Page last updated at 13:29 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

School row over pupil's God talk

Jenny Cain
Jenny Cain is facing disciplinary action after sending an email

A Devon primary school has denied it was being anti-Christian by admonishing a five-year-old pupil for talking about God to another girl in class.

Jasmine Cain's mother, who works part-time at the school, said her daughter was left in tears by the reprimand.

But the head teacher said Jasmine had told her friend she would 'go to hell' if she did not believe in God.

Jennie Cain is facing disciplinary action after making allegations about the incident in an email.

This is not an issue about Christianity, it is about religious intolerance
Gary Read, head teacher

Mrs Cain, a part-time receptionist at Landscore Primary School in Crediton, claimed that her daughter was upset after being reprimanded by her teacher for talking about "God and heaven" and had been warned not to talk about "Jesus" again.

She sent an email, from her home internet account, to members of her church asking them to pray about the situation.

The email was forwarded by a member of the congregation to Gary Read, the school's head teacher, who launched an investigation into the allegations it contained.

Mr Read said: "This is not an issue about Christianity, it is about religious intolerance.

"Jasmine told another pupil 'if you don't believe in God you're going to go to hell'.

"The girl was upset and her teacher asked me for advice about what to do.

"Jasmine was told it is not OK to say that, but it is OK to discuss what you believe with others."

Christians 'persecuted'

He said the school encouraged religious openness and regularly invited faith groups in to lead assemblies, as well as celebrating Christmas and other festivals.

He confirmed that Mrs Cain was being investigated for making "unfair allegations" about the school, but denied she was facing the sack.

Mike Judge, from the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mrs Cain, said: "A six-year-old girl and her mother have been slammed for nothing more than expressing their Christian faith.

"I am particularly concerned about the way in which Mrs Cain's private email to her church friends ended up in the hands of the head teacher.

"This is the latest in a series of cases where Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs."

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