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Remove “faith schools” from our education system

Comment 31st August 2010

Faith schools should not be funded by the taxpayer.  State and privately funded institutions should be governed by the same educational standards and not able to 'opt out' when it suits them.  The teaching of RE in any school should not be allowed to be used as a platform for religious proselytising by groups with very specific agendas.  Treat RE as a subject like any other with the same standards and subjected to the same rigorous and regular inspections.  

 

Why does this matter?

Religious heritage is an important part of human culture and needs to be taught and understood, HOWEVER, it needs to be taught to children appropriately and without bias.  As long as Faith schools exist and have control over their own curricula this is not going to be possible.      Faith schools separate children by their parents' beliefs, encouraging division and mistrust of other children and beliefs.     They are also allowed to cherrypick pupils giving them inflated results, leading us think that these results are by virtue of their being a faith school alone.

On top of this, religion undermines the teaching of science, reducing a child's ability to think critically and experience the world as it is.     Evolution is a scientific FACT, with mountains of evidence to support it, including our own DNA.  It is is not a matter of opinion or on equal footing with the myriad of creationist and other 'theories' being peddled by various groups. Children also need to be given factual and fair information about sex and relationships, not told that homosexuality is 'unnatural' or that abstinence is the best form of contraception because it says so in an ancient book.    We need to protect children from this kind of meddling and misinformation.   Cultural 'sensitivity' should not be allowed to shield any child from the truth about the world.    

Of course parents and peers have an influence over children, but if we institutionalise certain beliefs that have no evidence or reason to support them it erodes the child's sense of autonomy and reduces their exposure to alternatives.    Surely a child has the right to know the facts about the world around them and make up their own minds?   Just as importantly, don't they have the right to reject the beliefs of their parents without fear of reprisal or rejection?

By allowing Faith schools to flourish we are legitimising beliefs in unseeable, unknowable Divine beings and allowing their supposed 'spokepeople on Earth' to make up whatever interpretation they want and enforce it as a divine commandment.  We are basically saying that it is required to believe what authority figures tell you without questioning them, no matter what they say.   Water can turn into wine, the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, animals just  'appeared'.    Teaching myth as fact without any supporting evidence is an abuse of our children.   It does NOT encourage participation in a world that can embrace reason, progress, freedom of expression or human rights for all people.   Instead it encourages and legitimises dogmatic thinking, secrecy, a sense of superiority, ignorance, and the rampant abuse of power – examples of which we can see with our own eyes all over the world – the consequences of which have been incalculable.

To continue this emphasis on faith schools and indoctrination dressed up as 'parental choice' goes against common sense in so many ways.    In Britain the great majority of people are no longer religious and are at best 'cultural Christians'.   Giving faith and faith schools such an exalted position is not only against the best interests of our country but it is against the actions and attitudes of the majority of British people, making it undemocratic too.    Taxpayers should NOT have to fund religious indoctrination and education should be fair and equally applied to all.

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