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← Shocking news on state-funded religious schools

Shocking news on state-funded religious schools - Comments

Liam Byrne's Avatar Comment 1 by Liam Byrne

Unfortunately, that has been the scenario in Ireland for many years. But due to the recent church scandals, religious influence in this country is slowly being reversed. Nobody in their right mind should support an increased religious influence in education.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:52:00 UTC | #905485

Metamag's Avatar Comment 2 by Metamag

You reap what you elect.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:01:12 UTC | #905486

C.Wood's Avatar Comment 3 by C.Wood

"Holy crap"...

Is that what's going on in the UK these days? I always dreamed of having a life nearby London... But lately I've been put off by all the "WTF-ness" coming from the UK. Somehow Germany seems like a better option now :)

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:01:32 UTC | #905487

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 4 by peter mayhew

Just so you know what pupils in church schools are put through, here are some quotes (along with my comments) from my kids school's recent "Anglican Schools' Inspection":

“The acknowledgement of the presence of God and the Christian values seen in action in the practise and policy of this school results in pupils making outstanding academic and personal development”. Any positive influence on the kids gets the “”God” or “Christian” label. It’s an insult to non-Christians, designed to give kids a positive view of Christianity.

“Focus for development: ensure that values have a greater explicit link to Christian teachings”. In other words, ensure that the kids know that they anything good comes from the Bible and Jesus. This seems sinister and divisive to me. Will they grow up thinking that non-Christians can’t be good?

“Everyone is recognized as a unique individual created by God”. Unsupported dogma, therefore anti-educational.

“The links between the daily life of the school, collective worship and religious education result in a celebration of faith at the heart of the school “like writing through a stick of rock”.” Faith is and has been the major hindrance to the positive development of human society: to celebrate it is tantamount to celebrating ignorance and theocracy. Kids should not be taught to celebrate faith: they should be taught critical thinking and a healthy skepticism.

“They confidently explain that in RE “we learn about the Christian faith and links with worship allows us the choice to learn how to be a better person””. In other words, they have been successfully indoctrinated, and will spend the rest of their lives trying to escape this early life experience. They have successfully been conditioned to think that Good=Christian. This is probably harmful to society.

“They…understand that their school is unique because “we all learn about and from God””. I’m curious how they learn from God, given that there’s no evidence for his existence. I wish their school was unique in this respect: actually I wish no school was like this at all.

“Pupils understand the need for forgiveness and a fresh start because Christian values underpin the rewards and sanctions policies.” This is very worrying. If they think that forgiveness stems from Christianity, what will they do when they give it up later in life, or how will they expect non-Christians to treat them? This seems socially divisive.

“Although school displays are effectively used to reinforce the distinctiveness of the school and promote pupils’ thinking, they sometimes lack links to specific Christian teachings”. Not enough positive spin then. But to be fair, I think that whenever they see something bad, they should also link that to specific Christian teachings too. It’s not hard to find them in the Bible.

“Worship is central to the life of the school as a time to “come together to learn about God””. A God, for which there is no supporting evidence. Therefore this is anti-educational. Is this statement consistent with the CofE’s own website which claims that its schools do not indoctrinate children? It certainly sounds as if these kids are indoctrinated, and it certainly sounds as if the inspectors want them to be.

“The atmosphere and quality of worship takes pupils to the threshold of worship, however the interest and deeper thinking of pupils allows them to fully engage with the worship and love of God”. People who think like this should not be allowed to inspect educational establishments.

“Pupils describe the high profile of prayer in school as “time to talk to God and say thank you or sorry””. They have clearly found their invisible friend.

“They make good use of opportunities to use the prayer corners in each classroom for personal reflection”. What will they do when God does not answer their prayers? Is this good for kids?

