Why religion should be banned in schools

Instantly I’m going to have made some enemies with that title. Even though I’ve written about a few controversial topic including breastfeeding and avoiding pink, this is going to be by far the most divisive. If you don’t want an argument, religion and politics are top of the pile for topics to avoid. That being said, religion in schools is something I feel strongly about and I’m happy to have that debate.

It is not religious education I oppose. In fact, I definitely feel teaching future generations how similar the major religions actually are, is important. It instills tolerance and respect for others beliefs and values. R.E. is also the perfect foundation on which to explore children’s own ideas, opinions and views. However, it is when the teaching of religion in schools spills into other areas of a child’s education. Then we have a problem.

Religion in schools

Unbalanced assemblies

Working as a primary school teacher for over a decade, I sat through countless assemblies in which the local clergy were invited to tell bible stories as fact. You’d think, working in an incredibly multi cultural city like Leicester that there would be better coverage. Maybe in a multi faith school, other religious and secular leaders would also be invited. It never happened.

This is mainly due to outdated laws that enforce a daily ‘collective act of worship’. Bringing a school together as a collective and sharing how different faiths worship could be highly valuable. Yet because approximately 60% of our country label themselves as Christian, this worship has to be “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.

What about the other 40%? Just under half of the school hall are being excluded.

Back in February, the Telegraph reported that one London borough was sticking its neck out and encouraging schools to hold multi faith assemblies. They were given the green light to draw on lots of different religions as well as non religious views. This would at least be a step in the right direction. Yet in my opinion, it still does not go far enough in extracting religion from education.

Surely, our job as educators should be to guide and inform, discuss and explore and not indoctrinate through forced worship. How we expect a seven year old to decipher fact from faith when the adults they trust most are blurring the lines, I’ll never know. Children, especially in school, should not be pushed towards faith. In fact, I’d go as far to say, they should be encouraged to challenge religious beliefs. Children should be taught to make decisions based on evidence they are presented with.

Religion in school

Parents do have the option to remove their child from any forms of worship but unsuprisingly many don’t. Mainly I’m sure for fear of excluding their child. In my experience, the ‘Christian ethos’ of many schools is so firmly rooted, it’s incredibly hard to avoid unless you miss many assemblies. Schools make token efforts to celebrate other religious festivals. Still Christmas and Easter are still given a disproportionate amount of time in a busy curriculum.

Tradition is a good enough reason

The school nativity and the pedestal it is placed on, does not sit well with me. Yet again, the youngest and most impressionable are used to tell a religious story as truth. This traditional part of the Christmas festivities is another example of when young children are expected to figure out what is truth and what is faith.

Religious education is a subject that needs to be kept clearly separate from the rest of a child’s school day. If taught correctly, children will be raised to think critically about religion and start to make their own decisions regarding faith. Isn’t that what we want for our children?

 

JakiJellz
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33 thoughts on “Why religion should be banned in schools

  1. I could not agree more. I’d like my child to have a secular education but that’s not really an option in the UK. Ideally, parents should be able to educate their children in line with their own beliefs, but that’s not really an option when one parent is agnostic and doesn’t agree with worship, and the other is an atheist.

  2. Completely agree with you. I went to catholic schools, both first and secondary, and it was forever crammed into the curriculum. Constant masses and scare mongering. Luckily, I paid no attention whatsoever and carried on in my head strong way like I always do. But it does make you worry about the more impressionable ones, especially when they are so young. #bloggerclubuk

    1. It’s hard to know how much some kids take in or what just washes over them. It just shouldn’t be allowed in my opinion.

  3. I agree completely, so much so, I feel like I wrote this post lol.
    It never fails to baffle me how schools can sit a child down and teach them about physics and how the world works etc. and then sit them down and expect that same child to accept as fact some of the claims of the bible.
    I really don’t think religion has a place in education except as you mention in specific RE classes. We should be teaching children to think and analyse and make decision based on fact, not feeding them stories and expecting them to blindly believe them
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

  4. I totally agree with you, it frustrates me no end that in a non-faith school my kids are still expected to pray in assemblies or are taught bible stories. Not at the high school, but at primary…which actually I think is worse as young children aren’t able/confident enough to make that choice for themselves. We’re atheist, and whilst I don’t object to RE (as long as it covers more than just one religion) I don’t think children should be coerced into worship in any form. If families have a faith, they can practice it in their own context.
    #bloggerclubuk

    1. Absolutely. How bizarre is it that it acceptable to do this to such small children? Let’s teach children about religion not force them to believe something.

  5. Do you know what? I hadn’t really thought about it before I read this – but I totally agree. My school wasn’t a religious one, and yet every assembly was all about the Bible and the headteacher used to yell at us and say ‘how dare you call yourself Christians!’ if no-one knew the answer to his questions. So I took the stories as complete fact until I asked my Dad if he believed in God. When he said no, I was absolutely shocked! I’m not religious at all now – but I can absolutely see how confusing it can be for children… #blogstravaganza

    1. So annoying that it’s allowed in primary schools when children just don’t have the skills to decipher fact from faith.

