“Faith schools”

Many months ago, I signed a petition calling on the UK government to abolish faith schools. Tonight, I got an email telling me there was an official response.

Let’s start with the last line:

Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character.

Now, why can’t state schools provide a “structured” environment? What is a structured environment anyway?

Parents like me want the best education for our children, and we’ll lie through our teeth about our beliefs to get it if we think the state-supported religious schools in our area are better than any others. I know lots of parents who have lied about their beliefs to get into such schools. I even know some people who have been asked to lie on their friends’ behalf.

Parents’ dishonesty has nothing to with any inherent superiority of faith schools, just the fact that these schools tend to have been around longer, have more money and, most of all, the pick of the best pupils.

It gets even worse:

Religious Education (RE) in all schools, including faith schools, is aimed at developing pupils’ knowledge, understanding and awareness of the major religions represented in the country. It encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils’ moral, cultural and mental development.

I have no problem with teaching people about different religions. Teaching them to “respect” superstitious rubbish is another matter.

And the idea that “moral development” depends on learning about religion just makes me despair. We’re in real trouble if that’s true.

It get worse still:

In February 2006, the faith communities affirmed their support for the framework in a joint statement making it clear that all children should be given the opportunity to receive inclusive religious education, and that they are committed to making sure the framework is used in the development of religious education in all their schools and colleges.

Really? The faith communities support faith schools? Well I never.

They think children should be given the “opportunity” to receive religious education? Of course, they want the opportunity to spread their lies to impressionable young minds.

What is unbelievable, in this day and age, is that any government is sponsoring and supporting those lies, let alone the British government.

PZ Myers, I hope you’ll pick up on this on Pharyngula. You might think the US is behind Europe in terms of religion and evolution, but really, you’re way ahead of us in banning religion from state-sponsored education.

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3 Responses to “Faith schools”

  1. Lorenzo E. Danielsson says:

    Regarding the first quote:
    “Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character.”

    I wonder if they’d care to back that up with some actual data. I’d like to see survey results where they have some hard numbers of parents without “particular” (whatever that means) faith who have responded that schools with a religious character have a more structured environment than other schools *and* that they consider that to be a good thing.

    I for one, would never allow my children to be brainwashed by any religious creeps. I don’t care how damn “structured” it is. I don’t see faith schools being able to do a good job on moral education either, since religious people only act out of fear of judgment from an entity that does not even exist in the first place.

  2. How do you distinguish between religions and superstitious nonsense?

    And if their schools are better, what is it that the faith-based school communities are doing right that the reality based school communities aren’t?

    Do they have more money because of bigger subsidies, or because of better long-term management?

    Since you seem to be conceding that many faith-based schools are far better than those that are not, isn’t it downright irrational to call for their abolition, even if you do dislike part of the curriculum.

    (I seriously doubt that in the long run such schools cultivate any more of the faithful than their secular counterparts, so don’t think that should worry you too much.)

    I don’t think the statement said moral development *depends* on faith-based education; but used the phrase “helps promote”. (I wouldn’t pretend to know if that’s true or not, and of course, the wrong kind of moral development can be destructive.)

  3. johnfalla says:

    They do better because, as I said, they have more applicants and thus pick the cream of the crop. It’s a virtuous/vicious circle depending on your point of view.

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