouldn't have, and the lack of apparent willingness by the respondee to be pre-active in pursuing the allegations that they may be the case. So that they are able to either refute them, or identify the issue and assure the public that steps have been taken to prevent a recurrance, is reason a "pop" is being taken, if indeed it is that. I would tend to see it as voicing concerns re the shortcomings of the response so far provided.

 

Given the potentially far reaching possible long term implications that could realistically grow from what the attendees are reporting having been "taught", unless balanced by counter education. I would have thought, and indeed expected a somewhat more concerned response than "it couldn't have happened, we don't do that", which is how the respondee's post comes over.

 

If I am mocking the respondee, I'd appreciate if you could point out where and how I have done so. As far as I'm concerned I'm being highly critical of someone who, having been made aware that children who have attended an event they have been party to organising, have returned from it apparently fully equipped with the potential seeds of in time developing racist, anti-semitic, and a form of xenophobic beliefs. Not to mention what can result on a personal level when "all unbelieviers will burn in the fires of hell" scenario thoughts are planted in young minds. Yet they apparently (and I apologise to the respondee if I have picked up their post in an entirely wrong light), consider simply stating "we don't do that" to be an appropriate and adequate response.

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lets just see if th op can refer the kids parents to the chap with the phone number.

 

just because something is run by christians does not mean that its bad. there is too much blame with no proof.

 

clearly if and its a big if they were teaching what has been claimed then they would be wrong. however for every ott born again there are some really nice folks trying there best to do stuff for the folks on shetland.

 

how about giving them the benifit of the doubt and allowing them to investigate but they will need a complaint from a person that attended.

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paulb

but its really simple the clue is in the name christian youth camp. what do you think they would teach.

I wondered when you'd raise your head above the parapet.

 

The purpose of a youth camp shouldn't be to teach any religion.

 

By your use of the term "alleged complaints" are you calling all the complainants liars?

 

As for naming the folk involved in these religious boot camps, Aly MacP has let himself be known, so why not the rest of them? Unless of course they have something to hide.

they may not be what you believe but they are giving up there time to help some kids. are those mocking doing the same.

 

And yes; I will do anything I can to help anybody, anytime, without trying to force my [dis]beliefs onto them.

 

If you're a bible believer then surely Matthew 6:5-6 should be observed,

 

Keep it to yourself.

Alan Crowe

School house

Aith.

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