British school cancels play about evolution after complaints from Christians

Seriously? A public-school musical play about evolution got canceled in England? And because religious parents complained? That’s not supposed to happen!

Here are the stories from the BBC and The Independent (click on screenshots to read):

Note that the musical was written by a Christian.


From the BBC:

A school has axed a musical on evolution over its suggestive lyrics and portrayal of Christian views.

Darwin Rocks, about the scientist Charles Darwin, was due to be performed by about 90 pupils at Hartford Manor Primary School, Cheshire, next month.

The move follows six “expressions of concern” from parents, the school said.

The musical’s publishers Musicline said it was written by a Christian, adding “we can’t ever recall having courted controversy before”.

The play has been performed for two years without a complaint, but the lyrics and the treatment of a bishop—Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, according to The Independent—riled up some parents. The BBC continues

According to its website, the production is a “light-hearted look” at the work of Darwin, whose theory of evolution, published in 1859, shocked Victorian society by suggesting animals and humans shared a common ancestry.

Head teacher Simon Kidwell told the BBC that the school, in Hartford near Northwich, received six “expressions of concern” over lyrics that refer to “bump and grind” – a sexually suggestive dance move.

He said three of those parents also believed a bishop was “mocked” in a separate scene.

“There were concerns about caricature,” he said, adding the complainants, who include a science teacher from another school, felt its representation of Christian views on science “wasn’t accurate”.

One parent said they did not want their daughter to think her ambition to be an engineer contradicted Christian beliefs, Mr Kidwell said.

He added the school board was not involved in the decision to drop the production and denied newspaper suggestions a local vicar who is on the board had influenced the move.

If you want, you can go to the “Darwin Rocks” website and listen to some of the songs yourself. As for me, I’m off to O’Hare so I don’t have time.

What bothers me is that there’s censorship of evolution because of Christian offense, and I’m not at all sure that censorship is justified. And, of course, Bishop Wilberforce is reported to have embarrassed himself in the famous 1860 Oxford debate on evolution. Lots of people, including Huxley, are supposed to have made fun of Wilberforce, including Benjamin Disraeli, whose comments about Wilberforce’s unctuous nature led to his nickname “Soapy Sam.”

What bother me almost as much—or perhaps even more, is that the BBC saw fit—at the end of this report, to stick in some accommodationist editorializing by the religion editor. Good lord!—have a look at this “analysis”.

What the bloody hell does this have to do with a news article? It’s just the same tired old trope that because there are religious scientists, there isn’t conflict between science and religion. But the very article above this pathetic bit of apologetics shows that, in the case of this play, there is a conflict between faith and science. If there were no religion, there would be no opposition to evolution.

And why did the BBC let the religious camel stick its nose in the tent? Can’t somebody complain about this?


h/t: Ant, Kevin


  1. Frank Bath
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what this ‘community’ school is but over recent years public education in the UK has more and more been taken out of the responsible hands of local authorities and passed to faith schools, and government schools handled with a long and very loose arm called Academies, as I understand it. Private and ‘Public Schools’ like Eton as ever do their own thing.
    As for the BBC, well I worked there all my life, and under endless financial pressure through government efforts to curtail if not cripple its success in the broadcasting market has definitely shown signs of going to the dogs.

    • Posted February 8, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I believe we can thank the odious Toady Blair for the growth of faith schools. Didn’t these come about on his watch?

      • Frank Bath
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        That’s the way I remember it. He joined his wife in the RC church after he left office.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      The jargon is confusing Frank, but “community schools” are what you & I would consider as normal schools i.e. open to all kids in the area & not infested by religious idealogy

      Here below is the list of school classifications from GOV.UK

      ** Community schools, controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups

      ** Foundation schools and voluntary schools, which have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools

      ** Academies, run by a governing body, independent from the local council – they can follow a different curriculum

      ** Grammar schools, run by the council, a foundation body or a trust – they select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is often an exam to get in

      ** Special schools. For special needs pupils.

      • Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        From what I understand this is not a “faith school” in any official way, but the trustee chairman (or the like) *is* a vicar.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

          The decision to change the play/musical didn’t go that high it is reported

  2. DW
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    He would not have stood for this! His name is DarWIN note DarLOSE!

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Dana Carvey + poetic license = hilarity.👍

    • Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Oh my d*g…

    • Posted February 10, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink


  3. darrelle
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I thought British society was passed this.

