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How should schools teach religion?

03:15 UK time, Sunday, 6 June 2010

Religious education is "inadequate" in one in five secondary schools in England, according to a report. How should religion be taught?

The study, by education watchdog Ofsted, found the quality of RE had declined since 2007. It suggested that many teachers are unsure of what they are trying to achieve in the subject.

The Church of England said the report was concerning but the National Secular Society said that RE should become optional.

Do you remember RE lessons at school? How should schools teach religion? Should RE be an optional subject? If you are an RE teacher, what do you think of the report?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 12

  • Comment number 1.

    Religion is slowly but surely fading out in first world countries as science pushes back the boundrys of understanding and children are not brainwashed when to young to know any better.
    I for one would be quite happy if my young children were not indroduced to any form of imaginary friend.
    If at all, it should be only introduced in secondry school, although i speculate that truency would rise sharpy.

  • Comment number 2.

    It should be taught as little more than a subset of history, as that is where we should consign it to and where it resides for what is a growing number, arguably a majority and certainly the only reasonable part of the country.

    Religious studies as a subject should be kept to an absolute minimum. A pointless subject which is too often used as a vessel for indoctrination and at the very least nowadays is a superb waste of time. How much more I could have learnt if I wasn't having religious irrelevances down my throat.

  • Comment number 3.

    Should religion be taught in schools? Yes absolutely I think so and I say that as a staunch Atheist.

    To deny education on a subject simply because we might disagree on that subject or not share that view is something akin to censoring free speech in my view or at least suppressing information. So as long as it's taught in an informative way, covers as many beliefs and view points as possible within the time frame (including Atheism) and isn't restricted by dogma then most definitely RE should be taught as a subject.

    Teach the children about beliefs and let them make up their own minds about what they choose to believe. I do think it should be an optional subject though, not a necessity.

  • Comment number 4.

    Personally I think students should have a choice on if they wish to learn about it.

  • Comment number 5.

    The teaching in schools of any kind of religion should dropped immediately; but, that's not to say that decent 'christian' values in this 'christian country' should be put forth and if those who baulk at this ethos don't like it, they should move to other countries whose moral and religious practices more fully meet their needs.

    The whole religious concept is one of myth and superstition and has absolutely no foundation in fact and it is therefore absurd for anybody, regardless of their religious persuasion, to 'teach it'.

    Let's not forget two things: 1) that in the history of mankind, more people have been killed 'in the name of religion' than for any other single reason, with absolutely no benefit or meaningful outcome resulting from it, so it doesn't take much to conclude that the world would be a much better and certainly safer place without this nonsense, and 2) wherever one finds a strong religious presence, one will also find its leaders living in wealth beyond imagination whilst their followers, more often than not, live in abject poverty; this alone immediately dispels any kind of religious ethos that they are conceited enough to espouse.

  • Comment number 6.

    How ridiculous that the views of an institution as tiny as the NSS should be given similar coverage as those of the Church of England. The views of others such as Jews and Muslims are completely unrepresented.

    The balance of the article suggests that almost as many people have no faith as do have a faith, which is quite simply wrong.

    I thought the BBC was better than this.

  • Comment number 7.

    There are clearly many misconceptions amongst the public about what Religious Education is about today. Twenty or thirty years ago a predominantly Christian approach or 'Scripture' lesson would have been the order of the day. Today RE is multi-faith, and should not seek to indoctrinate or teach any one religion as true. The subject helps children explore fundamental questions and to promote the formulation of their own responses, whether that be atheist, religious or somewhere in between! There is no escaping the fact that the majority of the world's population is religious in some sense. Religious education helps to provide for a fully rounded education. Secular views should form a part of religious education too, but we should not be indoctrinating our children, in either secularism or in religion. Children should continue, as in the past, to have the right to a full education and a personal choice with regards to religion. Just a couple of reasons why RE is vital, social cohesion and the appreciation of art and literature arguments are for another day!

  • Comment number 8.

    I do not believe RE has a place at school any more.When I was a youngster it was OK, bearing in mind that everyone in our school was white, English, and, probably Christian. These days more and more kids, if the BBC TV pictures are to be believed, are not white, and probably not Christian. So teaching RE either has to be a bland mish-mash of all conceivable religions, including atheism, Judaism, Islam, etc., or somebody will cry "foul.

  • Comment number 9.

    Some religious courses cannot not fulfil pupils' expectations because they are aimed to provide theoretical insights into the most spread religions in the world, but cannot explain in details what it means to believe in God and why it is important. This field is the most difficult do deal with and to teach because it touches the irrational side of human personality and that world above which cannot be explained by the mind.

    That there are many kinds of worship of God, and that religious freedom should be respected in the same way in which the freedom of speech is respected may seem obvious, but school children need to know why it is important that it should be respected. This topic involves the most basic knowledge of the subject, and all the details should come later.

    Many teachers may seem unsure about what they want to achieve in teaching the subject because the university courses that they took and that form their background were too abstracted and dry. In them religion is often considered as something secondary to science, and this view is mistaken because historically faith appeared before science and played the role of its precursor. This relationship between science and faith is similar to the relationship between the mind and imagination; before starting to speak and to think rationally and reasonably, babies used to take interest in fairies, mermaids, elfs, gremlins and other creatures from wonderland that is the realm of irreality.

    While children grow up, at some point (maybe, six or seven years or later) they become able to learn religion. It is sad that some pupils have no opportunity to study Christian theology that is the most elaborate, detailed and accomplished religious system because in this case they lose a lot. The teachers of this important, difficult and complicated subject should know a lot about it and should from time to time renew and refresh their knowledge by studying the treatises of the Fathers of the Church.

    I read may special books on the subject, including modern ones, and found out that the best books to study are those written by John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and, maybe, some other great teachers who make their goal to sum up the main principles of Christian faith. Their great heritage belongs to all Christians, but not especially to some or other confession, such as Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or any other.

  • Comment number 10.

    Not a catholic, but my primary school was a convent. Religious teachings there explained why Christmas and Easter are celebrated (probably why I still look upon them as a ridiculous excuse for a spending spree), gave very clear teaching about right and wrong (in a manner easily understood by young children, applicable to them and not in a way to instill fear), which led on to how to behave with consideration for others. The nuns led by example. Once a week the convent opened up to provide a meal for any homeless people who cared to go there.

    Perhaps it depends how religion is taught - much contained in the bible, for example is historical fact, and much of Christianity teaches humilitiy. From Islam we find the teaching of hospitality (which I know stems from the nomadic way of life, but this is practised by most Muslims).

    The argument that more people have been killed in the name of religion - people will always find an excuse to kill people for land, money, greed - if it is not religion, they will find something based upon what they believe to be historical fact, their conception of a threat to themselves, or their right.

