Teaching RE in schools

Not wanting to be outdone by fellow bloggers Adam Price and Normal Mouth, I managed to get mentioned in Golwg this week too. Here is the translation of the article (written by Ifan Morgan Jones):

Complaint About Changing the Ten Commandments

A preacher from the Conwy Valley is unhappy, because he claims that a school in his area has re-written a part of the Bible in order to make it politically correct

Alwyn ap Huw claims that his children have received a new version of the Ten Commandments that changes the Christian message.

In place of: Thou shalt have no other gods before me, he claims that the children had received a commandment that said: Respect your god and the gods of others.

That, he said, is the complete opposite of the central Christian message that God alone can give salvation.

"They are trying to teach respect for other religions, but lying about religious beliefs doesn’t show respect to them at all"

"They shouldn't try to change a child's understanding of religion by trying to make it more nice".

"Teaching things such as tolerating and respecting the views of others belongs to another subject".

"If lies, that do not reflect the facts of faith, are what is taught in Religious Education lessons, is there any point to such lessons?"

For the sake of his children, Alwyn ap Huw wasn't willing to say which school had made the change, but he said that this sort of thing was common in religious education thorough Wales.

Ifan got the gist of what I said, but not quite!

My children were not given a new commandment. Respect your god and the gods of others, was given as an explanation of the meaning of the first commandment. However I did say that this was a totally false explanation of the meaning of the commandment, indeed, it is quite the opposite of what the first commandment says.

The point that I was trying to make is that most religions are exclusive they are totally intolerant of other religious viewpoints. One might think that this is unacceptable in a modern, diverse society, but it is still true!

Traditionally RE taught children how to live as good Christian citizens in a Christian country. Today RE attempts to teach a child about many faiths but it still has a role in teaching morals and citizenship. However, the moral and civic values that it teaches are secular, not religious. My complaint is that because secular mores are taught in RE the religious aspect of the education is falsified in order to fit into the secular mould.

Learning about religions is essential to understanding the arts, the humanities and, if not pure science, the antecedents of science. Teaching false religion for the sake of political correctness hinders such understanding. (Try teaching the end of the Tudor period to kids who are taught that Christianity is a lovey-dovey nice religion!)

During the next 15 days children in schools thorough England & Wales will pretend that a plastic doll is the baby Jesus, and will be loved by their parents for doing so. At the same time an English woman brought up on the fallacies of religious equality and religious tolerance will be in gaol for calling a teddy bear Mohammed!

On a final point of clarification, it wouldn't need a Miss Marple to work out which school my kids attend! I didn't want to name "the" school because I didn't want to blame one school for what I see as a general problem. The RE problem is one that exists on, at least, an England and Wales basis - so picking on the school that my boys attend would be unfair!

Ultimately, the problem is more than educational, it is constitutional! The United Kingdom is not a secular state it is a .. ym .. sort of... Christianish, if you can work it out let me know state!!!


  1. This so-called revised commandment is completely wrong and misleading.
    There is only one God, or there isn't.
    There are not a number of different Gods. Al religions worship the one God.

  2. You're welcome to write a letter to Golwg clarifying your comments! Nothing like a good religious discussion on the letters page.

  3. My comments weren't intended as a criticism of your reporting Ifan. I appreciate that when reporters interview people who are as long winded and verbose as I am, that they are left with no alternative but to paraphrase the comments :-)

    As it happens I will be clarifying my comments on the radio programme Taro'r Post latter on today.

  4. Your quite right. The Christian message should not be watered-down by political correctness or otherwise. Whether the United Kingdom is a Christian state, I would probably argue YES.

    And Alan, some religions worship many gods.

  5. I'm all for teaching kids about religions, as long as its honest teaching. They could teach about Islam for example but real Islam not this religion of peace stuff that gets trotted out everytime some poor devil gets their head chopped off.

  6. You should read Valleysmam's blog ,she picked up some interesting comment by a guy who thinks that some relgions way of teaching is nothing short of child abuse in that it perverts the young minds. This is all religions not just Christian.I found it an interesting take.

  7. For a long time, people have rarely bothered to read the Bible, so they assume it's full of nice cuddly stuff. If you tell them otherwise, they often won't believe you. There are parts of the Old Testament that advocate murder, rape and genocide. Religion has been a divisive force throughout history.

    I see the point that telling the truth is valuable for its own sake. But some might argue that there is a case for telling 'a noble lie', at least in the case of Islam. Islamic sources indicate that Mohammed was not a nice man at all. There is evidence that he was a warlord, a robber of camel trains, a murderer and also a rapist and a paedophile. Islam did not start off as a religion of peace. Cherie Booth has denied that the Koran advises men to hit their wives. She is wrong. It does just that!

    Considering how many lovely Muslims there are in the west, and how important it is to keep the peace, I could understand that some might believe that covering up the truth
    would be entirely justified here. I would reluctantly have to reject the idea though. I wouldn't agree with St Augustine that you must never tell a comforting lie. That fanatic thought you shouldn't even lie to save a person's life, but in academic and public life, objective truth should be sacred. Otherwise, we can never understand what is really going on.

    Only recently, I heard of an Anglican priest in Abergavenny telling his flock how wives and children should be treated. It amounted to domestic abuse, but he did have the Bible on his side. If he had advocated slavery, the Bible would have been on his side too .We should know something of the Bible in order to understand our history and literature. But it's a disaster that it's come to be seen to be the inerrant word of God. Can anyone explain how this happened? It's not a claim it makes for itself.

    I disagree with Richard Dawkins about quite a few things. But he's dead right that we shouldn't give our children the Bible to form their morals.

    Marianne Y Fenni