By Hilary White

December 6, 2007 ( – A Sunday Telegraph survey of 100 British schools has found that only one in five is planning a traditional Christmas nativity pageant. One in three will stage a religion-free Christmas play or have no event at all.

Despite the long tradition in British schools of a Christmas-themed play, school headmasters and headmistresses have followed the anti-religious trend. They overwhelmingly favour non-religious plays such as Scrooge or Snow White, “updated” and secularised versions of the Christian nativity story or no play at all. These decisions have been taken despite recent surveys that have shown an overwhelming majority of families would like a Christian nativity play.

The Daily Telegraph quotes Terence Copley, Professor of Educational Studies at Oxford University, who denied the claim made by many that a nativity play at Christmas could offend other faiths.

“I have never met a single Jew, Muslim, Sikh or Buddhist who has objected to the commemoration and celebration of the birth of Jesus,” he said. “It is not other religions that are pushing for this at all.” He added, “If we avoid Christmas we are pandering to a secular minority and allowing the event to become all about commercialism, presents and self-indulgence.”
The National Secular Society (NSS), an organisation working to abolish all expressions of religion in British public life, was delighted with the news. Director Keith Porteous Wood told the BBC that Britain should be “celebrating” its 70-year long decline in church attendance. “We should celebrate it. It shows a greater sensitivity to our more multicultural society, those of all faiths and none.”

The NSS offers readers of their website a personalised “De-baptism” certificate to make their rejection of Christ “official”.

Ruth Gledhill, the Times religion correspondent wrote that most Britons feel that their society had gone too far in “downgrading traditional Christian practices out of sensitivity to multi-culturalism.”

A survey of 1000 people over 50 by Saga Populus, found that the majority had had enough of the “politically correct” watering down of Christmas. 85 per cent particularly protested the replacing of “Christmas” lights with “winter” lights by local councils. The secularising of nativity plays in schools came second with 84 per cent of respondents objecting.

Albion Primary School in Southwark, south London, told the Telegraph that they had not performed a nativity play for at least five years, saying it had to take account of all faiths. Another school in Birmingham in the Midlands with a 96 per cent Muslim student body, said, “We’re reluctant to have a lot of music and acting because it goes against the religion of a lot of our pupils…So instead of the three men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh, they will bring, for example, peace and co-operation.”

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