An atheist mum has stopped her children from going on school trips to churches, mosques and synagogues because she does not want religion forced on them.
Claire Baker, 32, says she believes an atheist upbringing is as much a choice as being brought up with a religion – which she does not want forced on her son and daughter.
Instead she would prefer her children Benn, 12, and Katie, eight, to learn first aid, because it would be more useful.
Claire says she feels the same way about all religions – and finds it offensive that people preach in public places or go door-to-door trying to convert people.
The mum is also considering removing her children from RE lessons at Elmwood Primary School in Middleton and Middleton Technology College.
She has refused to be a Godmother to a relative’s child and says she believes people with no faith should not have to eat Halal or Kosher prepared food.
The mum spoke out after receiving a letter from the primary school about trips to places of worship.
She posted her comments about the school trip on Facebook it provoked a huge debate – with some agreeing it is a parent’s right to choose and others saying it is important to understand others’ beliefs.
Claire, who lives with Benn, Katie, and partner Craig Livesey, 47, in Middleton and is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, said: “From a young age I’ve always been an atheist.
“I chose non-religious schools for my children on purpose so they can make their own minds up when they’re older if they want to practice a religion.
“I don’t think RE should be on the curriculum – it should be replaced with First Aid, which is more useful in life.
“I was shocked to receive a letter for a school trip to a mosque, church and synagogue.
“I absented my child and have been debating for the best part of a year whether to take my children out of RE lessons.
“I respect that people choose to christen their children but I would also like them to respect that I have no interest in religion.
“Also why should I have to take my children to get baptised to get them into good schools? “It’s all about choice – I don’t go banging on peoples’ doors or preaching in town centres about it.
“People have accused me of being racist, but this is about all religions, not race.”
he M.E.N. was unable to contact Elmwood Primary School for a comment.
Current UK law states that all pupils should follow a curriculum which promotes spritual, moral and cultural development’ – of which RE is essential.
Government guidance also states the subject ‘promotes community cohesion’ and ‘become responsible citizens.”
But parents are able to withdraw children from RE lessons.
The rules state:
“The use of the right to withdraw should be at the instigation of parents (or pupils themselves if they are aged 18 or over), and it should be made clear whether it is from the whole of the subject or specific parts of it. No reasons need be given.
“Parents have the right to choose whether or not to withdraw their child from RE without influence from the school, although a school should ensure parents or carers are informed of this right and are aware of the educational objectives and content of the RE syllabus. In this way, parents can make an informed decision.
“Where parents have requested that their child is withdrawn, their right must be respected, and where RE is integrated in the curriculum, the school will need to discuss the arrangements with the parents or carers to explore how the child’s withdrawal can be best accommodated.
“If pupils are withdrawn from RE, schools have a duty to supervise them, though not to provide additional teaching or to incur extra cost. Pupils will usually remain on school premises.”