Let us reflect

There’s no separation of church and state in Britain. In fact, there’s a state church and religious education is mandatory in public schools. But they can’t seem to figure out how to teach religion in a multicultural, mostly secular society. In Scotland, the solution is to water down Christianity till it’s inoffensive to everyone — except Christians. From The Scotsman:

The Lord’s Prayer and traditional hymns are to be replaced by spiritual reflection and “person-centred discussions” under radical new plans to revamp school assemblies in an attempt to reach out to children turned off by organised religion.

. . . Many teachers now believe that bible-reading and hymns have little relevance to modern pupils, and experts claim that traditional religious instruction can be counter-productive.

The conclusion they reach is that schools should instead seek to nurture the “spiritual nature” of pupils, and encourage them to pursue their own ethical code on society, morality and community.

Examples already given include assemblies which discuss the values of figures such as Martin Luther King, or discussions on the power of volcanoes.

Religions would only then be referred to only by how they interpret such spiritual or ethical matters.

A report found that a majority of Scottish principals “believe religious ceremonies in their schools lead to tensions among pupils. Protestant and Catholic faiths are widely associated with bigotry amongst many teachers.”

Bigotry? Really?

The whole thing makes separation of church and state look good.

About Joanne


  1. Walter Wallis says:

    I may burn my kilts.

  2. Walter Wallis says:

    And my pipes, of course. Wonder what a frying bagpipes sounds like.

  3. “person-centred discussions”…I thought the whole idea of “spirituality” was to have thoughts & feelings centered on something *other* than yourself…

    “discussions on the power of volcanoes”…evidently, natural phenomena have moved from science class to religion class, neatly reversing 2000 years of intellectual change…

  4. PJ/Maryland says:

    David, I also found the volcano reference a bit bizarre. Is this an attempt to include the minority of volcano-worshippers in Scotland? And of course, we’ll want to know what the CofE and the Catholics have to say about the spiritual or ethical effects of volcanoes…

    WW, I’m pretty sure a frying bagpipe will sound like any other bagpipe. They all sound like they’re expiring in a fire, anyway.

  5. As an atheist, I’ve always watched with fascination how different religions put forth their public persona. I’m always shocked at how much they are willing to let their faith be dumbed down, non-denominationalized (if that’s the right word, or even a word at all), and otherwise neutered.

    Why in this country is anyone willing to promote non-denominational prayer? Has anyone ever heard such a thing? I think it would start like this:

    “O God, Goddess, or Plural Forms of the Aforementioned, and please forgive my uttering your name or names, and sorry to bother you if you don’t exist, please grant me something, if that’s allowable. I would be specific, but there are rules governing my utterences in this forum…”

    Why would any self-respecting religious follower take part in such a farce?

  6. Sandy P. says:

    –the values of figures such as Martin Luther King, —

    Do the mean the REVEREND Martin Luther King?

    I wonder where he got his values?

  7. jon,

    As another atheist, I agree. Kim du Toit, yet another atheist, likened religion to marketing:


    Which sells better, generic products, or products perceived as “special”?

    If one takes religion seriously, then that analogy might be offensive – but shouldn’t this kind of “neutering” also be offensive? Unfortunately, such compromises are almost inevitable when church, state, and school overlap.


    I think “person-centred discussions” will lead to the worship of the “superheated ‘steem” god (love that phrase of yours). Not the sort of INNER spirituality anyone should be encouraging. Ack!

    “encourage them to pursue their own ethical code on society, morality and community”

    Great, so is it OK for students to create an ethical code based on, say, hedonism?

    As for volcanoes, maybe they’re talking about Mother Gaia. Or Pele, the volcano goddess. Multiculturalism rocks! (That sounds like a new product … “multiculturalism rocks.” Buy a box of ’em for your classroom!)

  8. Religion IS a touchy issue in Scoltand. Glasgow has two premiere league football (soccer) teams; Rangers, which was founded by a Church of Scotland Reverend, and Celtics, founded by a Catholic Priest. Guess what is the determining factor for whom you root for? I was constantly asked who I liked, and it was pretty obvious that I was a foreigner.
    Anyways, in 1989, Rangers hired their first Catholic player that year, and they had been in exsistance for over 100 years previous to that.
    You also have the annual Orange walks, which don’t cause as much strife as they do in Ireland, but they are a regular source of in-your-face attitude.
    But Catholics have their own seperate school system, so these principals are not teaching Catholics. They’re either teaching various Protestants, non-Christians (Muslims, Hindus, etc.), or the (most likely) irreligious. In that instance, I can understand why there would be tension.
    FWIW, Scotland’s state religion is different than England’s state religion. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian, whereas The Church of England is Anglican. I’ve no idea about Wales and Northern Ireland.

  9. Richard Heddleson says:

    Separation of church and state has been good for the church and the state as the U. S. When churches have to “compete in the matketplace for souls” it forces them to be their best. Likewise, keeping the church out of government allows government to consider the broadest possible array of solutions without dogmatic blinders.

  10. Atlantic says:

    The established church in Wales is currently known as the the Church of England in Wales, and is pretty much the same as the C of E.

  11. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    Walter Wallis wrote: “And my pipes, of course. Wonder what a frying bagpipes sounds like.”

    PJ/Maryland replied: “WW, I’m pretty sure a frying bagpipe will sound like any other bagpipe. They all sound like they’re expiring in a fire, anyway.”

    For shame you disparage the bagpipe so!

    They’re a fitting accompaniment when feasting on haggis, and there’s no sound so sweet as that of pipes receding to silence in the distance.

  12. PJ/Maryland says:

    … and there’s no sound so sweet as that of pipes receding to silence in the distance.

    CC, very well said!

  13. Walter Wallis says:

    But the soul who scored “Amazing Grace” for the bagpipe – aye, there’s my mark. A hagis to him!

    In fact, could “Hagis you” not appropriately substituti for the “F” word?

  14. Anonymous says:


    The Church of England in Wales has not been the established church in Wales for decades. It was disestablished by a series of Acts of Parliament in the period 1914 – 1920, acknowledging the fact that by that time most of the population was Nonconformist. So far as I know there is no established church in Wales any more.

    It’s a bit off topic but “disestablishmentarianism” (i.e. the political movement that opposed the disestablishment) is a great word to know for spelling bees and trivia quizzes.

  15. Oh, drat. That last comment about disestablishmentarianism was by me. Forgot to put my name in.

  16. ‘”disestablishmentarianism” (i.e. the political movement that opposed the disestablishment)’

    Isn’t that “antidisestablishmentarianism”?

  17. Richard Heddleson says:


    As I recall, “the longest word in the world” when I was a kid. Obviously the world did not include Wales. Probably because the antidisestablishmentarians had failed.

  18. Drat again! Antidisestablishmentarianism it is. I floccinaucinihilipilificate my previous post.