Religion in Education – No Thanks …

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Supreme Court of Wisconsin “There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter into our civil affairs, our government soon would be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed. Those who made our Constitution saw this, and used the most apt and comprehensive language in it to prevent such a catastrophe.” (March 18, 1890)

So, we knew it in 1890! Why, oh why, can we not learn from our mistakes? Where is the central repository of accrued wisdom to be used when our leaders need guidance? Perhaps we need to have some basic but required education for our politicians (I sow the germ of an idea … – OK own up now, who has NOT read Plato’s Republic yet – eh? eh?).

Religion has absolutely no place in our schools simply because it is a matter of faith / belief and therefore should simply be left to individuals, once they are over 18, and therefore legally old enough to decide for themselves.

Religious schools are by definition divisive – each of the three Abrahamic religions says quite clearly, each in its own manual, that “You shall have no other god but me”. Well, they can’t all be right can they …? Until that point is answered I demand the right to cease all government funding of blind, stupid, archaic, ridiculous faith based organisations based on the rantings of long dead ignorant power mad wizened old men.

Faith schools were not really a big problem, for Britain, while fluffy C.of.E schools were all that there were (OK the Roman Catholic ones were hotbeds of erm … well, ahem hotbeds …), but things have changed. We now have our government funding alien and dangerously backward-looking 7th century Arab culture which is demanding to be “respected” and our politically correct party politicians cannot seem to act to stop this dangerous nonsense.

By all means tolerate them BUT why on earth respect them? We know better! We grew out of tribal warfare around a thousand years ago but seem to forget that it takes time to others to grow up too. OK – it has only been 80 years since our women gained the right to vote but we have to maintain those societal principles and demand that those who immigrate here follow them.

I openly criticise this government’s blind financial support for Islam, and all religions for that matter, because they should damn well know better – read history – understand the lessons for Pete’s sake. The lessons I refer to are encapsulated in paragraph 1 above and in the obvious case our own monarch inventing a religion, (I speak of course of Henry VIII), just because it suited the leadership of the day. Things haven’t changed much – have they Charles?

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3 thoughts on “Religion in Education – No Thanks …

  1. My children go to a C of E school, chosen mainly because it is only 5 mins walk from our house and the other schools would have been harder to get them to on time in the mornings. It also had good OFSTED reports. I used to feel strongly that there should be no religion in schools but when it came to practical issues with my own children I ‘weakened’ my view.

    As we don’t attend church and children from families that do, had preference of getting a place, I had to write something on the school’s application form (they had their own separate one as well as the LEA one) to persuade them that they wanted to take our children. What I came up with – a short version of it – is that I thought the religion would provide a useful framework for teaching good morals. I see the bible stories as moral stories which could be useful for getting the point across but aren’t, by me, always taken literally as being the actual facts of what happened historically.

    I think most of the religions are in support of similar moral teachings such as not harming other people etc. The dangerous parts of religion seem to be when people take the religion’s ‘words’ too literally. I don’t see that there is a huge amount of harm done so long as the school isn’t trying to force extremist views. I went to a C of E school myself and did believe everything the teachers told me up til an age when I had more views of my own, but I don’t feel that my schooling prevented me from changing my views to what they are now.

    Something I really like about the school my children go to is the fact that children from lots of different cultural backgrounds go there even though it is a C of E school. The school does little things to celebrate the religious festivals of all the different cultural groups represented in the school and teaches the children about several religions, just more of it about Christianity than the others. Their motto is “Achieving success in harmony” and they stress tolerance of other people’s beliefs. I want my kids to know that different people believe different things and that this is ok, and to mix with lots of different types of people from different backgrounds in school as I see this as a big part of their education.

    So in summary, I used to strongly disagree with any religion in schools, but having seen the way my children’s school do it, I feel they are doing it in a good way.

    1. Yes, of course, all of the three Abrahamic religions can be right: “You shall have no other god but me.” If there is only one god, any claim to the contrary would be wrong.

      All religions agree that God is beyond man’s comprehension, so none should be faulted for not being able to characterize God accurately, Nevertheless, there is a substantial community of beliefs and practice between the religions. Look at the 10 commandments and find the religion that endorses the polar opposite.

      The confusion comes from the difference between God and religion. God is an entity. Religion is an interpretation based upon imperfect information, the only kind we have. It is also a community. One need not be a member of any religion to believe in God. I suspect there are many religious “hangers-on” that have doubt about whether God exists. They are there for other reasons, primarily fellowship. For a religion to be wrong says nothing about the existence of God.

      Re religion in school, I can’t imagine how history could be adequately taught without an understanding of religion. So many conditions and events have religious beliefs at their core. Societal cohesion, societial divisions, wars, population migration, on and on.

      To teach anything related to culture, with the main driver of culture in absentia, is to say: “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

      If science has all the answers, why are scientists still doing research?

      Why do we have different disciplines for moleceular physics and astronomical physics? Why a difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics? For the same reasons as we have both science and religion: a bottom-up view versus a top-down view. BOTH ARE COMPOSED OF THEORIES. Reconciliation of the macro and micro theoretical views has analytical merit (e.g., quest for a unified theory of the universe). Maintaining ignorance of the view from the opposing pole is just that: ignorance. The purpose of schooling is to dispel ignornace, not to enforce it.

      I view science as a religion, something we have faith in, not a substitute. The average “believer” accepts scientific principles without much understanding of them. Me, too. Science cannot yet come up with a solid definition of “life”. Darwin wrote about the origin of the species (i.e., differention), not the origin of life. Micro view. Turns out the fossil record anticipated by Darwin to be discovered when Africa was explored has not materialized. Fair enough, it’s only the theory of evolution, not the fact. Since we can’t define life or explain it, should schools presume life does not exist?

      If “religion” is to be excluded, then science, to the extent that it is practiced as the religion of non-believers, should also be excluded from schools. An absurdity. If schools couldn’t teach theories(beliefs), there would be no curriculum.

      1. I think I detect an intellectually playful element to your response; I must respond to your willful disobedience!
        You say “If science has all the answers, why are scientists still doing research?
        The wonderful point of science is that it explicitly says “we don’t” have all the answers “but we will use reason and research to establish more truths” – the stupid certainty of religion is its terminal weakness.

        You say “God is an entity” – I say “god almost certainly does not exist” and even if “it” does it certainly has no interest in us. Therefore, I argue, it is far more productive for humanity to proceed as if there were no god – we simply don’t need it; there is no evidence to the contrary and plenty for my position.

        It seems you “believe”; I therefore have nothing to say to you other than that I disagree with you so strongly that I might burst! ”Religion should be tought but as part of man’s search for a philosophy for living. Socrates (500BC) gave us reasoned argument. We need no more than that!

        Chapman Cohen (1868-1954) “Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.”
        Buckminster Fuller “Belief is when someone else does the thinking.
        Freidrich Nietzsche “Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”


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