After Britain’s High Court ruled last month (as a result of three families whining that atheism was left out of Britain’s religious curriculum) that the government broke the law by leaving out atheism and nonreligious views from their religion curriculum, clarifications were made recently by both the court and British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. She stated in no uncertain terms that non-faith British schools must make it clear that when they teach about other religions in their state-mandated religion classes, they must highlight that British religious traditions are Christian.
The curriculum covers Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. The High Court subsequently released a statement to say the current religious curriculum is not required to be changed. Ms. Morgan’s Education Department released guidelines stating that atheism can be covered in other classes such as history and/or politics rather than being given equal time in religion classes to satisfy the ruling of the Court.
She went on to state they are “determined to protect schools’ freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community.” Now that’s the “thesis” part of the story. The “antithesis” to the story is a but. And it’s a big BUT too.
That antithetical but is a plan to have government education inspectors scrutinize any and all extra-curricular programs, including clubs and summer camps, to see what type of religious teaching the kids are getting. The planned scrutiny is for those under 19 years old who are in a program for six hours or more outside of school. It was forged under the guise of protecting against Islamic radicalization, but religious liberty organization the Christian Institute has complained the plan is painted with such a broad stroke for what is considered “radicalization” that mission creep could set in to target traditional, fundamental Christian teachings.
Colin Hart of the Christian Institute argues that the plan would target the very religious freedoms that Ms. Morgan says Britain society is based on. Mr. Hart believes it is up to police and intelligence services, not the Department of Education, to monitor groups with a proven history of radical, violent teachings. Furthermore, he stated, “…the idea of having an Ofsted inspector sitting in your church youth group or Sunday School to see if you’re an extremist is, I have to say, highly offensive.” According to him, the plan is broad enough that inspectors could “inspect church play rehearsals, review the script, and any songs that are to be sung.”
It remains to be seen what the “synthesis” part of the story is, unless I’ve overlooked it. The last days mentality of using pretexts to expand government control marches on.
Ismat Sarah Mangla, UK Schools Must Teach That Britain Is A Christian Nation, Says Education Secretary, International Business Times, December 29, 2015.
Steven Swinford, Schools must teach children that Britain is a Christian country, The London Telegraph, December 27, 2015.
Charlie Butts, ‘Unprecedented attack’ on religious freedom in UK, OneNewsNow.com, December 28, 2015.