The Government has no plans to change the legal framework of religious education but feels that the words "religious instruction" should be changed to religious education, Mr Gordon Oakes, Minister of State for Education, said at a seminar last week.
He added that there might be a need for some change in the syllabus to take account of the fact that religious instruction really was education.
Mr Oakes was speaking at the conference on religious education organised by the Human Rights Society, which was confusing if impressive with Cardinal Hume, Dr Coggan and Chief Rabbi Emanuel Jakobovits among the speakers. Apart from the commitment by Norman St John-Stevas, the Shadow Minister of Education, for a national inquiry into religious education and the supply of people to teach it, there were no definite conclusions.
While most agreed that the campaign to abolish the statutory requirement for schools to teach Christianity had abated, the problem of teaching the subject with conviction in a pluralist society proved insurmountable.
Some felt that children should be indoctrinated with Christianity and have traditional moral values impressed upon them; others felt there should be respect for other religions and aetheism but that the teacher should not attempt to present all religions objectively so as to allow the child to decide which one to follow,