Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Should schools require Christian worship?

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Not the most difficult question to answer, but it's the topic of the week on the Guardian's Comment is Free Belief, with contributors discussing the current statutory requirement for state schools to provide a daily "act of Christian worship". Humanists and secularists, of course, argue that the requirement is divisive, archaic and more than a little ridiculous, while the Church of England continues to cling to the idea that it is somehow practical or justifiable in today's pluralistic and increasingly multi- and non-religious society.

First up on Comment is Free was Anglican blogger the Church Mouse (whose blog, for an interesting religious perspective, is well worth bookmarking), who acknowledged that it is hard to defend the requirement, saying "It is pretty difficult to get away from the issue that compelling children to take part in religious worship is wrong. It simply cannot be right for the state to mandate religion." So far, so reasonable, although humanists will surely part ways with the Mouse on their assertion that schools should instead "be required to allow faith organisations to establish voluntary clubs". The thought of everyone from Anglicans through to Scientologists and Falun Gong vying for your kids' attention is surely enough to make you enrol on a home schooling course right away. Come back, vague and barely-enforced collective worship law, all is forgiven...

Putting the godless case on CiF today is our editor Caspar Melville who, while acknowledging that the law doesn't tend to mean very much or be enforced in practice, suggests that it is time it was scrapped in the name of clarity and modernity.

Do have a read of both and share your thoughts. There should be further contributions appearing on the Guardian site this week - not sure who from, though.
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