4th February 2005 at 00:00
Followers of peaceable religions differ in their attitudes towards eating or hunting animals. Hunting existed in biblical times but seems not to have been widespread in ancient Israel and then not as sport. Strong views pro and anti-hunting may mean no real exchange of ideas and therefore little real learning in class. Showers of parental letters may also fall if teacher bias is suspected! Reverse-empathy exercises (making children argue the case for the side they don't agree with) can help. Interview a rural figure such as a member of the clergy or a pub landlord and ask how they cope with deeply divided parishionerscustomers. RE has a legitimate interest in reasons for hunting, methods used, the pain the animal suffers (or doesn't), possible alternatives -and how far the answers to these can be accommodated to particular beliefs about God and "animals".

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