Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ faith schools

Government-funded faith schools with a religious curriculum are still pervasive in the UK, where there’s no First Amendment to separate church and state. Today’s Jesus and Mo, called “rare,” takes them on, and came with a note:

“Thanks to this week’s guest scriptwriter Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, for his help.”

And that article links to a Humanist UK piece:

Welby said this in a House of Lords debate on education:

‘A major obstacle to our education system is a lack of clear internal and commonly held values. We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared. We have a world of unguided and competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal choice. Which means that for schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished. Utilitarianism rules. And skills move from being talents held for the common good which we are entrusted with as benefits for all, to being personal possessions for our own advantage.

‘The challenge is the weak, secular and functional narrative that successive governments have sought to insert in the place of our historic Christian-based understanding, whether explicitly or implicitly.’

Pardon my French, but the man is a dumbass. We all know that moral values, while they may be sustained by religion, almost always originate from secular sources. So much for the new “liberal” Anglican church. Welby needs to read some Plato!

On to Jesus and Mo:

In contrast, reader Graham sent this article from The Evening Standard (click on screenshot to read it):

Ofsted is the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, and here’s what they reported (my emphases):

An increasing number of conservative faith schools are deliberately flouting British values and seek to isolate young people from the mainstream, Ofsted warned today in a damning report.

Some religious schools in both the state and independent sectors are spreading discriminatory beliefs that clash with British values. In extreme cases illegal “schools” are being created to avoid teaching the fundamental values of democracy, mutual tolerance and respect.

Launching her first annual report as Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman said inspectors have found texts in faith schools that encourage domestic violence and the subjugation of women, and schools where there is a “flat refusal” to acknowledge lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

She said: “When I see books in schools entitled Women Who Deserve To Go To Hell, children being educated in dank, squalid conditions, children being taught solely religious texts at the expense of learning basic English and mathematics, I cannot let it be ignored.

Guess which religion(s) are involved. No faith is mentioned here, but another report in the paper says this:

The majority of the schools [Spielman] criticises are Muslim, though there are also a small number of Jewish schools which fail on integration.

So, you Brits, Scots, and Welsh, your tax money is going to fund homophobia and misogyny. What are you going to do about it?

45 Comments

  1. BobTerrace
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    We all know that moral values, while they may be sustained by religion, almost always originate from secular sources.

    I will go one step further…
    Immoral and unethical values are sustained and encouraged by religion.

  2. GBJames
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    sub

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I have to say the direct in the U.S. is not a hell of a lot better. The numbers of religious schools and now, charter schools. These are now being funding with tax money because they are giving parents money to send their kids. It causes more segregation, less diversity and tons of religion in these schools. The democrats and republicans are both in the privatizing of school and the dumbing down continues.

    • Paul S
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Vouchers pay for wonderfull schools like this.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        So much for separation of cult and state.

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Many charter schools are also run by Waldorf, and teach that cult’s lunacies.

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      The situation is worse in the UK because many of the faith schools are part of the state school system*. That is to say that they receive direct funding from the government out of general taxation.

      *what Americans would call public schools, confusingly in the UK the schools called “public schools” are actually private schools

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    “And skills move from being talents held for the common good which we are entrusted with as benefits for all, to being personal possessions for our own advantage.”

    So The Most Reverend Primate is a Maoist? Who knew?

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    So it’s good to pretend to have ultimate rather than utilitarian values because pretending to have ultimate values has utilitarian value? Hunh?

    • BJ
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Dude seems to think utilitarian means “maximizing usefulness to oneself to satisfy selfishness.” He’s not using the same definition as people who know the meaning of the word. Utilitarianism is itself an ultimate value.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Yeah, he seems to think “utilitarianism” is a Randian Objectivist construct.

  6. Serendipitydawg
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Until we declare a republic (treason against the monarchy, no longer punishable by death but the establshment would no doubt stamp on it) we will remain wedded to the CofE because our monarch is “defender of the faith”, and I suspect we will continue to have an established religion even when only “the elite” actually subscribe (I doubt they are all believers, despite participating in the flim flam and fakery)… I can’t remember what the percentages were on the last census but the CofE weren’t doing too well.

