Saturday, May 24, 2008

School worship

If I had my time again, and could go back and live my life with the confidence and knowledge that I have now, I would do a few things differently. One thing I would do differently is be much more of an awkward sod at school.

I went to a Church of England Comprehensive school and was always profoundly uncomfortable with enforced "worship" in assemblies, and, every other week, in the local Anglican church; especially as the school student population was 60% Muslim. But I was never confident or clear enough in my reasoing to stand up and say "I don't want anything to do with this nonsense." I really really wish I had.

Ekklesia has reported that a new Parliamentary report has recommended that children of ‘sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding’ be allowed to withdraw from school worship. The British Humanist Association have applauded this, so do I.

If I had my time over again, I would have withdrawn from worship, and encouraged others to do the same. It always seemed like a violation of the rights of children to me, and a denial of the nature of worship. I couldn't have put it better than Simon Barrow:

"Mandating common worship is inappropriate for public institutions made up of people from different world views and faith backgrounds. It is also a misrepresentation of what worship actually is. Worship is a freely offered act of faith arising from a believing community. It is not something that can be imposed or required of everybody."

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