  4. rickflick
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 12:52 pm | Permalink


  5. Frank
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    It is ironic that Bashir succumbs to his own very “lazy” and shopworn argument: that the existence of religious scientists clearly indicates the compatibility of Christianity and science. Why do these folks never confront any of the obvious ISSUES (such as the genetic impossibility of the Adam and Eve story and therefore the lack of any need for an Atonement). Are they willfully ignoring obvious incompatibilities, or are they really simply that naive? Perhaps there are some accommodationists in each category?

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Dang, the Brits are doin’ their damnedest to spoil our Yank image of them as our smarter, better educated, more sophisto cousins. 🙂

    Shame Gilbert & Sullivan aren’t around to write a comic opera about a Christian writing a school musical that gets cancelled by Christians.

    • David Coxill
      Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      A few years back the god botherers got their nickers in a twist about the musical “Jerry Springer ,The Opera ” .

    • Posted February 12, 2019 at 3:29 am | Permalink

      Well, I think we did that in spades in June 2016.


  7. Roger
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    It’s a known fact that Christians cannot handle the truth, which is why their God writes in metaphors. They should have had a metaphor play if they didn’t want to scare the Christians.

  8. Posted February 8, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Inappropriate sexual content, mocking of a bishop and misrepresentation of Christian views were the reasons stated for canceling the play.

    I did not see any allegation that it was cancelled because it presented and explained evolution.

    • Posted February 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Obviously never heard any of the common British jokes about the bishop and the actress.

      • Posted February 8, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        Or the bishop and Lord Percy in one of the Blackadder series.

        • Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          The Baby Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.

          Unfortunately, clip cuts off before Percy delivers his line “it was an honour to work with you”.

          The Bishop of Bath and Wells used to do Thought for Today regularly on the Today Programme. Whenever they announced “the Bishop of Bath ands Wells”, I would correct the radio by saying “the Baby Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells”.

  9. Christopher
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Also in the news, according to the BBC, MP Christopher Chope is up to no good again. His objections to anti-upskirting legislation not being bizarre or hateful enough, he’s now objecting to legislation that seeks to prevent female genital mutilation. Perhaps someone in the UK could explain his claim that he is just trying to block “bad legislation”, or is he just on a quest to become Britain’s most hateful politician. I don’t always understand the context, being on the opposite side of the Atlantic, or perhaps I’m overthinking this, and there’s no context for his actions, or those of Gove, or Rees-Mogg and other odious nobs.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Chope’s main issue seems to be that Private Members’ Bills, ie those introduced by ordinary MPs as opposed to those introduced by the Government, do not get adequate scrutiny by the House of Commons.

      Government Bills have to have a full, formal debate on “Second Reading”. But, by Parliamentary convention, Private Members’ Bills get automatically passed on Second Reading unless an MP objects. Chope thinks they should be properly debated on Second Reading like Government Bills. So he objects to them all.

      He is a pain in the arse. But at least he is a consistent one.

      • Christopher
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        So he is just a pedantic bell end, rather than simply a misogynistic prick. Not that those are mutually exclusive by any means. I guess I’m asking, if the bills would get this secondary reading, would he be still oppose them because he’s anti-women’s rights; or would his anal-retention be satisfied? I know that US congresspeople who pull those sorts of stunts tend to fall back on strict interpretations or traditions only when it suits their bias and partisanship, especially republicans and more so when they don’t have the majority to bully their way through something.

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted February 8, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          The Second Reading of Government Bills involves a full debate, when reasoned amendments to the Bill can – if the Speaker agrees – be tabled, debated and voted upon.

          This procedure is not available for PM Bills. There is no opportunity to propose amendments, still less to vote on them.

          For this reason, most PM Bills that make it to the House tend to be simple and uncontroversial. Most MPs are OK with this. So Chope, who isn’t, is a pedantic bell-end, to use your words. FWIW, I think he’s on record as saying he is not opposed to the anti-upskirting or FGM Bills, as long as they can be debated properly and amendments proposed and voted on. This would mean that they would have to become Government Bills, not just PM Bills. So they should, in my view!

