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02 December 2014

Spacemen or Elvis in the nativity play?

Spacemen or Elvis in the nativity play?

Photo: Creative Commons license, Flickr. Alma College, Elgin County Archives

Parents across the country are worried about the nativity story disappearing from their children's schools, a new survey shows.

Parenting website Netmums, who surveyed 2,000 parents, expressed concern that the traditional nativity scene is being modernised or traded for 'winter celebrations' and that religious figures are being replaced with characters such as Elvis Presley, spacemen, punk fairies and footballers. Christmas carols are often swapped for pop songs.

Netmums co-founder Siobhan Freegard said parents were concerned Christmas traditions were being sidelined and many schools have no presentation of the Christmas story at all.

"Many parents who aren't religious look to the nativity as a comforting part of the Christmas celebrations and want their school to embrace and celebrate it, rather than make up a version with perhaps less resonance for kids," said Siobhan.

"It seems wrong to bombard kids with commercial messages about presents and Santa without them realising the true meaning of the celebration. While the UK is a diverse and multicultural society and it's right children learn about all religions and cultures, many parents feel the traditional nativity is being pushed aside."

The Alliance and the Christmas starts with Christ campaign are disappointed that some schools have decided to airbrush Christ out of Christmas.

Francis Goodwin, head of the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign, of which the Alliance is a member, said: "I'm sorry, but not surprised, to hear this story.

"The UK has become the most secular nation in the West as one of our surveys show that 51 per cent of adults did not think that the birth of Christ has any meaning for their Christmas;perhaps many of our teachers are among this 51 per cent. The time is overdue for Christians to remind the nation of the real reason we celebrate Christmas."

Head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance, Dr Don Horrocks, said: "This is either extreme political correctness or perhaps it reflects a nation too embarrassed to face up to its Christian heritage and the radical challenging message of the Christmas story. We are acknowledging Eid and Diwali in a country with an overwhelmingly Christian tradition but we seem to be frightened of mentioning Jesus Christ.

"Perhaps it's a sign of collective guilt amidst national commercial frenzy? Whatever the motive, it does a huge disservice not least to the younger generation who are being misled regarding their spiritual heritage and culture and causing them to miss out on the meaning and significance of the Christmas message, which is about Jesus' salvation, forgiving love and serving of our neighbour."