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← Proposals to make worship optional in schools rejected by Peers

Stevehill's Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Stevehill

Can I suggest any Britons take the trouble to cut and paste all or part of the letter I have just sent to my own MP:-

Dear Nicola Blackwood,

I have just moved into your constituency, from Barford St Michael. I left there because the only schools for miles around were faith schools, and my daughter started school last month (she's very happy at XXXX School; her brother joins her next year).

My last MP Tony Baldry, who I respect a lot, helped us assert our rights to a non-faith education and told me we were the first people in Oxfordshire to make such a claim.

I would like to draw your attention to the recent report of the National Secular Society on the Lords' debate about removing the compulsory daily act of worship of a broadly Christian character:

May I especially take issue with the quoted words of the government spokesperson, Baroness Trumpington: “it did not matter if pupils were bored, did not like going to chapel or were not interested in religious matters at the age of 15, 16 or perhaps even 17. That daily event gave each pupil a background to which they could return in later life. It was very important to have.”

Did not matter?

It matters to, say, millions of Britons who profess faiths other than Christianity. Muslims, say, should be outraged at the suggestion that some daily Christian worship is character-forming and good for them. Can you imagine in your native South Africa the response to a suggestion that everyone should have a daily Dutch Reformed church service?

It matters to the 51% of Britons who profess "no religion" in the 2010 Social Attitudes Survey: the majority. As compared with the fewer than 2% of us who attend a weekly CofE service, and declining rapidly as ageing congregations turn to dust.

It matters that the Baroness has got her facts wrong. 16- and 17-year olds already enjoy a right to opt out of daily worship. The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee has previously recommended this right be extended to all Gillick-competent children (i.e. children capable of deciding for themselves). Scotland is even about to give the vote to 16 year olds.

It matters that the Baroness is supported by 28 unelected bishops, placing Britain on a par with Iran in granting places in the legislature to theocratic placemen.

It matters that a third of our schools are stage one on a (barely functional) conveyor belt for producing future converts, and that 70% of parents think worship should go.

It matters that thousands of schools break the law. Ofsted has even abandoned checking schools' compliance with the law, because if it did, it would have to downgrade them. There is no point in maintaining a law which is intrinsically disreputable and otiose.

If it "matters" that much, how does almost every other country on earth manage without such a law? Why do such diverse nations as France, India, Turkey and America see the benefits of constitutionally keeping religion out of schools? Because it is divisive. Look how much good sectarian schooling did us in Northern Ireland, and in parts of Scotland.

A recent report said 400 British madrassas abused children:

It is not a harmless piece of character building. This stuff takes no prisoners, it takes lives.

The Deputy Prime Minister has already outlined proposals for reducing the number of Bishops in the Lords (though zero would be a better number than 12), and he and his party are known to favour a more secular education system. They are right to do so.

Yours sincerely,

[Incidentally, my MP is a staunch Christian who usurped Secularist of the Year Evan Harris in the 2010 election after a virulent, and lying, fundamentalist Christian campaign to oust him. So I'm not holding my breath.]

Fri, 28 Oct 2011 06:18:23 UTC | #884798