US evangelicals exposed Welsh pupils to homophobia and creationism
Posted: Thu, 7th Sep 2023
First West Baptist Church say being gay is a form of "sexual immorality" and evolution is a lie
An American church partnered with over 20 schools in Wales and exposed students to homophobic beliefs and creationism, a new documentary by The News Movement has revealed.
Members of the evangelical, Louisiana based First West Baptist Church visited the schools as part of a "cultural exchange" between 2009 and 2018. First West Baptist claim the partnership was established when they offered to provide help after a spike in suicides among young people in Bridgend in south Wales.
The evangelicals would not only provide 'entertainment' in the form concerts and sports events but also led classes on history, maths and science. A biology teacher said she felt "uneasy" when her class were told creationism was true and "Darwin and science has been a lie", which she described as "misinformation".
One student claimed they were told by church members that gay couples should not marry. The Church's website describes homosexuality as a form of "sexual immorality", along with pornography and adultery. It also opposes abortion. The student complained to his head of year and was told the Church would not return, only for them to be invited again the next year.
Another student alleged the evangelicals used their concerts and entertainment events to proselytise students. She says students at one show were instructed to raise their hands if they had converted to Christianity. She worried gay and lesbian students at the school would no longer be accepted by peers who had converted.
In addition to schools, the evangelicals also visited local youth groups, churches and old people's homes. It has been estimated the evangelicals engaged with over 12,000 people in south Wales. The partnership only ended with the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, although First West Baptist has said it is "open" to a return to south Wales in 2024.
Bridgend's Member of the Senedd, Sarah Murphy, said she was "shocked" the partnership had been "going on for so long" and it raised "serious questions".
A Welsh Government spokesperson said, "Young people have a right to be heard and feel respected at school, they should not be made to feel uncomfortable". They added that evolution is a mandatory component of the Welsh curriculum.
NSS: First West Baptist "exploited a local tragedy"
NSS campaigns officer Alejandro Sanchez: "American evangelicals have exploited a local tragedy in south Wales to evangelise school children and expose them to religious homophobia and scientific misinformation.
"Senedd Member Murphy is right to be shocked that this church was allowed to proselytise in Welsh schools for almost a decade. We must now ensure this cannot happen again."
Image: YouTube, The News Movement
Watch the film: How tragedy brought US evangelicals to Welsh schools