Friday, January 21, 2005

The Secularist Agenda

From Mr Andrew Armitage

Sir, Does the justifiable concern of David Bell about Islamic schools (report, January 18) not strengthen the case for an entirely secular school system in which religions are taught about rather than taught? Children should learn about the role religions have played in the lives of peoples, but should not be expected to take part in any indoctrination or rituals.

All schools should be either brought into the state sector or severely scrutinised as to what they are teaching or, moreover, preaching. Religion would then be left to the private sphere of home and meeting house, sectarianism would be dealt a severe blow and harmony given a fair chance to thrive.

This from The Times on 20th January. Can someone please take note - the secularists are as religious as the rest of us... One wonders whether they would like it if we insisted that Secularism had to be a "private faith". Then we could just teach about Secularism rather than it being taught!

Christianity operates on the level of worldview, and concerns every aspect of life - truth, ethics, values, authority, education, politics... We cannot turn Jesus into a leisure pursuit, he is not a novelty or a hobby. And he's not irrelevant or out of date.

(And for Mr Armitage's information, indoctrination is Education... either we indoctrinate people with Secularism, or Christianity, or something else... there isn't a neutral option. Everyone has "doctrine", the question is whether it is good doctrine or bad doctrine.)


  1. spot on Dave; have you responded directly to the guy who wrote to The Times? (Phil Evans)

  2. I studied secularisation in Sociology and did a few essays on it, the definition that comes from this is -

    "Secularisation is a process whereby religious beliefs and practices lose their social significance. It’s where society is independent from God and acts in ways that exclude God from its value system, beliefs and behaviour"

    When we look at the world, apart of this statment is true, it apears that society is "independent from God". However religion is certainly not dead, there is more multi religions in this country. Instead of excluding the practises of religion in schools should we not focus on why society is moving away from God and bring them back? Also instead of drumming in Christian rituals that churches practise, we should tell them about what Jesus did for us and how Christianity is a life serving God, not a Sunday going to Church.

    How can religion be for private hideouts, never teling the world of God's Glory. The world would miss the point to repent and spread the gospel. The bible can be used on everystep of ones life, through to life, love and death..and all the emotions. Turn away from those life guides of "how to have a perfect relationship" and turn to the bible...cos God has already written it down!!

  3. As a liberal I would say it's certainly strange to see progressive values as identified with de-sacrelisation of the public sphere. After all, a religion of the private space is so limited as to be an oxymoron. Either religin affects the sum of your life, or it's not really religion at all in my view.

    However, I would probably add some nuances here. I do see religions as having a particularly strong prepensity for fostering sectarianism. It's that evry totality which also carries the latent potential for sectarianism - a subculture will be formed if there's not adequate public space for expression. The wrong cercumstances will bring out wierd evangelical creatioinist academies and sub-madressas.

    Far better than having religious communities controlling schools would be to see them having an active and full involvement with the public secter school system. This will require a dropping of mutual suspicions and aversions, by secularists and people of religion. I'd say open creative engagement by local religious communities together in the running of a given school is going to have far more posatve consequences, and less chance of subculture fragmentation, than bastions of religion.

    Which is not to say I don't respect the integrity of any given tradition, just that we live in a wrold of compromise and I reckon this might be the best one.