You may not know, but today some school children were banned from watching the solar eclipse ‘for cultural and religious’ reasons. Children at the North Primary School in Southall, explained the head teacher Ivor Johnstone.He added that the decision was taken because of concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly in some cultures and religions. You what?

A pastor, one Mark Blitz said, ‘In Jewish tradition, a total solar eclipse is a warning to the Gentiles and a sign of judgment on the nations.

‘When we look at where the darkness will be, it will be in northern European countries like England and Sweden where we see the rise of Islam and anti-Israel sentiment. Europeans especially should take heed.’

Ancient Greeks took the eclipse to mean that the gods were angry and in islam there are instructions as to what to do dying an eclipse. Saying Allahu-Akbar is a great help, apparently. In India and Italy there are equally ludicrous superstitious beliefs based on eclipses.

What concerns me, once again, is religion getting special and unwarranted treatment. The ancient Chinese in 2500 BC were able to predict eclipses long before modern science added its findings, so there is nothing untoward about them. Science has debunked all the superstitions and it can explain what will happen and more importantly what can’t and won’t.

But now we have a school where its head teacher says that children cannot watch the eclipse on the grounds of superstition. Whatever next? Will children be prevented from playing in the playground if a black cat passes in front of them? Will ladders be barred from school premises in someone walks under one? I am all for supporting people who practise their religions at home and in their churches but when it starts affecting the lives of those who do not have the same superstitions, I think they overstep the mark.

Provided children ensure their eyes are properly protected, nothing untoward is going to happen to them during an eclipse. God has far more important things to do than to arse around with the stars, the planets and the moons. He just wants to carry on being omnipresent and omnipotent. Just let him get on with it and let our children enjoy the wonderful experience of watching an eclipse, something that doesn’t happen often, but certainly happens more often than a religious figure saying something of use.