Monday, March 15, 2010

An Update on Religious Liberty

Many people who read my blog post on religious liberty and who have read similar accounts of the dilemmas facing society in the realm of religious freedom find it difficult to believe that religious liberty could actually be under siege in any way. They don’t believe there are people out there who would like to do away with the freedom of Christians to teach the truths of Christianity to their children. While such people are definitely not the majority and are definitely not in control of the government, they do exist. For example, the blog Cranmer has an extensive quote dated Friday, March 12, 2010 from David Laws, the shadow Secretary of State for children, schools, and families of the Liberal Democrat party in England. Now mind you, the Liberal Democrats are not in control in England and are not likely to be. The Tories should win the next election if everything continues along its current path. But this is some of what David Laws has said about the approach of his political party to the question of schools with a religious mission. You also need to keep in mind in reading this that religious schools in England are called faith schools and they are partially funded by the government. Laws has stated:

"Can it be right that a child living in the catchment area of a faith school whose parents want to choose that school for the child should be denied entry to the nearest taxpayer funded school on the basis of a religious test? That is a reality in many communities. Liberal democrats therefore voted to require all faith schools to have a more inclusive approach to entry…democrats also decided that, with the exception of religious instruction, staff in faith schools should be chosen on the basis of the ability to teach and not simply on the basis of faith. That is surely right – anything else is unfair both to children who need the best education, and to the teacher with the right skills.
Finally what of sex and relationship education? … Is it really acceptable that in the 21st century that – for example – a school should be able to teach about homosexuality while at the same time making clear those same sex relationships are morally wrong or that hell could await those who find their sexuality defined in this way? Can we really expect young people to be treated with respect and gain confidence in themselves if state-funded schools are allowed to teach such nonsense? Liberal democrats will defend the role of faith schools in state education. But state funded prejudice is not a freedom that liberals or liberal democrats should feel the need to justify or tolerate."

In other words, to recap, the third largest political party in the United Kingdom maintains as part of their platform that faith school should not be able to discriminate against potential students on the basis of their faith, should not be able to hire teachers primarily on the basis of the faith of the teacher, except in the area of religious instruction, and should not be able to teach that homosexuality is morally wrong or could result in eternal judgment. Such policies might never be implemented. But if people who believe in the need for Christians to be able to teach the truth don’t stand up for their rights to do so, who knows what could happen?


Jordan said...

Thanks for this, it's almost scary.

It strikes me that this attempt at fairness and equality ends up with very unhappy cookie-cutter societies. What ever happened to celebrating religious diversity and freedom?

Dean McConnell said...

I appreciate what you are saying Jordan. A small homogenious country might be able to have a sort of national religion. But it is difficult for a large diverse country.