Page 8, 27th May 1994

27th May 1994
Page 8
Page 8, 27th May 1994 — Dwight LOngenecker,Vicar, of Brading on the Isle of Wight, argues that we should have less religion in schooL

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Dwight LOngenecker,Vicar, of Brading on the Isle of Wight, argues that we should have less religion in schooL

IIIOW CURIOUS THAT so many people are calling for more religion in schools. What we need, is less religion in schools. Most religious education is religious exhaustion. It only serves to inoculate the innocent against any faith at all. (Inc small dose in childhood means they'll never catch that pernicious disease again.

What most children learn from RE is that religion is a bore. Most of them remember only irrelevance and long words, whereas prayer and faith comes naturally to them.

Still we continue the ancient tradition of jamming their natural bare feet into the stiff shoes of religion. We devise elaborate ways of administering the medicine and rarely even take the time to sugar the pill.

Some people think society's problems will be solved if we have more religion in schools.

Will vandalism disappear if we discuss the Vatican? Will we stop baby-bashing by Bible bashing? RE will not solve the problems because the problems are deeper than school lessons can reach.

Putting more religion in schools to solve society's prob lems is like using a sticking plas ter to cure cancer. Most grownups want more religion in schools for two reasons. First it makes them feel they're doing something about the problems.

Second, when things go wrong they can blame teachers and governors.

The root of the problem is that religion is being tested for its usefulness. Our world likes effi ciency. Useful things are good things, and religion is being called on to prove its social usefulness. But a Christian teacher needs something more than a timetable. and our sehools something greater than a syllabus.

Christianity is caught not taught. What schools need is not more religion, but more faith.

Every teacher in the school needs a vibrant faith. The science teacher full of faith opens up the wonder of creation. The art teacher full of faith empow ers each young creator. The musician full of faith teaches the soul to sing.

In the right kind of Church school the child catches a vision.

In a faith-full school a door is opened and music from a distant land is heard.

This is hard work much harder than laying on more RE

lessons. A school full of faith is

the responsibility of each teacher, governor, parent child.

Such a school, with the Church and the family, can reveal how faith is lived out in community.

And then, as individuals are changed, the community is changed, the world is changed, and religion might have proved itself somewhat useful.

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