Monday, 30 March 2015

Time To Close Religious Schools



Facebook inspired this post.  The other day I noticed a question being asked - ‘Did you go to Sunday school?’ and was amazed at the number of responses such a simple question received. People detailed the names of their Sunday schools and I calculated, very roughly, that the responses were split quite evenly in favour of Sunday schools. There were several exceptions when commentators said they were a ‘waste of time’, ‘free parking for parents’ etc.  Here in rural Perthshire, Sunday schools still exist.  I’ve no idea of the attendance numbers but I have attended several Harvest Festivals and plenty children contribute to these occasions.

During a brief discussion about this with an online friend, he made clear he had no religious beliefs and apologised if anything he had said offended me. I replied I was not offended in the least and consider myself more in the ‘spiritual’ than the ‘religious’ box if boxes had to be ticked.  Perhaps there is a fine line between religious and spiritual, because I would like to think deeply religious people do have an association with their spiritual side, although recent happenings in the middle east imposes doubt.

However, away from Sunday schools, more concerning is the numbers of British Muslim young people who are attracted to fight with the terrorist organisation IS.  Court orders show a total of eight pupils from the same Academy in Tower Hamlets have shown an interest in Islamic fanaticism. How many more faith schools, funded by the state, are there in the UK which follow their own religious itineraries?

In the past 20 odd years politicians have gradually introduced us as a ‘secular society’.  All well and good and I approve of tolerance is all religions to aid peace and enable us all to live together in harmony.  This isn’t happening.  Recently one father of a child who has absconded to Syria blamed the police for his child’s choice to join IS. Let’s not forget, 15 year olds today are much more mature than a 15 year old in the 50s and 60s.  This same father was invited to Parliament to give evidence at a home affairs select committee and denied even knowing what Islamic radicalisation was. Obviously no official investigation was made into the father’s background prior to his invitation and subsequent apology from the police,  until the Daily Mail uncovered the father’s beliefs.

Our society has changed radically in the past 20 years and it’s time all state funded religious schools were closed. Every child should be taught in schools which have the same curriculum and rules. That includes all Christian faith schools which are paid for by taxpayers. Each child will then have an equal opportunity within the state education system.

Keep religion out of our state schools. In 2009 there were 6,867 faith schools in England, with 395 in Scotland and 263 in Wales.  Until 1959, the state paid for only half the capital costs of religious schools, but in the past 50 years the cost borne by the government has soared, finally rising from 85 to 90 per cent under Tony Blair in 2001.  Increasingly, the 10% of capital costs that religious foundations are supposed to pay has slipped. Schools are claiming ‘exceptional circumstances; so often that the average contribution made by foundations behind faith schools is just 7.4%, and this results in additional costs of millions to the taxpayer.

For parents who what their children to be taught the family religion then let it happen outwith their state education. Every child must have the same chance.


25 comments:

William said...

No-one is more opposed to Catholic schools than I. However, you seem to be arguing against them on the basis of Islam and Islamic extremism, in particular. This seems a bit unfair on Christian schools that aren't producing people who go off to join terrorist groups.

It must also be remembered that the Christian churches were largely responsible for starting our education system.

However, the bottom line is that no political party in Scotland (except maybe the Greens) will support the removal of faith schools.

Helena Brown said...

I lost several good friends when we went to school. I went with one other friend I grew up with to the local Primary and my other two friends went to the local Catholic one. When I say I lost them, not quite true, children do not really bother but we lost the ability to talk about school, they went somewhere else that was "different".
Now I am an Atheist have been since the age of seven when I told my Mother I no longer wished to attend Sunday School, aye that worked. I was forced into it by a conformist mother.
I think religion should be taught elsewhere than school, as in the States or France. School should be secular.

Joe Public said...

Perhaps our state should fund schools supporting the
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

"The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), a movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Although adherents describe Pastafarianism as a genuine religion, it is generally seen by the media as a parody religion."

So far, its adherents will have caused fewer inter-religious deaths & misery than nearly all the other established 'religions'.

JRB said...

Oh Subrosa – you have bravely taken it upon yourself to address societies last great unopened can of worms.

Historically, we are indeed grateful to those religious bodies who in the 14th and 15th centuries undertook the education of our children.
But over the intervening years our society with its mix of ethnic types, cultures and religious beliefs has changed beyond all recognition.

The time has long past when any one religious dogma should be at the centre of the education of our children who are expected to live in harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-belief society

Have we not learned from the tragic example that is the murderous divide in Northern Ireland and to a far lesser degree the sectarianism found in the West of Scotland.
As I youngster, I did not meet or communicate with anyone of a differing religious background till the day I started university. Surprisingly they were not that different after all.