“The personal faith of the headteacher ensures that “the love of Jesus is central to the life of this school because God wants us to be the best we can””. Could I become headteacher of this school? I think not.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:18:32 UTC | #905490

Wayne Tomsett's Avatar Comment 5 by Wayne Tomsett

This is just about the worst news I could have heard this morning. I am writing to Gove and my local MP to express my immense disappointment. Just written an article about the importance of being heard, and now we need to be heard! This is something we should all oppose vehemently

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:35:13 UTC | #905494

NormanDunbar's Avatar Comment 6 by NormanDunbar

I'd personally say that in order for any school to be allowed to convert to a faith school that a single condition should be met:

Prove beyond all possible doubt that the god(s) your religion worships exist.

Until then, you remain a non-faith school.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:36:04 UTC | #905495

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 7 by Tyler Durden

Comment 4 by peter mayhew :

Interesting comments, thanks for posting them.

“Pupils describe the high profile of prayer in school as “time to talk to God and say thank you or sorry””. They have clearly found their invisible friend.

The high profile of prayer in school - church, yes, school, no.

“They make good use of opportunities to use the prayer corners in each classroom for personal reflection”. What will they do when God does not answer their prayers? Is this good for kids?

Personal reflection - yoga mats, quiet-time, and the naughty-step, work just as well.

“The personal faith of the headteacher ensures that “the love of Jesus is central to the life of this school because God wants us to be the best we can””. Could I become headteacher of this school? I think not.

God wants us to be the best we can - but teachers and parents want children to fail? Such sycophantic platitudes are utter nonsense and do not help with the complex issue of children's education.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:44:21 UTC | #905496

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 8 by sunbeamforjeebus

I have written to both Gove and my M.P.Mark Prisk.My expectation of changing this policy is precisely ZERO ! This will continue as long as we allow fucking bishops to write the laws of our land!

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:54:05 UTC | #905500

Dean23's Avatar Comment 9 by Dean23

Email to MP and Gove dispatched. My sister in laws 5 year old daughters brainwashing has already begun at their local school. Absolutely disgraceful.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:55:31 UTC | #905501

jel's Avatar Comment 10 by jel

Great. Ireland is looking for ways to get the church out of their education system just as we're finding ways to put the church in control of ours.

Wonder if we could get the Irish to invade & take over?

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:57:41 UTC | #905502

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 11 by drumdaddy

I grew up on my knees. Don't let it continue, spare the children.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 12:58:30 UTC | #905503

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 12 by Richard Dawkins

Comment 2 by Metamag :

You reap what you elect.

We didn't elect them. They persuaded the Liberal Democrats to enter a coalition, thereby securing the necessary majority in parliament. The Lib Dems should be hopping mad about this. It might be a good idea to concentrate letters on them rather than on Tories, who are probably a lost cause.

The only redeeming feature I can see here is that, unless I am mistaken, the beneficiary is the Church of England. Faith schools of any kind are bad news, but Anglican ones are the lesser of evils. I'd like to see the end of all government support for faith schools. But if a genie offered me an Anglican monopoly as the only way to abolish all Islamic and Roman Catholic Schools I'd take it.

Richard

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 13:08:12 UTC | #905505

delToro87's Avatar Comment 13 by delToro87

This sounds pretty worrying, if what is suggested turns out to happen, and the church has a hand in running a significant number of schools. Of course its hard to know the impact for each school - some might not notice much difference, but for others there may be a significant effect. When I got to secondary school, one of the things I liked best was not having to participate in nearly as much religious crap as I did in primary school. The odd assembly was taken by a local clergyman, but that was tolerable, and in RE we rarely focused on christianity at all, it was mostly learning about other religions (mostly hinduism I seem to remember, which is odd). Anyway, I would have hated it if I'd been made to participate up to age 16 or 18, and I feel for those pupils who may have to now if the church takes over the school.

