Saturday, 19 April 2014
Evanagelical Cameron on the wrong path
In the 1990s I used to lead walking tours in the beauty spots of Britain for a company, now sadly defunct, called English Wanderer. Many of our group members were from abroad and one very personable young man from the Low Countries, Belgium I think, explained to us that he was a teacher of non-confessional ethics. In his country schools each had a "slot" when the various priests, ministers, imams and rabbis came in to give religious instruction to their flocks. His job was to teach ethics to those pupils who had, or whose parents had, no attachment to any religious group.
One of his approaches was to ask his pupils to invent a game, or take an established one such as football, devise or describe the rules, and from there discus why there were rules, their purpose, how the players should treat each other, the role of the referee and linesmen etc., and how to deal with the players who infringed the rules. From this they would then extrapolate to the rules necessary for a functioning society. I'm sure he had many more imaginative ways of introducing and developing the subject but that's the one I remember.
David Cameron claims to be evangelical about the Christina faith because of the role it plays in "helping people to have a moral code." For those who retain their faith I'm sure it does, but since the vast majority appear to abandon their belief in a supernatural being etc at around the time they stop believing in Santa Clause*, if our morality is based on prescriptions form "outside," along with consequences in an afterlife, then out goes the basis for our morality.
Whilst conscious of the massive historic contribution the churches have made to the development of education in this and other countries, I think the time has now come, in the UK at least, to abandon both government support for faith schools and religious instruction in any school. The replacement of the latter should be courses in non-confessional ethics, which should give a more permanent and deep rooted basis for how we should behave to one-another and our environment.
A Non-confessional ethics course can be found at:
Unfortunately it has the tag of "European" attached to it, so it may not appeal to UKIP or hard-line Tories.
* Strangely they seem to retain their belief in astrology. An editor of one of the newspapers involved in the phone hacking trials said recently that he paid the astrologer more than the reporter who allegedly hacked the phones. It would also be interesting to know how and why so many young British Muslims appear to retain their faith, mostly with good consequences, but some, with tragic ones.