    Religious education at my primary school in particular, I look back upon as something that had far more to do with what religion is supposed to be about, and which I treasure.

  • Comment number 11.

    In my opinion, as I have just taken my RE exam for my GCSEs, I felt that having it as an exam is pointless, yes we can have it as lessons but not as an exam.

  • Comment number 12.

    what next? will they be complaining that they aren't teaching the kids enough about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy? If it weren't for religion there would be no sectarianism, no Terrorism, no war and life would be much better and safer. State Sanctioned Fairy Tales are still State Sanctioned Fairy Tales whether they are religious or not

  • Comment number 13.

    6. At 06:32am on 06 Jun 2010, G_Jones wrote:
    How ridiculous that the views of an institution as tiny as the NSS should be given similar coverage as those of the Church of England. The views of others such as Jews and Muslims are completely unrepresented.

    The balance of the article suggests that almost as many people have no faith as do have a faith, which is quite simply wrong.

    I thought the BBC was better than this.

    -----------------------------------------------

    I think you may find that the vast majority of people in the UK are not religious and or don't care. In fact the Catholic religion only makes up 5% of the UK population which is much more than both the Jewish and Moslem both together. Work it out for yourself.

  • Comment number 14.

    Quite simply religion should not be taught in local authority schools.
    It should be taught by the relevant religious order on their premises.
    I would go further and say that Faith schools should not be allowed.

  • Comment number 15.

    Not teaching religion in schools is ridiculous. Not studying the Bible - or at least the New Testament - is as silly as saying you shouldn't study Shakespeare in English.

    Yes, we have to beware of indoctrination. But this is very rare and is usually stamped on; at least, religious indoctrination is. The agressive secularists, though, hate religion with a passion and want atheism proselytised in schools. So there is an agenda of indoctrination, but indoctrination into uncritical, angry atheism. Let's stop RE. Let's abolish Church schools. Then we can start attacking religious aid agencies and charities - and eventually we can start closing the churches.

    Perhaps no religion is true. But saying all religion is bad and must be eliminated is as daft as saying all art is bad, or all politics is bad, just because some of it is.

    I taught RE in schools for more than 20 years, in both non-denominational and church schools. Religious Studies is, or should be, an academic subject. (After all, I read Theology at Oxford.) There is nothing wrong with the critical study of religion or of the Bible. If a knowledge and understanding of religion is eliminated or diminished, as the National Secular Society would dearly love, you will simply have an increase in ignorance. And the vacuum will be filled with the caricatures of Christianity and of the other faiths that are bandied about by those whom St Paul called the God-haters.

    Why do the heathen so furiously rage? Jung (I think) said fanatics were fanatics because they are terrified they might be wrong. Something to ponder.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think religion is an important subject to study as it does exert, for better or worse, a profound influence on our society and world events.

    However I don't think it's important enough to justify being taught as a subject on it's own. Perhaps schools should introduce a 'General Studies' lesson, where they are taught about religion, politics, sociology, philosophy and other theoretical subjects which will give them a broader understanding of the world they live in.

    Within this context, religion should be discussed objectively, giving a balanced view of the world's major religions and also including atheism, agnosticism, paganism and other alternate ways of thinking,allowing children to make their own minds up when they are mature enough to do so.

  • Comment number 17.

    It should be taught in a way that does what richard dawkins said. Teaches children how to think, not what to think. I remember RE lessons where I was being told this god chap exists and is wonderful. But not being offered any proof of it.

    Mind you my last year in secondary education the focus in the RE lessons wasnt on just studying the gospels it was on life issues such as marriage and abortion and birth and the like, and those did encourage you to learn and think about the matters. And that was good.

  • Comment number 18.

    Religion should be taught as part of the history lessons. People no longer think that unicorns fairies etc are real yet the church praying mosque going loonies believe in nothing more than magicial things in the sky . . .time to get a grip and mock religion for its stupidity

  • Comment number 19.

    You can't please all the people all of the time...as a teacher I know that there are parts of the curriculum that slip due to the time constraints that the current system creates. RE is one of the subject that will be droppped from a weekly timetable if other activities /outings etc are planned. There are just not enough hours in the school week to fit in everything that is being expected to be taught...and yes, whilst RE is an interesting subject and can deal with lots of major aspects of life I would argue that it is not as important as he teaching of Literacy, Numeracy and Science. A lot of the teaching of RE can be combined with other subjects (such as Geography or PSHE) and what we as teachers and as a society need to do is a) make sure that any teaching of religion is balanced in order to encourage religious tolerance in our youngsters, and b) ensure that the teaching of RE is made relevant to the needs and lives of the children it is being taught to. As I said at the start of this comment though, you can't please all of the people all of the time and I suppose teachers will be criticised whatever they do or do not do.

  • Comment number 20.

    That the religious education in secondary schools is not fully satisfactory speaks in favour of making it a part of primary school program. Another reason for doing so is that with age school children become affected by scepticism that is like a disease that affects adults as well. At some point their reasoning faculties start to dominate over their imagination, so that they cease to take interest in anything that cannot be rationally explained. Therefore, religion should be tought before all other subjects and as early as possible.

  • Comment number 21.

    Religious instruction is important as are religious principles. No man can live without a proper set of moral/spiritual values. I think that in a Christian country, religious education should be based on Christian principles for all people attending schools. If the children attending are not Christian, they should still receive that instruction for the simple fact that they must learn to understand and adapt to a Christian society. Their parents can, I am sure, organise alternative religious instruction for them in Sunday schools to comply with their religious needs in the same way that parents do in the case of children who speak other language rather than English at home; they get further instruction in their parent's language at Sunday school, and the same, I feel, applies to religion. A country which rejects religious instruction for their young is a poorer place; at some point in our lives we all need the support that our spiritual beliefs give us and to deny that to the young is not fair on them. It is in the end, up to people what they do with their beliefs but the basis should be given as part of that future choice.

  • Comment number 22.

    In response to the theological gentleman who writes about God-haters and the NSS, I don't think that most atheists are as militant as he seems to think. Personally I don't believe in god(s)and I do think that the evangelical religions are at best highly insulting and at worst highly dangerous, but I also think that it's up to an individual what they believe and if that includes a belief in higher beings, an afterlife etc then fair enough.

    I am worried by this paranoia that religious belief is being actively attacked by some anonymous corporate entity when in my view religions seem to enjoy legal protection far beyond that of any other belief system.

    Live and let live, a maxim which I would have thought a religious person would have some sympathy with?

  • Comment number 23.

    Religion should be taught as part of learning History and that's where it should stay. The make believers should join the human race.

  • Comment number 24.

    Teach Philosophy rather than religion in school. Teach religion is a part of UK history and it's development. Religious schools can still use it to develop community structure, but that just doesn't work in the government run schools. Philosophy teaching is the way forward, unless the government is still using religion as a form of social brain washing.

