Tuesday, 11 March 2014


We watched Life of Pi at the weekend, in preparation for India, and although I found it completely trashed the wonderful book, the opening scenes made me smile as they reminded me of P. Pi, short for Piscine, decided he enjoyed all the religions to be found in Pondicherry, South India. He loved the heroes of the Ramayana; the monkey god Hanuman, the elephant god Ganesha and the blue face of Krishna. He discovers a church and the priest shows him Jesus Christ, and in the mosque he enjoys Allah for company. Pi decides to be all three religions.

My daughter has decided not to be a Christian. But she doesn't mind Jesus because the stories are nice.

"Mummy! I'm not a Christian." she pronounces. I wince slightly, I don't know why, I'm not a Christian but it took me a number of years to reach that conclusion and to be sure of my decision, P is five.

"My teacher said that I am a Christian because we are all Christians in our school, and I told him I am not!"  I wince again. It's a Church of England school, there are no secular schools in these parts.

"That's OK P, if you don't want to be a Christian that is entirely fine with me but you must respect other peoples beliefs. Lots of people do believe in God and Jesus all over the world, they also believe in lots of other things as well."

"Fine. I'm not a Christian!" she reiterates and continues to play.

About 4 weeks later.

"Mummy, I told my teacher I am not a Christian, he doesn't believe me." she seemed distressed at being told she is something that she doesn't want to be.

Oh holy cow. Time to mention it to the school.

I very gently asked the teacher to respect P's beliefs and I told the teacher that she will not bring up her non-Christian-ness again. I told the teacher we are teaching P that we respect and love people from all cultures and religions and we mustn't impose our beliefs on others. The teacher said that it is a Church of England school. And I said that I understand that, but if we were a Sikh family we wouldn't be having this conversation.

As we respect and love everybody for who they are, I hope the school can find it in them to respect P's atheism - even if her non-Christian-ness only lasts three days.

Life of Pi 540x299 Life of Pi


  1. Maybe I'm being naive, but I'm genuinely shocked, that's terrible of the teacher to react like that. If you had pretended to be Christian to get into a Christian school then fair enough, but it's a local school and you don't really have a choice about sending the kids there.

    At my kids' school it's the kids who find it hard to believe that my daughter doesn't have a religion (they're mostly Muslim) and tell her she must be a Christian. The teachers wouldn't dream of it. Mind you they also say nothing about her handing out NUT stickers to kids and teachers inciting the teachers to strike (she's 7), so I think they're a pretty tolerant lot.

    When talking about what religions kids are in their classes my son (5) said: 'there are lots of those ones who do praying'!

    Have fun in India,

    Jaana xx

    1. Haha love it! Little leftie atheists as well Jaana! x