Secular Education

What is it?  What is the Campaign for Secular Education?  Here are some extracts from their website(1) and we hope that it will provoke comment and debate from our readers in the next issue of Nurturing Potential.


Atheists and secular- humanists believe that this life is all we have and that all our efforts should go into making it as enjoyable and satisfying as possible for everyone. We believe that morals are rooted in our human experience and that to teach opinion as fact to children is an abuse of their trust, and their rights.;


    Statement of Aims and Objectives:-
  1. Our aim is to have every child educated to the highest standards of intellectual honesty appropriate to their age and stage of development - in local schools where they can mix freely with and socialise freely with children of other races, classes, and creeds.

  2. Instruction in religion should be the province of parents and their religions, in homes and churches if they insist on indoctrinating their children in their particular faith. It should be not be the business of the state education system to do other than educate, or to condone indoctrination.

  3. Children have rights over and above those of their parents and they deserve objectivity.

  4. Teachers should be free to teach their subject/s without having to undergo vetting on their religious affiliations, or lifestyle choices, and should be qualified and allowed to answer questions of ethics, belief etc. in an objective way.

  5. There should be a programme of integration of Religous Schools.

  6. This is a purely independent site, but intended to present clearly the points of view and areas of activities of  secular humanists.

  7. While the organisations have different priorities and ways of approaching the problems of religion in the education system, their basic belief in the harm that sectarianism can do, is I hope, not in question. There is more than enough work for all of us who believe in secular education as a good foundation for a modern secular state in which all opinions can flourish without the dangers of competing 'truth' claims.



The Education Issues in Black and White!


1) RE or RI - Education or Instruction? - The Educational Argument

Children have a right to be given information on all philosophical life stances including those of non-belief - atheism, secularism and secular humanism, objectively and with equal respect and liability to criticism.

It is an abuse of young minds if their teachers do not respect their integrity and take advantage of their immaturity to present one sided views as fact when they know that there are opposing opinions.

There are many 'facts' about religion, but they are not 'truths' if they depend upon opinion or belief.

There can be no place in Education for the teaching of opinion as fact.

For RE to be taught honestly, the many evil results of religion must be included- conflict and divisiveness, prejudice and discrimination, cruelty, abuse and killings throughout history and throughout the world today.



2)  Discrimination and Human Rights?

Prejudice and discrimination against church employees, all  teachers, children, parents and the wider society is  a Human Rights Issue 

No teacher qualified to teach their subject/s should be discriminated against on grounds of religious belief or life stance.

No child should be discriminated against because of their parents religion, and should never have to be withdrawn from any class without acceptable alternative provision of equal quality.

No community or individual parents, should feel that they have to create their 'own' school' or withdraw their children in order to avoid unfair presentation of their beliefs or lifestyle.

Prejudice and discrimination against women, gays, Jews, and other minority groups is rooted in religious belief, not to mention the systematic suppression of the views of non-believers



3) 'Religious ' Schools

Parents should be able to send their children to local schools and not have to travel because of selection

Segregating  ethnic minority children gives control over them and their parents to clerics or community 'leaders' and enables pressure to be exerted on them to conform to 'cultural' or religious demands. It also takes them out of mainstream schools so that those who do will be in an even smaller minority.

A multi-cultural society has a right to expect that any system that causes inequality and segregation of children into sectarian groups should not be paid for by the state, or condoned.

There is more than enough evidence to prove that segregation leads to strife. Segregated schooling leads to segregated housing, and ghettoisation, as parents are tempted to move to catchment areas around schools or churches or mosques.

Religions cannot be relied upon to teach religion objectively.


4) Act of Worship

It is intolerable that children should be required to  worship in school

No parent should have to withdraw their child from any part of the school curriculum because it is against their religious or secular beliefs.

To require worship from a child is an abuse of their rights since they are not of an age to make adult judgements on what worship means, and whether it is justified or desirable.


        5) Societal Problems

        The problems associated with difficulty of finding suitable schools for children in different religious groups within any given area, adding selection on religious criteria as well as ability, class and wealth increase with every new "faith" school.

        Transporting children to and from schools outside their locality adds to road congestion and lengthens the school day for young people and their parents. It adds to the stresses and strains on family life and weakens the social relationships within communities, when children are dispersed to widespread schools their sense of identity with children in their locality is disrupted and can cause a sense of social isolation, that can affect their confidence and social development.