Northern Ireland saying no to Christianity in schools?

2 August 2022

Christian Concern’s Head of Education, Steve Beegoo, comments on the recent news that the High Court in Northern Ireland has ruled ‘Christian-only’ RE a ‘breach of human rights’.

All primary schools in Northern Ireland are currently required by law to have RE focused on Christianity. Primary Schools around the UK currently have a duty to provide a daily act of Christian worship, and for the Religious Education to be in the main Christian. But Northern Ireland has a higher standard. The predominantly Christianity-focused Religious Education required by the law in Northern Ireland has well reflected the significant influence of Christianity on the province. This standard has now been challenged by the High Court.

Humanist project

Campaign group Humanists UK, which campaigned for and funded the bringing of the case, is jubilant. The group explains in letters to its supporters:

“The High Court in Belfast just ruled today that Northern Ireland laws requiring Christian-only Religious Education and compulsory collective worship breach the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

We see in our education system an increasing pressure to expel Jesus Christ from our schools, and this has been seen further through the proposals in the recent Schools Bill. This judgment adds fuel to that fire. As the Humanist UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy, Richy Thompson states:

“This is a major victory for Northern Ireland Humanists…We need to take immediate action to see this ruling implemented in law —and to see its effects logically ripple out to the parliaments in England, Scotland, and Wales too. To do that, we’ll need an injection of funding to support our policy and communications in parliaments, assemblies, and councils across the UK.”


The right for any country to choose to be ‘Christian’ rather than plural is challenged by this ruling. The highest values being stated are those determined by the European Convention on Human Rights, and in the Human Rights Act. The foundation for all the benefits of true freedom is found in the love and truth of Jesus Christ. The world is loved by him and finds freedom in him. However, the global community is often seeking to enforce a pluralist ethos and welcoming in an exclusively pluralistic modus operandi for all, in the quest for a tolerance and respect for all which has no secure foundation.

The love of God, and the welcoming community of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is the true ground for all lasting tolerance, respect and love for one another. Yet Jesus Christ and his welcoming ‘Follow Me’ message is increasingly being denied to our children in schools, as the Humanist project proceeds. This will not lead to less hateful societies, as the enforced values of pluralism in all schools creates a new orthodoxy opposed to the forgiveness, salvation and reconciliation found only through Jesus Christ.


Darragh Mackin of Phoenix Law commented on the ruling: “The court has ruled that the core curriculum needs to be changed so it teaches children about Christianity, as opposed to being Christians – that is not the job of a school”.

This exemplifies the final stages of the secularisation of all state schools, many of which were once funded by, governed by and staffed by Christians. The church is leaving the schools to the state to impose its pluralistic vision of the world onto all children. Christians may no longer expect our children to be encouraged in their Christian faith by those that teach them in state schools. In fact all the evidence shows they are actively proselytised away from the Christian faith.

Clearly ‘the job of the school’ is now seen to be the indoctrination into secular pluralism.

Irish response

DUP MP Carla Lockhart, Chair of the Lords and Commons Families and Child Protection Group, commented that principals, teachers and parents expressed “strong opposition” to the ruling. She asked if the “rapid creep” of courts into Government policies meant judges should replace elected legislators. TUV leader Jim Allister said the ruling was “a frontal attack” on the Christian ethos of schools. Both he and Ms Lockhart said pupils already have a right to opt out of any Christian teaching.


Here at Christian Concern we are regularly supporting legal cases for free for our clients; an increasing number regarding education and freedom of religion. Our legal support, lobbying efforts and working together with hundreds of individuals and multiple Christian organisations all require resources. The Humanists will be using this ruling to raise significant further funds towards their ends of removing Christianity from every aspect of public life.


As the battle intensifies, we at Christian Concern continue to stand for the freedom to encourage children to follow Jesus Christ in church, at home and at school. This is all under threat. We want to protect the freedom not to be indoctrinated by the secularising and sexualising influences being promoted to them across society.

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