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WA state primary schools do away with manger

Nativity plays and carols have become a thing of the past at some schools in Western Australia because teachers fear their Christian overtones could offend parents or students who follow a different religion.

The West Australian reports today that at least three government primary schools planned a low-key Christmas in deference to their multicultural student populations.

South Hedland's Baler Primary School and Highgate and Koondoola primary schools in Perth will not hold Christmas concerts and will leave it largely to individual teachers to decide whether activities such as making cards or putting up decorations go ahead.

Highgate principal Cristina Sandri said teachers would discuss Christmas with their students in the context of world religions and children would take part in activities such as writing to Father Christmas.

But at Subiaco Primary School kindergarten, about 40 four and five-year-olds will dress up as shepherds, angels and wise men to take part in a Nativity play.

A WA Education Department spokeswoman said it's up to individual schools to decide how they observe Christmas.

Meanwhile Scotland's new Cardinal Keith O'Brien urged every local authority in the country to erect a Nativity scene in their area at Christmas.

"I think it only appropriate that there be a Nativity scene at the centre of the celebrations of each of our communities," he said in a homily on Saturday. "Without this there is left a gaping hole at the heart of the season of good will."

Calling for a "re-christianisation" of society, the Cardinal criticised a major charity that refused to allow its shops to sell products with a Christian theme in the run-up to Christmas. He also regretted the dominance of 'Seasons Greetings' cards with no mention of the word 'Christmas'.

Primary schools do away with manger (The West Australian 2/12/03)
Scotland's Cardinal O'Brien Urges a Re-Christianization (Zenit 30/11/03)

Court changes mind over cross bar (The Age 1/12/03)
Italian court revokes ban on crucifixes in school (Sydney Morning Herald 1/12/03)
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
Department of Education and Training WA

2 Dec 2003