Parents are fuming after a church rector told over 200 kids that Santa wasn't real, with some saying he "ruined Christmas ". Reverend Edward Keene made the shocking revelation during a carol concert at St Nicholas Church in Stevenage, Herts.
The faith leader's speech left many children "in tears" and "confused", according to angry parents. Despite the backlash, the Reverend defended his actions, stating that the age of the children made it an "acceptable" time to deliver the truth about Father Christmas.
Families who attended the annual gathering with kids from Barclay Academy accused the Reverend of taking away the "magic" of the holiday season. One irate parent said: "He decided the whole of Year 7 needed to know Santa isn't real, as they are entering the real world."
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Emma Race, a mother whose daughter was present at the event, added: "My daughter was upset and confused. Lots more children were affected in similar ways. I would like to make other parents and schools aware, as this has ruined my daughter's Christmas."
Steve Shaw, a father, also expressed his disappointment, saying: "This guy doesn't know about the children's home lives and situations. Why did he need to say this? Who is he to deliver this news?"
Revd Keene responded to the upset parents, stating that the concert was "free of charge". He explained that his sermon aimed to make children "think carefully about what is true and what is not." He said: "As the Year 7 children are at, or nearly at the age of 12, I considered it would be acceptable to point out that Father Christmas is not real."
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He also apologised for any distress he had "inadvertently" caused and promised to "approach the topic differently in the future". He added: "As the event to that point had included songs and readings about a range of characters, including Father Christmas and the sleigh, the Grinch and Jesus Christ, I did note that discernment had to be exercised and that some of these are real and others are not.
"At the time, this proved a point of amusement for the children rather than one of upset. The topic of the reflection was aimed at a secondary school audience and would not be the same for a primary or pre-primary one. I will approach the topic differently in the future, as well as apologising for any undue upset inadvertently caused this was by no means my intent."
Barclay Academy expressed their shock at Revd Keene's revelation, with staff being "just as shocked" as parents. A spokesperson for the school said: "We understand the problems and stress this may have caused," and assured that they will contact the church to prevent a similar incident at next year's carol concert.
Both Barclay Academy and Revd Keene have been contacted for further comment.
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