Religious Education

Religious_Education_img_545We adopt a ground-breaking approach to the state-sponsored propagation of faith.

Atheism’s sole object is the advancement of atheism. Our ultimate goal is the end of faith – the false and irrational belief that God exists – and of religion, the social manifestation of faith. The world would be a better place without them. We aim to achieve this by opposing the propagation of faith.

The most substantial propagation of faith is from parent to child. Whilst this cannot be interfered with directly in a free society, it can be modified by education of both parent and child.

Religious education in schools is one of our main areas of concern. Schools stand in loco parentis, in a real (not just a legal) sense. And, today’s children are tomorrow’s parents.

We will campaign for the abolition of compulsory religious education (except as a branch of anthropology), collective worship and ‘faith’ schools – on the grounds that they are founded on a falsehood: God exists. We are also developing strategies to advance atheism within existing RE law.

Our report, Religious Education in State Schools, contains an in-depth study of the current regime, from an atheist standpoint. It makes a number of recommendations, upon which we base our policies and from which our campaigns will emerge.

They emphasise a “bottom-up” reform, under which parents and schools are encouraged to exploit the existing law and resources are provided to enable them to do so. However, such action may, in itself bring about changes in government and LEA policy and hasten changes in the law.

Religious Education in State Schools can be downloaded here.


Atheism’s Policies

Based on this report are two policy documents:-

Policy on the Word “Spiritual” in Education Legislation

The word “spiritual” occurs, in “spiritual development”, in two areas of education legislation: the general responsibility of the local authority for education, and general requirements in relation to curriculum.

The word is increasingly problematical in educational circles. Even under modern attempts to reinterpret it, “spiritual development” means the development of the non-material element of a human, of which there is no
such thing. We show, by analogy with recent court judgments, that there is no place in the law for such a concept.

The non-material element is intended to refer to the “personality” or “character”, but these are material things and are correctly captured by the existing word “mental”.

Therefore, the word “spiritual” should be removed from education legislation. Spiritual development is one of the main rationales for religious education.

Policy on Religious Education

It should not be compulsory for a maintained school to give religious education as a discrete subject. Some aspects, of religious education, should be redeployed across other National Curriculum subjects. It does not necessarily follow, however, that a maintained school should be prohibited from giving religious education, provided it was balanced and broadly based.

Pending abolition, we encourage teachers, parents and pupils to adopt a minimal interpretation of “syllabus” to enable religious education to consist mainly of comparison between religion and lack of religion, rather than comparison between different religions.

We are developing complementary policies on “faith schools”, religious education in academies and the position of teachers in relation to “faith schools” and religious education.





4 Replies to “Religious Education”

  1. …and the Alpha Course going into schools and proselytizing, THIS HAS GOT TO STOP, AND STOP NOW!

    Sorry for shouting but this is something I feel strongly about!

    ..and as an ex-teacher, if I was still in the classroom and they came along I would have shut and locked the door to keep them out!

  2. Congratulations on your new organisation. I hope it goes well for you. I would like to make a brief comment.

    When posting articles about education in schools, do you think you could please make it clear which country (within Britain) you refer to. I say this because the situation in Scotland is very different to that in England and what applies to you does not apply to us. At the Humanist Academy, Scotland, we have worked very hard with our local schools and education authorities and we have already produced a curriculum course on secular ethics and Humanism to counter any religious courses being taught. Our course has been available to every secondary pupil in Scotland for over a year now and is proving popular. Plus, we are now working on a more advanced course.

    So up here the situation is less dire than south of the border, but we still have to keep our eye on everything and HA is busy doing so.

    Again, good luck with your new venture.

  3. Hello June

    You are absolutely right. Thank you for pointing this out. I have amended the document accordingly and will post a separate article on the position in Scotland once I have had the opportunity to research the statutes.

    Best wishes

    Richard Green

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