Volunteers from a church-run playgroup have reportedly been banned from a public library’s weekly “Rhyme Time” event in the United Kingdom after complaints were raised about children singing songs about the Bible and God.
The Daily Mail reports that volunteers from the Noah’s Ark playgroup have been told that after eight years, they can no longer lead Rhyme Time events at the library following concerns about songs being sung about Bible stories in the local government building.
Songs included “Mr. Noah Built an Ark" and “God Has Made a Rainbow."
According to the Mid Sussex Times, the decision to ban the playgroup run by The King's Church of Mid-Sussex was made by the West Sussex County council.
According to the spokesperson, the decision was made to bring the Rhyme Time sessions at the Burgess Hill Library in line with other libraries, which have Rhyme Time sessions led by staff.
"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,” a council spokesperson said in a statement. "In Burgess Hill, a partnership was formed with a local faith group some years ago before rhyme time sessions were offered across all libraries.”
"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,” the spokesperson added.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the church said that the congregation respects the decision and will “continue to do all that we can to serve them and our local community.”
“We are sad that our involvement in Baby Rhyme Time is coming to an end after eight years,” the church spokesperson stated, according to the Daily Mail. “It has been a well-loved, free group for people in the local area.”
Although the church respects the council’s decision, volunteers involved in the group are not happy about the decision.
Charlie Burrell, a 33-year-old father who has attended the Noah’s Ark playgroup for four years with his wife and two children, told the Daily Mail that parents were recently informed that “they are no longer allowed to perform at Rhyme Time as 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,” he said. “How can an organization that brings people joy, especially to children, be discriminated against in this way?”
Burrell argued that all religions and beliefs are celebrated in schools and on TV.
“I cannot imagine how anyone could find this offensive. All religions and beliefs are rightly celebrated in schools and even on TV channels such as CBeebies. ... In fact, isn't that exactly what a library is for — education?”
The county council’s decision comes as a recent poll found that fewer Brits than ever before (38%t) identify as Christian while over half of Brits say they don’t identify with any faith.
Throughout the U.K., there have been numerous instances in which people who uphold traditional Christian beliefs on issues of sexuality, gender identity or marriage have faced backlash.
Last week, it was reported that a Christian physician lost his job with a British government agency because he refused to refer to a bearded biological man by female pronouns.
Also this month, a Christian student who was expelled from his master’s program at the University of Sheffield over a Facebook post about his religious beliefs on homosexuality, was victorious at the Court of Appeal in England.
The court ordered the university to rehear the student’s appeal, arguing that earlier proceedings were “flawed and unfair” to the student.