They were doing the sign of the cross

Meanwhile, it’s perfectly all right to make little kids feel excluded and weird because they’re not from godbothering families.

Valentine Doyle (6) sits at the back of her class for 30 minutes every day and “draws”, while her classmates are taught religion.

“She feels left out, different, excluded,” says her father, Devin. “She says she wants to ‘do the God thing’ now because the other kids are doing it. They were doing the sign of the cross and some of them told her she should do it too. So she wants to.”

The parents had been living in France, where the state schools don’t teach religion.

“Vallie went to school in France. There you just go to the local school. It’s completely secular. If parents want their children to do religious education, they go to Sunday school or private schools. We knew there would be an issue here, so we put Vallie’s name down for a lot of Educate Together schools, but she didn’t get in. They were all full.”

They found her a place in a National school, one with the charming and inclusive name Christ the King National School.

They were nice to her there, they tried to make her feel included, but the fact remains…

…opting out of religious instruction means sitting at the back of the class for 30 minutes each day. “She draws. She sits on her own and she doesn’t like it. She feels excluded and different.

“She’s a curious kid and asks about religion. We’d like her to be able to opt in and learn about all religions. We have told her religion is a thing people use to explain about love with stories, but that we think there are better stories to understand love.”

But the teaching of religion there isn’t comparative, as the name probably suggests. It’s brand-name religion. It is, in short, Catholic.

So Vallie sits in the back and feels like a weirdo.

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