It’s a bit unclear from this report in the Telegraph quite what Mrs Johnson and her daughter are objecting to here; I can’t make out whether they’re bothered about being offered chicken as opposed to turkey or halal chicken as opposed to chicken slaughtered by more conventional methods:
Parents have forced a comprehensive school to back down over plans to offer only halal chicken on its Christmas dinner menu.
Pupils will now also have the option of traditional turkey with trimmings as a choice after the intervention of a former Government minister.
The dispute arose at Oakwood School, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, amid claims that the British festive season was being undermined.
Around one in five of the 1,000 boys and girls is Asian and the school says its initial decision had been made to bring “a spirit of inclusion” to the Christmas meal.
Rachel Johnson, who has two teenage daughters at the school, explained that objections had been raised “as a matter of principle” and not a racial issue.
She said: “It has really rocked my boat because I feel my culture is being stolen away from me.
“I have no objection to halal meat being on the menu so long as there is a choice of traditional Christmas fare.
“A lot of parents have been in touch supporting my views. Our culture and religion are being trampled on and it is not right.”
The £1.75p Christmas dinner is made available for pupils as a treat in place of the usual school menu. Under the original proposal there would have been an option of sausages wrapped in bacon alongside the halal chicken.
Mrs Johnson said: “Why can’t the non-Muslim kids enjoy traditional Christmas fare. Why can’t we have a choice of chicken which suits everyone, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
“We bend over backwards at Eid to eat traditional Muslim food so why should we have to change our Christmas tradition?
“This is a multi-racial, multi-religious school and should be catering for the needs of everyone, not just the Muslim section.”
Her 15-year-old daughter, who asked not to be named, had been thinking of boycotting the Christmas meal along with many of her friends if no choice was offered.
She said: “I have no objection to including Muslims in celebrating Christmas but it is quite wrong to offer us only halal meat.”
Certainly turkey’s by no means a particularly traditional British (as opposed to American) Christmas dish; until turkey became more affordable, the traditional fare was a Christmas goose, and back in Elizabeth’s time people — if they could afford it, of course — feasted on anything going. My family, when I was a child, always had either capon or pheasant (my father didn’t much like turkey, and I can’t say I blame him).
If, however, the objection’s not to being served chicken so much as to being served halal chicken, then the Johnson family are on very dubious theological grounds; St Paul — I Corinthians 10, 25-26 — makes it perfectly clear that you’re allowed to eat anything:
Eat anything that is sold in butchers’ shops; there is no need to ask questions for conscience’s sake, since To the Lord belong the earth and all it contains. If an unbeliever invites you a meal, go if you want to, and eat whatever is put before you; you need not ask questions of conscience first.
You only run into problems if it’s been sacrificed to idols, and only then if you run the risk of other people thinking you’re participating in an idolotrous feast, not because it’s inherently unclean or anything like that.
Strikes me that Mrs Johnson needs to learn a bit about her own traditions and religion before getting so vexed about nothing; it would do her blood pressure no end of good, I’m sure.