I was very surprised to hear about Malton School's 'double conversion' - my Mum has been a teacher there for over 20 years now, she hasn't talked about this before, I don't know how much it affects her yet if its still at a consulting stage, but I'll be interested to hear how much she knows next time I speak to her. I'll urge to speak out against it, but I doubt she would - she wouldn't have much influence anyway (unless there were many other teachers opposed as well), plus she's always been a bit of a religious sympathiser. Not a churchgoer, except on Christmas Eve, but described herself as 'Christian' on the Census (which did irritate me), and generally sees religion as a 'good thing'.

Suffice to say, I am glad I am not of school age any more!

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 13:10:51 UTC | #905507

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 14 by Cartomancer

The only redeeming feature I can see here is that, unless I am mistaken, the beneficiary is the Church of England. Faith schools of any kind are bad news, but Anglican ones are the lesser of evils. I'd like to see the end of all government support for faith schools. But if a genie offered me an Anglican monopoly as the only way to abolish all Islamic and Roman Catholic Schools I'd take it.

I am not sure this is helpful or correct.

For a start, catholic- and islamic-parasitised schooling in this country is probably going to be entirely unaffected by the takeover by the church of England of state schools. It's not catholic and muslim and jewish schools that the anglicans have their eye on, and the tories seem entirely keen on continuing to support those. We were never going to get an anglican monopoly, and the anglicans were never going to squeeze out the other faith groups - all this does is to reduce the number of normal, secular, non-parasitised schools, and thereby promote the idea that religion in education is a normal and a good thing.

Also, it seems quite a rhetorical error to keep painting the church of England as the safe, woolly, de-clawed alternative to catholicism and islam. While in absolute terms it may well be that, the concession makes it seem somehow harmless. This is a church that still opposes gay marriage, and the cover of being the nice, woolly, respectable ones lets it get away with far less scrutiny and criticism than the more brazen cults get.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:00:22 UTC | #905513

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 15 by prettygoodformonkeys

This is depressing. We have a PM here in Canada that will undoubtedly love to use this as a model to further undermine and neuter the secular influences (otherwise known as "facts") in our own schools. We already have a new "Office of Religious Freedom", under foreign affairs (??), and its mandate has not even been defined yet.

I say fight them in the open, concentrate on how they restrict freedom, the obscured side of what they purport to be doing. The only way to have freedom of choice is to have a good start with a secular education, centered on critical thinking.

No quarter should be given to religion in schools. We already sacrificed Czechoslovakia and Poland when we gave them the advantage of tax-free status.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:31:24 UTC | #905515

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 16 by Premiseless

It strikes me there is a mass media hype culture emerging which utilises fictional attributes (traditional features) to buy shares in peoples emotional support thence its own power infrastructures, which derails alternatives no matter how sincere, equitable and rational. It's functioning like the markets, in some cartel between the powers, that most stand to suffer from any alteration toward an openly freethinking society merging with ones that can most readily profit from an authoritarian collusion. Ergo, who will suffer from atheism per se merging with who can gain from retaining authority. Essentially we have the bankers syndrome being played out all over again, but mutated to displace blame to invisible forces and concealed as if beneficial in some pseudo emotional and educational manner.

What we essentially have are powers bending powers to retain and enhance power. There is no other motive, or altruism or common good except that which supports such a motion.

We ought not be too surprised by this. Peoples minds, communities and whole populations are just pawns in a bigger game being played out by people on the back row.

The battles that go on at the base of societies pyramid are another world to the corridors of power and one they have no interest in except when it is of interest to their progress.

It seems STUPID that humans cannot sit down and flog out intelligent solutions in intelligent ways for and intelligent future. Obviously they see the common good as already hooked up to the opium of delusion to an extent that makes it easier on power to keep on feeding the woo.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:36:03 UTC | #905517

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 17 by Vorlund

Comment 12 by Richard Dawkins :

But if a genie offered me an Anglican monopoly as the only way to abolish all Islamic and Roman Catholic Schools I'd take it. Richard

I'm inclined to agree it will be easier to hold down the weak tea and victoria spongism of the anglicans than the entrenched vapid ignorance and belligerence of catholicism and islam.

