Steve Beegoo, our Head of Education, comments on a current bill to remove Christian worship from schools.
A private members bill, which is currently waiting for its second reading in the House of Commons, aims to significantly remove Christian worship and Christian assemblies from the majority of state schools.
It is a surprise to some, that due to how schools were first begun by Christians in the UK, that all state schools, faith based or otherwise, are still required by law to have a daily act of Christian worship and regular Christian teaching as a part of Religious Education. At this time of year, this affords many individual Christians, staff members and Christian organisations the opportunity to be welcomed into schools to present the Easter story.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the key moment of human history, and Easter assemblies, as well as regular Christian worship in schools, have always allowed children to engage with this story. But the ongoing efforts to remove the Bible and silence Christianity are sought to be accelerated after the potential second reading on 6 May as the private members bill aims to “repeal the requirement for those schools to hold collective worship; and for connected purposes.”
It may seem logical that schools without a religious character should not be required to have a moral grounding, and a mandated gathering based on any faith. The National Secular Society is certainly keen to make this point.
However, the truth is that a ‘faith’ is being chosen to ‘stand’ on and to assemble around. That faith is Humanism. What will be mandated for all these schools is not a neutral gathering, but a daily promotion of a relativistic secular humanism. And this undoubtedly will be infused with the new ‘inclusive’ ideologies, accelerating the dislocation from our Christian heritage. Many schools are well down this path already.
So where does this take us? Believe in what? “Believe in yourself, children.” Who are you? “You are what you feel you are, children.” Who is Jesus? “Another fictional teacher amongst many who all have some good things to say, children.” What do we celebrate? “Anything that is diverse, making no moral judgements. But should you seem intolerant, by not wanting to celebrate everything with us, this will not be tolerated, children” (especially if your family holds traditional Christian beliefs about sex and relationships).
The ‘inclusive’ assemblies promoted through the bill will open the door to even more ideological propaganda being directed towards our children.
The bill effectively enforces non-religious belief through what are planned to become ‘inclusive assemblies’ and actively excludes anything which could be regarded as religious worship or observance. This would exclude by law any form of prayer, reading of a religious text, or the singing of worship songs and hymns. Therefore secular humanistic ‘worship’ and observance in all schools without a religious character is being prioritised and required.
The bill regularly references “no acts of worship or other religious observance by or on behalf of a school (whether or not forming part of the curriculum)” (emphasis added). This means Christmas carol singing, nativity plays, war remembrance events, easter egg hunts and many other lessons or events could be caught by the legislation. The legislation requires providing opt outs to pupils for all activities which may have any religious connection. Can you imagine the challenge for schools in this gaining consent for anything which might be able to be perceived as religious?
Bishop Steven Croft helpfully reflected on the bill in the House of Lords stating:
“I think the effect of the bill may be to replace a tolerant, humane, and hospitable Christian faith… with a largely manufactured cluster of ideas with few roots in stories or culture and varying enormously from school to school.
“I don’t think the majority of the nation’s children and young people should be denied the experience of spiritual, moral, social and cultural development connected to a living tradition which research shows they value. It is right that we are having this debate and I hope many conversations from it, but I urge your Lordships not to progress.”
It did, however, progress.
Christians must get involved in their local schools, or the windows of opportunity to communicate the wonder of Easter to children may be lost permanently. A school near you needs confident, voluntary support, and the Church has resources to provide this to those who are proven to be most responsive to the message of Jesus Christ: namely, children.
Pray with us that this bill does not receive the positive attention desired by those with a secularising agenda for all our schools.
Join with us at education events coming up in the Midlands including:
Please also make your local MP aware of this legislative move, to support them in understanding that this is neither a neutral or logical step, and request they do not vote in favour of the bill.