Faith in schools

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A PETITION is being presented to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to change pupil participation in state school religious observance from an “opt-out” to an “opt-in” basis.

But isn’t a debate needed in the Scottish Parliament as to whether or not there should be religious worship at all in our schools? Scottish Government guidance on religious observance was reissued in 2011. That government should be issuing “guidance” is surely, in itself, questionable. What business does government have in determining religious rituals in schools?

The guidance holds out Time for Reflection (TFR) in Holyrood as a model for religious observance in schools. But to be reflective of belief in Scotland, TFR has had to provide time for six major faith traditions (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Bahai’i) and 14 Christian denominations, but even then it has not given fair representation to atheist, humanist and other non-religious beliefs. I have considerable sympathy for teachers given the impossible task of creating unifying religious observance for pupils.

Is it not about time that the Scottish Parliament fulfilled its initial promise of more transparent and participatory government by actually debating whether religious observance in our schools should be a legal requirement at all?

Norman Bonney

Palmerston Place

Edinburgh

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