Gut flora always springs to mind where you need friendly gut bacteria to provide an environment that suppresses the dangerous bacteria. Having tea and sponge anglicanism to check the growth of the clostridium difficile of Islam and catholicism will probably give secularism the fire break we need.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:40:24 UTC | #905518

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 18 by peter mayhew

Just sent off my e-mails. Feels better, even if it doesn't do any good.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:40:38 UTC | #905519

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 19 by strangebrew

You just cannot trust the religious...they have this demented and drooling need to infect everyone they possibly can with a demented fairy story treated as fact by grown ups with no integrity or brains!

This is no doubt one of the main drives to reverse their fortunes with regards to falling interest in their nonsense. They desperately need young minds to infect...that is their holy grail...an innocent mind twisted by threats of hell and confused by redemption and stunted in curiosity and cognitive analysis to ask no difficult questions...like...'Prove your claims with evidence!'

They are sniffing after the next generation of deluded followers...for them the stakes are of the highest priority and no doubt they do not entertain thoughts of failure because to fail is to die...it is that serious for them. They need a lifeline..this is it!

The creationists will also be sniffing the changing wind direction that is for sure...they will sneak in under cover of Anglican robes and ambition...and the Anglicans will happily allow them to. After all they drool at jeebus as well...and truth is not so important as faith apparently. The next move will be the curriculum being tweaked to reflect their ethos more fully. That means cretinism will end up in the science lab without a shadow of a doubt...despite what the liars for jeebus say...it is going to happen...how can it not?

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:42:44 UTC | #905520

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 20 by aquilacane

Comment 6 by NormanDunbar

I'd personally say that in order for any school to be allowed to convert to a faith school that a single condition should be met:

Prove beyond all possible doubt that the god(s) your religion worships exist.

Until then, you remain a non-faith school.

Yes, I can agree. I practiced this as a child. Put up evidence or shut up. The second they would argue in a non rational manor void of evidence, I would repeat—"put up or shut up".

But...

"put up or shut up".

Show respect...

"put up or shut up".

You need faith...

"put up or shut up".

Prove there isn't a god

"What's god?"

I'm your teacher...

"put up or shut up".

You'll get in trouble...

"put up or shut up".

Detention!

"put up or shut up".

SAM!!!!

"put up or shut up".

Go back to your seat...

"I thought so..."

If you want faith schools to fail, get the kids active in taking a shit on their head. When a relatively uneducated child mocks an adult for being more childish than them, it has an affect.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 14:59:37 UTC | #905523

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 21 by sunbeamforjeebus

The more posts I read the more depressing this is becoming.This bloody tory/dimlemons coalition seems determined to take us backwards in terms of education.Well certainly the tory part does and the dim/lemons have been shown to be toothless.Gove is a complete liability and Cameron seems only interested in posturing.The real question is how secularism as a movement gets to gain more political clout.Given that we are all supposedly non-herdable cats,how do we make our votes count and our voice heard?

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:06:45 UTC | #905525

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 22 by Stephen of Wimbledon

In response to Comment 12 by Richard Dawkins

That is very true, and too often overlooked. I am in touch with my local Liberal party, and I believe this to be so important that I have written to their candidate in the last election too (see below). I urge all UK RDFRS supporters to do likewise.

If you don't know your Liberal candidate, don't worry, you can find the group e-mail address for your neighbours who are in the Lib-Dems by simply entering your post code here: Lib-Dem Search.

I have sent the following e-mail:

Dear [Liberal Candidate],

I have written to [Conservative MP] about this and, through the British Humanist Association, to Michael Gove [Sec. of State for Education]. However, I believe this subject to be so important that I urge you as a Local Representative of the Liberal part of the governing Coalition to also take up this challenge. The text of my letter to [MP] appears below.

