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Teaching religion in schools...opt out?

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My 5 year old daughter has recently started a new school of which she enjoys very much.

Recently she has started asking me questions and singing religeous songs...

My question is this... As an Atheist I dont feel it is fair to force something onto my daughter who is at an impressionable age.

I could possibly understand it if they presented the case from both sides ie. Darwin etc... but all they are doing is teaching about god and I do not approve. When I was in school I didnt take much notice but the be honest with you I dont remember being told about god at such an early age.

If my school will let my daughter avoid such lessons would she be made to sit on her own - of which I dont want.

Anyone have any thoughts?
 

krish

Distinguished Member
I'm pretty sure (someone needs to confirm) that you have the right to opt-out these days

unfortunately I never had that choice in the 70s/80s
- Lawrenzini - apart from moving house to change catchment area, parents don't really have that much choice in the matter of state school, and many happen to be 'CofE' schools too, like mine - so I had to listen to my head teacher bang on about what Jesus did for me every friggin week!
 

tvbox

Distinguished Member
Tell the headteacher to exclude her from RE lessons then.
 

krish

Distinguished Member
Tell the headteacher to exclude her from RE lessons then.
RE doesn't make you religious it's just supposed to be factual teaching/learning about the world's religions; all useful knowledge imho
- I think the OP is possibly more concerned about the religious indoctrination in school assemblies etc
 
D

Deleted member 30535

Guest
Spend time with her explaining why the God botherers have got it wrong and give her a few bits of "ammunition" to throw into the pot in lessons. E.g. Did Sarah Palin have it right to suggest God put fossils in the rocks to explain the dinosaurs? Why do American Christians hate gays? Mormons: why do they believe Jesus visited America? Why are women excluded from reaching the higher levels of church? etct etc It should spice up her RE lessons and that of her friends!
 

IronGiant

Moderator
I don't mind too much if my impressionable children grow up believing that Santa only brings toys to good children or that God smiles on the righteous. When they are older they can decide what to believe for themselves.

Dave
 

nogg

Established Member
Spend time with her explaining why the God botherers have got it wrong and give her a few bits of "ammunition" to throw into the pot in lessons. E.g. Did Sarah Palin have it right to suggest God put fossils in the rocks to explain the dinosaurs? Why do American Christians hate gays? Mormons: why do they believe Jesus visited America? Why are women excluded from reaching the higher levels of church? etct etc It should spice up her RE lessons and that of her friends!

Whilst this sounds fair and right, and a good idea to be challenging, I have heard of kids being punished by RS teachers for saying such things in RS lessons. Apparently the teacher though the child was being cheeky and offensive to their religion. There was a big discussion about it on a prominent forum one time.
 

majnu

Distinguished Member
My 5 year old daughter has recently started a new school of which she enjoys very much.

Recently she has started asking me questions and singing religeous songs...

My question is this... As an Atheist I dont feel it is fair to force something onto my daughter who is at an impressionable age.

I could possibly understand it if they presented the case from both sides ie. Darwin etc... but all they are doing is teaching about god and I do not approve. When I was in school I didnt take much notice but the be honest with you I dont remember being told about god at such an early age.

If my school will let my daughter avoid such lessons would she be made to sit on her own - of which I dont want.

Anyone have any thoughts?

I would like to hear your thoughts on what you would tell your child to do during Christmas nativity plays and whether you celebrate Christmas and Easter?

Whilst I agree that it is a parents responsibility for a child's upbringing and I respect your concerns. At school your child will be subjected to religious indoctrinations but if at home the Christian festival of Christmas is celebrated then the your child will be confused.
 

krish

Distinguished Member
Apparently the teacher though the child was being cheeky and offensive to their religion.
but RS teachers aren't necessarily religious themselves and, whatever their faith or lack thereof, it should not interfere with their teaching of facts about the world's religions
followers of A believe in X
followers of B believe in Y
etc
 

nheather

Distinguished Member
Err send her to a state school where they din't teach religion.

I thought they all did - part of the National Curriculum.

I'm an atheist too, but I've not had any problems with my son (now 15) and my daughter (now 11) attending RE lessons.

In my view they don't teach religion but teach you about other religions - so that you know they exist. I view it as a hope that younger generations can learn to understand that other religions exist and whilst they may favour a particular one they won't hate anyone who follows a different religion.

At it doesn't conflict with my atheisim either - I don't beleive in god\s (of any flavour) but I do beleive that religions exist.

My only issue with such lessons, is that when so many children are failings in the 3Rs then timeand effort such lessons (along with music, art, citizenship) could be better spent elsewhere.

Cheers,

Nigel
 

Singh400

Distinguished Member
I attended a CoE primary school. And yeah I remember singing hymns and all kind of crap back then. It was never "pushed" on to me. If anything was my parents who were doing the pushing - "You believe in God!" not "Do you believe in God?" :rotfl:

As I grew older and attended secondary school and was taught about other religion and stuff, I slowly realised that I didn't actually believe in God at all.