  • Comment number 25.

    Yea, what he said.

  • Comment number 26.

    It shouldn't be taught at all at state run schools. At Secondary school I strived to achieve a "zero" in all my RE exams and wasn't even entered in the "O" levels. Despite this protest (or because of) I have had a successful career in industry (so far!).

  • Comment number 27.

    I thought it was common knowledge that RE at GCSE and A-level has about as much use as General Studies, ie, completely pointless. You don't need it to study any subject at either A-level or degree, and passing a "goddidit" exam not going to impress an employer much either.

    It's not a concern, then, that it's inadequacy taught, since there are other priorities. Science and Maths, for a start, should take precedence. These need to be taught with far more rigor than they are at the moment, as they're needed for a number of science, and science-based subjects at A-level and degree.

    RE should be axed, and replaced with Science and Maths lessons. If parents want their kids to learn about religion, they should send them to Sunday School.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with the general thrust of the posts - it's a subject that has no place in modern Education. If Children attend extra faith lessons outside of School, i.e Sunday School that's absolutely fine, but the state should not endorse Religious views. I have two teenage boys who were obliged to take either full RE or a subject called Philosophy & Ethics. The latter is also taught by the RE department and appears to be RE, just by a different name. In their particular school the RE teacher is a fervent Catholic and everything has a heavy bias toward that one religion, so does not even deliver an appreciation of what the different faiths mean.

  • Comment number 29.

    Religion should be taught in exactly the same way as other fairy stories like Jack and Jill, and Humpty Dumpty. If parents want their children to learn about religion, that's what Sunday School is for. Our PM wants cuts? There's a big one that can be made right here. Pity he's too weak.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think faith schools have no place in our state system. If parents want their children brought up in a specific faith, let them pay for it; though I think faith schools are divisive and destructive of a wider unity within society - look at Northern Ireland, where the tragic religious divisions were exacerbated by religiously segregated education.

    I feel children need to learn to live 'an examined life'. They should be made aware that it is perfectly possible to live in a caring and responsible way without religious faith,though I would give them an understanding of the world's religions, their precepts and values, without being taught these things as 'absolute truths'.

    I would emphasise in particular the cultural values of Christianity: though an atheist, I appreciate religious art, music and poetry more because I have a knowledge of the King James Bible, one of the greatest works of literature ever written. We need to be connected to our cultural roots and to have a knowledge of them, without ncessarily believing the theology.

    Finally, teaching 'morality' is pointless without example. In the past, schools, homes and society were at one. If society's values are shallow and selfish, how are schools to teach responsibility and unselfishness? They can only re-inforce the values of society. They cannot be expected to instil moral values if these values are not refelcted in their homes and wider society.

  • Comment number 31.

    I strongly believe that religion has no place in schools. I disagree with faith schools of all persuasions as, in my opinion, they foster divisiveness and intolerance. Maybe that is just my experience of growing up in N.Ireland where religious schools were the norm and served to keep both communities separated.

    If parents want their children to have a religious education, they can send their kids to their local church/mosque/temple etc. and leave the schools to concentrate on academic and practical subjects which prepare kids for the real world. Religion is a personal issue and one that the state education system should keep well away from. After all, the majority of people in the UK are not practicing Christians any more, so why is the state insisting on forcing such ideology on our children?

  • Comment number 32.

    If religion is not taught in schools many kids will receive no religious education at all. This may suit a lot of people, but these are the same people who are probably quite happy to celebrate Christmas and Easter. You can't have it both ways, either teach the basics of religion or scrap the religious holidays.

  • Comment number 33.

    RE should certainly become optional it offers no true value as a stand alone subject and to force it down kids' throats is wrong. Maybe it should be incorporated as a part of an ethics / philosophy type lesson plan instead?

  • Comment number 34.

    1. At 03:57am on 06 Jun 2010, loki-tom wrote:

    Religion is slowly but surely fading out in first world countries as science pushes back the boundrys of understanding...


    Rather than fading out, as you would like to see it, religion is constantly growing, making human relationship with God closer and more perfect. Just one example. Centuries ago very few people had an opportunity to read religious texts because the vast majority of them were too busy making their living and had no time to do so, and also because these texts were available only in small numbers of copies. And the number of educational institutions in which theology was tought as a discipline was small as well. In the modern times people have more spare time to read and to study; sacred texts, books and treatises are published across the world in huge numbers of copies and are available via Internet as well. Across the world there is a great number of educational institutions, such as seminaries, theological schools and academies in which this subject is tought, and the number of them is constantly growing. Maybe, you never noticed it, but religion is also acquiring more and more significance in human life due to TV, radio and other mass media, and this tendency is for better, I am sure.

  • Comment number 35.

    It should only be taught in history lessons the same as communisn, fascism and other principles used to control people

  • Comment number 36.

    Here we go again. Atheists playtime. Abuse other peoples beliefs because they don't believe in anything themselves. All the comments about science pushing back the boundaries etc. Science has changed nothing it only discovers how our wonderful universe is made and how things work it has created nothing. Contrary to the nonsensical comments about "Religion has caused more wars and death than any other reason." How about world wars 1 and 2 for starters, I don't recall that being for religious reasons. Dawkins drivel is typical of his type of "Science". Don't forget he was the one who slated James Lovelock for his Gaia Hypothesis which has been proven true (By science). If you have no faith, fine, but don't abuse those who do. Any fool can sling insults and many on this HYS have done so with their usual mindless gusto.

  • Comment number 37.

    Schools should teach Cosmology, Paleontology, Plate Tectonics, Evolution, Ethics.
    If there is any time left, Religion could be included as History or Social Studies.
    Any school which enrols pupils with a religious faith background, and then fails to teach them enough science that they realise their religion is just myth, has by definition failed to educate them.
    A 'Faith School' is a self-contradiction.

  • Comment number 38.

    People have been talking about the death of religion for thousands of years, that is one thing that never changes.
    Science and religion do not conflict, they attempt very different things and people who say science is replacing religion do not understand either.
    Religion like philosophy tries to answer why and provide purpose to the universe, science tries to create models that can be used by engineers for developing solutions and technologies of value.
    Science no more replaces religion than gravity replaces morality.

  • Comment number 39.

    Religious Education is a challenging subject to teach well - but in our local community secondary school in Sussex OFSTED inspectors found it was the subject students enjoyed the most. This was because of inspirational teaching. The National Secular Society, whose views you publicise at length, represents a tiny group of people who are intent not on promoting tolerance but anti-religious bigotry. Religious faith is an important feature of the lives of the vast majority of the human race - the fact that some of the comments on this page speak of 'sky gods and tooth fairies' says a great deal about the poverty of their education and their own arrogance. RE should not be about indoctrination in any school, but we cannot make sense of our own culture or anyone else's without understanding the basis of the religious beliefs that have shaped them. You have to have some familiarity with, for example, the key themes of the bible and other religious literature in order to be able to do this and we need teachers who first have this knowledge themselves and secondly can communicate it interestingly to their students.

