Letters: Religion in assembly is cross examined - Paul Pettinger

14th August 2009 at 01:00

Original paper headline: Religion in assembly is cross examined

Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, ignores any meaningful alternatives to holding daily collective worship in schools ("Worship opt- out is betrayal of the young", August 7). School assemblies can and should have a role in helping recognise shared values, asking searching questions and promoting understanding in diverse communities. However, they can do this more effectively without mandated worship, where there is no shared religious faith.

Dr Morgan describes the legal requirement for daily worship as only an "invitation", rather than a "mandate". If he really considers it only an invitation then why is he so keen to prevent 16 to 18-year-olds choosing not to take part? Of course, the worship is not an invitation, but a compulsory and uncivil infringement on young people.

Only last year, Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights called for any child of "sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding" to be given the right to withdraw from compulsory religious worship in schools, not only those over 16, given the clear violation of young people's rights by having compulsory worship in all schools.

A large majority of young people are non-religious. It would be far better to replace the requirement for collective worship with one requiring inclusive assemblies that would be suitable for all children, as well as staff. For as long as the current law remains, however, children must be allowed to decide whether they wish to participate.


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