Andrew Moffat and Parkfield School: Proselytising and Indoctrinating Part 1

Moffat_Indoctrination

We have examined how LGBT topics have been co-opted by Moffat into PREVENT and its demonization of Muslims, and how his project – No Outsiders – is being coerced through misleading invocations of law thereby circumventing the parental right of withdrawal.

This piece will focus on the content promoted through No Outsiders and show how Moffat is actively undermining the religious beliefs of young Muslims in different ways on a mass scale.

“We are not saying one is right and one is wrong!”

Moffat publicly portrays his project from the perspective of pluralism. On the 21st of February, in an interview with BBC 5 live, he stated that he “aligns faith to an understanding that it is OK to be gay”. When asked how he did this, he explains that he tells his teachers that on the one hand, there is a religious prohibition and on the other gays exist.  He goes on to explain that children can have these views, and that these ideas coexist. He adds “we are not saying one is right and one is wrong”.

In a section elaborating how he dealt with Muslim parent’s concerns around the No Outsiders project, Moffat explains,

“We understand there is a tension [between Islam and accepting homosexuality], and we are not telling children what to think…”[1]

Moffat leads parents to believe that he and his No Outsiders is simply preparing them for modern Britain.

The content of his No Outsiders projects shows otherwise. It is worth elaborating the terminology I will use to describe Moffat’s actions.

Proselytising is trying to convert someone from a belief set. This becomes problematic when it is unwanted and exercised from a position of power, as case law shows.[2]  Moffat is in a position of authority over vulnerable children. As the hundreds of parents protesting outside the school show, aspects of his statements are unwanted too.

Indoctrination more generally entails teaching a set of beliefs in a one-sided manner. It is possible to argue that Moffat is involved in political indoctrination, which would contravene The Education Act 1996 s.406. The section prohibits the promotion of partisan political views (as opposed to “fair and balanced”[3]) in the teaching of any subject.  Coercing the acceptance of particular beliefs as normal beyond highlighting existence could be construed as a biased political viewpoint, especially where such content is promoted uncritically.

These two dynamics, proselytising and indoctrination, are particularly prevalent in the No Outsiders material.

“Selling” Beliefs

Moffat’s approach is to not merely tell children that “their beliefs are wrong” but rather he needs to “sell it to them”.[4] The question is, which beliefs are being modified, and what beliefs are being sold?

This is important to understand because much of the mainstream media reporting around the topic has focussed on a simplistic narrative: backward Muslims vs homosexuality teaching material. Moffat’s agenda is significantly broader than this, as we shall see further below.

The argument presented against Muslim parents protesting at Parkfield Community School is that gays exist, and therefore their existence should be acknowledged.   This is not what No Outsiders preaches, however.

Opening the introduction of his book No Outsiders, Moffat explains his mission thusly:

“I don’t believe that we need to be teaching children that gay men and lesbian women exist… what we now need to be teaching is that… to be a person who is gay or lesbian or transgender or bi-sexual is normal, acceptable and OK. Children also need to be learning that they may identify or may not identify as LGBT as they grow up, and that whoever they grow into as an adult is also perfectly normal and acceptable”.[5]

In his select answers to “challenging questions”, Moffat states,

“Some of our children may turn out to be gay… and they need to know that it’s OK.”[6]

Is this merely teaching children that different views can coexist?  Is this not an example of someone teaching what is right and what is wrong? Muslims can happily coexist with people of varying background, however, make no mistake, Moffat is proselytising his own ideas to children which goes beyond acknowledging existence into the territory of preaching a moral position.  Moffat’s public proclamations and what he is teaching are worlds apart.

Behavioural change and Undermining Religious Beliefs

Looking further in his book, we find Moffat celebrating how a Muslim child tells his “panicking” mother that two men holding hands whom walked past them was “normal”.[7] He calls this a “breakthrough”. In another example, Moffat highlights how the book My Princess Boy, and the use of the terms “gay” and “lesbian” resulted in no reaction from the classes “because the children are used to talking about these issues now”.[8]

The above shows that Moffat is not only telling children how to think but effecting behavioural change too. It fundamentally undermines the beliefs of Muslim children belonging to families adhering to normative Islam.[9]

Disconcertingly, Moffat uses psychological techniques to instantiate doctrinal and associated behavioural change.

Psychological Techniques

He employs role-modelling to change fundamental beliefs. Moffat encourages homosexual teachers to come out before children and advises preparation of teachers to react in a particular way so children can imitate the teachers “because they follow the reaction that is modelled to them by adults”.[10]

He further employs what is known as “vicarious reinforcement”.  Moffat asks Year 6 children a series of questions in which he not only gets children to affirm that “gay is OK”, he then presents himself as a role model, before rewarding them with praise (“given them a clap!”).[11]

In another example, negative reinforcement is used through what manifestly looks like bullying.

