Outrage! — Catholic school girl who refused headscarf for mosque trip labelled a truant

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‘Whilst I may not require you to pay for this I must require your child to participate…’  

From UK Mail Online:

A Roman Catholic schoolgirl has been labelled a truant after she refused to wear a headscarf during a compulsory trip to a mosque.

Amy Owen, 14, and fellow girl pupils at a Catholic secondary school were told to cover their heads and wear trousers or leggings out of respect for their Muslim hosts.

But when her mother objected, saying she did not want her daughter to ‘dress as a Muslim’, she received a sternly worded warning letter from the headmaster saying she had no choice.

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Michelle Davies’ daughter Amy Owen was ordered to wear a headscarf and trousers or leggings for a school trip to a mosque

Peter Lee, head of Ellesmere Port Catholic High School in Cheshire, informed her that the local diocese ‘requires’ pupils to have an understanding of other religions.

In the letter – with words in block capitals and underlined – Mr Lee said the visit was ‘as compulsory as a geography field trip’.

He added: ‘There are two reasons for these visits. One is that the scheme of work in religious studies REQUIRES children to have knowledge and understanding of other world religions.

‘The second is that the school is REQUIRED to promote tolerance respect and understanding. This is known as community cohesion.

‘A failure to do this could result in an unwelcome inspection judgement. None of us would relish that. 

‘Whilst I may not require you to pay for this I must require your child to participate.’  

The Ellesmere Port Catholic High School letter to parents notifying them of the trip to the Al Rahma Mosque in Toxteth, Liverpool

Amy’s mother Michelle Davies refused to back down and, after being told no teachers would be back at school to keep an eye on her daughter, she kept her at home, citing religious objections – as did as many as ten other families.

Yesterday, after the school acted on its threat to class Amy’s absence as truancy, Miss Davies accused it of discriminating against Christian pupils.

‘It’s like they’re putting a gun to your head – either you go to a mosque, or you’re marked down as an unauthorised absence on your record – that’s it no two ways about it,’ the 34-year-old said.

‘It’s like they are saying she is playing truant for not wearing a head scarf. If the trip had been without the leggings and the headscarf, that would have been fine but I wasn’t having my daughter dressed in the Muslim way.

‘She’s proud of her school uniform and what it represents and she should be able to wear it like she would on any normal school trip.

The trip to the mosque was organised so that students could ‘deepen their understanding and broaden their knowledge’ of Islam

‘She likes to learn, she takes history and she is really interested in it, she wants to learn, but she can do that her classroom without changing the way she dresses.

‘I even did some research on the internet about non-Muslims attending mosques and it says you don’t have to adhere to the dress code.

‘I also fail to see how a three-hour trip to a mosque is of any educational value to a Catholic when she can learn about the Muslim faith in the classroom.

‘I can guarantee that if there were ten Muslim girls coming to our school it would adhere to what they wanted, because that’s their faith, their religion, their dress code.’ 

Parents were asked to make a £3 payment towards the Year 9 trip to the Al Rahma Mosque in Liverpool last month, and an 11-point dress and behaviour code from the mosque was circulated.

Miss Davies, a home help, of Ellesmere Port, added: ‘There are some parts of religious education lessons that children who are Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have to attend because that’s part of their religion, and the fact is Amy is Catholic and not a Muslim.’

Last year, Ofsted praised the school’s ‘caring Catholic ethos’ but said it needed to do more ‘to enhance wider cultural development’.

The school says the trip was an exciting and unique opportunity for students

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1277744/Parents-outrage-children-told-dress-Muslim-mosque-trip–branded-truant.html?ITO=1708&referrer=yahoo#ixzz0nrA6mBp0

9 thoughts on “Outrage! — Catholic school girl who refused headscarf for mosque trip labelled a truant”

  1. I am writing from the perspective of a Catholic educator in Ontario, Canada. I am deeply saddened to hear of a parent holding her child back from a religious experience, based on stubborn Islamophobia.

    As Catholics, we respect other religions and their views. As respectful guests of any other religion, we should be setting examples and following their requests, especially ones so easy to abide by, such as leggings and a head scarf.

