Religion title call over Scottish school assemblies

Assembly Parents are entitled to withdraw their children from religious observance assemblies in schools

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Calls are being made for a "symbolic change" to the description of religious assemblies in some schools.

The Church of Scotland and the Scottish Humanist Society have told MSPs the title "religious observance" in non-denominational schools is outdated.

They said changing the legal definition to "time for reflection" could ease the concerns of parents who withdraw their children from such events.

They claimed this would give more pupils the chance to explore faiths.

The groups have made their call in a submission to MSPs on Holyrood's petitions committee.

The law requires religious observance, such as assemblies, in schools.

However, since a change in government guidelines in 2005, assemblies should be aimed at children of all faiths and none.

The Church of Scotland and the Scottish Humanist Society argued that this now often means assemblies would be more accurately called a "time for reflection".

Their joint submission to the petitions committee states: "The change to a more equal and inclusive 'time for reflection' would echo the current practice of the Scottish Parliament, and bring legislation into line with modern views.

"It will also remove the current focus on 'religion', with which many non-religious people struggle."

The Free Church of Scotland said the proposal was a "disaster" for both Christians and children.

The Scottish government believes the current legislation and guidance is appropriate.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    In the 70's we started each Monday singing

    He who would valiant be
    Gainst all disaster
    Let him in constancy
    Follow the Master
    There's no discouragement
    Shall make him once relent
    His first avowed intent
    To be a pilgrim

    I always thought we were pledging allegiance to the Head Master !

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    Schools are a battle ground for young minds. If religion doesn' t get you then be sure political dogma, social indoctrination or misrepresentation of facts will. The removal of any dominant belief system is rapidly replaced with another with similar flaws basically because their origin is the same - the human mind complete with bias and ulterior objectives. Nothings perfect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    @284 This is my point. Any tool will be used by someone to gain power over someone else. Totally against Christianity which beleives that the most powerful being in the universe freely gave that power up.

    ANY and ALL people who harm others in the name of Christianity are NOT Christians and Christians who shun each other over minor doctrinal points are also completely missing the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    For those of you who have 'Equated teaching or RE with child abuse' you should hang your heads in shame as you clearly have no idea what child abuse is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    No atheist believes in the wrong god, most, if not all, people of faith do ;-).

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    Small step in the right direction, but doesn't address the main issue: balance. The existence of a Christian God is treated as a given in most assemblies because Christian minsters are allowed to run so many of them unchallenged. To resolve the issue, remove the ministers from schools; leave educating to educators. Churches will oppose that, of course; they rely on indoctrination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    @258: "If you don't your child to go to a religious assembly don't send them to a religious school."

    Not that easy. There is a legal requirement for schoolchildren to take part in a daily act of collective worship 'of a broadly Christian character'. So you have a choice of allowing your children to be indoctrinated against your wishes, or choose a school which breaks the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    The problem is that the 15-minute whole-school sessions at the start of the day aren't conducive to getting children to think about religion. It's just an indoctrination session. Religion should be reserved for RE lessons.
    That said, many RE lessons are no better - my RE teacher was an evangelical Christian who taught us why other faiths were 'wrong'.
    I laughed - I was (and remain) atheist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    When I was in primary school we used to have a local minister come to visit us once a week and spout fire and brimstone to us. It was terrifying and it put me off religion for life.
    If a child's parents are religious enough then they will no doubt practice their religion at home and go to church anyway. No need for it to be brought in to schools at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    I rather like "a time for reflection", as long as some guidance is provided.
    e.g. a time to reflect on who you are, who you would like to be, and what you need to do to close the gap.
    Religion is so divisive; it shouldn't be since we are all God's children, bu it is, whereas everyone should "reflect".
    An unexamined life, is not worth living (Socrates).

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    To be fair to Christians at least this is a issue that can be debated in a civilised manner. Now could you imagine if this debate was about Islam ? could you imagine how many posts the BBC would have deleted ? how many threats of death and riots and imprisonment by the cultural police there would already have been ! but then again that's the whole point isn't it ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    To those saying atheists are a 'tiny minority' the Scottish 2011 census gives this figure as 37%. If you ask this question now, it would probably be slightly higher.

    Hence the call for a religious observance not being the right thing to do for the people of Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Bring me a talking snake or burning shrubbery with a penchant for jurisprudence and then prove that geology and paleontology are based on fiction, and you can teach my kid whatever you like about your wish granting sky wizard.

    Until then, lets stick to educating them in facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Thing with religions & religious assembleys, they pick & choose nice bits of religion(s) because the nasty bits are just too nasty & would scare children.

    Nothing wrong in promoting good will to all men/women, or good morals/decency/behaviour but there is 100% no need to further the interests of backward religions who do not maintain same equality standards as written in laws

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    Religion has no place in modern society.
    Its followers preach about tolerance yet display the most extreme intolerance towards those who do not share their irrational beliefs.
    You only have to look at the treatment of homosexuals in Uganda and Russia to see just how intolerant and hateful religion can be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Quite right. About time to drop that misnomer "Religious Observance"

    Let's call it "Christian Worship" instead.

    The first collective act of every school day, as it was when I was a kid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    We should get rid of Thought for the Day, Sunday (the programme), Sunday worship, daily worship.

    TFTD is particularly noxious, as it allows religious people to air their views, generally of a liberal tendency.

    Or let's at least have some firebrand imams, Ian Paisley type christians, or some violently-anti islam hindus.

    At least it would show what religion actually is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    My nipper learns about all religions at her primary school in RE. I dont mind this at all.In KS1 they do the nativity plays that all the kids of any or no religion join in with and have fun.
    Back to the article.
    I can respect the Scottish Humanist position but I despise the Church of Scotland's. If you're not going to bother standing up for your convictions then you may as well not have any.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    I cannot understand this sort of bickering that goes on. I am from a non Christian faith whilst growing up I did not at all mind the assemblies at school. It was great to get together and reflect on positive thoughts. If people had a problem they were free to sit out...
    Truth shall set one free...that's if you allow it to.
    My children's school is great assembly and all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Yes some assemblies were boring, some were relaxing and zone out time,however I enjoyed the thing related to the religion like the Nativity play, the Christmas Parties, the Easter pagents.
    The fact that I don't believe as an adult doesn't want me to deny anything to others, if you are going to turn out bad you cannot blame assemblies they taught only good behaviour.


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