Tuesday, May 20, 2008

UK: Compulsory Religious Ed on Chopping Block

George Pitcher is not happy that the Human Rights Commission of Parliament wants to make religious education optional for "mature" 16 year olds. He writes, "Parents should be warned that there is a growing threat to their children, undetected by the electric gates and security cameras of their schools. It is insidious because it is absolutist, intolerant and threatens the opportunity for young people to complete their education as rounded individuals with critical, discerning minds."

He argues, "The NSS's agenda is simple: it wants to force the next generation to stop thinking about the spiritual, the transcendental and the mysterious, in favour of a negative utilitarianism. That can be the only reason for picking on this particular bit of the syllabus. I would have embraced Satan in order to give up physics at school; not because it may have flown in the face of a fundamentalist creationism that had seeded in my soul, but because latent heat and absolute density bored me to tears.

Now I'm rather glad I did it; not because I learned very much, but because I did learn what it meant to understand something that I didn't want to. That may be worth pondering when a sufficiently mature and intelligent under-16 says he or she doesn't want to study the Abramic faiths "because they're boring", which is all too often what a matter of conscience amounts to when you're young.

Sure, our ideas of society, constitution and legislature owe limitless debt to secularist Romans and Greeks and other civilisations. But to bin what the Judeo-Christian tradition has bequeathed us in terms of responsibility for the stranger, care for the vulnerable, collective consciousness and our sense of what is right and wrong is utterly ludicrous. That's before we consider what it means to appreciate how these values are inculcated in our children's friends by Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and, yes, by Humanism and Secularism. The enemy of pluralism is not religious education, but secular fundamentalists. And they seem to take no account of the danger of extremists at the margins of religion - better, apparently, to ignore than to understand how they pervert the precepts of the faiths they claim to represent.

You'll forgive me for wheeling out for another appreciation of G.K. Chesterton's old saw that those who stop believing in God don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything. We can easily substitute education for God. That's the future towards which these bossy secularists would like to lead our children.

Read it all here.

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” – Benjamin Rush, signatory to the Declaration of Independence, physician, writer, educator, and humanitarian