  6. I completely agree. I think it is important to teach children about all religions, faiths, and belief systems so that they can better understand the world at large and grow up more tolerant of others beliefs. Let them explore what speaks to them in their hearts and minds. No-one should ever enforce their beliefs on another.
    #TheListLinky

  7. I had no idea that Religion was still being forced in schools in the UK. Here in the states religion has been banned from public schools for a long time. I completely agree with you though. Religion was forced down my throat since I was a young child but by family who were abusive and completely intolerant of anything or anyone who disagreed with them. I went to church until I was about 20 years old then went off on my own and never looked back. I’ve always had a more open mind than my family so I’m kind of the black sheep but I do value RE as long as its covering multiple religions and not just one. As you said, All the major religions have a lot in common, yet the world doesn’t want to see it that way. I raise my boys to think for themselves and believe what they choose. It was forced on me and it was so confusing and contradicting. I won’t put that on my kids. Love this post and it seems more people than you realize agree with you. That’s good to see that we aren’t alone:) #anythinggoes

    1. Well done to America for banning it in school. It’s a bold move but I think so very important.

  8. I’m with you on this one. Whether we like it or not, we live in a multicultural and multi-faith society and this should be reflected within our school system. Great read #AnythingGoes

  9. separation of church and state was supposed to be one of the tenants that the US was founded on. I hate the fact that there are so many out there that feel the need to push their beliefs on everybody else. Good for you for posting this, I couldn’t agree more #humpday

    1. Thanks – children should be hearing about a variety of religions and viewpoints not having one pushed upon them

  10. Well done for tackling this thorny issue head on! I couldn’t agree more with you. Here in Ireland 95% of primary schools remain in the patronage of the Catholic church, which seriously limits parental choice. Token baptism is rife to get kids into their local catholic school, and the opt-out is also an empty gesture, as nobody is available to supervise the children who have opted out while the rest of the class sits through RE.
    That said, I once heard that catholic schools are doing a terrible job of turning children into good catholics. The plummeting numbers of church goers are proof to that!

    1. I think they are just clutching at straws to convert lots of token Catholics as you say. But it’s still not fair.

  11. maybe they should change the title and call it ‘tolerance lessons’ where religion, culture, respect and beliefs are taught about all faiths, religions, nationalities, with a focus on the diversity of the students in the particular school and area in which the school is based #triumphanttales

    1. Good idea. It might encourage staff and pupils to view the subject in a clearer way.

  12. Totally agree with this. I am not religious at all. I made this decision myself when growing up and based it on facts and evidence (and that my RE teacher couldn’t answer questions I had about bible stories and the Ice Age etc!) I want my son to grow up and make his own decisions as I have. Hubby is religious and this is where we clash. He’s yet to be Christened because of this very reason! Schools shouldn’t force it on them, just as people knocking on my door spouting it aren’t welcome. Thanks for sharing what a lot of us think! Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again tomorrow! X

    1. My husband was a confimed catholic when we met at 18… now I’ve converted him to the dark side of atheism lol

    1. Probably a very good tip. Next time, I’ll have ago in the summer when it’s not raining.

  13. I actually completely agree. As much as I think it’s important for children to understand what religion is and what different faiths believe, I think it is hard for it not to be taught as fact which can be confusing. I’m also a strong believer in faith being a very personal thing, so do not feel that any preaching or influence over such young minds is necessary #humpdaylinky

    1. At a young age a general understanding of religion and faith is surely enough. As they go into secondary school, more details/opinionscould be given.

  14. If the argument is religion being taught in the first 14 years of a child’s life at a public school, then I agree with this article.

    But as a general ban, I disagree.

    I think religion SHOULD be taught in schools. All religions. Every one (of significance). From Ba’al to Zeus to Ra to Paganism to Christianity to Islam to Mormonism and Atheism. In either the 9th or 10th grade (15-17 years old … once children can think and reason critically), it should be a year long course. How religions get started, how they end, proof, non-proof, who started them, where they are, and their main beliefs. Only facts should be taught, of course, and “worship” should be presented as something to observe and learn from, not that students should participate in it. Passages from texts should be read and civil discussion about each should abound. Students should also write a papers on faiths they don’t currently believe in.

    Religion is everywhere. It’s a part of earth’s history for at least the last 40,000 years. It’s part of our thoughts, our politics our beliefs. It should not be hidden and relegated to churches, synagogues or mosques. Schools should absolutely teach it. Not as a belief system, but to learn about the history of the human race. Education is education. Knowing more is better than being ignorant of facts. That’s why we want our kids in school, isn’t it?

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