Forced faith

16th May 1997 at 01:00
Sue Kendall (TES, May 2) is right to draw our attention to the fact that, despite the existence of an opt-out in the teaching of religion, this is not available to students in training.

Those students who regard religion as anti-educational nonsense best left to external provision, are compelled to participate in Ms Kendall's "informed and high-quality input" to the extent of satisfying examination requirements, or to abandon their chosen profession.

She is anxious that the TTA require this situation to continue. If students were given the chance, most of them would disappear, and we can't have that, can we?

What we have here is not education, but backdoor confessionalism, which is why the opt-out is essential.

There can be no possible objection to teaching about religion, including an honest examination of its coherence, and the possibility of excluding it from school altogether.

But that would not be religious education, since some of it would involve the consideration of non- or anti-religious options. It would be philosophy.

This reconceptualisation would admit the possibility of lots of life's other deep personal issues being gently aired, upon which religion offers only sectarian views, or no views at all. Then the opt-out would not be appropriate, but that situation cannot be allowed to arise either, can it?

CHARLES CLARK, 45 Ringmore Rise, London SE23


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