The Welsh Government is poised to oust religious education and ban Christianity from schools to “rise to the challenge of community cohesion” and “extremism.”
Welsh Minister for Education and Skills Huw Lewis, told Senedd, The Welsh Parliament:
“My contention would be that we rename the [religious education] curriculum and transform it into the religion, philosophy and ethics element of the curriculum – where there is an explicit commitment to allowing children to ponder ideas around ethics and citizenship and what it means to be a citizen of a free country.”
He argued that the Welsh government must “rise to the challenge of community cohesion” through reforming religious education.
At the end of June an “Independent review of curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales” by Professor Graham Donaldson, a former chief inspector of schools in the principality, urged that pupils in Welsh schools should be “ethical, informed citizens of the world.”
Earlier in the month, a report was published examining the role of religion in the English curriculum. It recommended that daily act of “predominantly Christian” worship should be scrapped and all religious instruction should be made at home or in Sunday schools and madrasas.
Former Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, a “religious education expert,” compiled it.
However, Chairman of the Campaign For Real Education, Chris McGovern, a teacher of 35 years who advised Michael Gove on education reform, warned the move was counter productive and a grave mistake. Speaking to Breitbart London he said:
“Christianity has a place in every school. You can’t understand any important aspect of Western civilization – whether it be art, culture, music, religious institution or politics – without understand Christianity.
“…It is fundamental, it defines our society and it is our national religion. If you take away Christianity, you are taking away the national memory. And that is an illness,” he said.
When I ask why various reports and government ministers might have drawn the conclusion that Christianity in the classroom was casing problems of “community cohesion” and “extremism,” he said:
“I think they may have made the connection simply because, for some minority groups who do not claim to be Christian, they think they do not need to be taught about Christianity. In fact, the contrary is true. Since Christianity defines our society it is a way on integrating youngsters into British society.
“… Otherwise, you will get educational ghettos where children are excluded from the defining philosophy of our civilization,” he said.
Mr. McGovern spoke about historical examples of militantly secular societies, such as Maoist China, Soviet Russian and Nazi Germany. He warned:
“The British government has a new agenda called ‘British values.’ Nicky Morgan [MP and Secretary of State for Education] has changed the rules on this, and one of the values schools are now obliged to promote is the doctrine of tolerance for all ideas, and accepting the point of view of anyone you might disagree with.
“This sounds very persuasive, but it is a form of value relativism. Teacher are discussing extremist values on a level plain field with what you might call more reasonable points of view.
“I’ve seen it myself in schools. It is dangerous; it offers children no real moral guidance and can actually serve promote the extremism and lack of community cohesion which the government wants to tackle in the first place,” he said.