  • letter start
  • Dear Sir,

    I wish to express grave concern at how the Church of England is drawing up plans to become the largest provider of state-funded schools and, in particular, has seemingly gained support from the Government for this massive expansion.

    This expansion appears to mean the majority of State schools will be able to discriminate religiously in admissions, in employment and in their curricula.

    All schools should be religiously neutral – and inclusive of pupils and teachers of any religion, or no religion. Our experience of 'faith' schools in Northern Ireland is being ignored - 'faith' schools directly support sectarianism. I cannot understand how the Government can ignore this clear and unambiguous evidence - and condemn our country to a future of sectarian strife that could so easily descend into violence.

    In addition, there appears to be no safeguard for those of us who do not want a Christian education for our children.

    Those who want a religious education for their children can do so through their religion. There is no reason for the State to become involved in spending taxes on religious education when they already enjoy tax benefits not available to other organisations.

    I understand that the Government is now working with the Church to change the rules in order to make it easier for the Church to take on control of schools by allowing inclusive community schools to convert directly into a 'faith’ Academy.

    With the Church actively encouraging the practice, many community schools are likely to become religious Academies. This will leave parents and staff that chose inclusive education suddenly finding their children and careers at a 'faith’ school.

    This matter is of the utmost importance and I urge you to take it up with Michael Gove, and work to ensure the Academies programme does not present religious groups further opportunities to expand their role in education, which I believe will create even greater divisions in our society.

  • letter end
  • While I understand that the Liberals are the junior partners in the Coalition, and that coalition government necessarily requires compromise, I urge you and your party to set this item high on your agenda.

    I will look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards, Stephen of Wimbledon

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:10:50 UTC | #905530

    Canadian Thinker's Avatar Comment 23 by Canadian Thinker

    The only redeeming feature I can see here is that, unless I am mistaken, the beneficiary is the Church of England. Faith schools of any kind are bad news, but Anglican ones are the lesser of evils. I'd like to see the end of all government support for faith schools. But if a genie offered me an Anglican monopoly as the only way to abolish all Islamic and Roman Catholic Schools I'd take it.

    Richard

    I can see the headlines now. "Richard Dawkins does not believe in God but wants to make a deal with a genie!"

    I have watched the show Richard did on Faith schools and how all the kids said they did not believe in evolution, and combine that with the article on students walking out of evolution classes in schools. Just think, if they get their way there will be a nation wide experiment on whether prayers can heal the sick.

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:13:29 UTC | #905531

    Finch's Avatar Comment 24 by Finch

    From the article:

    Commenting on the proposals, Michael Gove says that ‘I don’t think we should interpret what’s happening as some kind of clerical takeover. It’s not like the dissolution of the monasteries being reversed with our children’s education being placed in the hands of monks and abbots. The truth is that CofE schools are generally popular and the direction of travel we want to go is to give more responsibility to schools that have proven successful.’

    I live in the US.

    I feel for you folks, for two reasons (at least):

    1. "State-funded" essentially means that the British government, with one hand, gives the finger to those who oppose this religious takeover...while, with the other hand, picks your pocket for the money, with which it will operate it.

    2. Michael Gove, as Secretary of Education, is a complete twit to think that the Church of England doesn't have ulterior motives...or won't attempt to indoctrinate students with religious beliefs, with this new-found power.

    Sheer lunacy.

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:22:19 UTC | #905533

    Premiseless's Avatar Comment 25 by Premiseless

    One of my weirdest recollections of school was the insincerity of friends to any singularly 'comrade' mindset. You'll have to take my word for this but I mention it to illustrate a point very significant to my formative psychologies about people in general - which ended as a very confused stance - a place of zero support or trust or meaningful interaction. I perplexed over this repeatedly. I even had a close friend in my early teens distance themselves from me due colluding others playing games for no reason other than the 'humorous spite' of control. I always had others to chat to, but never anyone for developmental conversation. I suspect many must have experienced the same feature. I also knew of a muslim individual whom I treated as equitably as anyone, as is my innate thinking position, but whom seemed far more 'streetwise' than I about the competitive features surrounding us both in this 'free-mason' culture, or clique to an extent that I was further 'isolated', both by him and others, when, what I can only describe as influential others were deemed more lucrative associates with whom to impress and advance so to speak.

