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Row over proposed Christian school

Welsh minister raises concerns about fundamentalism

Despite the row over creationist control of a state funded secondary school in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, creationists are now hoping to develop a similar Christian school in South Wales.

The Welsh assembly's education minister, Jane Davidson, said she fears that children might be "brainwashed" and is delighted that a 12m scheme to build a school in Torfaen has been, so far, blocked. . . Ms Davidson told the Welsh assembly: ". . . I am not happy to have any brainwashing or fundamentalism in Wales." . . .

One of the Welsh project's leading supporters, a Baptist minister who calls evolution "a hoax", said many Christians in the area still hope to change the local council's mind.

The Reverend Richard Harrison, who described the campaign for the Welsh school as "definitely Christian led, but not exclusively so,"said: "We are certainly hoping that it could be revived. We believe that public opinion, if it were truly sounded out, might swing in favour of the school." . . .

Mr Harrison, who is based at the Crane St Baptist church in Pontypool, said that Nigel McQuoid, principal of the Gateshead school, had been due to visit Torfaen over Easter but had changed his mind because of the creationism row.

"I'm still in touch with the Vardy Foundation, but can well understand that in the present climate they cannot possibly come here and we now need to stand up for ourselves," he said. "They have awakened us to the possibilities."

He added: "I think it's time that the teaching of evolution as a fact were challenged. Okay, it's a plausible theory, but it's a hoax.

"If you bring up a generation and teach them that they've evolved from primordial swamps, soon you will develop a generation that is totally self-centred and liable to erupt into mindless violence."

[The Guardian, 9/4/02]