    At least hospitals no longer tick CofE when you tell them you are atheist 🙂

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      … we will remain wedded to the CofE because our monarch is “defender of the faith”, …

      A title awarded by the Pope to Henry VIII, “the” faith being the Catholic faith. 🙂

      (Henry later did a volte face.)

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted December 14, 2017 at 3:16 am | Permalink

        Indeed the case, but he retained it for the monarchy where it remains to this day, and Catholic is most definitely not the faith… quite the opposite.

        The whole mess did give the dictionary “antidisestablishmentarianism”, so it wasn’t all bad 😉

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I think I read on this site that “big ears” in waiting has announced that upon his being crowned he will become “defender of faith” which presumably includes all the nonesense or whatever that means.

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I’m afraid you are deluding yourself. Although the Church of England is established (in England, not the rest of the UK) it has little bearing on the existence of faith schools. After all, there are Muslim and Jewish faith schools and worst of all, even Catholic faith schools.

      • Posted December 13, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Well, it does to the degree that the Archbish is in a unique position of power to defend religious schools generally. With detestable consequences … 

        The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted to personally lobbying former Prime Minister David Cameron to drop proposals aimed at tackling illegal, extremist religious schools and safeguarding the children with them.

        /@

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted December 14, 2017 at 3:35 am | Permalink

          Exactly. It ensures that there are bishops in the house of lords and permits them to insert their opinions all over the place. The archbishop of Canterbury will continue pushing faith schools for all religions simply because it would be impossible to exclude non CofE these days, so they are all chums together.

          George Carey took on a real snit once when someone tried to pin him down on the validity of Muslim creed, since his own doctrine effectively marks it as a meaningless cult. Rowan Williams was considerably more adroit addressing the same sort of question, though unpacking his responses is an interesting exercise (he was a consumate master of meaningful-sounding verbosity).

          The bottom line is that there are simply too many vested interests across the board, #1 is that the CofE legitimises the monarchy, so the establishment simply isn’t going to rock that boat.

  7. tubby
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    It’s nice to here the archbishop pull the god-given talent argument when complaining that people are being selfish with their time and skills. Every time I hear it I know I’m dealing with someone looking to cheat me out of proper compensation and/or make demands which they know are unreasonable and would never normally be accepted. It’s up there with ‘You’re being paid in exposure’ and ‘You should be flattered I even asked you to do this’.

  8. Sastra
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    We have a world of unguided and competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal choice.

    And that’s especially true when you include religions, which are unguided and competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal faith — a faith which is untethered to the rational checks and balances of the common reality of the secular world. People choose what they believe about god. There’s no dramatic distinction here — other than the freedom from responsibility involved whenever the supernatural is invoked.

    The religious seem to forget that ANY perspective can be placed at the center and made to seem the standard from which all else deviates. Worse, they seem to forget that they, themselves, are not God. They don’t get to levitate their personal selves and preferential choices above EVERYTHING and pretend they’re the View from Nowhere and God is as plain as day and as obvious as their own selves.

  9. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    @Serendipitydawg, the figures from the 2015 British Social Attitudes survey show that 42% of Brits claim to be Christian. 17% of Brits claim to be members of the CofE. 2% of Brits attend CofE Sunday services.

    Welby’s assertion is, of course, flat-out wrong. Pretty well all UK schools endeavour to give their pupils a coherent moral vision and set of values, although community schools are not hamstrung by having to pretend that morals come from religion. Either Welby is being mendacious or he is deeply ignorant.

    Being a charitable person, I prefer to think that he is ignorant. He seems to have come to believe he had a vocation as a consequence of attending an Alpha course. That alone should have disqualified him from any post above that of parish priest. But the muppets running the CofE seem to have decided that, because he had once been an oil executive, he would be capable of managing the CofE like a business. Instead he has been a disaster in the post, and people are leaving the church in droves as a result. Praise be!

