The death of Christian worship in schools

14 March 2024

Head of Education Steve Beegoo explains how Christian worship in schools is being replaced by humanistic self-worship

This Easter, will there be a true celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and worship of him in the schools near you?

The law requires that schools in England have a daily act of Christian worship. This is part of the legacy passed on to our state schools; that Jesus Christ, and worship of him should be at the centre of all learning.

As Christians in the UK were those who started the majority of the schools, this makes sense! Children were taught to read, so they could read the Bible, and know the resurrected Jesus Christ. As the state has taken, and indeed been given, more and more operational control, lessening God’s peoples influence, so the worship of Jesus Christ has been replaced by the worship of achievement and self.

This has been seen in the recent exposing of a document from the London Borough of  Waltham Forest SACRE, but is indicative of much advice to schools.

The law states, and is quoted in the SACRE guidance, that:

The content of the majority of acts of collective worship in a term should be “wholly of [sic] mainly of a broadly Christian character, reflecting the broad traditions of the Christian belief.

But the SACRE guidance boldly states:

However, in the context of our diverse community it cannot mean:

creating pretence of Christian worship.
• replicating any elements of Christian ritual or liturgy.

Encouraging children to worship Jesus is not expected. Replicating any ritual or liturgy is prohibited; one would expect the Lord’s prayer to be cancelled or any candle lighting used only as a symbol of mindfulness or reflection.

As is common in new definitions provided to schools, worship is more and more interpreted through the influence of humanists and secularists, championing inclusion.

The document states:

This wider interpretation of ‘worship’ is usually helpful to schools and academies.

However, it can have a much broader and inclusive meaning; it can be a “form of human activity, when we purposely put ourselves in the position of paying particular attention to those things in life which have the greatest meaning for us”.

Once Christ is removed, it ceases to be Christian worship, and the worship of something else, especially the self, personal feelings of identity, and human achievement. Schools become places of glorification and worship of human achievement, encouraging children to achieve for achievement’s sake and encouraging them to celebrate their own identity, whatever they imagine that to be.

There is no neutral worship or value-free reflection that has no impact on our sons’ and daughters’ spiritual formation. This ‘worship’ is now what predominates in many school assemblies and is frequently led by non-Christian teachers.

As is becoming more and more normal, the resources for Humanist assemblies, ‘Assemblies for All’ are pointed to in the document. These include assemblies for ‘LGBT Month’ and ‘The Importance of Disobedience’ even for infant children.

Christian parents must be aware of what is being worshipped in the schools they send their children to. If our children are being led into celebrations of pluralism and human achievement, can we remain complicit as they are led to glorify man. Isn’t that idolatry?

The Church must model truly Christian worship and invite all people, especially our children, to follow Jesus Christ through our songs, liturgy, prayer, Bible reading and festive Christ-centred celebrations.

As Easter approaches may we pray that in Waltham Forest, and across the country, our sons and daughters discover Jesus Christ, and the joy of worshiping him.

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