RE - Respect for all faiths

6th March 2009 at 00:00

Children will become "alienated and lacking in identity" if religious and moral education does not play a more central role in schools, according to a document from Scotland's Christian denominations.

"We would argue that its role in the curriculum is all the more significant at a time of increasingly diverse attitudes towards religious belief and practice across the world," argues Action of Churches Together in Scotland.

A Christian Vision for Education in Scottish Schools asks, if children are not introduced to religion and philosophical enquiry at home, "where else will they be challenged to consider the great questions about the origins of life and human destiny? How else will they be enabled to consider the Christian traditions of the Scottish nation and the enrichment brought to our society by people of the other great faith traditions?"

Concern is voiced that anyone linking religion and education is tarred "dangerous and fundamentalist". It states: "Secular voices are vociferous in their demands for a religion-free state education. Some even suggest that education should be values-free."

Yet Catholic schools, where teachers "form pupils in a particular faith tradition", are said to be encouraging respect for other faiths. Education can never be separated from values, the document argues, as "the interface between teacher and learner is a place of special encounter, Christians might say 'grace', where teachers and pupils exchange experiences and assumptions".

Society, it says, has "come adrift from traditional points of anchorage", such as family, church, community and political affiliation.

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