Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad Barry Bites

The Archbishop of Wales has come out against people being able to opt out of religious services at school. Barry Morgan thinks that prayer offers pupils the opportunity of "recognition, affirmation and celebration of shared values", and people should not be allowed to opt out of our shared values, particularly if they don't share them.

He made the statements as Wales followed England in allowing over 16s to opt of religious service as part of their school day. I should point out that if you're under 16 you're still forced to sit through prayers, et al, even if you have firm convictions in another direction, like atheism.

Morgan appears to believe that school prayers are "a shared spiritual experience", well that's not how I remember them at all. The idea that you have sports halls packed full of adolescents wrapped in some sort of aesthetic wonder, touched by a divine hand, was somewhat far from the reality I remember.

In fact, as a primary school kid one of my first memories is of being slapped by the headmaster because I didn't want to pray at school assembly. That showed me the love of Jesus and no mistake.

One RE teacher we had was a real joy. I forget his name because he didn't last long but he was a fundamentalist Christian of some sort. In his very first lesson with us he rebuked one lad who'd said he didn't believe in God by telling him "But if you don't believe in God you can't have any morals!" This was so palpably false that he instantly transformed us into a room of atheists. Spotty, greasy, Essex atheists.

Sadly Morgan has form. A couple of years ago he was in the news saying that fundamentalist atheism is one of the great problems facing the world. He described removing crosses from hospitals and the like as constituting "virulent, almost irrational" attacks on Christianity. Would I be right in thinking that almost irrational would be... rational? Whatever, that's by the by.

More importantly he described this tendency to recognise the diversity of our nation in less than glowing terms. "All of this is what I would call the new "fundamentalism" of our age. It allows no room for disagreement, for doubt, for debate, for discussion."

That would be terrible that, allowing no room for disagreement or doubt. I mean what next? Forcing people to attend religious services they don't agree with? Where would that all end... oh, hold on.

1 comment:

David Cox said...

No he has said children shouldn't be alloweed to opt out of assemblies that may have religious element. Pupils can opt out of SMS (or RE as I knew it)on moral grounds. I wish my children could opt out of mammon -the greed and hyper consumerism.