A United Kingdom library will be closing its doors on a church-run playgroup, which had been meeting at the facility for at least eight years.
The library says it made its decision to strike down the group after several parents voiced their concerns over the group, which boasted children singing about God.
What are the details?
Noah’s Ark playgroup had been meeting at the library for almost a decade when library administrators decided to end the weekly meetings.
The playgroup formerly met at the West Sussex town library in Burgess Hill, and welcomed children to play, read, and sing songs together. The library made the decision in conjunction with the West Sussex County Council.
According to the Daily Mail, some of the Christian-themed songs sung by the children included “Mr. Noah Built an Ark” — to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” — and similar jingles.
A spokesperson for the council said that the county libraries’ “Rhyme Time” groups — which the Christian playgroup had been attending — would no longer be permitted at the facilities around the county.
“Rhyme Time sessions are held every week in all West Sussex libraries, and are open to everyone including families of any faith or no faith,” the spokesperson explained. “In Burgess Hill, a partnership was formed with a local faith group some years ago before rhyme time sessions were offered across all libraries.”
The spokesperson continued, “We have been very grateful to this group for their support, but following feedback from families, we have decided to bring these sessions in line with the other rhyme times in our libraries, which are led by staff. Families can continue to access faith-based activities in community venues, and library staff are very happy to help anyone looking for details of where they can join these.”
What have people said about this?
One volunteer at the library in question said that he was disturbed by the news.
Charlie Burrell, the volunteer, said that the library opted to streamline the group because “a couple of songs mention God.”
“I myself was horrified to hear this news as I have enjoyed their Rhyme Time sessions for years with my children and I know so many other parents have too,” Burrell explained. “How can an organization that brings people joy, especially to children, be discriminated against in this way?”
He added, “I cannot imagine how any one could find this offensive. All religions and beliefs are rightly celebrated in schools and even on TV channels … and in fact isn’t that exactly what a library is for — education?”
A spokesperson for the King’s Church of Mid-Sussex also lamented the end of the partnership.
“We are sad that our involvement in Baby Rhyme Time is coming to an end after eight years,” the spokesperson said. “It has been a well-loved, free group for people in the local area.”