It is long past time religion was removed from the school and reserved to the home or to whatever edifice in which one might wish to observe that belief.


So to answer the question you pose
– Yes, the complete removal of religion from our educational system is long overdue
– But … not one politician will act upon it, let alone have the courage to speak of it
– And so the problems and divisions within our society will continue ad infinitum

William said...

Atheist regimes have been among the most brutal and horrific mankind has ever seen so removing religion - whatever that actually means - doesn't work either.

No-one should be against religious education in schools but this is different from a stated Catholic or Islamic school, for example. As I say, I wouldn't put Christian or Jewish schools in the same bracket as Islamic schools, in any case, and no major political party is campaigning for their removal so it's a moot point.

JimS said...

In my final year in secondary school it was exclusively 'white' except for a couple of Afro-Caribbeans kids in the lower forms. That pretty well represented the local population too.

Now the school is exclusively 'Pakistani heritage' children. None of the girls so much as shows an ankle and 70% of them cover their hair. That pretty well represents the local population too. The school is not a 'faith' school but I bet they don't sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" with gusto in the morning either.

I'm afraid it is too late to ban 'faith' schools.

English Pensioner said...

The Christian Church was the first organisation in this country to try to bring education to the masses and until the arrival of other religions, no-one questioned that the Church should be involved. My grandmother attended a CofE school back in 1865 when church schools were the main source of education. She was taught about Christianity, but I don't think she was indoctrinated (she preferred spiritualism). My grandson attends a modern CofE primary school and I again see no signs of indoctrination, just a simple daily prayer and about half an hour each week learning about the bible. A vast difference from what we are told is happening in some Islamic schools.
We should not allow a tradition which have existed for almost a couple of centuries to be pushed aside simply because newcomers to the country want to change things and abuse our hospitality.

subrosa said...

I agree with you William but my point is, that to have every child entitled to live in Britain have an equal chance, we have to compromise. Sad but true.

subrosa said...

Well said Helena. Thanks.

subrosa said...

Are you a convert to it Joe? ;)

subrosa said...

JRB, I don’t think formal education for children has changed as radically as it has in the past 30 years or so.

I agree we should be grateful to those religious bodies who initially organised free formal education, as well as the churches here and the lairds who permitted teaching in their lands.

Maybe one day a strong, principled politician will decide to do something about it, but I doubt if that will be in my lifetime.

However, I will continue to use it in every discussion I read about equality. As I’ve said the only way our children will receive an equal education is to make schools completely free of religion and for government to set a curriculum for all.

subrosa said...

William, I am not against religious education whatsoever, in fact it can be very beneficial if taught well. I’m against faith schools, all having differing rules and regulations and tailored to meet the needs of the respective religious beliefs of the majority of their pupils.

subrosa said...

JimS, we mustn’t lose hope. We must express our thoughts about each child being equal.

The recent nonsense from Ofsted about rural children having to visit a city mosque is an example of inequality. I doubt if any inner city Muslim child has ever visited a rural Christian church, or any Christian church.

subrosa said...

Unfortunately EP, I doubt if any politician would agree to dissolve certain faith schools and not all.

Our Christian schools have offered a high quality free education to millions of children over centuries, as JRB states, yet we now more or less totally fund any religion which has a hankering to have their own schools (as well as their closed societies).

Joe Public said...

Pastafarianism has its attractions.

Especially when certain 'offcial' documents, e.g census form, demand to know a person's 'religion'.

Joe Public said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Weekend Yachtsman said...

"Keep religion out of our state schools"

Hear! Hear!

I refuse to accept that the government is at all serious about destroying sectarianism, while they continue to send small children to segregated schools as soon as they're old enough to fight.

And do Catholic schools still get a higher capitation payment because they're "disadvantaged"? (Aye Right!).

Sweep the whole nonsense away, this is the 21st century we're living in.

JimS said...

"we mustn’t lose hope"

The perceived 'wisdom' is that immigrants disperse and adopt the characteristics of the host country.

Unfortunately there are certainly parts of England where it doesn't look as if it will happen. This is because the numbers are a lot greater and the 'community cohesion' is vastly greater, in some cases being virtually transplanted villages.

Unlike the classic 'Ellis Island' immigrant who started in the poorest part of New York, moving into the space left by earlier 'waves', our 'New Britains' are not moving on but moving out from a core heartland. They are converting houses for the long term, sized for extended families and daughters-in-law.

