Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Conservative Anglican website promotes Civil Partnerships

Had to laugh : conservative 'Anglican Mainstream' website, which is carrying a critique of this year's Greenbelt Festival for having gay and lesbian speakers, also carries advertising for "Civil Partnership Photos . . Natural, unobtrusive, reportage photography for civil partnerships. See"

Either 'google ads' pick what ads to include on a random basis, or someone at Google has a sense of humour.

Lisa Nolland, who is very concerned about 'orthodox' Christians being 'hounded out' of their local churches for, er, not being gay?, clearly ought to get along to Greenbelt and join the debate. I think she'd find she wouldn't be hounded out. But then that might upset her sense of righteous paranoia.

Friday, 3 July 2009

RE : review or abolish?

I've just received an invitation from the Accord Coalition to support a petition for a complete review of Religious Education. This is the invitation :

"Accord is supporting a campaign to make religious education objective and balanced for which we need your help. We think that RE should teach about a wide range of different beliefs (religious and non-religious), not tell children what they ought to believe. Although all schools are legally required to teach RE, at the moment there is no statutory guidance on what they must teach. While community and voluntary controlled schools at least follow a syllabus that is agreed locally, voluntary aided religious schools are free to teach the lessons in any way they see fit.

The government has recently conducted a review of religious education but we believe that it has failed to address the partiality and lack of balance of RE in many schools. Because the current inadequacies in the way that RE is taught are a result of primary legislation, we believe that the laws governing RE should be reviewed."

My response :

I'm having a bit of a problem with the idea of this petition. I am a supporter of Accord, but not because I want a 'balance' of 'beliefs' to be taught in all schools. I certainly wouldn't want the State defining what it considered a 'balance' of 'beliefs'! I'm a Christian supporter of Accord who objects fundamentally to the idea of a state school being run by a local religious institution, but I'm afraid that although I can see much to respect in other faith traditions, I believe Christian thinking and praxis holds the key to them all. The idea of a 'balance of beliefs' just doesn't work. It actually means reaching for the 'lowest common denominator' and is yet another way of marginalising faith (not 'belief', for faith is not just propositional and has to be lived to make sense).

That said, I believe all students should have the opportunity to dig deep into their own inherited faith in every state school - or, if they wish, dig deep into another faith tradition. Many people have little idea what belonging to a 'worldwide faith community' involves. I'm not even sure RE should be taught at all, as such.

So maybe I think RE needs reviewing, and maybe I think it needs abolishing completely and replacing with serious courses in New Testament theology, shari'a law, the Rig Veda, Christian liturgy or whatever. Trouble is, there'd be no teacher qualified to teach such things.