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atheism and religious school

(49 Posts)
nobodysbaby Tue 01-Oct-13 13:39:39

Can anyone help me to answer this question? In our catchment there are 2 secondaries; 1 undersubscribed C of E, 1 oversunscribed secular. If dd is allocated the religious school, can ee appeal on the grounds that we are atheists with firm opinions about secular education? We had mo choice at primary, as we are rural and all the primaries within any reasonable fistance are C of E.

mummytime Thu 03-Oct-13 12:44:33

The founding Fathers of the US deeply distrusted atheists. If a man doesn't fear God, then why would he obey the law? Was their view, andis still a hidden underlying view. (They mistrusted Catholics because they ha an allege nice to thePope as well as their country.)

However OP I would look instead at clubs, and other activities that the community school offers that the C of Eone doesn't. I would also look around both, and others close if not necessarily "in catchment" which in England doesn't necessarily mean very much.

MuswellHillDad Thu 03-Oct-13 14:16:37

mummytime and talkinpeace

You are of course, both right. America isn't quite how I depicted it. (eats a bit of MN freshly baked freerange humble pie).

nobodysbaby Thu 03-Oct-13 20:39:28

Thanks for all the links everyone, I'm going to check them out. Have been busy coming up with tests to prove atheism, so far have:
1. Get letter from vicar testifying that I have never been to church, not even for Harvest festival or when dd was getting a certificate.
2. Swear on a hardback of The God Delusion

nobodysbaby Thu 03-Oct-13 20:41:08

Thanks for all the advice and sympathy too all, am looking into that Mummytime.

StitchingMoss Thu 03-Oct-13 20:46:39

I love the idea of swearing atheism on a copy of The God Delusion grin!

I went to a C of E school and I also grew out of it grin!

Talkinpeace Thu 03-Oct-13 20:51:45

I have to admit I was gobsmacked when I realised the scale of private school in the USA. I knew about the HE, but the scale of fee paying schools was an eye opener.

I speak as a Christened, Confirmed atheist, who went to school assembly reciting the Lords prayer (pretty old words, not the nasty new ones) till I was 18.
On the basis of 'know your enemy' a good basis in religious education is really useful.

blessedhope Sun 06-Oct-13 11:32:09

TalkinPeace This is the enemy speaking, in your own terms.

RE: Private school in the USA, just a couple of excellent resource explaining why from the ultra-left-wing A.S.C.D 1985/1993- given that I have chosen private Christian school here for very similar reasons,

Professor Molnar repeatedly uses the inappropriate "F-word" to describe conservative Christians, America then had only 3-8 million "Fundies" depending on definition, still the same now, and just about ALL of them rightly reject public education. But he nails why people like me (a UK supporter of private Christian schooling) are FUNDAMENTALLY different to his ilk:

^To be sure, the American public school system embodies a humanistic tradition in which truth is NOT regarded as revealed and absolute but as tentative and subject to CHANGE in light of new information...our Constitution prohibits them from propagating any religion. They are SECULAR HUMANIST institutions.
Because the basic characteristics of American public education are at odds with the religious sensibilities and political objectives of some right-wing activists, it is unlikely that better communication will resolve their conflict with educators. That conflict is, at its root, political and can only be resolved through the political process... I found remarkable agreement among middle school experts... Teachers should attempt to foster a school environment that offers students lots of emotional support and abundant opportunities for children to talk with teachers about their lives and their concerns.^

No wonder there are many US private schools. Mostly paid for out of pocket by parents who know Jesus Christ and don't fancy handing them over to some "secular humanist institution" which relativizes truth and calls Christian parents who go down another route "right-wing activists", when we are actually concerned mums and dads. My US contacts do not need any "political process" resolution, let alone some arrogant anti-Christian saying it's the "only" way of resolving it- it is a SPIRITUAL conflict and there are no political barriers (laws) against them doing exactly what they have done, setting up a private Bible-believing school, finding a existing one or home education.

At my 3 DCs' Christian school teachers would be happy to tell me, the parent, what my "middle school" aged (10-14y/o) child was saying to them about their "lives and concerns"- so if they feel the need to chat to a teacher that is fine with me though. Molnar, of course, actually means teachers who will listen to children then NOT tell parents what they discussed, more like the old Soviet Union- the state provides "services" from childhood as a tempting alternative to the family, long term goal being to destabilize families.

Another Far-Left nutty professor of the type called an ENEMY OF PROMISE here in Blighty, (or the Blob when Gove's in a funny mood). Another one who reaches for the word "fundamentalism" when describing any religious belief he does not personally approve of. He also makes a sick "Islamo-comparison" dog whistle to his ultra liberal base by describing moral Christian parents as part of
^ "a WORLDWIDE fundamentalist movement that has attracted increasing numbers of followers. While the content of such RELIGIOUS fundamentalism has many versions, adherents regard the "rightness" (sic) of their beliefs with a fervor common to all". ^

Yes, those are quotes, because this fool denies that right and wrong exist. He obviously has no clue about what sort of parents opt for private school or how "fervent" they are.