As a result secular schools are becoming faith schools by default.

Ah, but they will become 'more British' with each generation! But will they? A recent BBC radio programme went looking for the 'moderate Muslim' and was horrified that they don't exist except in the BBC/Politician's imagination. Young girls are covering their hair in greater numbers, they 'know' their Koran, (they don't!).
They have the BBC Asian Network, Satellite TV and the internet to reinforce and maintain their culture.
It used to be said that there were none so Irish as the London Irish; I fear there will be none so Islamic as the 'British' Muslim.
The growth of faith schools by default is inevitable in England. Given the SNP's line, 'the more the merrier, as long as you aren't English', it won't be long before that is true of Scotland too.

Stewart Cowan said...

As someone else said, you can't dictate policy based on a few Islamic extremists!

Taxpayers' money is OUR money and people deserve the education they pay for or taxes are stealing (many are anyway).

As I wrote on Leggy's the other day, "‘Faith schools’ tend to deliver better results on the whole. The humanists want them banned so that everyone can be equal (equally underachieving)."

Have I introduced you to Yuri Bezmenov? When our religion goes, our country falls to bits - that's why atheism is being promoted by the social engineers.

Keep religion out of our state schools.

Religion is in state schools - the religion of atheism/evolution. It has been shaping our country into an ugly place.

“According to 100 Years of Nobel Prize (2005), a review of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000, 65.4% of Nobel Prize Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference (423 prizes).[7] Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace,[8] 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics,[8] 62% in Medicine,[8] 54% in Economics[8] and 49.5% of all Literature awards.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_Nobel_laureates

I'm confused S/R. You don't want GIRFEC, but you want every child dumbed down and standardised in an atheistic state school.

Every child must have the same chance.

Indeed, every child should be given what he/she needs, but what you are suggesting is definitely not the answer.

Stewart Cowan said...

BTW, as for Jews:

“Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 850 individuals,[2] of whom at least 22% (without peace prize over 24%) were Jews, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world’s population[3] (or 1 in every 500 people). Overall, Jews have won a total of 41% of all the Nobel Prizes in economics, 28% of medicine, 26% of Physics, 19% of Chemistry, 13% of Literature and 9% of all peace awards.[4]”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_Nobel_laureates

Stewart Cowan said...

As for Yuri Bezmenov - the ex-KGB subversion agent told us 30 years ago just how it was going to be in our Marxist-Leninist brave new world.

https://youtu.be/5gnpCqsXE8g

Helena Brown said...

I would say to William that in both France and the US if your children attend State School no religion is taught. I would say that neither are brutal regimes, just sensible.
Religion has no place in Education, if people want their children to learn about their parent's imaginary friend then the place to learn is in whichever Church, Synagogue,Mosque or Temple you employ.
The Secondary I attended had many faiths within it, those whose children were of the Catholic Faith managed to avoid religious instruction whilst the rest of us did not. Not much chance for me with my Mother. I have funnily enough two prizes for Religious Knowledge, in my case it was know your enemy.
My niece is being reared as a Buddhist, her Mum is from Thailand. I should say my Great Grandmother was a Protestant who married a Catholic way back in the days when that was one of the worst things you could do. Her children were meant to be brought up in the Catholic Faith but after her oldest daughter came home complaining of being battered (her words) by the Nuns at school she removed her and all subsequent children were educated at the local State school and only my oldest Great Uncle remained Catholic. Religion has never caused a rift in my family. The young ones,me, my youngest cousin and my older cousin have as far as I know, no religion and it would not make any difference anyway. Not all families are as lucky or as tolerant as mine or my Husband's who are similarly constructed containing other faiths.

William said...

I get you, Helena. There is no God and you hate Him.

"In studies on college students, atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers."

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/01/anger-at-god-common-even-among-atheists/

You might be confusing the issue. There certainly is faith schools in the United States.

"I should say my Great Grandmother was a Protestant who married a Catholic way back in the days when that was one of the worst things you could do"

Hmm, what days were these? My grandparents had a mixed marriage as did my mother in her first marriage.

Stewart Cowan said...

@William - I just encountered that link from the current CMI 'Prayer News'. Do you receive it too?

Now we know another reason why "atheists" are angry.

Gary Bates of the CMI quotes Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God has set the world/eternity in people's hearts.

Also, we have a God-given conscience (most of us) for which there is no sound reasoning acc. to evolutionary theory (that I have heard).

William said...

Just came back to this.

Yes, Stewart, it was from there.

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