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            I’m surprised that PM bills don’t get the full treatment at second reading. Our system (NZ) began as an exact replica of the UK system and for as long as I can remember, pm bills get the same treatment as government bills.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:52 am | Permalink

            Given the potential for any law, specifically in this instance Private Members Bills, to have unintended consequences, I think it’s advisable for bills to have as much discussion as possible.

            (I have in mind Kevin Underhill’s dictum that ‘Any law named after a person is likely to be a bad law’. [Lowering The Bar. He was talking about US laws but I think it applies equally anywhere. Laws get be passed as a feel-good kneejerk reaction to some incident and then turn out to have major prejudicial consequences.])

            So if that’s what Chope is doing, consistently, I would call him neither a bell-end or any other derogatory term.


            • Posted February 9, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

              I am sympathetic to his aims, it’s just that people see the laws to which he objects and assume he is against them. I wish he could find a better way to advance his campaign.

              Having said that, this latest bill is a bill to allow children to be taken into care if there is reason to believe they are going to be subject to FGM – a laudable aim but one fraught with the potential for abuse if the law is not framed properly.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted February 11, 2019 at 12:05 am | Permalink

                Yes, that crossed my mind too.

                ‘Reason to believe’ is fraught with potential fishhooks. The Cleveland ‘child abuse’ scandal of 1987 comes to mind.


      • David Evans
        Posted February 9, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        He is not as consistent as he pretends. He has, himself, sponsored 31 Private Members’ Bills in just one year.

  10. Steve Pollard
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I have complained to the BBC about Martin Bashir’s comments. I have asked for a response. I’ll report back.

  11. Curt Nelson
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t you think that the situation would be the reverse?: parents object because play about Darwin includes bible instruction.

  12. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Booooooo! Hisssssss!

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I love the note that says experts have no problem with religion and science. Experts of what, cognitive dissonance? Argument from made-up authority – it’s worse than a bias, it’s an ignorant bias!

  14. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    This is a small school & nursery of around 370 kiddos aged 3 to 11 years old & it serves local families without preference. It’s is funded & overseen by local government [i.e. funded by the tax payer & by local property taxation]. It is non-denominational with no religious influence – in theory we should find a mix of religions [mostly ‘don’t cares’] among the kids.

    It looks as if the headmaster [The principle] is a non-confrontational type who changed the play/musical to something more vanilla when six parents objected to the treatment of Bishop Soapy Sam & the use of words. From my reading of the news reports one of the parents might have had an objection based on the tension between the truth [evolution] & the utter bollocks [Christianity].

    Note that OTHER PARENTS are not happy about this!

    The background to this IMO is that OFSTED reviews the school regularly & has it rated as “Good & on the path to Excellent” – but OFSTED sends questionnaires to the parents & they got a LOT of response in the past – around 120 or 150 questionnaires [from my memory] – that’s a great % response when one considers the school size. I think the headmaster is afraid of parent power & now he’s got himself in a jam. He needs a backbone.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 8, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the info. Very interesting. I agree with your last sentence.

      Once upon a time, this response (backing down under pressure from parents) would have been unusual in a state-funded school without good reason. It seems to have changed in recent years.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 8, 2019 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        The executive/management in the public service are no longer seen as authorities above questioning. Whereas the workings of councils/police/fire are still behind a curtain to an extent, schools & the people who work in schools are constantly under the microscope from even the kids [“Mr Woods in English bullied me Miss Tomkins”]. Teachers get it from above & from below – running scared.

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 9, 2019 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    It sounds as if the musical was more about Darwin, than about evolution as such.

    Which makes more sense, I find it hard to see how one could choreograph a musical about evolution.


    • Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      Last year at our Darwin day Celebration we had The dance of Evolution performed for us by students from a local secondary school. Went down a storm…!

    • Posted February 11, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I dunno, Carl Sagan’s _Cosmos_ (music by Vangelis) has parts that might work …

  16. Posted February 9, 2019 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    Disgraceful- but great publicity for those of us advocating a world free of dangerous mythical gods having influence in the real world. No doubt these Christian parents are currently in A & E having the bullets removed from their own feet! And as for Martin Bashir’s silly comments – yet more grist to the atheist/humanist point of view. The head should have stood firm for secular education…..

  17. Posted February 9, 2019 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I suspect “Islamophobia” is the elephant in the room here, especially in the case of Bashir’s lame apologetics. How else can one explain the establishment Left’s sudden tender concern about upsetting Christians?

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