Wails from Wales over â€˜attack’ on Christianity
A DECISION to allow Welsh sixth-formers to opt-out of religious school assemblies was praised last night by evolutionary scientist Prof Richard Dawkins.
According to this report, the move by Assembly education minister Jane Hutt was welcomed by “the world’s best-known atheist” – but condemned by faith groups.
Currently schools must provide daily collective worship for all children, expect those withdrawn by their parents. The decision, which will affect over 16s, will bring Wales into line with England.
Prof Dawkins told the Western Mail he was in favour of the opt-out and said that, while it was important children grasped the social impact of religion, he believed non-religious assemblies served a purpose.
I am not against religious education in the sense of educating children about religion. It’s an important aspect of, not only our culture but all the cultures of the world.
But he added he was:
Passionately against anything that smacks of indoctrination and that would include telling children, â€˜You belong to this religion or that religion’.
The Rev Edwin Counsell, education officer for the Church in Wales, said that trying to teach the importance of religion in today’s world without giving pupils an experience of worship was like trying to “teach biology without going into the laboratory”.
A further concern was that teenagers would come under peer pressure not to attend assemblies. He said:
This is a real issue. If you’re not careful you are branding collective worship as something you grow out of and in every sense it’s something you grow into.
Mr Counsell was disappointed last year when the Assembly voted against giving children the automatic right of free transport to a faith school.
Dr Geraint Tudur, of the Union of Welsh Independent churches added:
Over the centuries, Christianity has been the bedrock of Welsh identity and morality. This is a secular attack on that Christianity; an act of betrayal by the Assembly Government.
Stand by for a lengthy,Â anguishedÂ statement from Stephen “Birdshit” Green â€¦