Even Church Schools Don’t Bother With Daily Worship

Posted: March 2, 2012 in religion
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This National Secular Society report builds on the survey referred to by Dawkins in the earlier post, showing how quickly religious practice in the UK is fading:

A survey by The Sunday Times has found that 40% of Church of England ‘faith schools’ are flouting the law that requires all state funded schools to provide a daily act of collective worship.

The survey revealed that in many C of E schools, Bible readings and prayers have been replaced by group discussions about community and society. According to the Sunday Times, even among those schools that abide by the law, many are doing the bare minimum.

Earlier research by the BBC, conducted last year, found that the law requiring daily worship is widely ignored across all schools and not wanted by parents. Almost two-thirds (64%) of parents said that their children did not attend such an activity and over two thirds (67%) of parents do not support enforcing the law.

Good. It should stop. Indoctrination through the education system is morally wrong. Before bleating the normal nonsense about collective worship teaching children moral values, Bishop Nazir-Ali should perhaps have questioned why it seems to have failed so many priests, bankers, newspaper journalists and Members of Parliament. Andy Copson, the Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association argues that moral and religious education in schools should be separate endeavours:

One of the most prominent contributions has been in moral education. Seeing morality not as a set of rules derived from a transcendent deity but as an organised attempt to reinforce human social impulses in the here and now has a clear effect on how you seek to develop morality in children.

Sixty years ago the humanist educational psychologist Margaret Knight caused a national moral panic when she suggested on the BBC that moral education could usefully be uncoupled from religious education. She said moral training should be an independent effort, not just involving the passing on of principles and ways of thinking but having an emotional basis too. “Warm-hearted and generous natures are developed not primarily by training and discipline, important though these are in other ways, but by love,” she said. Today, not least because of humanist educators like Harold Blackham (who founded the still-running Journal of Moral Education) and James Hemming, these ideas are near to mainstream.

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