    The article stated, ‘I can guarantee that if there were ten Muslim girls coming to our school it would adhere to what they wanted, because that’s their faith, their religion, their dress code,’ what does this matter? This parent seems to be speaking from a whiny 2 year old’s perspective, upset that she didn’t get her way so she kept her child home while convincing others to do the same so she feels better about her decision.

    The parents of the students were advised well in advance by the school the expectations and curriculum connections. This trip would have been an honour to attend. Saying ‘I also fail to see how a three-hour trip to a mosque is of any educational value to a Catholic when she can learn about the Muslim faith in the classroom’ is simply rubbish. Fieldtrips such as this can have so much meaning for so many students. Out of classroom experiences are invaluable.

    Fieldtrips are mandatory parts of the curriculum, and so they should be. ‘It’s like they’re putting a gun to your head – either you go to a mosque, or you’re marked down as an unauthorised absence on your record – that’s it no two ways about it,’ the 34-year-old said. If the parent didn’t want their child learning about other religions, then they should not be attending a school which promotes such wonderful things. Home school your child, as you seem to want control of their experiences. Having your child attend this school makes you a hypocrite of the Catholic faith.

    The Muslim religion is beautiful, and has many beautiful aspects just as our Catholic faith does. The world is full of wonderful and different religious values and traditions. They should all be experienced and respected. The mother is up for a rude awakening if she believes that most of the globe’s population is Catholic and everything will turn up rosy for her daughter growing up in the real world.

    I wish this parent luck. There is so much discontent in the world, why share your stubborn views and misery with us?

    Cara

    1. Cara, thanks for responding. A few points…

      1. Parental rights

      So then, you realize and accept as a Catholic educator that the principle of subsidiarity regulates collaboration between the family and the various institutions deputised to educate…

      The Second Vatican Council reminds us: “Parents have the right to determine, in accordance with their own religious beliefs, the kind of religious education that their children are to receive […].The right of parents are violated, if their children are forced to attend lessons or instructions which are not in agreement with their religious beliefs, or if a single system of education, from which all religious formation is excluded, is imposed upon all” (Declaration Dignitatis humanae [DH] 5; cf. c. 799 CIC; Holy See, Charter of the rights of the family, 24 November 1983, art. 5, c-d).

      Remember, it was a mandatory field trip, and according to the instruction above the parent has the right to yank her child.

      2. My Concern: The State of Catholic Faith in Truth

      From the perspective of a Catechist who has come to recognize that following 40+ years of poor theology, suspect catechism/religious ed, and outright infidelity to the teaching magisterium of the church by educators has produced possibly the worst catechized generation(s) in church history. Your statement that, “The Muslim religion is beautiful, and has many beautiful aspects just as our Catholic faith does” combined with your regret that a Catholic child would be denied “a religious experience” at a mosque perhaps proves my point.

      John Paul II:

      “Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside…”

      And,

      “Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the world, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad. There is also mention of Mary, His Virgin Mother, but the tragedy of redemption is completely absent. For this reason not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.”

      Meaning, simply because Islam is monotheistic, as are the Jews, doesn’t equate to that fullness of divine revelation we’ve received. A true encounter with the living Christ by means of the Holy Spirit reveals that there is no other name given under heaven in which men find salvation…

      Our children need educations in faith and spiritual formation leading to just such an encounter… Then, they will have come to know concretely the one true God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent, Who gave us the clearest definition of Himself as God with us, saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

      He is also the same God Who said, “When the son of man returns will he still find faith on earth.”

      It’s our duty to see that He does.

      jme

      1. thank you for your response-it was well thought out and organized, leaving me with many questions…I agree with everything that you had said.

        One comment I should have included was that yes, the parent has the right to have her child opt out of this if she wanted to, but not to complain to have truancy on her record.

        My only question to you then is, should the school not partake in religious fieldtrips to have the students experience something outside of our own religion?

