Ah well, another week, another Archbishop trying to preach unreconstructed Noah’s Arkisms to the evolved.
These outbursts are so deluded and so regular that this one is only of note because this time it’s the Archbishop of Wales, and as Wales was where our own bishop put on his clerical stabilisers it allows us another glimpse into his past and influences.
Dr Barry Morgan’s comments (see http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6019779) come because Wales has followed England with a law allowing pupils of 16 and over to miss collective worship without parental consent. While schools are still required to offer daily worship the Education and Inspections Act 2006 allows sixth-formers to opt out.
Dr Morgan, says the law “degraded the status of faith schools” and that group prayer offered pupils a rare opportunity for “recognition, affirmation and celebration of shared values” and should be encouraged.
In fact he thinks that:
“Collective worship has been branded as something that young people grow out of by the age of 16, at precisely the time when it might be the best way of feeding both their minds and their hearts as they start to explore the responsibilities and consequences of adult life,”
and furthermore that
“I am concerned that this is the thin end of the wedge and could be just the start of a process that devalues and ultimately marginalises the provision of collective worship in schools”.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, quickly put the man in his place yesterday when he commented:
“The Archbishop is either ignorant of or cares nothing for older pupils’ human rights. It is not legitimate for the state to force older pupils to worship. He even wants to row back on rights of withdrawal enshrined in law since 1944. It is simply ridiculous and arrogant to insist that those old enough to join the armed forces, and who will already have endured ten years of forced worship, should not be permitted to withdraw themselves. The National Secular Society fully supports assemblies at which values can be shared, but this is not the same as forced worship.
“It is little wonder that the Archbishop is so determined to force his world view on unwilling near-adults. Church attendance in Wales is less than half of what it was in 1980, and is projected by Christian Research to drop to around a quarter of what it is now by 2050. Given he cannot stop the churches from emptying, where could be more fertile ground than pupils captive in school?”
In the Isle of Man things are worse and Keith's comments are even more apt, because while there are no plans or proper facilities for any child to be withdrawn from collective brainwashing (even with parental permission) the voting age is 16. In effect this means that the imbeciles who kids are encouraged to vote for don't trust them to make an informed decision not to believe in fairies.
I'm also as unsure as Keith how long the Archbishop has been asleep on the job, but I have to say that even in my day (the early 1970's) we regarded collective worship as a bad joke in my secondary school.
The only element most of us paid attention to was the competition amongst school prefects to see who could sneak the wildest blasphemy into the daily bible reading without the headmaster noticing. Amongst the best I recall were quotations from Chairman Mao and punchlines from Monty Python sketches. That none of the miscreants were ever punished suggests that even then most staff in a well regarded traditional grammar school must have considered the whole exercise as futile as we pupils did.
The sad thing is, half the staff in my school were Oxbridge graduates, so while it was a very conservative, traditionalist school there was also a strong emphasis on civilised questioning and debate ( “Because I say so, boy” just wouldn’t do). By comparison, a quick glimpse around Manx schools reveals a culture of conformism and fear, and I include teachers scared of cutbacks in that.
In such a culture, those capable of believing six impossible things before breakfast thrive: those who think do not, or are shortlisted for redundancy (if staff) or filed under ‘awkward’ (if parents or pupils).
Inevitably, the first thing kids in such an environment learn is how to tell when Teacher doesn’t believe the guff s/he is preaching either, and how to make their own way through a system that simply does not work. My East European friends tell me this is exactly how they learnt to outwit and eventually discard their dimwit leaders, so maybe retaining Third World values and superstitions when the rest of Europe has not will ensure our own kids do the same.
2 years ago