  • Comment number 40.

    There is nothing wrong with our good old traditional Christian beliefs.
    This Country was formed on it. Our laws and most of the laws of the world evolved from it.

  • Comment number 41.

    I suspect a significant number of teachers teaching RE are either agnostic or have no belief at all. Thry teach because they are required to. It is rather like a biology teacher teaching latin from a text book with any love for the language whatsoever
    It would be better if the local vicar or mosque leader came and taught - if he did not have the aptitude then he should not be a vicar

  • Comment number 42.

    "In one school, some teachers used Jesus's parables to explore personal feelings or to decide how people should behave, but without using any reference to their religious significance."

    Forgive me OFSTED, but isn't that exactly the point of Jesus' parables!!! :) This is the calibre of mind assessing our teaching skills! I would give that teacher an A for using active teaching methods to explore the parables more deeply and connecting them to the lives of her pupils!
    Last week my Year 3s and 4s redecorated their class as a Tudor church c.1520 for their History topic, role-played the activities, labeled every 'artefact' they made in art, and had a 'reformation' the next week to compare. They've been telling me differences between Tudor conceptions of hell and our own, asking why Jews and Saracens are depicted being burnt, learning how the wine and bread relate to the Last Supper, teaching each other bible stories from their paintings, trying to sell each other papal indulgences with their own adverts. No doubt we would get a BIG OFSTED FAIL: 'RE only covered as part of a history lesson. Do more assemblies.'!

  • Comment number 43.

    if god exists then he is the most childish immature cruel heartless unthnking unloving thing on this planet . . .

  • Comment number 44.

    THe only way to teach religion is the straightforward way.
    Keep prejudice out,racism out and teach accurate history of all religions.
    Although,keeping religion out of schools entirely is a better idea.
    There are institutions already set up for that purpose.

  • Comment number 45.

    Religion shouldn't be taught, other than as a part of history education. We live in a modern world, not one governed by tenets written for a society thousands of years ago. The state of the religious nations of the world is all you need to look at, in order to reinforce the conclusion that all religions ceased to be of any value centuries ago.

  • Comment number 46.

    How should schools teach religion?

    They shouldn't teach myth at all as it confuses kids who may think its real.

    It is daft for the young to be taught to examine only real evidence in science but then to ignore real evidence in religion.

    The state should be 100% secular and all types of schools should be prevented from teaching religion other than as a historical oddity along with other ignorant beliefs like flat earths and witchcraft.

  • Comment number 47.

    15. At 07:06am on 06 Jun 2010, Simon Danes wrote:

    Not teaching religion in schools is ridiculous. Not studying the Bible - or at least the New Testament - is as silly as saying you shouldn't study Shakespeare in English.

    ---------

    No it is not

    --

    Yes, we have to beware of indoctrination. But this is very rare and is usually stamped on; at least, religious indoctrination is. The agressive secularists, though, hate religion with a passion and want atheism proselytised in schools. So there is an agenda of indoctrination, but indoctrination into uncritical, angry atheism. Let's stop RE. Let's abolish Church schools. Then we can start attacking religious aid agencies and charities - and eventually we can start closing the churches.

    -----

    What a ridiculous rant.

    ---

    Perhaps no religion is true. But saying all religion is bad and must be eliminated is as daft as saying all art is bad, or all politics is bad, just because some of it is.

    I taught RE in schools for more than 20 years, in both non-denominational and church schools. Religious Studies is, or should be, an academic subject. (After all, I read Theology at Oxford.)

    There is nothing wrong with the critical study of religion or of the Bible.

    -----
    Agreed. It takes about a second to realise that it is indoctrinational nonsenese. Ubless you find it reasonable to believe a virgin can give birth to a man who walks on water and becomes a zombie.

    -----

    If a knowledge and understanding of religion is eliminated or diminished, as the National Secular Society would dearly love, you will simply have an increase in ignorance. And the vacuum will be filled with the caricatures of Christianity and of the other faiths that are bandied about by those whom St Paul called the God-haters.

    -----

    Ahhhh it's a my god is better than your god thing. Illuminating.

    ----


    Why do the heathen so furiously rage? Jung (I think) said fanatics were fanatics because they are terrified they might be wrong. Something to ponder.

    --

    The irony of that is hilarious.

  • Comment number 48.

    This is a really difficult question to answer in a few words; Religions are here; each should be explained as to how they operate; religious teachings must be understood as pathways to God, not for how devisive they can be.
    All religions are run by men who, I suspect would like to keep their positions safe.
    The most important thing I can say is that the God of love is for everyone and we each have a divine right to find our own path to God whether through a particular religion or not. You don't need a priest/vicar to be able to pray.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is quite wrong for people to say that religion is irrelevant. Approximately 10% of the UK population will go to church today. let alone all the other faiths. That is a lot more than the membership of the National Secular Society! Faith groups are by far and away the biggest voluntary sector in the UK. The National Secular Society campaign aggressively for an end to faith based schooling, but forget that the church set up schools to educate children before the state had ever even thought of the idea.

  • Comment number 50.

    Religious Education has no place in schools, except as a warning about bad thinking. It should be replaced with an Ethics class, as they are doing in New South Wales.

  • Comment number 51.

    40. At 08:02am on 06 Jun 2010, Joseph Harrington wrote:
    There is nothing wrong with our good old traditional Christian beliefs.
    This Country was formed on it. Our laws and most of the laws of the world evolved from it


    .........................................................


    Yes laws evolved from it so did the murder of millions over the centurys in the name of some religion.

  • Comment number 52.

    It is absurd to treat all religions as if they are equal in merit. That can only be so for people who are amoral anarchists.
    Religions are composed of innocuous cultural activities, cosmological theories, and moral codes based on good or ill use of ethical values.
    Diet, for instance, may be desirable for human health, but where it is purely cultural, there should be no moral intrusion.
    To have one wife, many wives, or gay partners, is either of no social significance - which is very unlikely - or it is a matter of social morality and to be regulated accordingly.
    Religions that believe in animal or human sacrifice can hardly be assumed acceptable today.
    In so far as the major religions have accepted the UN Charter and Human Rights, there may be an adequate degree of unity, and it is that unity which needs to be understood and taught.
    Ig "God is good" then it the good that has to be understood, and the contribution to ethical philosophy that has been made by the Bible, Koran, and other more 'secular' books.

  • Comment number 53.

