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Bible Verse Banned From Irish Religious Studies Class For Describing Homosexuality as Immoral

( [email protected] ) Dec 10, 2014 01:12 PM EST
A school in Northern Ireland has pulled a religious studies worksheet after a complaint came in regarding its views on homosexuality as immoral.
The Holy Bible. Photo: stpatselkhorn.org

A school in Northern Ireland has pulled a religious studies worksheet after a complaint came in regarding its views on homosexuality as immoral.

Hunterhouse College in Belfast, Northern Ireland issued homework for the school's Grade 12 Religious Studies curriculum in which 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 was quoted and questions were asked at the end relating to homosexuality and the students' opinions on its morality.

"Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God's Kingdom," the Bible verse reads, as printed on the homework assignment.

"Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves - none of these will possess God's Kingdom.

"Some of you were like that. But you have been purified from sin; you have been dedicated to God; you have been put right with God by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Some questions followed the passage, and it's reported that the questions were written by teachers themselves. They included: "What do these verses tell us about homosexuals," "Who else is included with homosexuals," and "What hope is there for all these people?"

A spokesperson for the school said that the assignment was meant to present both sides of the debate, including "extreme" opinions either way. But according to one father of a student at the school, it wasn't appropriate.

This caused an immediate retration of the worksheet and an apology by headmaster Andrew Gibson. "This is in the introduction to Christian ethics centred around personal and family issues. As part of this, pupils are encouraged to consider a variety of attitudes to homosexuality," he said.

"The questions were set in house but they were in the context of the CCEA specifications. We have a very strong pastoral care system at the school and deal with issues around sexuality with great sensitivity."

The headmaster then approached the gay rights charity Rainbow Project NI for advice after saying that the school "got it wrong" by allowing the questions.

"If any LGB child was sitting in that class and asked to list a bunch of people to associate with themselves including drunks and all these licentious people, it's horrible," Rainbow Project's Gavin Boyd said. "It was ill prepared and ill thought out as it actually could have amounted to an actionable claim of discrimination against the pupil. However, I'm confident no malice was intended and I'm impressed that the school have taken steps to quickly rectify the situation."

Gibson says that the offended parent was thankful that the situation was handled the way it was and the headmaster promises that the worksheet won't be used again.

However, Peter Lynas, director of the Evangelical Alliance of Northern Ireland, said that while the "wording of the question[s] could have been better," it's important for everyone to remember that there was nothing wrong with the study in the eyes of the church and the questions were consistent with Christian teaching, as well as the teachings of most world religions.

"It is important Christian values are taught in school and schools can sometimes feel pushed into a corner over these issues," he said. "They were simply asking questions about the orthodox Christian position. If you can't do that in a religious ethics class, then you are in danger of pushing religion out of the public square."