REV DAVID FAREY: Religious education in schools is still important

It has been reported that around a quarter of secondary schools are breaking the law in their failure to deliver Religious Education in secondary schools.

Sunday, 24th September 2017, 8:00 am
David Farey SUS-160113-102615001

The secondary head teachers’ union responded that religious issues were covered in other lessons like citizenship or assemblies.

I wonder that this is news at all. I recall nearly 50 years ago that our RE lesson was spent mostly by the teacher talking to the school rugby team players in my class about the next fixture.

It doesn’t mean that it’s not important though. The Department for Education has said that the government firmly believes in the subject’s importance.

That is probably alongside the arts and music, all of which struggle to be funded within schools.

Saying something is important doesn’t mean a lot unless you back it up with action to support it.

Offset this bit of research against the survey earlier this year which said that a quarter of those who call themselves Christians do not believe that Jesus came back to life and that is a pretty significant plank in the argument about being a Christian. Something is wrong somewhere. Of course all the secularists will scream, “Quite right too!”

They would argue that any sort of religious faith is a travesty and that it shouldn’t be a legal requirement in schools anyway. I would disagree with that on three counts.

Our nation’s culture is fundamentally Christian based. Laws and principles of how society functions have Christian principles at their core and so to know what our society is founded upon is not a bad idea. We also live in a world where there are groups of people who are aggressively activist in promoting their particular brand of faith.

To understand how they tick can help diffuse and deal with them in an effective way.

Failure to grasp extremists’ motivations can leave a society open to their seeming benign insinuations as well as their less subtle methods!

I am a person of faith and have a firm conviction in the benefits of religion. But the problem is that for years RE has been neglected, thus producing a new generation of teachers ill equipped to deliver.

It’s a vicious circle. RE will continue to decline in our schools and the general level of religious ignorance in society will increase. The problem is that the quality of religious indoctrination among the fundamentalist extremists is rigorous and determined.

They succeed in filling the vacuum our own education system creates.

Their impact will continue to increase and society will suffer. By the time those apathetic to RE in schools realise the error, it will be too late.’