State-sponsored religious indoctrination?

There’s an alarmist title. No, nothing going on overseas – it’s the latest comment from our Education Secretary who  says schools must teach that we are “a Christian country“.

I tried to calm myself down after reading the headline. OK, be reasonable, I thought – we do (much though I’d wish it otherwise) have an Established Church, and it’s a Christian one. Historically, the country has had a vast majority of its inhabitants at least nominally Christian, and although we are more diverse now, Christians are still the largest religious group.

That is still not the same as saying we are “a Christian country” in my book. That term seems to imply that Christianity is a default, and those misguided enough not to adhere to it are oddities. It’s probably not even too good for it to be seen as a default for those who are practising Christians – it’s meant to be an active choice, becoming a Christian, surely, not something that just happens automatically.

But anyway… I read on, to find the real horrors. Schools are to be “entitled to prioritise the views of established religion over atheism” and “do not need to give equal parity to non-religious views”

How on earth can that woman justify this nonsense? Why are the views of some religion – well, pretty well any religion – alleged to be more important than non-theistic viewpoints? What is that going to do for tolerance?  How dare she imply that a theistic worldview is inherently more worthy of respect than a non-theistic one?
Whilst I am very much anti children being taught any religion as “true” – they have a right to make their own decisions what beliefs they will adopt, if any – I do see the logic in understanding the viewpoints of various religions and other belief systems. After all, we live alongside people with a wide variety of beliefs and views, and understanding each other a little better has to be helpful to all of us.  That is the prime justification, to my mind, for RS in the curriculum. Of course it is impractical to give absolutely every possible belief system a hearing in limited curriculum time. But with as much as 40% of the UK population not believing in any god (check out the surveys), attempting to suppress this view is not fair, reasonable or constructive.
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