Training secular values

A report published on 15th June by Charles Clarke the former education secretary and Linda Woodhead the leading sociologist of religion in the UK said that ‘religious education’ in schools should be changed to ‘moral education’. It also called for religious education in schools to be re-examined ‘in the light of contemporary beliefs and practices’. They were apparently advocating that the young should be properly trained  to understand modern secular values.

These days most Britains are non-believers. The traditional British faiths, the Church of England, Methodism, and Roman Catholicism are in terminal decline; set to be less important as a practising faith than Islam by the second part of the twenty first century. The Conservative government is in thrall to the Church of England and will not take any action that will lessen their power and authority. They wheeled out a Department of Education spokesman who made the outrageous statement that ’ religious education is vitally important  to help children develop the British values of tolerance, respect and understanding for others.’

This is despite the fact that 61% of those surveyed in an Observer poll agreed with the statement,’ These days religion is a negative influence in the world rather than a force for good’. The secular society , not religion, is responsible for the promotion of tolerance and our current moral values.  Religions still promote their own beliefs, not those of other faiths. How can anyone say that by teaching Islam in schools we are promoting British values!

What is needed is to teach the moral values of a secular society. Eco-humanity proposes four principles of behaviour.

  1. Look after yourself so that you can reach your full potential.
  2. Respect other humans. Cooperate, and support them in advancing the lot of mankind as a whole.
  3. Recognise the integrated world of nature, respect how it supports our lives and preserve its full diversity for the sake of our children.
  4. Conserve the Earth’s resources for the benefit of our offspring

Surely we can all unite behind these values, whatever your particular religious or philosophical background. If these principles of behaviour were taught in school it would not only  promote ‘tolerance, respect and understanding for others ‘,  but also underline the importance of saving the planet for our children.

 

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Roger Heppleston

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