The Truth About my Religion: What do you think?

Okay, before you start reading I should warn you may disagree with what I have written, some of you may disagree very strongly.  There is a whole spectrum of views on this issue.  I merely want to lay the foundations for a discussion.  So here goes…

The dilemma:

There is, as there is in many areas around the UK, a shortage of good primary schools and primary school places in our area.  There is, however, a very good Catholic school a couple of miles down the road.  Children who have been christened before the age of six months, and who have gone to church every Sunday for the last three years (and who have a letter from the Priest confirming this) are given priority entry into the school.  The school itself is very good academically – one of the best in the area.  It only teaches christianity; faith schools are exempt from elements of the national curriculum that address religion and are at liberty to only teach their faith.  My son’s father wanted to have our son christened a Catholic so that we could get our son into the school.  My ex is not a practising Catholic.  His motives were pragmatic – to enable us to get our son a good education. 

I feel that to get our son christened a Catholic merely to get him into a good school is wrong.  If nothing else, it is disrespectful to those who do believe and want their children to be educated amongst fellow Catholics.

My views on religion and education:

I have no religion and I am not sure that there is a God.  I am not an atheist because I think that atheists believe that there is no God.  You may think that this is just semantics, but I feel that atheism is a stronger position and, I think without the scientific proof that there is no God, atheism is a belief system in itself. 

I am a secularist, but to me secularism is a political framework that allows all religions rather than a competing ideology that wants to remove religion from public life. 

I think that morals and ethics should be part of who you are, not bestowed upon you by a third party, or accepted without question. This doesn’t mean that your morals and values aren’t also religious values and morals.  I think that rational people, of all religions and of no religion, debating around a table, would probably arrive at a consensus about what is good and what is evil.

I think that children should be taught all religions as a neutral academic subject at school.  Even the most intelligent child at primary and infant level will not question what they are taught, they will take it at face value.  This is, at the very least, a shame in a multicultural society, where religion is behind almost every news story.

I believe that children should have that choice, and it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that they are well equipped to make that choice.  My ex argues that a child cannot get a real appreciation of faith and a sense of spirituality if all s/he gets is an academic teaching of religion. 

I do not want to send our child to a Catholic school. I do not want our child to be christened a Catholic (unless of course he makes the decision himself), and I certainly do not want our child to be christened a Catholic with the sole purpose of getting a good education at a Catholic school.

So dear readers, let me ask you some questions:

  • Is it okay to have your child christened just so that you can get them into a good school? How widespread is this?
  • Can you have a real appreciation of ‘faith’ and a sense of ‘spirituality’ if you are taught religion as a neutral academic subject at school?
  • Should children be allowed to chose?
  • Does society need religion to provide a moral and ethical framework?

Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

And then the fun began...

 

13 Comments

  1. April 21, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    Many excellent questions here. What I would say is that in this instance you can only do what is best for your child, the problem isn’t your stance on religion but rather the fact that you feel obliged to conform in order to get your child a place in a suitable school!

    • thesingleswan
      April 21, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      Yes, it is a tough one. As it turns out, I am separating from my partner and therefore moving house. Close proximity to a good primary school is one of my top criteria in my new flat search. Fingers crossed. I am glad you enjoyed the post. x

  2. April 22, 2015 / 4:41 am

    I’m not Catholic but I believe you’d have to do some kind of interview with the priest prior to doing this and you would have to sit there and lie to the man’s face about your reason for wanting to do the christening…

    Not being any particular religion you don’t believe this, but as a religious person I can tell you that the purpose of religious ordinances (like christening, baptism, etc) is making a promise with God to remain faithful to Him, and going through the motions without intending to keep that promise would seem to me like a very serious thing.

    Good luck in your decision – it seems like your child can attend the school without the christening (but just won’t be given priority,) right?

    • thesingleswan
      April 22, 2015 / 6:52 pm

      Hi Jenny,

      Thank you very much for your comment. You are right, we would have had to have had some kind of interview with the Priest. My ex partner maintains that he had found a priest in his mother’s area (ie not near us) who was happy to christen our son purely so that we could get him into a Catholic school.