    No,religion of any faith should not be taught in school because it is divisive.If children want to learn about religion they can do so but it should not be part of daily schooling which takes up badly needed time to get the three R's into children. We are told thousands leave school,not being able to read,write or even count-a disgrace in the 21st century.We do our children no justice by allowing religion to dominate time in daily lessons. Religious leaders know that their particular brand may not be sustainable if people were allowed to choose.In a democracy where children as young as 10 can be imprisioned for crimes surely they have the same rights of choice as any of us.Given that choice a vast majority would choose not to participate in religious teaching.

  • Comment number 54.

    RE should at best be an optional subject. Religious history is best taught in its historic context anyway, so it should be taught alongside relevant units in history classes. If current curricula do not cover enough of the history of humankind to also cover all major religions and their place in history that's the problem of those, i.e., history curricula.

  • Comment number 55.

    RE should be completely removed from school teaching. I hated RE when i was at school and felt pressured into believing in faith. As an athiest "by choice", RE should NOT be taught to school children at an age where they are very open to suggest. If anything, it should be reserved to be taught in the latter stages school education, where the pupils are more mature and able to decide for themselves as to what is knowledge and what is faith.
    As the reverend on your show just said, "It's not just about indoctrination", shows that the church is obviously trying to influence people at an age where they would be overwelmed by religious pressure.
    If anything, their should be only a short amount of classes teaching the basics and the option for students to study the subject more indepthly in their final years.
    Also, if they are gonna be teaching about the faith in schools, the schools should also teach just exactly how dangerous belief is and the history of all the massacres and murders that have been done in the name of religion.

    School should be about teaching pupils knowledge, and not trying to make someone believe in something that there is no proof about.

  • Comment number 56.

    The only reliable statistic regarding the proportion of the population that believe is the 2001 census, when Christians outnumbered No Religion by more than 4 to 1. If all those who did not make a declaration were lumped in to the no religion camp, it would still be 3 to 1. To claim that more people now have no religion is fatuous. What is not in question is that a large majority of those who associate with the mainstream C of E are heavily secularised, Christmas and Easter only types. To misquote Douglas Adams, I avoid going to Church, but the Church I avoid is staunchly Anglican.

  • Comment number 57.

    Christianity is the basis of our MORALITY AND LAW.
    It is noticeable that since Successive Governments have become more secular in their attitudes and have constantly watered down religious teaching in schools into a bland generalised subject. done away with assemblies and any teaching of moral and social behaviour which is the glue of society. The country has slowly sunk into the morass of self indulgence and disregard for others.
    It is particularly saddening to see the the way this has debased the Labour party which originated on with Non-conformist Christians and the spirit of working class unity with the Cooperatives movement, Building Societies and Unions.
    Now all has been eroded and forgotten by the self seekers of the political,Financial, and Media world who have replace the Christian morality with greed and self indulgence.
    The message is still strong, even if many practitioners have fallen by the way side, But they are few compared with the non-believers who have no morality to fall back on.
    Sadly, Parliament is full the latter. Hell bent of destroying the influence of Christianity. and other religions which preach regard for your fellow man.

  • Comment number 58.

    So much about our society, economy and environment derrives from interpretations of changing forms of our state religion, Christianity, and particularly from paying elaborate lip-service to it's core values and then failing to adopt them. Without quite a good understanding of this, the UK must seem a very strange place indeed. If we were to remove religion, and specifically Christianity, from the curriculum, what would replace it most effectively? Although a few specialist Religious Education teachers do an inspiringly good job, given the clanking chains with which the National Curriculum constrains them, the present post-modern liberal approach has almost become a charicature of itself and in most cases serves only to confuse children.

  • Comment number 59.

    I taught R.E. for 22 years until ill health forced my retirement in 1992 and I am not surprised that Ofsted regards it as inadequate. In those 22 years I saw it "watered down", even in the Church of England school where I taught.
    Any teacher was asked to teach the subject and take assemblies just because they were (supposed to be) 'worshippers', regardless of whether or not they were trained in the subject. Children as young as eleven were expected to do assemblies... and not adequately led in them by disinterested or overworked form tutors. Those 'assemblies' often held only 3 times per week, the rest of the time being relegated to 'form prayers' when as a form tutor you had so much class admin that often the only prayer was that of the form tutor to be able to get through the admin before the bell. (Even I as the ONLY teacher in the school who specifically trained in Theology with the intent to be an R.E. teacher, had this problem.)
    When seen to be of so little importance, even in a Church School, what hope the rest?
    I was subject to the first ever Ofsted in our area, which being a church school had a separate 3 day scrutiny of religious aspects. The inspector told me that he wished he could have filmed my lesson as an exemplar. I cared. But when R.E. teaching is seen to be of so little importance from those in powerful positions in schools and government and given into the hands of those who care even less, to teach, it is little wonder that it is failing.
    Our history as a country has its basis in religion; so many things happen in the world in religion's name..OF COURSE children need to be taught about it in order to make sense of the world around them and understand their own innermost feelings. We ARE spiritual beings, whether or not you hold belief in a deity.
    Spiritual understanding brings about hope and without hope we become depressed, uncaring and lawless. (A fair description of our country right now ?????)
    And the 'Church of England' seems to be far too meek to speak out and uphold standards in the world. There will be very few of those meek ones to inherit the earth unless someone is prepared to stand up and be counted. And very little 'Earth' of worth to inherit.

  • Comment number 60.

    Religion should not be taught in schools. I think they always do it badly and put children off. I do have spiritual views, put think religion is very devisive.Religion should be taught in a church or in the home setting.All religious imagery should be removed from schools from christian to islamic symbolism and dress codes - similar to the french model.

  • Comment number 61.

    Religion should be referred to as something that has affected people throughout history. It should not, however, be taught as 'faith'.

    Religion is a very much man-made hangover from a more ignorant, superstitious age. There is no place for it in state schools.


    ps. The argument that more people 'may' attend church today than are members of the secular society is hardly strong evidence for the existence of an omnipotent deity. FWIW, the vast majority won't be attending church today.

  • Comment number 62.

    The quicker religion is banned from schools the better, faith schools have no place within education instead evolution should be taught perhaps then we could eradicate racism and starvation.

  • Comment number 63.

    Perhaps RE should be scraped altogether as according to my young grandchildren,they are spending more than twice as much time reading about other religions than their own,Christianity.
    So,if it is indeed deemed right to teach RE in School,lets at least concentrate on the religion of this country not everyone else's.

  • Comment number 64.

    Children should know about religious belief but as part of a cultural studies curriculum including also mythology (which is really the same as religion)basic philosophy (which should include atheist objections to religion)and art/literature. If organisations like churches and mosques want to teach their beliefs as fact they should do so outside of the school curriculum. Unfortunately our model of education developed through allowing church schools to provide the whole curriculum with state funding and it has now become almost impossible to disengage from this model. The French have developed a secular model which is much better than ours.

