23 June 2007

Response to a Response

There was a petition on the No.10 website that asked:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ban within government-funded schools the promotion or practice of any particular faith or religion."

The Government has sent this response to all people who signed the petition:


There doesn't seem to be any allowance for people to reply to the government response, so I'll do so here.

The Government remains committed to a diverse range of schools for parents to choose from, including schools with a religious character or "faith schools" as they are commonly known.

Why should this be a government 'commitment'? Is the government also committed to setting up Marxist or Wiccan schools for those who want the choice?

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.

This was not opposed by the petition. Learning about religion is not "promoting or practicing" a religion. A large proportion of people in the country do not hold religious views at all. So I presume "RE" lessons will also encourage respect for atheistic and humanist viewpoints? Wouldn't it be better therefore to call it, say, "Cultural Education"?

The Churches have a long history of providing education in this country and have confirmed their commitment to community cohesion.

I take it you, Mrs Government, are referring here to the situation in Northern Ireland? A great history of community cohesion they have there!

Faith schools have an excellent record in providing high-quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and are some of the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country.

So do community schools that are not faith-biased. Why have schools that work under this handicap?

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

So are you saying that community schools do not provide a "structured environment" for their pupils? Any good school will do so.

The Government response is all waffle and no substance.