Explaining an example of a man coming out gay in an assembly, he writes,

“There was one audible gasp from a child in Year 6 but otherwise there was no reaction at all, which was quite nice because it demonstrated to the shocked child that he was alone in his reaction; his homophobia made him the outsider.”[12]

This is disturbing.  Firstly, it most certainly confirms that Moffat is actively conditioning children how to think and what to think in a given circumstance thereby actively teaching moral positions. Secondly, the above desensitisation of most of the class to the topic shows that he has conditioned responses. And thirdly, he has used questionable techniques which border on bullying as a way of coercing compliance.

“Won’t affect your religion”

This proselytising extends to how a child should think about religions. Moffat elaborates how, after listening to a Bible story, children were asked to write a note. The model note he shares in his book states that “it’s OK for Muslim children to listen to a Christian assembly because it won’t hurt you and it won’t affect your religion”. How does a child – or any non-Muslim for that matter – know whether content of an assembly from another worldview or belief system “won’t affect your religion”?[13] And why is Moffat encouraging this attitude in children?

Examining his lesson plans/material only reinforces this psycholgical cajoling. The material is designed to actively undermine religious faith and promote one value judgement/viewpoint on gay/lesbian family constructions and the issue of transgenderism and associated activism: acceptance as “OK”.

Promotion of Doubt and Deformation of Islam

The No Outsiders companion website hosts various materials for conducting assemblies. Moffat’s stipulated statements to be promoted to Muslim children is incredibly troubling. The material ranges from the subtle to the blatantly overt.

One assembly example involves a story about a Muslim female boxer experiencing rejection from her mother due to her boxing before eventual acceptance. Moffat promotes the following lesson:

“What does this show us about people and ideas? (ideas can change and people can change)”

It is questionable as to what sort of message Moffat is promoting here. The use of a Muslim example to effectively place disobedience to a parent in a positive light, along the with the message “ideas can change” suggests that Moffat is advocating the undermining of parental authority and guidance.

In another example promoting “different families”, Moffat feels it is necessary to instil doubt in the beliefs of Muslim children by promoting religious moral relativism – a sort of perennialism – to Muslim children. The story involves a family which consists of a Muslim man, married to a Christian woman.

Moffat asks Muslim children,

“why does Faquir say about faith, ‘We don’t say this way is the right way or that religion is the right way; there are no wrong answers’ What does he mean?

Whilst coercing acceptance of LGBT as “normal” and “ok”, Moffat wants children to suspend judgement on what is right and wrong when it comes to their religious beliefs.

Not content with promoting doubt in theological fundamentals, in particularly insidious fashion, Moffat also actively advocates the normalisation LGBT orientations/identities to Muslim children through Muslim “role models”. Thus, Moffat shares stories of a fashion designer who designs rainbow hijabs, before asking questions such as “why you think [the designers] have designed the scarf to be used as a hijab”? Another assembly story outlines how a gay Muslim who has been living with another man wants to “show the world you can be Muslim and gay”.

Still not telling children how to think? Still not taking a moral stance?

A number of religions sex segregate their religious ceremonies and gatherings.  This is not acceptable for Moffat, however. His proposed image shows Muslims and Sikhs eating together at a Gurdwara. Moffat suggests asking the children how they can make the Gurdwara “even more inclusive” and proposes that the children should write to the Gurdwara and advise them to “invite people of different gender too”. Whilst this is directed at Sikhs, the fact remains that Muslims also religiously sex segregate their gatherings, resulting in the instilling of doubt in Muslim children. Moffat is nudging Muslim children towards a direction of thinking that fits his own worldview.

Presumably this is all Moffat not telling children how to think and not taking a moral stance.

Family, Relationships and Undermining Religious Beliefs

Here we take a look on the material Moffat uses to teach about family and this actively undermines religious beliefs.

Like various social aspects, what constitutes a family structure ideal for children differs between varying epistemological systems and societies. Islam is no exception in this regard.[14]

Setting aside the plethora of research which strongly relates religiosity with marital stability, and marital stability with healthy upbringing,[15] the primary familial basis for Muslims is the moral foundations of Islam, which, like other Abrahamic faiths, advocates marriage between a man and a woman, thus establishing the foundation of society in which both parents must exercise and perform their duties towards their child. Other family structures, such as living with other relatives, or being adopted (all of which considered virtuous and encouraged in Islam) are fulfilling exigencies. Islam places an emphasis on the welfare of the mother and child.  Women with children need help raising them, and a man biologically invested in the children, and therefore more committed to their welfare, is the primary individual to do this.