  • Comment number 65.

    There is absolutely no place for religious studies in schools. Not only are they not applicable to the vast majority of workplaces and will not prepare you to get a job, but it will divide pupils. It's more important right now to bring religious communities together then to drive them apart further. Riots involving extremist groups like the EDL and islam4uk are a direct result of a segregated society as well as the actions of ignorant politicians. We must tackle this by encouraging mass assimilation. The terrorists will only win when we become segregated and over protective. This can not happen. Keep religion at home. It's a personal thing.

  • Comment number 66.

    Religion is a very good and proper subject for children because from it they can learn how to feel respect by learning how to worship and respect God. And they should learn to believe in God before learning to think rationally. Otherwise, they can become cynics who have no values, no beliefs and no respect toward others. The human mind is not a computer that can be stuffed with information to its full capacity, then emptied and restuffed with it again. For many people to study religion in adulthood can be too late, for some - too difficult, for others - impossible at all. However, ignorance in religious matters is a bad thing that can lead to fatal mistakes. Those who are affected by it are unable to meet serious challenges when they arise in their lives, so it is better to learn religion in early childhood. Those who are not aware of what faith in God is and what God's commandments are seem more likely to become criminals - this is sad, but true.

  • Comment number 67.

    As science continues to show up the fallacies of religion, R.E. should be dropped, as it is as relevant today as Alchemy.

  • Comment number 68.

    34. At 07:49am on 06 Jun 2010, Pavel wrote:
    Rather than fading out, as you would like to see it, religion is constantly growing, making human relationship with God closer and more perfect. Just one example. Centuries ago very few people had an opportunity to read religious texts because the vast majority of them were too busy making their living and had no time to do so, and also because these texts were available only in small numbers of copies. And the number of educational institutions in which theology was tought as a discipline was small as well. In the modern times people have more spare time to read and to study; sacred texts, books and treatises are published across the world in huge numbers of copies and are available via Internet as well. Across the world there is a great number of educational institutions, such as seminaries, theological schools and academies in which this subject is tought, and the number of them is constantly growing. Maybe, you never noticed it, but religion is also acquiring more and more significance in human life due to TV, radio and other mass media, and this tendency is for better, I am sure.
    ------------
    Yes, and Western Society is now engaging in perhaps another thirty-years struggle against this return to ignorance, of which the war against Al-Quaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is just the opening.

  • Comment number 69.

    I was in the first year to do GCSEs and RE was just a GCSE option after the first three years of secondary school then - I didn't know it was now compulsory, while, eg. a foreign language is not. Those seem like strange priorities (I have checked on a government site - it is true that RE is required to be offered right up to age 16).

    I think RE is of interest because it helps explain the world we live in where many people have a religious belief, but that it should be taught factually (ie. about facts about people's practices and beliefs), not in a way that suggests one religion is true. Theoretically it was done like this at my school,and we studied several world religions, but in practice there was a feeling that Christianity was probably "more true" than the others, and our GCSE studies (I opted for it) were only about Christianity - I don't know if that has changed?

    I think doing this is quite a straightforward idea, which should not leave teachers confused. Where things could get more confusing is if RE is also supposed to teach about morals - in which case it might be harder to keep from being biased. It would be quite complicated, and require quite a lot of knowledge or research by the teachers, to always fully explore the ethical approaches of all the major systems of belief relating to a given topic. So maybe RE should just stick to facts about religions? After all ethics and not the exclusive preserve of religions - they could be explored in other strands of the curriculum like Personal, Social and Health Education or Sex and Relationship Education.

    I think also that some other important life philosophies like atheism, agnosticism and Humanism should also be considered so pupils are not given the impression everyone must have a religion.

    Having said this, in France they teach no religion in schools and I don't think it has any particularly damaging effects.

  • Comment number 70.

    Yawn, I could see this HYS topic coming from a mile off. Yet another chance for the HYS team to promote cheap digs at religion. Personally I think it's a good thing for schools to teach religion. It doesn't replace scientific fact, which should always be upheld and promoted.

    What science doesn't do though is tell us why we're here, nor does it give us any moral code. For that, religion in all it's forms should be expolored with an open mind for what it can offer the individual and community.

    And here's a thought: is there a correlation between school performance and the teaching of religion? It seems that faith schools and those with a strong religious teaching, do better than those that don't. Am I wrong?

  • Comment number 71.

    Religion, like drugs and pornography should be for adults only. Indoctrination should be discouraged and should not occur to minors at all, and certainly should not be tolerated in schools, let alone actively promoted in lessons.

    The existence of gods has yet to be proven. In fact no evidence of the existence of gods has been found. We have travelled in space. Our sensors and telescopes have examined the far reaches of the universe. No gods have been found. Yet we teach our youngsters about this supernatural bunkum as if it were factual.

    If gods existed you wouldn't need religions and imaginary friends because it would be obvious to all humans and many species of animal.

    How would it be if witchcraft, diabolism or voodoo were to become compulsory study at schools? Parents would be horrified, especially if it were presented to students as being factual.

    If adults really want to have an imaginary friend, fair enough, but they should best keep it to themselves, and therapy should be made available to those worst affected by it.
    I think of religion as a virtually incurable contagious disease of the mind. It was conceived and is promoted by the unelected 'thought police' in an elaborate multifaceted state-sponsored conspiracy to control the population. It is spread by indoctrination and lies.
    The 'thought police' are everywhere. Any major crime or other event where public concerns are raised, the proceedings are invariably hijacked by some self-elected 'expert' in a dog-collar or wearing a pointy hat, telling us what we should be thinking and trying to justify the actions of his or her particular imaginary friend.

    We should accept nothing from those who would have us believe that the world, the universe, and everything in it was created in around fortnight, by an all-powerful, omnipresent superbeing, who operates an establishment called Heaven which is solely for those who obey his rules, provided their DNA sequence is that of homo-sapiens, but only after they have died. Oh, and he's conveniently invisible as well.

    We know the age of the universe. We know the religions are wrong. We know it's all imagined. We have found out things for ourselves and exposed the religions as being vacuous and incorrect. We can alter and create life. There is no magic involved - just chemistry.

    Keep our children safe from this offensive ritualistic rubbish. Teach them what it really is.

  • Comment number 72.

