Long tradition of religious insanity

11th August 2006 at 01:00
I was shocked that this government is reported as proposing to fund yet more religious schools ("Muslim schools double", TES, July 21).

My daughter has just completed her GCSE exams at 15 and was obliged by law to study the religions of Islam, Hindu, Judaism and Christianity as part of the national curriculum. This gives her a broad and informed view of world religions and will give her the opportunity to consider which, if any, are relevant to her in the future.

My daughter attended a Roman Catholic primary school, and I was horrified to find that, in order for her to attend a Roman Catholic secondary school, I was obliged to obtain a formal letter from the local priest to say that I, as a parent, would be responsible for ensuring that she would attend church every Sunday until she left school.

I take the view that education at school is for life, not for ongoing indoctrination into a particular or specific religion.

Both the 1994 Education Act and the 1998 Human Rights Act give parents the right to observe their own religious beliefs, with their children. The sixth-formers at the Roman Catholic college in London were quite right to rebel against the imposition of attending mass which is, in effect, a misuse of the school day ("Revolt of forced worship", TES, July 14). It should not be enforced on any Catholic attending school, at any age, and more publicity should be given to this opt-out choice to parents of all religions at all faith schools.

For this government to promote the extension of faith schools in England in a period of modern history where fundamentalist Shi'ite Muslims and Israelis are killing each other's' people and children each day in the name of religion, is only continuing to breed the insanity and prejudice of religion which has existed since the English-born Roman Emperor Constantine created the "Holy Roman Empire".

John P O'Brien


Park Ley Road

Woldingham, Surrey

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