Politics, Science/Environment

Greta Thunberg branded ‘little girl with mental problems’ in Coffs school newsletter

A private school principal has been criticised for branding climate activist Greta Thunberg “a little girl with … mental problems” in a newsletter.

By Alex Tighe and Claudia Jambor

Photo: The principal told his school community Greta Thunberg was promoting “doomsday waffle talk”. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)

Key points:

  • Principal Rodney Lynn’s views have been condemned as “toxic religion”
  • The Dean of Grafton Cathedral described them as a “horrible expression of Christianity”
  • Ms Thunburg, 16, has become a lightning rod for climate change criticism

Related Story: Why Greta Thunberg triggers the troglodytes among us

Related Story: Inside the making of a young climate warrior

Related Story: PM warns kids against ‘needless anxiety’ about climate change after worldwide protests

In his last update before the holidays, the principal of Coffs Harbour Christian Community School Rodney Lynn told students and parents “your world’s future is in the hands of God, not in the predictions of a little girl”.

Although he did not name Ms Thunberg, 16, he made reference to “a little girl from Scandinavia” who was promoting “doomsday waffle talk”.

“No one knows when the final wind up of the world will be,” he wrote.

“Jesus said no one, only the Father God, knows about that day or hour.”

Photo: The principal came under fire in 2004 for a leaflet attacking state schools. (Supplied: Coffs Harbour Christian Community School)

Ms Thunberg’s climate activism started as a one-person school strike, and has since swelled into a global movement of millions.

She addressed the United Nations last week, accusing politicians of failing her generation.

But Mr Lynn urged people not to listen to her, saying she was a “little girl with self declared various emotional and mental problems that she thinks give her a special insight into a pending doom”.

“My life experience has taught me that the doomsday predictors are just attention getters,” he said in his September 26 newsletter.

“Do not be afraid. Your world’s future is in the hands of God, not in the predictions of a little girl and false prophets.” Follow this story to get email or text alerts from ABC Australia when there is a future article following this storyline.

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‘A very naive approach’

Mr Lynn’s views have been condemned by religious leaders in the area, and some parents.

The Dean of Grafton Cathedral, Dr Greg Jenks, said Mr Lynn’s views were a “horrible expression of Christianity”.

“I guess the newsletter is primarily aimed at parents rather than children, but it’s a view that encourages people to not to take any responsibility for looking after the planet,” he said.

“It’s a complete misuse of scripture, it’s a very naive approach.

“It of course expresses the idea that somehow or rather what we find in scripture trumps what we known from our own observation and our scientific research.”

Trevor Crawford has two children at the school and said he was “absolutely disgusted” when he read the column in the school newsletter.

He said the column was “over the top”, especially Mr Lynn’s indirect comments about Ms Thunberg.

“To turn around and use her condition of Asperger’s as a mental problem and that must be a reason why she shouldn’t be believed, it’s wrong,” he said.

Photo: Thousands of students took part in last month’s climate strike in Sydney. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

An estimated 6 million marchers participated in the global climate strikes, led by Ms Thunberg, on September 20 and 27 this year.

Liisa Rusanen from the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group also criticised Mr Lynn, saying “everything Greta Thunberg says is thoroughly backed by science”.

“I’m surprised that a school principal doesn’t recognise that.”

The voice of a generation?

Greta Thunberg inspired a global movement for climate action, but some haven’t welcomed her message.

Mr Lynn’s position is also at odds with some other religious leaders.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis declared a “climate emergency” and said “our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generation’s irresponsibility”.

The newsletter was published a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned against causing children “needless anxiety” about climate change.

In 2004, Mr Lynn apologised after distributing leaflets describing state schools as “seed plots of future immorality, infidelity and lawlessness”.

The school’s chairman declined to comment, and Mr Lynn has been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile overnight the Actor, Jason Momoa, delivered this speech to the UN about climate change; https://twitter.com/SBSNews/status/1178495862126694400

Jason Momoa

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First published at The ABC – Tuesday 1 October 2019. See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-01/greta-thunberg-attacked-in-coffs-harbour-school-newsletter/11562726

2 Comments

  1. Dick McDermott

    and the government funds these places, I remember as a kid reading about a family in the fifties who drove into a flooded Bakers Ck. east of Armidale, they remained in the car praising the lord and singing hymns, waiting for divine intervention, they drowned.

  2. The outrageous ravings of Rodney Lynn highlight the inherent dangers of exposing children to teaching which is religion-based and under the control of zealots. It is to be hoped that this school and its leader represent an extreme case of youth indoctrination, not experienced in other religious schools.

    As a school leader, and as someone with the sacred power to influence young minds, Lynn demonstrates a frightening ignorance of mental health issues. In addition, I suggest that his statement is factually incorrect. I can find no evidence to support his claim that Greta Thunberg (whom Lynn lacks the courage to name directly) is a “little girl with self declared various emotional and mental problems that she thinks give her a special insight into a pending doom”.

    Sadly, there will almost certainly be parents of children attending Lynn’s school who will agree with and support his views, since the attitudes inculcated by him, support the brainwashing already begun in their homes. This is a denial of the rights of children to be exposed to a balanced learning experience and to have freedom of choice.

    As a child of eleven I opted out of religion, seeing the fables and parables as nothing more credible than fairy stories. However, for too many years and even into secondary school, I was required to endure “Scripture” as a school subject. Fortunately, in more enlightened times, my own children were able to experience “Scripture” at school, before deciding independently that they would prefer not to.

    Although it may seem contradictory, I am convinced of the need for religious studies to be taught in all schools, secular or religious. However, learning in this area would be taught by teachers, not representatives of any single religion, and the syllabus would involve students in gaining knowledge of the historical and contemporary beliefs and practices of all of the common doctrines. In this way children and young people might have some chance of making informed decisions about religion and it’s place in their lives.

    It is regrettable that, whilst religion continues to play a dominant role in the election of governments, despite becoming less socially relevant by the year, politicians will continue to exploit it in order to gain power. Public moneys will continue to fund luxuries for wealthy private schools at the expense of increased educational opportunities for students in public schools.

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