    The Secular Society like many others represent a very small number of people. Religions represent the majority even if they do not openly practice them by Church attendance.
    What do the Secular Society actually believe in ? or are the agnostics who have no beliefs at all to guide them through life's problems except their own self interest.
    I suspect if ask the members would quote the Christian Morality with out the references about God. In other words, with out Christianity they wouldn't have any basis for their beliefs. If that is not the case then they are self indulgent individuals without morals, or cynics bent on destroying all morality.
    Like so many groups who figure in News sound bites they are a small group with a narrow view on life and society,and an over-inflated Intolerance of other people's views.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    Claims by some that people in the UK are not religious are very mistaken.
    The real conflict comes between what is called "religion" and what is "faith".
    We all have faith no matter how young or old. We have to come to terms with our mortality and in so doing sometimes invent the most silly and superstitious nonsense. The constant reference to religion is very misleading because it can embrace all of the worlds known practices, prejudices and faiths.
    It should be worth considering the practical side of faith that stems from the need for public health and the prevention of transmitted diseases for not all faith driven belief is simply based on a fairy tale.
    So as we all believe that night will follow day perhaps it is good enough to accept that the god of life is the thing to worship. As we look upon all new life we can marvel at how it seems to keep going without very much help from we humans.
    To teach what is called religion in schools is no bad thing but we do need teachers with something more than a simply educational qualification to know what is required without having to simply revert to politicians or a curriculum for guidance.
    Suffice to say that the debate about climate, pollution and over-population should and could be incorporated into religiuos studies.
    Whichever way we look at the worlds problems we cannot escape the fact that we two-legged anthropoids are freaks of nature by reason of our brain size. This is why we dominate and pollute this planet and then dream up all sorts of wild ideas about here and the after life.
    All other life forms seem to get on with living and staying alive - after all when did you last see a cow praying ??

  • Comment number 75.

    I am currently in year 11. I do not study RE anymore however in my experience the biggest argument of all, the existence of a God or Gods, was not covered in nearly enough detail: just a handful of lessons in year 7. Why focus on the individual details of religions if the 'Big Question' of religion is not fully covered to begin with?

  • Comment number 76.

    Religious awareness should be taught from junior school as part of a course of lessons in social responsibility that would develop up through senior school to include other aspects of being part of a society that would aim to challenge children to think more about what it means to be part of society and encourage them to take part in and influence what goes on in society, to not accept that they can't change things.

  • Comment number 77.

    Usually this type of question gives atheism a field day so it was quite a pleasant surprise of point 3. which was more even handed than most. Although there is an increasing secularism in the UK recent polls suggest that the majority still feel there is a God. A lot of people forget the Muslims and Jews and just focus on the C of E. Unsubstantiated facts like 'religion killed more people than anything else'seem to forget two world wars which weren't about religion or the atrocities of Stalin and Mao Se-Tung against their own people let along Rwanda, Cambodia this list is endless. The trouble in just keeping things secular is that it only relies on man's intelligence so it's very limited as the 'next bright spark' can up with something completely different then who do you believe? People sometimes want physical proof for everything so how do you prove emotions such as love it's there you can say physical acts can manifest it but you can't prove it because you can mimic supposed acts of love. Having an open mind, challenging ideas surely is more important to our future development and if it raises awkward questions then so be it. If people don't want to know it's often that it could require a change and that makes them uncomfortable, it's human nature, but it doesn't mean something outside our secular world does'nt exist.

  • Comment number 78.

    C of E or Catholic only non of these Eastern Religions.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think that at the moment a lot of people are part of a religion and children will interact with these people so some background knowledge would be useful as part of cultural awareness; so long as there's no indoctrination in to any particular faith then it's ok as it does form part of the context of our history. Which religions should be taught on that logic would be the ones which that particular school operated near.

    It could have the benefit of getting rid of the 'thou shalt not question nonsense when the tag 'religion' is attached'

    I just hope that voodoo and unicornism aren't left out!

  • Comment number 80.

    To PaulRichard2 in #3.
    "Should religion be taught in schools? Yes absolutely I think so and I say that as a staunch Atheist."
    Totally agree with you and I'm religious. You're right in that all beliefs should be explored and that freedom of thought must not be supressed.
    Although we approach this from opposite ends of the spectrum, at least we're not afraid to have our views explored and challenged. That's what education in schools should be about.

  • Comment number 81.

    66. At 08:36am on 06 Jun 2010, Pavel wrote:
    Religion is a very good and proper subject for children because from it they can learn how to feel respect by learning how to worship and respect God. And they should learn to believe in God.


    .........................................................

    This comment is the problem with teaching religion in schools why should children be taught(made) to believe in god its like being taught to believe in santa claus or little green men.

  • Comment number 82.

    Religion should be kept out of Schools. Indoctrination of the young with Mumbo Jumbo, Lies , Deceit, Fairy Tales. I remember watching a BBC program years ago, just after York Cathedral was struck by Lightning, it asked several Senior Clerics anonymously certain pertinent questions about their faith. Did they believe in God, Going to Heaven, was the bible fact or fiction. The majority appeared to be more of a none believer than I. I like Karl Marxs description best, Religion the opium of the People. Religion has been carefully designed to keep the masses oppressed and in their place...Ban It..

  • Comment number 83.

    Why have you not told your viewers that any parent can withdraw their child from religious education, simply by writing a letter to the head teacher of the school. I did this after my 5 year old came home saying, "do you know jesus lives", he had only been at the school a few weeks. This is a state school.

  • Comment number 84.

    They shouldn't teach religion. All religions are delusional and devisive. Stop it now

  • Comment number 85.

    Schools shouldn't teach religion

  • Comment number 86.

    Religion should be taught in Schools but only as a History lesson and nothing more.
    If we all had the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the world's religions while we were at school, perhaps! our understanding and tolerance of other people's beliefs would not be "hot potato" of misunderstandings and ignorance than it is today.

  • Comment number 87.

    For better or worse religion has shaped the world to some extent. I think it's therefore educational to teach kids the basic beliefs of the world's religions and how those religions (and other superstitions, such as astrology) have influenced society. I see that as part of history and religion should be taught as a subset of history lessons.

    I don't however think there should be separate religious education lessons because simply having such things elevates religion to something beyond the historical context, which is itself a form of indoctrination.

  • Comment number 88.

    Religion is not taught in schools it is indoctrinated. We have a state religion and the state controls what children are taught in school, ofsted pick up on any school which dose not spend enough time, 1 hour a week, and whole school assemblies.
    In primary schools the last two weeks of the term before Christmas is wholy deveted to it.
    the good news is you have the option to remove your child from this indoctrination, all you have to do is write to the school head and tell them you wish to remove your child from religious lessons.

  • Comment number 89.

