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…
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.