    • Posted December 13, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      And it’s getting worse (for religion):

      More generally, 53% of all adults describe themselves as having no religious affiliation, up from 48% in 2015. The latest figure is the highest since the BSA survey began tracking religious affiliation in 1983, when 31% said they had no religion.

      While the fall in religious affiliation is being driven by the young, the proportion of people over 75 saying they have no religion is 27%. A much higher proportion, 40%, identify as C of E or Anglican.

      More than half UK population has no religion, finds survey

      /@

  10. Draken
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    And those faith schools you largely have to thank Mr Tony Blair for, althought he may have seen the error of his ways.

  11. Jay Baldwin
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    ‘A major obstacle to our education system is a lack of clear internal and commonly held values. We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared.

    The first claim is true. The second claim is false as a result of the first.

    If respect for truth and truth-seeking was the commonly held value, natural selection would succeed as the overarching explanation of life. But that’s not the case. People value nonsense that confirms their preferred worldview, resulting in competing stories that undermine the truth of evolution.

    Somebody should write a book about how people value faith over facts.

    • busterggi
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      “We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared.”

      I guess no one tells the stories of Robing Hood or King Arthur anymore.

  12. Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Tony Blair has a lot to answer for this.

  13. Christopher Bonds
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Is it just my imagination, or does the British Parliament have a history of letting things get to a tipping point before they realize what a mess they’ve made of things and actually do something? Oh wait, maybe I’m thinking of the US Congress…

  14. murali
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34893039

    Sometimes he asks, ‘God, why – why is this happening? Where are you in all this?’

    The man is an idiot. We would not respect this kind of thinking if it were not for cultural tradition.

    Religious institutions have made a virtue out of idiocy.

  15. Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Having read about conservative Christian faith schools in Great Britain, I was surprised about that paragraph indicating the schools Spielman criticized were Muslim and Jewish. Those same criticisms could be leveled against some of the Christian schools.

  16. busterggi
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Of course religion promotes morality, especially Christianity. That’s why humanity went extinct twice, once before any religion was invented and then again between the invention of religion and the invention of Christianity.

  17. nicky
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I think there should be no place for faith schools in a secular society.
    Although our host mentions Islamic schools, that is not reflected in the comments. yes there are Christian faith schools to, , of course.
    The Netherlands have a comparable problem, although not caused by a Mr Blair-like figure, it is a much older problem there.
    When are we going to accept that multiculturalism is a complete and utter failure? (yes, I’m guilty too, until about 2 decades ago I believed in it, but I was completely, ‘shameworthily’ wrong.)

  18. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    There may be a minority of moral values that originate in religion, but I wouldn’t put the percentage terribly high. (And the few that do would be all found in the Old Testament.)
    But you would certainly expect an Anglican archbishop to be aware of the moral codes of Aristotle and Horace, etc.
    Further, the classic Roman Catholic “cardinal virtues” are straight out of Plato’s Republic.

    The archbishop is correct that modern culture lacks an overarching narrative, but it does not follow from that that schools are not teaching any values at all. Intellectual honesty, appreciation of drama with moral themes, artistic appreciation of beauty, and the evil of sexual assault are all being taught in secular schools.

    If one looks up “utilitarianism” in a good philosophy encyclopedia, one discovers it considers the good of ALL, and as such is distinguished from “egoism”.

    A minor concession to the bishop. The Greeks talked about virtue, and about love- including compassionate love (agape), but I suppose Christianity elevated agape to the status of being an actual virtue of equal significance as the cardinal ones of courage, prudence, and justice.
    In Plato’s “Laws”, mercy is commended, but justice has priority. By contrast, late Old Testament prophets emphasize mercy and justice as a kind of package-deal. This higher prioritization of mercy may be Christianity’s distinctive contribution to Western ethics.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Sorry. Meant to close the italics wayyy sooner than that.

