IN my heady days at school, I always looked forward to the religious education lessons. The classroom was light and fresh and never smelt of cabbage.
The teacher obviously didn’t believe in the subject and enjoyed nothing more than trying to disprove every miracle of the Bible.
To him, turning water into wine was nothing more than making rather elaborate Ribenna. Yet, I loved those hours spent in honest debate talking about subjects that would never be spoken of at home.
There was never any attempt to brainwash us into Christian belief – I don’t think the teacher believed anyway…
What they did for me was open my mind to possibilities. The possibility that there might be a God and that death was not the end to life.
They showed me my place in the world and the history of our planet. More than that they instilled in me the equality of life regardless of belief.
In their own way, the lessons reinforced the culture of the nation into which I was born. It was as if being English was based on 2,000 years of Christian history.
My teacher was never slow to mention how our laws and customs were based on the teachings of the Bible. It didn’t matter that we didn’t believe the Christian bit, the morals of the faith were enough to make this country great.
It would now seem that all that is to change. RE is slipping down the order of importance in many schools.
The Conservative Party, who have for so long been seen as the preservers of English culture and tradition, seem to be hell-bent on removing religion from the educational system.
The number of teenagers studying the subject to a decent standard could plummet in coming years as policy-makers increasingly marginalise RE.
Schools are already shifting students towards subjects specified by the Government- imposed, European style, English Baccalaureate in an attempt to climb official league tables, even though RE is currently compulsory until 16.
Not that being the law bothers some headteachers. I was recently in a school that didn’t teach RE at all.
To get around the law, it had a termly visit from a specifically chosen faith group that could be Christian, Muslim or even Pagan.
From what I saw on Enrichment Days, they had a free reign to tell the children what they liked with no real syllabus to be followed or critical analysis allowed.
This kind of approach is scandalous and is disrespectful to children. Good RE teaching encourages tolerance and removes ignorance. It raises important issues and creates a place where views and practices are explored. It should never be a platform for self interest groups to pontificate unchallenged.
It is well known that I am totally against religious worship in school. Having taken many assemblies, I am a great believer in keeping school gatherings as secular as possible.
With the misguided mish-mash of multi-culturalism where no faith must be seen to take precedence over another, a lot of school worship has become banal and halfhearted. A school is a place to learn about faiths and not sing about them. Now, under Tory policy, it would appear that is set to change.
Reading between the lines, I feel this is an attempt to keep any discussion of faith out of education, even when it is taught as an academic subject.
I believe it is part of the agenda of a government obsessed by PC, sexuality and terrified of Islam. If this Government had been as committed to faith as it would lead us to believe it would have made RE one of the core subjects of the “Euro Bacc”.
Instead, we will see schools chasing more league tables and offering only subjects that will earn them points.
What the Government have done to the police – with performance indicators making “Bobbies” go after the easy target of motorists – we will see the same with education.
The work of committed, hard working teachers is set to be assigned to the scrap heap. RE posts will get less and less. This will lead to fewer people taking the subject at A-level and Higher Education. Ultimately it will erode at the values of our country.
Perhaps this is what the Government wants. If a subject is not debated, it cannot become an oozing sore that faith has become amongst the liberal elite and by faith you must read Christianity.
In recent months, we have seen the Christian faith relegated in importance and legal standing into third place behind homosexuality and Islam. It is as if Christians can be marginalised with impunity. David Cameron has dared to tell Christians to become even more tolerant. Perhaps he has more biased, anti-Christian legislation up his sleeve.
What would Cameron do if every Christian in this country withdrew their labour in an act of defiance?
How would he react if the millions of black, white and Asian Christians, that live in this land stopped work and marched on Parliament?
Surely now is the time for Christians to stop being the silent majority and stand up and be counted before it is too late.
Now is the time for Christians to make their voice heard above the rabble of leftie atheists dragged out by the Press to give PC soundbites.
Now is the time for decent people to say enough is enough. I pray for the day when multitudes choke the streets of the capital with voices raised in protest at a Government that is throwing the faith of this land and the teaching of faith to the dogs of political correctness and the vultures of failed multi-culturalism.
GP taylor, from scarborough, is an ordained priest, writer and broadcaster.