Diminishing Christian freedom

The former Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, has this week called for the requirement for schools to have an act of collective worship to be abolished.  The report, ‘A new settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools’, raises the issue that the obligation for compulsory worship has failed to keep up with the changes in attitudes to religion since its introduction in the 1944 Education Act.

The report is heavily influenced by Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Society (BHA) and if implemented, the report would see the Government seizing control of religious education in Church schools, forcing them to teach humanism.

It’s concerning that this report may change the face of British education, with severe implications for Church schools, when only 15,067 people acknowledged that they subscribed to it as a belief system in the 2011 Census.  But the likelihood is that it will be pushed forward and set in law, because it is simply another plank in the secularisation of the UK, and another step in separating the Church from influencing our nation in any way.

In this, the UK is seeking to impose a godless State on every citizen – something every Bible-believing Christian needs to be concerned about.  The report has many recommendations – none of which sit comfortably with Christian freedom.  It’s not only Christian assemblies which are jeopardised.  It also recommends a new national religious education syllabus drafted in consultation with ‘representatives of religions, humanism and other belief systems’.

This would affect all independent schools, as well as state schools.  Christian schools would be forced to adopt the new national syllabus and parents of pupils in any kind of school will have no right to withdraw their children from the new religious education lessons.  The inspection of collective worship and RE lessons, which has been undertaken up until now by inspectors sympathetic to the ethos of the school, will be curtailed.

In order to ensure that there is no Christian influence on the pupils, the arrangement whereby schools with a Christian ethos have the freedom to recruit Christian teachers will also be curtailed.  Once it becomes law, Christian teachers who wish to teach with integrity and according to their worldview will find their jobs in jeopardy, and those wishing to join the profession may well find themselves unable to secure a post.  Moreover, any ‘religious instruction’ (such as a Christian Union) on school premises will be banned.  It follows that any type of Christian influence in the place where children spend the lion-share of their waking hours will be removed, and all children will be imbibing a completely God-free curriculum (but in no way a neutral one).

At present, the proposals are only at the report stage.  But Christian parents should start thinking ahead, and learn a lesson from the failure of the Church to be prepared when similar legislation was put in place in Nazi Germany.

The Lutheran church (the established Church in Germany) before World War II adopted the policy of focusing on personal and private faith, thinking that if they left Hitler alone and did not make waves, he would leave them alone.  They discovered the hard way that it wasn’t possible.  The adults kept their own counsel, but Hitler put pressure on them to have their children indoctrinated in the state schools. This is effectively what will happen if the report becomes law.  It’s only a matter of time.

In Germany, the Churches failed to train the younger generation to recognise the lies they were being fed and to make a clear stand against them; indeed, the Churches didn’t equip their members, young and old, to stand against the abuses that were developing around them.  This should be a sober lesson for us.  The majority of Christians today see nothing wrong with state education, and are unaware of the agenda behind the National Curriculum in its current form, let alone with the inclusion of the new proposals; nor are they preparing their children for life in an anti-Christian culture.  It’s essential that we equip our young people to know the truth and to stand on it.

Unlike the Men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) much of the Church fails to understand the times, nor do they know what to do.  The anointing the Men of Issachar carried is a critical success factor for the Church in these days if we’re to avoid the pitfalls into which the Church in pre-war Germany fell.  


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