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Religion and schools don't mix - Comments

alabasterocean's Avatar Comment 1 by alabasterocean

I rule! Abba Bjorn also!

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 11:17:00 UTC | #392032

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 2 by SaganTheCat

Religions by their nature always run the risk of creating an "us against them" scenario. However tolerant we believe ourselves to be, there is always a reason people consider their own religion superior to all others.


this is why schools should be free of all tribal thinking. If my religion dictated that although I don't have a problem with black people, they won't go to heaven and I must not let my children mix with them what does that make me£

I know it's an extreme example because people can't choose the colour of their skin but children can't choose their religion, they're born into a system that dictates who they should and shouldn't associate with and it's not called racism, or antisemitism, or islamophobia it's called belief

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 11:39:00 UTC | #392034

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 3 by Ignorant Amos

In a recent debate with principals from two religious schools I was accused of being driven by emotions masquerading as reason. But if we hypothesise for a moment that they are right, then surely the same is true of them. And if that's the case, who should we listen to?

Reason is driven by evidence, emotion is just a human trait that has a tendancy to complicate things....reason IS what it the side that has the evidence, is the side that should be listened to.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 12:16:00 UTC | #392042

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 4 by Ignorant Amos

2. Comment #409832 by CaptainMandate

I don't think your example extreme at all.

The "tolerant" religites are usually only "tolerant" to the meek and mild, even then I think it is more condescending than "tolerant".

We see on this site all the time, the articles in which the so called "tolerant" religious are anything but, especially to non-believers, the recent Athiest Bus Campaign is testimony to just how "tolerant" they can be.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 12:27:00 UTC | #392045

Ygern's Avatar Comment 5 by Ygern

Ah good, my Eighties adoration of ABBA has been vindicated!

It's a well argued article, but he only touches on what is still a famous dichotomy. It is true that many people with a religious schooling or upbringing are able to look at the facts and eventually work out things for themselves. But in all too many cases this does not happen. Far too many children in these circumstances are being trained to deliberately ignore the facts or even to fear them.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 12:35:00 UTC | #392047

Moq's Avatar Comment 6 by Moq

Unfortunately the European Convention on Human Rights doesn't permit the banning of independent religious schools.

I'm not in favour of this sentence from the article. Any sort of banning is a bad response to most questions, especially the complicated ones. Not to mention the inevitable bureaucracy and legislative mess that follows. But you can make the hoops for state funding difficult to pass through for religiously inspired independent schools.

The Swedish situation sounds a lot like the Danish, though I'm not an expert on independently managed schools. Apparently, 500 out of 2100 primary schools are independently managed. Not all with a religious foundation, of course. The receive 75% of a normal grant per pupil, and there are six levels of supervision.

There's a basis for independent education institutions in the constitution, ie. compulsory education but not compulsory school, so any unwanted results are difficult to limit beyond rigorous supervision.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:04:00 UTC | #392050

Sigmund's Avatar Comment 7 by Sigmund

I was waiting for the arrival of this article.
I'll take a chance on me not completely interpreting Bjorn correctly but is he saying the name of the game is secularism or nothing?
Does the winner take it all or is it just a gimme, gimme, gimme, call for money, money, money?
Thank you for the music Bjorn but knowing me, knowing you, its best if you don't call us, we'll ring, ring you.
Wait a second.....
Who was it again who wrote
"I believe in angels"?

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:30:00 UTC | #392063

Harvatos's Avatar Comment 8 by Harvatos

Religion and schools don't mix

The title say it all.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:44:00 UTC | #392067

JonathanWest's Avatar Comment 9 by JonathanWest

It won't surprise anyone to know that this article got right up Andrew Brown's nose, not merely because it is commending secularism, but because Björn is Swedish, and Brown reckons himself to be a bit of an expert about Sweden - he's written a book on the subject. He wrote not one, but two intemperate responses to the article.

Faith schools and evolution

Six to eight slices of intolerance a day

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:46:00 UTC | #392070

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 10 by Tyler Durden

Let schools teach about religion, for it exists in the world; but not teach only one specific religion.

