Thursday, July 20, 2006

Church School Ban On Lennon's Imagine

20 July 2006

Peace song anti-God, says head
By Richard Smith

A CHURCH school has barred children from singing John Lennon's Imagine - because the lyrics are "anti-religious".

Primary pupils were rehearsing the 1971 peace anthem, which asks people to imagine a world without religion, when head Geoff Williams vetoed the song following a teacher's complaint.

Mr Williams, who was backed by his governors, said: "We believe God is the foundation of all we do. It's not an appropriate song for our concert."

Yesterday parents of disappointed children said the ban was "ridiculous". They were backed by secular organisations which accused the school of "fun-hating orthodoxy".

Pupils at St Leonard's C of E School, in Exeter, Devon, rehearsed Imagine for their annual concert, which is themed Songs for a Green Earth.

The song's lyrics include: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try / No hell below us, above us only sky...nothing to kill and die for and no religion too." It was replaced by a traditional ditty, The Building Song.

Mr Williams said: "A teacher told me she was concerned about Imagine and I supported her. Our festival theme was the environment and we felt it was better to sing something else." School governor the Rev David Harris said: "The song expresses what many want - eternal happiness. But it also says you can have this without religion."

Curate the Rev Steve Goodbody, 36 - whose church of St Leonard's is linked to the school - said: "I agree with the head. The song says how great life would be without religion, heaven and hell. It's almost saying we want what God offers, but we don't want God."

Mum Karen Murray, 28, said: "It's ridiculous and not fair on the children."

Another parent Deborah Dorman, 45, said: "This is over sensitive." Daughter Ellie, 10, added: "It's a good song and a shame we can't sing it."

The British Humanist Association said: "It's a little cruel on the children. This is silly, fun-hating orthodoxy."

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