I think that fact that your daugther is asking questions is fantastic (I distinctly remember doing the "aeroplane" around the playground at that age). Something that you both should strive to answer together :smashin:

I think it is a bad idea for her to be excluded from RE/RS lessons, simply because she will be missing out on her education.
 

jezzer256

Established Member
As an Atheist I dont feel it is fair to force something onto my daughter who is at an impressionable age.

I wonder how much of your atheism has been forced upon your daughter. Is that fair?

Don't get me wrong, it's not good for kids to be 'taught' religion... but to be honest I don't think that's what's happening.

Jez
 

BISHI

Distinguished Member
I would like to hear your thoughts on what you would tell your child to do during Christmas nativity plays and whether you celebrate Christmas and Easter?
.

Firstly, Christmas are Easter are completely pagan fesivals hijacked by the Romans to make the adoption of Christianity in its empire more palatable to their subjects. Christmas is based completely on the Roman festival of Saturnalia and Easter is based on the Roman spring festival (can't remember the name of it ).
Secondly, I would suggest that it is important to have a basic understanding of A- Christianity as it is an enormous part of this countries history and to understand contemporary Britain you must understand its compliance to and struggles against the established Christian religion. And B- other religions as this will give you child a better understanding of the wider world .
I am assuming your child is in primary school and RE is one of the few obligatory subjects that must be taught. You as a parent must insist that she is removed from these lessons as you do not agree with the doctrines being taught. I would suggest that this may stigmatise your child somewhat as she will be removed from her peers and be taught something boring instead in a room on her own.
Finally, I think you should give your daughter the opportunity to decide for herself once her brain is sufficiently developed and she has adequate experience to make a reasoned choice. By removing her from RE you are effectively taking that choice from her and may inadvertantly make her turn to religion as it has been denied her by her parents. I am myself no fan of religion but it took science O and A levels and several books by Dawkins, Darwin, Hawkins and Feynman to convince me that God is a human construct. Let your daughter find out in the same way and in good time and leave her to be a child until she is ready .
 

majnu

Distinguished Member
Firstly, Christmas are Easter are completely pagan fesivals hijacked by the Romans to make the adoption of Christianity in its empire more palatable to their subjects. Christmas is based completely on the Roman festival of Saturnalia and Easter is based on the Roman spring festival (can't remember the name of it ).
Secondly, I would suggest that it is important to have a basic understanding of A- Christianity as it is an enormous part of this countries history and to understand contemporary Britain you must understand its compliance to and struggles against the established Christian religion. And B- other religions as this will give you child a better understanding of the wider world .
I am assuming your child is in primary school and RE is one of the few obligatory subjects that must be taught. You as a parent must insist that she is removed from these lessons as you do not agree with the doctrines being taught. I would suggest that this may stigmatise your child somewhat as she will be removed from her peers and be taught something boring instead in a room on her own.
Finally, I think you should give your daughter the opportunity to decide for herself once her brain is sufficiently developed and she has adequate experience to make a reasoned choice. By removing her from RE you are effectively taking that choice from her and may inadvertantly make her turn to religion as it has been denied her by her parents. I am myself no fan of religion but it took science O and A levels and several books by Dawkins, Darwin, Hawkins and Feynman to convince me that God is a human construct. Let your daughter find out in the same way and in good time and leave her to be a child until she is ready .

I hope your not trying to give me a lesson on comparitive religion? ;)
Regardless of the roots of Christmas it is still celebrated in today's day and age as a celebration of the birth of Christ aka Jesus. I'd still like to hear the OP's views on this. :)
 

BISHI

Distinguished Member
But it just demonstrates how accepted doctrine is often not factually true and shows how religion has been used to fool and control people.... I waould also disagree with your statemant as the majoritY of people in the UK are either lapsed Christians, agnostics or athiests who celebrate Christmas as a winter festival ............ giving presents and eating loads of good food......just the way the romans did it.!!!!
 

loz

Distinguished Member
My 5 year old daughter has recently started a new school of which she enjoys very much.

Recently she has started asking me questions and singing religeous songs...

My question is this... As an Atheist I dont feel it is fair to force something onto my daughter who is at an impressionable age.

Does she feel left out getting no Chistmas presents or Easter eggs?
 

GBDG1

Distinguished Member
- Lawrenzini - apart from moving house to change catchment area, parents don't really have that much choice in the matter of state school, and many happen to be 'CofE' schools too, like mine - so I had to listen to my head teacher bang on about what Jesus did for me every friggin week!

So be it then. I am no great fan or religion but it's not like these schools hide what they are all about. In fact they are on the whole quite insistent that a child is religious beofre going there.