Imagine this scenario in other subjects:

"Next up in geography class, Europe, and why it is the only continent on planet Earth."

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:51:00 UTC | #392072

Sievers's Avatar Comment 11 by Sievers

Why is this here?

The opinions of pop singers have no importance.

You should see what Richard had to say about Cliff Richard! Very quick to dismiss him as stupid because he was religious.

"What's sauce for the gander..."

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 13:57:00 UTC | #392075

petermun's Avatar Comment 12 by petermun

The latest programme in the series "The Atheist and the Bishop" - available on the BBC Radio 4 play again feature (for those in the UK)- has AC Grayling questioning young people at a faith school about their beliefs. Interestingly, although it was a CofE school, he was able to talk to roman catholic, muslim and "atheist" pupils.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:02:00 UTC | #392076

Jay Cee's Avatar Comment 13 by Jay Cee

Jonathan West,

It's always a pleasure to hear Andrew Brown getting wound up.


Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:03:00 UTC | #392077

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 14 by Friend Giskard

The best line in the piece:

freedom from indoctrination ought to be a basic human right for all children.
This is what we should all be pushing for. How anyone but a degenerate could disagree with this is beyond me. And yet, religious folk do disagree, it seems.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:30:00 UTC | #392091

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 15 by God fearing Atheist

9. Comment #409868 by JonathanWest

Faith schools and evolution

Splitting population into groups produces genetic selection for co-operation within them in a way that simple kin selection does not.

I suspect Brown has (accidently?) left out "[Randomly] splitting into groups". Hence, randomly splitting the children in a town into 3 schools, and getting the schools to compete in sports, academic achievement, etc, would produce the desirable effects of in-group co-operation. The problem secular schools try to avoid is exagerating existing religious in-group co-operation and out group rivalry to the point where rivals start killing each other as in N. Ireland and other places.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:38:00 UTC | #392093

Danish's Avatar Comment 16 by Danish


Yea, the song is called "I Have A Dream." It also contains the lines

"I have a dream, a fantasy. To help me through reality."

Now, poetry is always open for interpretation - and yours is as valid as mine. I see a positive and hopeful message in the song. But I certainly don't see it as particularly pro-religious. :)

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:42:00 UTC | #392095

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 17 by God fearing Atheist

9. Comment #409868 by JonathanWest

Six to eight slices of intolerance a day

All manner of sin was to be abolished, from sexism to inequality and anyone who doubted this was treated as a crazy heretic.

Brown is a loathsome toad! A secular society attempts to eradicate sexism and inequality and he thinks it is bad!

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:46:00 UTC | #392096

Darwin's Bichon's Avatar Comment 18 by Darwin's Bichon

Don't pray in our schools, and we won't think in your churches.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 15:44:00 UTC | #392115

brian thomson's Avatar Comment 19 by brian thomson

Bjorn wrote:

I believe in angels,
Something good in every thing I see.
I believe in angels,
When I know the time is right for me,
I'll cross the stream.
I have a dream.

Could be taken any number of ways ...

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:15:00 UTC | #392130

gruebait's Avatar Comment 20 by gruebait

Here in northeast US, at least in urban areas, it is commonly held that revoking the tax/funding relationship of government and Catholic schools, for example, is not an option, as the increased burden on the public school system would be unsupportable under the current tax system.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:21:00 UTC | #392132

Sigmund's Avatar Comment 21 by Sigmund

Andrew Browns rant about the intolerance of Sweden in the seventies is unintentionally hilarious. He states his in-laws were a religious family and thus something of an rarity in secular Sweden. He then proceeds to claim the secular society was intolerant and gives as an example who? His sister in law!
Even that example of intolerance is rather mild - she mentioned to him that she could never imagine marrying a foreigner. Considering the (lack of) immigration situation at the time in Sweden, Brown was probably the only foreigner she'd ever met (and in that case with an example like that who could blame her!).
Bjorn is a member of the Swedish humanist society so I don't actually think he believes in Angels.
It was probably a typo - he actually believes in angles.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:28:00 UTC | #392133

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 22 by Stonyground

I don't understand the idea that Bjorn's opinion can be dismissed just because he is a pop singer. Surely the case he is trying to make should be considered on its merits.