    I regularly perplexed what it is about life that weaves people in and out of each other without any meaningful context except the will to get on to somewhere better or get somewhere deemed a more successful place, currently detached from anyone one is in contact with. It always struck me how impersonal we all are in this regard and how truth is or seemed lacking in 100% of everyone I ever came across. This infection was rife in my own family and amongst all I knew. I fell from one situation to another consumed by this dissonance. There was never any talk about this total entropy of correspondence bias. There just never was. It's why I'm drawn toward rationality, humanism and freethought. I'm not sure how much of what I seek is there, but it seems to me there somehow must be far more of it than in an entropy consuming itself with various loyalties to various fictions, all of which cannot and must not, by cosmic demand, be analysed rationally and emotionally, but which simultaneously feed a common and detached agenda to get somewhere other than where you all are, amidst a high degree of shared 'standoffish' ignorance whilst claiming there to be some common avenues of intense but detached semi-meaningless learning.

    This is the world I grew up in. I'm not sure it has changed its main focus. I actually now believe correspondence bias its 'moral tool' so to speak. A tool utilised to simply bully its way through large populations, whatever agenda it prefers whilst excusing itself such a criminal enterprise by deference to the everlasting question mark. Cheating to win seems something that goes against everything I feel yet must acknowledge just how respected it is in a world won over by winning. It's not a world I understand. Maybe more accurately not one I want to!

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 15:40:39 UTC | #905537

    Sample's Avatar Comment 26 by Sample

    I'm not sure how much of what I seek is there, but it seems to me there somehow must be far more of it than in an entropy consuming itself with various loyalties to various fictions, all of which cannot and must not, by cosmic demand, be analysed rationally and emotionally, but which simultaneously feed a common and detached agenda to get somewhere other than where you all are, amidst a high degree of shared 'standoffish' ignorance whilst claiming there to be some common avenues of intense but detached semi-meaningless learning. (Premiseless)

    Copyright this.

    Mike

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 16:06:29 UTC | #905540

    Premiseless's Avatar Comment 27 by Premiseless

    Comment 26 by Sample :

    Copyright this.

    Mike

    Not sure how or why or for what purpose? Please advise?

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 17:11:17 UTC | #905552

    Sample's Avatar Comment 28 by Sample

    @Premiseless,

    Oh, sorry, it was just a compliment, as in "it's so good it should be patented, etc." I liked your post, in particular that sentence.

    Mike

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 17:20:44 UTC | #905554

    Cestriana's Avatar Comment 29 by Cestriana

    While I abhor the very idea of faith schools and the CoE running schools, I'm not entirely convinced that this initiative is going to have the desired effect of getting more young backsides in pews. We've had centuries of Anglicanism in the UK, but these days the churches are half empty and a lot of kids just aren't interested because they've got better things to do - at least, that's how it is in my neck of the woods. What does bother me, though, is the potential for increased political power emanating from this kind of crafty manoeuvre. The last thing I want is for the bishops in the House of Lords to be calling more shots.

    Last year I wrote to my (Tory) MP to register my concern about faith promotion in new academies and free schools, citing Northern Ireland as a prime example of how religious sectarian can cause such terrible division. His stock reply was predictable: 'The government believes that parents should have a choice.'

    Nobody asks the kids if they would like a choice, though, do they?

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 17:25:51 UTC | #905557

    Anonymous's Avatar Comment 30 by Anonymous

    Comment Removed by Moderator

    Thu, 05 Jan 2012 17:40:16 UTC | #905561