      • Posted December 14, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Even with “virtue” it is complicated. Christians traditionally regard pride as a sin, but Hume counted it a virtue.

        I wrote a paper (a bad one – and it seems to have not survived my computer migrations) as an undergraduate claiming that the way to understand and adjudicate claims as to which behaviours were virtues was in a consequentialistic manner. (This was an assignment to blend two ethical traditions, so it isn’t as weird as it sounds.) I still think this approach has some merit.

  19. anthonyherbert2014
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    As an individual Brit there is not much I can do. However, I hope the UK humanist organization will.
    https://humanism.org.uk/2017/12/08/archbishop-of-canterbury-attacks-non-church-schools-as-immoral/

  20. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    [Extremely rude words -redacted.]
    [Rude words- edited]
    I have had to spend too much of this week listening to a person talking about being at a “faith” boarding school, with a half-hour of chapel before breakfast every day, one and a half hours on Sundays, and being buggered on a daily basis by one of his teachers.
    “Faith schools” never had any credibility, Their teachers have wroded that over the generations.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 13, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      What a friggin’ waste of time. The chapel, I mean. I guess the buggery was too, from his point of view.

      cr

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted December 15, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Someone profited from it. Probably the person running the school

  21. Posted December 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    So, you Brits, Scots, and Welsh, your tax money is going to fund homophobia and misogyny. What are you going to do about it?

    Um … Scots and Welsh are Brits!

    What, I’m doing (as a ¼-Dutch and ¼-Flemish Brit) is supporting Humanists UK’s and the National Secular Society’s campaigns against faith schools.

    /@

  22. Posted December 14, 2017 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    So, you Brits, Scots, and Welsh, your tax money is going to fund homophobia and misogyny. What are you going to do about it?

    It’s very frustrating. I have contacted my MP on occasion. The last time I wrote to him to complain about the proposed removal of the 50% cap on a religious requirement (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_50%25_Rule).

    I said, amongst other things:

    Educational standards: faith schools have a worse record than other schools in teaching anti-science, such as creationism, and promoting views that discriminate against minorities, like the LGBT community. Despite the teaching of creationism being banned, this still didn’t prevent Ofsted awarding a status of ‘Good’ to a school that censored questions on evolution in a science exam and admitted to teaching creationism (https://humanism.org.uk/2014/11/13/bha-questions-school-censored-evolution-exam-questions-receiving-good-rating-ofsted-inspection/). Allowing full selection will increase the dangers of the wholesale indoctrination of children with these retrograde views. Of course, that is exactly why religious groups lobby for full selection!

    The response was unsatisfactory; for example:

    The Government has stressed that if this rule is implemented [the removal of the 50% cap] it would be complimented [sic] by more effective requirements to ensure faith schools are properly inclusive. I can assure you that the Government will ensure that safeguards are in place to promote diversity and inclusivity in faith schools, so that pupils of all faiths and none are able to play a full part in the life of the school.

    How allowing more religious selection could allow “pupils of all faiths and none to play a full part in the life of the schools” is anybody’s guess; there won’t be pupils of any other faith or non-believers in faith schools!

    The problem is that British society, and the Tories in particular, are still incredibly faith-friendly, so it’s very difficult to resist the powerful religious lobbies. Luckily the hung parliament has reduced the chances of such a measure going forward, and the Governemnt has other things on its mind!

    • Posted December 14, 2017 at 3:59 am | Permalink

      A link to the complete exchange: http://goodgrieflinus.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/ideology-driving-faith-schools.html

      Also, this morning in the UK we were treated to a fawning interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the prestigious 8.10am slot on the Today program. Instead of being challenged about his comments above he was asked questions assuming his moral competence and, indeed, authority. This is what is *wrong* with this country.

  23. marvol19
    Posted December 16, 2017 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    I’m not a UK citizen so i can’t vote nationally. I do vote nonreligious when i can (local, EU).
    Also a longstanding member of both the British Humanists (now Humanists UK) and the National Secular Society. Both do great work on limited budgets.


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