      You are right in that I am not religious, but I do agree that religious ordinances like christening and confirmation etc are a very serious thing. Whilst I don’t believe in God, I do believe that using institutions that other people hold dear (such as a christening) is at the very least disrespectful of other people’s beliefs and is wrong.

      Our child would be able to attend this school if we lived close enough, but distance from the school gate is the lowest priority entrance criteria and we currently live a couple of miles away – we wouldn’t get him in.

      All of this is largely irrelevant now though. We are separating and selling the house that we are living in. Proximity to a good state primary school is my top search criteria for a new home for myself and my son.

      Thanks again for the comment. I feel reassured that you think that going through the motions of a christening with no intentions of keeping the promise to God is a serious thing. My ex partner feels I am being unreasonable and intransigent!

      xx

  3. April 22, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Ooh, that’s a toughy. I think I am pretty much in the same place as you with the secularism thing. My dad is an athiest, my mum was brought up by a very Catholic mother and went to a Catholic convent school and totally rebelled and me and my sister were brought up without any real religion (although we were christened and put ourselves down as C of E on forms, etc. – oh and now my sister has truly converted to Catholicism).

    I got married the first time in church and when I ended up getting divorced seven months later I felt like a fraud.

    I felt gutted when I was looking at the local schools for my eldest seeing that the Catholic school was perceived as the best in the area and a shoe-in for the one coveted secondary school nearby. However I just couldn’t do the whole church thing – particularly not as a ruse to get a child into a school.

    Fortunately the C of E school he now goes to has just been awarded an Outstanding Ofsted report so I don’t feel too bad. What the future holds I’m not sure.

    As for whether or not being taught religion can give you a sense of faith and spirituality, I’m not sure. I guess it really depends on how it’s taught? What I learned from Religious Studies in secondary school seemed like stories – the Hindu gods etc. I don’t remember anyone ever really explaining what ‘faith’ meant. I think as an intelligent person you do gain a sense of that throughout life though, even if you don’t have any particular faith yourself. I certainly respect other peoples’ right to have a particular faith – sometimes I even wish I had their conviction – but I know what it means.

    Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout with such a thought-provoking post..

    • thesingleswan
      April 23, 2015 / 6:50 pm

      Thanks for your comments. I agree that the teaching of religion in schools often feels a bit like stories and I do agree that an academic teaching of religion might not give you a sense of ‘faith’ and ‘spirituality’, but at least the teaching of religion in schools gives children a broad base introduction to all religions. There is nothing that says that children cannot gain an appreciation of faith and spirituality outside of school by partaking in the religious practises of whatever religion they belong to.

      Thanks for hosting #thetruthabout linky. It is a really easy topic to write to so I suspect you will hear from me again!

      x

  4. September 17, 2015 / 12:52 pm

    I was Baptised and brought up a Catholic.

    When it came to my Confirmation I told my parents u would not be making it. As I thought it was hypocritical to make the confirmation when u did not believe.

    My partner is a Catholic. She does not attend church and the boys are only taught religion in school. She said we have to get our children christened.

    There is a culture in Ireland of big deals bring made of communions and confirmations. The children are given money, have a cake and a big party or taken away for the day. All of which I am against as the religious side of it means nothing.

    I am with you. I would not have my child christened into a faith I did not believe in just for the sake of a school.

    I think that all religions and faiths should be taught. We are in a global world now. How are we to teach our children about different cultures and beliefs when they only hear one.

    Great post.

    • thesingleswan
      September 18, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Thank you Alan, I appreciate your long comment. It is a tough one, but I have moral issues with promising to God, and more importantly an entire congregation of believers that I would bring my son up a Catholic, or indeed any religion when I have no intention of doing so. I think it is disrespectful shows a lack of integrity. I know others will disagree with me – my ex for starters.

      thanks again.

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