    The biggest problem for the majority of schools isn't the fact that the state is tied to the Anglican Church and thus it is thought that mainstream religious doctrine is Anglican in its teaching...this isn't always the case...its more true that the teacher in charge of Religious Instruction/Teaching/Knowledge whatever it may be titled as in any school may not even be Anglican and thus teaches the doctrine from His/Her religious background...
    It is a growing problem with the increase in many urban areas of Muslims from various parts of the world coming into Britain as it may not be seen as a type of lesson their parents will be happy about if it is known to be purely Christian...I know that many Jehovah Witness parents dislike their own children taking part in these religious lessons and also School Assemblies because of doctrine...
    Perhaps it is time for the Minister for Education to really look at this and maybe a new type of Religious Curriculum is needed for the majority of schools and not be so biased to the state's chosen doctrine...

  • Comment number 90.

    This subject should not be taught in schools.

    If parents want their children to be indoctrinated with religion they should send them to a Sunday (or equivalent other sectarian) school.

    Religion has about as much of a role to play in education as facts have in to play in religion.

  • Comment number 91.

    when i was in primary school a good 20 years ago christianity was practically forced upon me by my school. i remember actually being shouted at by my teacher at the age of maybe 6 for saying i didn't want to pray or sing hymms because i simply didn't believe in god. It wasn't a particularily religious school but i felt i was being indoctrinated and even at such a young age i felt i wanted no part of it.

    Teaching kids about other religions and cultures is important, using schools as little more than recruitment centres is plain wrong. kids are not taught the possibility of a God and that theres a choice in believing or not, they are taught they IS A GOD which is wrong. Faith can be a wonderful thing but only when it's what you believe to be right not what you've been taught is the only way. Surely that robs it of any greatness it could have to begin with.

    Everyone should come to religion in their own time and way. having it forced upon them especially as a young and impressionable child is to my mind horribly wrong and little better than brain washing. teach kids about the world about other cultures, customs, religions etc but let them make their own minds up what they believe in or not.

    i am aware things are likely very differant now to when i was in school but the way i see things happening as my own son approaches school age worries me greatly.

  • Comment number 92.

    74. At 08:43am on 06 Jun 2010, Geoffrey Bastin wrote:
    Claims by some that people in the UK are not religious are very mistaken.
    The real conflict comes between what is called "religion" and what is "faith".
    We all have faith .

    ........................................................

    Please don't tell me I have "faith" this is typical of people of faith telling the rest of us what we should have.

  • Comment number 93.

    When I was a child RE was a lesson of great interest, we were not brainwashed as some religions today are and mostly we enjoyed learning about religious history then left to make up our own minds, without the learning of religious history what is left? what a sad world to have no religion by which to be guided because it has taught about the rules that are needed for a society to live together and lessons for children can be interesting and informative it is not right that in a country where the Queen is head of the Church of England this is not taught in schools.

  • Comment number 94.

    Religion is the greatest source of division and conflict in the World as well as this country and it's getting worse not better. If we were serious about World peace then the first thing we should do in this country is to convert all religious schools into state schools with religion being taught as a subject only. This would also make economic sense.

    Our schools today are divided and controlled by a plethora of different religions all intent on brainwashing children into seeing only that religion's life doctrine. I therefore see religious schools as being a source of conflict in the future.

  • Comment number 95.

    To James in #5.
    Oh come now, strong statements like that need back up! Take your comment on religion and wars. That old chestnut. If it's a pee-ing contest you want then look no further than WW1, WW2, all the colonial wars both Britain and various other European countries fought both in Europe and abroad...? Get the picture?

    True, religion has been behind some dreadful atrocities. But religion is man made. Inspired by belief in God, but man made and subject to man's corruption. If for example, people truly abided by what they belived in without preverting it to their own ends, history and indeed the world today would be a better place.

    Don't condemn religion per se.

  • Comment number 96.

    Religious Education is one of the most important subjects that should be taught in schools. Ignorance breeds prejudice. It is because of the ignorance of people that we have far right extremist groups in Britain.

    For example the flavour of the month for far right groups is currently Muslims. They condemn Muslims because they believe that Muslims force their women to dress in a certain way and force them to be illiterate and wage religious wars. Therefore schools should teach about the history and culture of Islam, why they dress the way they do, why do men wear the kandura and women wear the abaya?

    All religions and cultures should be explored this way. Why do Sikh men wear the turban and carry the kirpan, why do Jewish men wear the yarmulke, why do Hindu women wear the sari? Then perhaps invite an Imam, a Priest, a Rabbi, a Granthi and any other religious teacher to the school to talk to the students, or a school trip out to a local Church, Temple, Mosque or Synagogue.

    The subject can be renamed Religious and Cultural Studies and can also explore the cultural beliefs of native people in Australia, Africa and America, holy wars in the past, the Christian Crusades, the history of how religions came to be the way they are today and the effect they have had on the way the world is today, the effect of religion on Britain (i.e. how Britain came to divide from the Catholic church). The schools where possible could even consider school foreign trips to places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Vatican City, Lhasa, Varanas.

    This should be compulsory up until at least age 14, it can leave children with an understanding of how to be respectful to other cultures and religions, they can know not to offer their Hindu friend a steak baguette, their Muslim friend a bacon sarnie and their Jewish friend a cheeseburger.

    Then and only then can children in Britain learn to understand and embrace their multicultural neighbours.

  • Comment number 97.

    The last time I looked we were a Christian country with other faiths choosing to live alongside us.I did RE as one of my 'O'levels and found it fascinating,enlightening and historically so interesting.To not give our children the chance to learn about christianity,in a Christian country is to deprive them of a great deal and it is a vacuum which could easily be filled by less-appealing doctrines.I think I had 2x45 minutes per week.Could that not easily be found in a sport-driven timetable?

  • Comment number 98.

    It is a pity reading some of these comments that a number of people will miss out on knowing why they are here. Science can never explain the "why" of life only the "how" and in dismissing religion non-belivers fail to understand the bigger picture or experience the true love of God. On the day of judgement they will have some explaining to do.

  • Comment number 99.

    As an Orthodox Christian I think that schools should teach social responsibility, morals, and ethics and leave the teaching of religion to the Church. I'd rather have a nation of ethical responsible citizens, some of whom will be drawn to Christ, than a nation of people without any shred of social responsibility who think that they already know all about God, and hate the false picture they've been taught (see above and below).

  • Comment number 100.

    Like my father I am a non believer. Probally 4 to 5 Hundred years ago I would be put to death in a most grim way for my non faith by religious people. My Burning or disembowling would have made them feel a lot more religious and Holy. It wouldnt have done me much good though. I can remember a tale my father related to me, a reason why he hated religion. During the second World war, he was stationed in India. Then he said one community started to become all religious and started praying and fasting, whilst the other started partying. This culminated in a Riot whereby about 100 people were killed. Dogs and vultures came and ate the corpses. All in the name of Religion. I think Religious teachings in Schools should be stopped. I am not however against some of the people in religions. I have heard Rowan Williams , Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Tutu, and Billy Graham speak. They are men of the highest interlect, and have a fascinating perspective on life and humanity.

 

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