Faith leaders react with disbelief

25th February 2005 at 00:00
Faith groups are mostly appalled by the Divinityland project.

"Creating a theme park of faiths makes religious beliefs appear shallow, and makes religions a source of ridicule," said Rupert Kaye, chief executive of the Association of Christian Teachers.

"If this were in the Tate Modern I would take it with a pinch of salt - but it's another matter in a primary school. It is totally contrary to the ethos of religious education and demeaning to the faiths themselves."

Dr Kanwaljit Kaur-Singh, chairman of the British Sikh Education Council, said it was good for children to learn about other religions but that the project was clearly "disrespectful".

Simon Goulden, chief executive of the United Synagogue Agency for Jewish Education, said the activities would give children the wrong impression about the role of rabbis. "I'm speechless. Utterly speechless," he said. "I can't see how this promotes understanding or tolerance of other faiths."

The Church of England's education department refused to comment on the scheme. The local vicar was unavailable - although teachers said he had been impressed.

Daniel, a nine-year-old pupil from another primary, who spent a day at Divinityland before it was used in the school, gave it a glowing endorsement. "I felt very relaxed and peaceful," he said, in a letter printed on Mr Padgett's website.

"I thought how nice it would be if the whole world could feel like this.

Just because we are different does not mean we can't get on with each other."

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