Religious schools are one of the worst ideas ever, for a great number of reasons. Supporters of religious schools have no response to the arguments against them but know that without them their beliefs will almost die out within a couple of generations. Of course these beliefs will die out anyway for the simple reason that they are untrue.

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:39:00 UTC | #392137

pipsy's Avatar Comment 23 by pipsy

And at least he is not a Bjorn again christian

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 17:49:00 UTC | #392166

sara g's Avatar Comment 24 by sara g

Another reason it is important to include religion in a secular eduction is that it is impossible to fully understand history, literature, or art without some knowledge of religion.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 04:46:00 UTC | #392344

nalfeshnee's Avatar Comment 25 by nalfeshnee

thomas said:

I went to a faith school and I can tell you that there was absolutely no difference in the teaching of the curriculum to that of a secular one.

So why have them then? :=)

But perhaps the supposed better performance of faith schools can be used to close them.

After all, if they're getting divine help for their students, then that surely counts as an unfair competitive advantage.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 07:09:00 UTC | #392361

Sievers's Avatar Comment 26 by Sievers

23. Comment #409939 by Stonyground on August 27, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I don't understand the idea that Bjorn's opinion can be dismissed just because he is a pop singer. Surely the case he is trying to make should be considered on its merits.

I agree with you, Stonyground.

But I would have thought secularism was pretty much the default position in Sweden so knowing Bjorn is a secularist is no more news than knowing he has kneecaps!

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 07:33:00 UTC | #392367

flying goose's Avatar Comment 27 by flying goose


Don't pray in our schools, and we won't think in your churches.

Firstly, your schools? Really, when did they become yours and not mine and for that matter why should i think of them as mine. I thought they belonged to us all or rather we all provide them as a service to our children.

Second, 'we won't think in your churches' well more fool you.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 08:56:00 UTC | #392386

flying goose's Avatar Comment 28 by flying goose

To speak about faith schools is misleading. Our C of E school is no different to the county primary in the next village.

The concept of a faith school arises from the notion that religious parents want their religion reinforced in their childrens lives by education.

Now I maybe wrong but I suspect that's exactly what many Catholic, Muslim and evengelical protestant parents do want.

If that is what they want they should pay for it.

However our school, and many like it, does not operate on that basis. Therefore is it really a faith school? Nalfashnee asks why have them? You might as well ask 'Why do judges wear bands. Why do Oxford colleges have chapels? Because when these bands originated people on the whole people still believed in God, so the ten commandments which they stand for had legal as well as religious significance. Similarly Oxford colleges were largelly created for and built by eccelsiastics.

Back to the schools. They where built as acts of charity, often by or on behalf of the local Church (C of E). Most of them are still owned by the Church.

Most continue in that vain, as acts of charity. They are there because even before school became compulsory in this country they were there.
The problem arises from the advent of conviction religion. 'We are right, and by God we are going to make sure the children have that reinforced at school.'

The early 21st century is world far more religiously polarised than the one I was born in.

That is source of deep regret to me.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 09:40:00 UTC | #392400

ColdFusionLazarus's Avatar Comment 29 by ColdFusionLazarus

30. Comment #410217 by flying goose on August 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

FG, I still need to get back to you with a PM. Hope to do that soon. You are describing a secular school, so it may as well call itself secular and stop promoting time for prayer.

Did anyone hear The Atheist and the Bishop on Radio 4 this week?

AC Grayling was impertinent enough to ask a Muslim girl (girl of Muslim parents), at the christian school, whether she thought her unbelieving friend would be going to hell. The Muslim uncomfortably admitted that this was a possibility. AC Grayling pointed out that the school was a good school and promoted tolerance and community. But at the expense of ignoring important questions.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 10:00:00 UTC | #392402

tieInterceptor's Avatar Comment 30 by tieInterceptor

great article, I agree 100%

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 10:08:00 UTC | #392406