Monday, September 10, 2007

So was I a Christian Child?

Today's publication from the Government and numerous religious groups on faith schools boldly states that in 2001 there were 5,098,930 "christian children" in England's schools. That's a very precise figure for quite an amorphous concept. It got me wondering, in the eyes of DCFS was I a "christian child"?

Now from the rest of the document it is clear that when they talk about christian children they really mean the children of christians (and giving its census figures they are using the children of people who ticked the christian box on the census form rather than the much smaller subset of people who could actually be rationally described as christians). Dawkins would of course label such methods as child abuse. As the son of the marriage of an atheist and a churchgoer it just leaves me a statistical anomaly. Did I count as half a christian, or was my brother a christian in the eyes of the state and myself not?

How about on other measures? Well I was baptised as a child (C of E since you ask) but never confirmed. Born again at 11 (hence, ironically, for tortuous reasons the lack of confirmation) I saw the error of my ways at 16 and have been a committed atheist ever since.

So what did I count as DCFS? Which pigeon-hole would you have forced my developing mind into?

All in the name of 'providing a safe and harmonious environment for all in our society' of course. After all how can communities fight each other if they never meet and their schools are segregated? What better way to teach the values of religious diversity and tolerance than allowing schools to hound members of staff for what they do in the privacy of their own homes, or pay those who don't profess to the one true faith less?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree, I am furious about this.

Imagine if we labelled children as 'marxist' or 'facist' because of their parents beliefs!

Not only that - it's highly discriminatory. As an atheist and secular humanist about to marry another atheist, the choice of schools in our local area is cut by half.

To say nothing of the fact that it would be illegal to open a 'humanist' school.

The only reason church schools do well is because the parents need to use their initative to get their kids there - thus it self-selects parents who are interested in their children.

The latest research out last week on segregated communities shows that whilst they are successful, as regards improving life chances and standards of living, in Hindu, Sikh and Jewish areas, the same is not true for predominantly Muslim areas.

We should be encouraging integration not segregation.

Rant over...

12:31 am  
Blogger Bernard said...

I'm pretty sure there is nothing stopping you opening a humanist independent school, and if you could pull the money together you could probably open an academy too (I think they aren't subject to the same rules as maintained schools on collective worship).

7:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any state-funded school including academies have to have 'a daily act of worship of broadly Christian nature.'

A number of members of The National Secular Society looked into it and found they were blocked.

I sit on my local SACRE and the BHA rep doesn't even get a vote - yet the 0.03 percent of the local population in my area who are Rastafarian are entitled to a voting representative.

Yes, there could be an independant school, but not all parents could afford that. Hardly 'choice' is it?

8:46 pm  

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