It is always disappointing when people write letters arguing against your position when they then argue against a position that you do not hold. Les Reid (Letters, 8 July) states that I admit that “a plethora of religiously segregated schools will mean a huge increase in the cost of education”.
The only problem is that I admit no such thing – in fact, I believe it is likely that more choice will mean that education will be cheaper.
Nor do I argue for religiously segregated schools – I was arguing that all schools should be open to all, but that not every school should have the secular humanist philosophy as its ethos.
He says if I love my neighbour I will send my children to the same school as them. If I love my neighbour then I will want their children to have the opportunity for the best possible education – something which the Scottish education system no longer provides.
It’s fine for the middle classes who can afford either to send their children to private schools or move to the catchment areas of the better state schools, but my concern is with the education of all – not segregated education according to wealth and social status.
Euan Bremmner (Letters, same day) argues against my position that today’s schools have largely become vehicles for atheist propaganda and social engineering by citing his experience from the 1940s.
Things have changed somewhat since then! I regularly come across examples of children in school being indoctrinated with hour-long showings of Richard Dawkins videos mocking their faith.
It’s ironic that he accuses me of wanting a theocracy like Calvin’s Geneva (which I don’t) while at the same time arguing for a one-size-fits-all education system in which all schools except secularist ones are banned!
It is sad that your correspondents both set up straw men before proceeding to knock them down, rather than dealing with the arguments that I actually made – namely that it is a basic human right, recognised by the United Nations, for parents to have their children educated according to their philosophy or faith.
The atheistic secularists who do not recognise that right seem to want a Stalinist-style system where, unless you have money, all children are educated in state schools which teach only the state philosophy.
It’s time for Scotland to move out of its backward, regressive system and become like more progressive nations such as the Netherlands, who do allow choice and freedom in state funded education.
St Peters Free Church
You published (Friends of The Scotsman, 7 July) an opinion calling for more religious apartheid in the education system, accompanied by more discrimination and indoctrination, demanded under the mantra of parental choice.
By coincidence, this week the Demos think tank has published an analysis which warns that British schools are “highly segregated” and that “some faith schools effectively exclude other ethnic groups”.
It also shows that schools are more segregated than the local neighbourhoods that they serve, and that the school system is strengthening the residential segregation that already exists.
If the choice of parents who are religious is reflected in the mosaic of religious belief in the UK, then it is worth noting that there are more than 300 Christian denominations alone at the last count.
This reflects considerable and deep differences of opinion between sects that would be disastrous if they were also to be mirrored in the education system.
The writer is free to raise his children in his faith at home, in his social circle and at his place of worship.
But it is not the job of the taxpayer to do it for him by means of a dangerous religious segregation.
Schools are for teaching, not preaching.
National Secular Society