Saturday, September 24, 2005

No faith in 'faith' schools

I had the good fortune to be invited onto Any Answers today to make the case for an end to religious schools (I won't give them the euphemism 'faith schools'). It was in relation to Trevor Phillips's assertion that we're sleepwalking into segregation. I said,
I want to make the case for an end to religious schools. Yes, it’s in families that your worldview begins, but it’s acutely consolidated in schools. Now schools I think should be a place where children learn that there’s more that binds them in their common humanity – whatever their skin colour – than separates them.

Religion’s a potent force for taking young people down a particular path, and, as we know, with a few exceptions, most practising religionists are intolerant – both of other religions and cults, and of other people and what they do with their lives. Catholic children are taught that a woman’s right to make decisions about her fertility is wrong; Muslim children are taught likewise; both are also taught that being gay is an evil, because both mullahs and the Pope say it is, and to hell with the millions who, like myself, are gay and have to listen to this insulting nonsense.

Schools are where it starts. After all, kids are – well, kids.

I think there’s no place for religion to be taught per se. Taught about as a subject, yes, but let’s keep it right out of the classroom except as an academic subject. Worship of nonexistent sky fairies is for the home and the meeting house, and the school is for arts and sciences and preparing people for life in the real world, not the world of deities and angels.
Jonathan Dimbleby asked whether I'd like to see them taken right out of the system altogether, and wouldn't this be an issue for rights? Yes, I said, but some rights are always at risk when other rights conflict with them. I did not know what the mechanics would be, I said, because I'm not an administrator, but I'd like to see no school in the system with a religious label on it.

The odd thing is that I'd got on as a result of an email I sent last night, having heard Sir Ian Blair talk about religious schools on Any Questions, and ended my email doubting that the BBC would allow an antireligious view on the air. Good old Auntie proved me wrong.


At 7:14 PM, Anonymous marc said...

Hear hear ol' boy!

Let's have some more: how about proposing an entire live debate on it: with the Vardy monster on trial for his career.


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