It's something like going in a vegitarian restaurants and asking for meat. When they tell you to **** off complaining that there are no other decent places to eat in the area - as if it their problem?
 

Rygar

Prominent Member
I would like to hear your thoughts on what you would tell your child to do during Christmas nativity plays and whether you celebrate Christmas and Easter?

Whilst I agree that it is a parents responsibility for a child's upbringing and I respect your concerns. At school your child will be subjected to religious indoctrinations but if at home the Christian festival of Christmas is celebrated then the your child will be confused.
I dont see why a non Christian family celibrating Christmas as a cultural event would be any more confusing than a non Pagan family celibrating halloween as a cultural event.

As for the OPs question I dont know enough about what they teach during an RE class these days to give an informed opinion. I would hope its along the lines of "Christians believe X, Muslims belive Y & Hindus believe Z" (then perhaps explain the origins of each, how they affect culture today etc) and that equal time is given to all religions studied.

I would also hope that some time is given explaining that many people dont believe or follow any religions and the reasons why. If it was such a format presented in an un-biased way I dont think I'd have too much problem with it. But if there was any hint of indoctrination or bias I wouldnt want my child to attend in principle but the realities of seperating a child from their classmates in such a scenario perhaps isnt so black & white.

There was an episode of "The big questions" a few months ago where there was an RE teacher who was an athiest. I think this may be fairly common.
 

rockmonkey1973

Prominent Member
My 5 year old daughter has recently started a new school of which she enjoys very much.
Recently she has started asking me questions and singing religeous songs...
Best keep her away from the singles chart at christmas time then because if irc it is chock full of those kind of tunes and God forbid she start humming along to them.
My question is this... As an Atheist I dont feel it is fair to force something onto my daughter who is at an impressionable age.
What are they forcing onto her? Are they forcing her to believe in god or forcing her to learn about religion, faith etc?

There is a massive difference one is obviously not desirable but the other is what going to school is all about. Regradless of your belief the history of religion is a very interesting subject and is not one i would have wanted to miss out on. You dont have to believe in god to study this topic. To have your daughter excluded from RE because of your belief would be about as strange to me as the nutters who wont allow their children to learn about evolution.

However if they are forcing/ persuading/ brainwashing her to believe that there is a god then i would also be concerned. If that is the case then i would say you clearly didnt do your homework before sending her there.

Edit: Like you i cant remember if i was taught RE at such an early age. If your concerns are regarding your daughter being taught about religion then this should bode well for the future as she will more than likely find, much like you and i, that 20 years down the line she also cant remember what she was taught at school as a very young child.:D
 
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jp_bl_68

Prominent Member
I don't think it's ever been more important that a child, or an adult for that matter, be taught about the major religions. But they should be made aware of atheism and agnosticism too.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Another thread started, and immediately abandoned, by Baldybouncer to get people wound up - you guys fall for it everytime! :suicide: :rotfl:
 

krish

Distinguished Member
I don't think it's ever been more important that a child, or an adult for that matter, be taught about the major religions. But they should be made aware of atheism and agnosticism too.
I agree. I'm fairly sure that I was taught about atheism and agnosticism in RE at school - and it was where I first ever learnt what agnostic meant. The subject was (and I'm sure still is) NEVER about indoctrination or teaching you to believe in a god or gods. I was pretty much atheist at some point in primary school before reaching 10, never believed in santa, and deliberately pulled out teeth to get money off my mum who thought I was convinced it was from the tooth fairy.

It was bible readings and the like in assemblies that annoyed me.
 
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majnu

Distinguished Member
I attended a CofE Primary School, CofE High School, CofE College and I remember even playing the Inn Keeper during nativity plays, and singing many songs which I still remember lol. Did that cloud my judgement? No because when I went home my Mother was the one who educated me to be respectful and to have fun. To this very day I probably have more knowledge than the average practising Christian about the contents of the Bible, so much so that the JW and Good Samaritans don't come come to my house anymore because I proove to them falicies from their version of the Bible. :(

So unless the OP doesn't want to spend time with his child at home teaching about Atheism along with the normal RE studies tought at school he should find another school.

My RE studies were excellent and I am grateful that the curriculum allowed me to do it. Not only did I visit Gudwaras, Synagogue, Temples, Anglican and Metropitan Churches but I also always scored higher than people who belonged to a faith when it came to examinations. Religion is part of history and in my opinion shouldn't be deprived to a child's education.
 

loz

Distinguished Member
my main recollection of religious education at school was our RE teacher who was a local reverend, and was always quick to cane anyone for disruption or disobedience. :lesson:

His favoured method of caning was the 'Grand National'. The boy to be caned would be bent over the desk and then the RE teacher would commentate is way around Aintree. "And they are off... whack... and they are coming up to beacher's brook... whack... and into canal turn... whack..." and so on.

I kid you not...
 
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