        Cara

        1. Hi Cara,

          Catechism 101 — The meaning of life: “To come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next…”

          From Peter 2: “…We possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

          Students by nature are in the process of being formed for life. Intellectual formation according to the world is one thing (temporary), spiritual formation (eternal) is quite another. Few modern Catholic children have been formed to the fullness of faith in Spirit and Truth; they are still learning the faith, and therefore, subject to confusion concerning the truth of their faith according to the full measure of the Holy Spirit–Who enriches the intellect bringing about spiritual maturity. This is what Peter refers to concerning the prophetic message: the need to be attentive to the message of Christ, who is the lamp of the soul in this dark place we call the world. Spiritual maturity arrives with the dawn in the sure knowledge of having the morning star rise within our hearts–Union with God… Of course, such union brings with it an ever-deepening thirst for faith seeking understanding and life-long continual conversion, but there is no longer any doubt of the one true God, and that one becomes (according to the measure of grace) capable of defending the faith he or she has received no matter the environment.

          Our children not fully formed, nor do I suspect are a great many adult Catholics, considering the reality of modern weekly attendance rates at the Holy Mass.

          The requirement for such inter-religious visits is a response on the part of the state born of fear from the reality of terrorism, believing that such enculturation will bring about future peace between religions, and thus, the common good of the state; it has nothing to do with truth and will lead (from a Catholic perspective) to believing that all religions are equal, good and lead to the same God…

          They don’t. There is an absolute truth concerning God and man.

          Bottom line: Mature spiritual leaders are responsible for inter-religious dialogue and the common good. So, no, I don’t believe Catholic children should be visiting mosques for educational purposes. Properly guided classroom study, of course.

          Thanks for responding, and prayers for you and yours–
          jme

  2. I just came across this website by accident, and was amazed by the naivety of Cara, and I believe there are tens and thousands like her who are in the same boat.”As Catholics we respect other religions and their views…we should be setting examples and following their requests” I believe so you should, but does Islam ask their followers the same? Hell know, From Quran Sura 5:51″ Believers ,take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends and protectors, for they are friends and protectors of one another.Whoever of you seeks their friendship and supports them shall become one of their number.Allah does not guide the wrong doers.” “This trip would have been an honour to attend” may be for you and the likes of you, but not for others.”I also fail to see how three hour trip…. she can learn about the Muslim faith in a classroom” Is simply rubbish.How do you know that? I have never set a foot in a Mosque ,but I think I know quite a lot than most muslims and definitely more than people like you.I do read Quran and Hadith.”Having your child attend this school makes you a hypocrite of the Catholic faith” So are tell us that if someone[student] does not attend Mosque for any reason ,their parents are hypocrite? ” The muslim religion is beautiful and has many beautiful aspects just as our Catholic faith does” Would you name us few comparison giving their verse numbers.” Islam and Christianity are the only two religion which have gone beyond their borders to subjugate people of other lands. What Christianity/Christians did in Americas, Canada, Australia,to name a few? same way what Muslims did in the name of Islam in sub-Sahara, Middle East and Far East. Where as Christians have stopped and Islam is still on the march to conquer and subjugate.I give America and Canada 50 to 100 years ,it will be a Islamic state whether you like it or not. http://www.bilp.tv/file/1382254 Name me one country which has fallen to Islam and has feed itself from it? There is none.

    1. thank you for your response. i love a debate🙂

      1. anything outside of the textbook is invaluable to a students learning. a 3 hour fieldtrip of any sort would be no waste of time. Mosque or no Mosque.

      2. calling the parents a hypcocrite: they are sending their child to a Catholic school, one in particular that is trying to promote tolerance, acceptance, and experience of other faiths. Having to not want her child attend this fieldtrip seems to go against this way of thinking, a very important part of being Christian. Whether or not parents send their children to Mosque doesn’t make them hypocrites, as long as they are supporting their faith, it seems to me that this parent is not supportive of the Catholic faith even though her child attends one of its schools.

      3. why are you asking about the expansion of the Muslim faith? I was simply complimenting the faith based on some knowledge of friends who are Muslim and have shared some aspects of their faith with me.

      4. I guess I am naive. I still believe in following rules and expectations set by educators. I still believe in doing good for someone, even when I don’t receive anything in return.

      Cara

  3. How sad that lot of us are duped into thinking that ‘Islam is a peaceful religion’ Especially the Christians. I suggest you Christians to get hold of a Book, ” The Decline Of Eastern Christianity Under Islam” by Bat Ye’or, and read it.This is from Muslim’s Quran Sura 2:193 ” Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme” And that is exactly what the muslims are doing allover the world. http://www.islam-watch.org and http://www.compassdirect.org

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