Daily Worship in Schools

I’d almost forgotten that the daily worship in school assembly was a legal requirement until reminded by Aunty. Apparently, many schools aren’t bothering with it anymore in direct contravention of the law. Frankly, this doesn’t concern me one bit. It is not the place of the school –  or, more specifically, the state –  to enforce worship. Religious belief and the practice thereof should be a private matter. If parents wish to inculcate their offspring into the religious belief of their choice, well, that’s their choice. Daily worship in schools belongs to an era now gone. Whether you think that’s a good thing is or not is neither here nor there, it is what it is; gone. Indeed the legislation is now as pointless as the blasphemy laws. No one is seriously going to invoke the law even if there are a few red faces and much huffing and puffing in certain quarters –  namely from the C of E. And does anyone take that institution seriously any more?

The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend John Pritchard, said doing daily worship in schools was an “important statement”.

“What we believe as a country is important in the education of our young people, so I think it is an important statement that the country makes to its schools and says will you please do this,” he said.

Wishy washy statements such as this tend to underline why the Anglican church is in terminal decline. I mean, he could at least try to make a robust statement… As it is, I disagree. There is a place for learning about religion in the classroom, but an enforced faith based act of worship has no place in schools and I suspect that the schools are increasingly realising this. Not least because many of the pupils er, aren’t practitioners of the Judeo Christian faith, but followers of a somewhat younger one…

So, no, it shouldn’t be a matter of “please will you do this”, rather it should be a matter of removing it from the statute books entirely.

Still, the humanists get a hysterical word in, don’t they?

The National Secular Society said group worship amounted to a breach of human rights.

You just knew that human rights would get crow-barred in there somewhere. Look, people, I went through this at school. I stood there mute, not joining in with all the talking to imaginary folk in the sky and singing hymns stuff. It affected my human rights not one jot. I just found it all a bit silly and vaguely envied the Jehovah’s Witnesses who managed to skive off for the duration. I don’t suppose it’s much different today.

In a statement the group said: “England is the only country in the western world to enforce participation in daily worship in community schools.

“To do so goes beyond the legitimate function of the state and is an abuse of children’s human rights, especially those who are old enough to make decisions for themselves.”

Yes, and they will probably do as I did –  ignore it and carry on. Do get a grip and stop being so overwrought, you’ll have a fit of the vapours if you aren’t careful.

The Teacher’s union makes the perfectly valid point that when a law is being routinely flouted, perhaps it’s time to revisit it. I would agree. The law works because we see it as being necessary and its enforcement appropriate. When we treat it with universal contempt, then its validity has expired. This is one such law. Consign it to the history books labelled under quaint English traditions and let schools get on with teaching important stuff such as English, maths and the sciences. Leave the indoctrination to parents. At least, that is what they should be doing…

11 comments for “Daily Worship in Schools

  1. September 7, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Given the Church establishment’s recent propensity for bending over backwards to avoid giving ‘offence’ to any other religion, I’m surprised he is in favour of it!

    Think of the Muslims/Hindus/Jews/Wiccans!

    • September 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

      If he was an imam, he wouldn’t be saying “please”. 👿

  2. JorgeM
    September 7, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Surely only the children whose parents have declared them to be COE should be “forced” to do this. OK, so in London the proportions are different, but in a school where 60% of the pupils are COE then this is probably a good thing, if the parents agree. Otherwise why can’t I object to teaching English history as it’s against my religious beliefs?

    • September 7, 2011 at 9:26 am

      There is a difference between teaching a subject, which is the school’s raison d’etre and enforcing a belief system, which is not. Religious education is a valid subject for the classroom, insisting that children pray to a god is not.

  3. September 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

    For private religious schools, fine. For state schools, even in a country with an official state religion (which is a rantworthy side issue, though I admit it would bother me more if it wasn’t the CofE) compulsory worship is well past its sell by date.

    • September 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Absolutely. I understand that some of the free schools are faith based. In that case, you pays your money and you takes your choice. If they wish to have acts of worship, so be it – parental choice being a part of the equation.

      The state, however, should have no part to play in the matter. Religion and the practice thereof should be an entirely private matter.

  4. September 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    It wouldn’t do any harm to have a few Krishna monks around, banging drums and that.

  5. Voice of Reason
    September 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I recall those days, and observed my handful of Muslim, Jewish and Catholic friends being herded off to another room. It seemed very exclusionary, and reminded me of my mother’s stories of Germany in the 1930’s, before the atrocities began.

    • September 8, 2011 at 5:47 am

      Now, of course, enough of them segregate themselves (with the help of the State)…

  6. September 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    “To do so goes beyond the legitimate function of the state and is an abuse of children’s human rights, especially those who are old enough to make decisions for themselves.”

    Utter bilge.

    • September 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Quite so. The law, however is an ass and enforced worship is still wrong.

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