Irrespective of one’s outlook on what constitutes a family, the DfE’s SRE guidance makes it plain that parents have a right to have their children withdrawn from lessons on sex and relationships, a right that is circumvented by No Outsiders.

Moffat’s approach to teaching about families demonstrates a phased approach to deconstructing the family and reconstituting it around his own beliefs.

Among the set of books aimed at 0-5 year-olds, Moffat lists those which directly look at family relationships. Thus, the Family Book subtly influences a child into accepting that that all families including gay families are “OK” as the basis is care and love.[16]

This value judgements-approach to teaching about families is taken with other books listed in the No Outsiders book.[17]

Aiming at children aged 5-7, Moffat asks teachers to use The Great Big Book of Families which carries themes already outlined above but goes further to highlight how families were in the past (mother, father and children) and how they are now (depicting mum and mum and dad and dad), giving the perception that the traditional family structure is backward.[18]

The subtle messages become overt undermining of religious beliefs as children reach the age of 9 and 10.  With And Tango Makes Three children are taught normalisation and acceptance of gay relationships by exposing them to a biased nature argument of the nature/nurture debate around homosexuality. Moffat encourages teachers to talk about the “many stories on the internet about gay animals in zoos”. This is tantamount to indoctrination.[19]

Another book Moffat lists is King and King.[20] The book itself shows the main character going through several seductively dressed suitors until a man appears and he chooses the man. There is an image of these two characters kissing. Disturbingly, Moffat asks teachers to close off the lesson with the following message:

“Some religions say that men and men should not get married. What does the law in the UK say? In 2013 the law was passed by the government to say that man could marry a man and that that a woman could marry a woman. At our school we say there are no outsiders”.

Directly juxtaposing religion at odds with British law has the effect of creating a cognitive dissonance in the child between his or her religious beliefs and British law. Moreover, the religious perspective is also placed against No Outsiders, reinforcing the idea for the child that his or her religion is at odds with the school’s ethos, further increasing the dissonance. Against the aggressive proselytising and indoctrination of LGBT normalisation and acceptance, the child over a period will most likely compromise his/her religious beliefs.

When this is coupled with another book listed by Moffat which encourages children to disobey rules and read material in secret, and when one considers that Moffat’s proposed activity is to get children to “smuggle” books,[21] the No Outsiders project becomes frankly sinister and subversive.

[The next piece will continue examining the No Outsiders material and deliberate on the politically one-sided ideas Moffat is promoting]


References

[1] Moffat, A., 2016. No Outsiders in Our School. London: Speechmark Publishing, p.31

[2] See for example, Morgan v Royal Mencap Society UKEAT/0272/15/LA

[3] R (on the application of Dimmock) v Secretary of State for Education and Skills [2007] EWHC 2288 (Admin), [2007] All ER (D) 117 (Oct)

[4] Ibid., p.3

[5]Ibid., p.2

[6] Ibid., p.37

[7] Ibid., p.32

[8] Ibid., p.33

[9] Islamically, humans have any number of inclinations and desires – the test for Muslims is to regulate them concordant to what is decreed in scripture.

[10] See Fn.1, p.40

[11] Ibid., p.43

[12] Ibid., p.44

[13] Ibid., p.14

[14] In Islam, the moral ideal of marrying and procreating is considered an act of worship.

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” Qur’an, 30:21

“Anas radiyAllah an’hu reported the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, “When a person marries, he or she perfects half of the religion. Now, he must fear Allah in (the remaining) half (of) religion.” (Targheeb)”

[15] Research looking at 40 studies that quantitatively examined relationships between religion, spirituality and marital stability (based on marital satisfaction, happiness, less divorce, greater relationship cohesion, lower risk of domestic violence, etc) found that 80% of the studies found that religion/spirituality was related to greater marital stability. (Koenig H, King D, Carson V.B., 2012, Handbook of Religion and Health, Oxford: OUP, p.263) A 2004 study positively correlated Islamic religiosity with marital satisfaction (Ibid., p.268). In contrast cohabitation and sexual relationships before marriage “have been shown to adversely impact marital stability” (Ibid., p.269). Numerous studies show negative consequences for children due to divorce and cohabitation.   The 2006 State of Nation report published by the Social Policy Justice Group in Britain found that 70% of young criminals came from single-parent families; nearly 50% came from cohabiting parents that had split up before the child reached the age of five, and only 8% were of married couples. More recent reviews of longitudinal studies similarly found that “two-parent homes with a mother and father experienced significantly fewer behavioural and psychological problems than children living with their mother only” (Ibid., p.260).

[16] See Fn.1., p.50

[17] For example. Mommy Mama and Me. Ibid., p.51

[18] Ibid., p.57

[19] Ibid., p.77

[20] Ibid., p.68

[21] Ibid., p.70

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