He then moves from dumb to turbo-dumb with
^ Public schools are provided for the education of "all of the people" ^
- just after he has already explained that he thinks those who object to godless, fully relative "morals" have no place in a US public school class. So NOT for my children, NOT for millions of evangelical, pentecostal, orthodox Calvinist, Greek Orthodox, conservative Catholic, Amish, Mennonite, Churches of Christ, Haredi, Lubavitcher Jewish, Muslim and Hindu Americans- sure, that's "all of the people", PROFESSOR.

And the nastiest bit:
^ "Those holding absolutist views have the right to establish private schools in which their views may be expressed, but indoctrination or inculcation of absolutist ideas is ANTITHETICAL to the purposes of public schools. The developmental version of affective education most nearly reflects the civil rights guaranteed in our democratic society. I believe public schools have not only the right but the RESPONSIBILITY to embrace the developmental view...and improve their use of developmental affective education...Private schools have the right to espouse their versions of absolutism and the responsibility to publicly announce their beliefs." ^

So much for religious neutrality in the US Constitution- we have a top educationalist insisting that tax-funded schools have a responsibility to teach a form of education which is explicitly based on John Dewey's ideas, makes MAN the measure of all things, encourages children to "develop their own morals" [!!!] and say morals are just flexible changeable pragmatisms which come from man not God.
Well, GOD DAMN all of that, literally. I am for absolutism thus I am for private sectarian schools except where teaching a child at home is more feasible (which is not usually the case.)

MuswellHillDad Sun 06-Oct-13 14:56:44

Huh huh grin "turbo dumb" grin

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 07-Oct-13 00:34:15

"At my 3 DCs' Christian school teachers would be happy to tell me, the parent, what my "middle school" aged (10-14y/o) child was saying to them about their "lives and concerns"- so if they feel the need to chat to a teacher that is fine with me though. Molnar, of course, actually means teachers who will listen to children then NOT tell parents what they discussed, more like the old Soviet Union- the state provides "services" from childhood as a tempting alternative to the family, long term goal being to destabilize families."

I apologize in advance for the thread drift. Are you suggesting that teachers should tell parents what kids told them (the teacher) in confidence? I can't say I agree with that. Obviously I want my DC to confide in me, or in DH, but there may come a time, especially as they get into the teenage years and automatically hate their parents, when they feel they can't confide in us, and choose a trusted teacher as their confidante instead. Insisting that the teacher "tattle" to the parents seems to set up a situation where the kid has nobody to confide in, because they can't trust the teacher to keep their discussion private.

Thinking back to my own secondary school years, I had a guidance counsellor whom I trusted far more than I trusted my own parents. In adulthood, incidentally, I developed very good relationships with both my parents, but I was a mess as a teenager, and they had inflexible attitudes which made them hard to confide in at the time. That guidance counsellor was a lifeline.

Full disclosure: I am an agnostic.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 07:18:28

"Are you suggesting that teachers should tell parents what kids told them (the teacher) in confidence? I can't say I agree with that."

Nope-not advocating that they break confidences, which would usually be a cruel/underhand way to go, but that they avoid the situation in the first place. I'm suggesting that schools institutionalize rules and expectations like the one my DCs go to, based on being for the family and the reasonable authority of parents over children in their care without conflation or usurpation of parental prerogatives.

That is to say, pupils know that their teachers see school as a spiritual extension of the home to which their family has delegated God-given responsibility and do not expect them to keep secrets. Frivolous discussion between adults and children is discouraged; one reason parents like the place is because they know there will not be attempts to intrude upon the intimacies of family life or undermine their faith or morals.

If a child started saying something inappropriate they would just be told to stop, but fortunately we do not get many of such problems.

tiggytape Mon 07-Oct-13 07:23:09

A bit late to respond but the short answer is no.

At appeal you are never appealing against the school offered. You are only ever appealing for the school you want. Therefore an appeal can only be won by showing that the school you want meets your child's needs or would benefit your child. A lack of faith is hard to present as a need.

For allocation purposes, a preference for single sex or non faith schools also forms no part of the process.

To win at appeal, you would need to explain why the school your prefer is the best one for your child and, whilst you can mention the faith element, this won't be a major factor as far as an appeal panel are concerned. There are no secular schools in the UK, they all have aspects of faith and worship they must follow and at any school you can opt out of these.

nooka Mon 07-Oct-13 07:36:18

Luckily I don't think there are very many schools that teach from an absolutist point of view in the UK as it's pretty much the opposite of what most parents would want. Learning/education is about learning to question, thinking for yourself, exploring your own ideas etc. Not being taught anything as 'absolute fact' because there is very very little that is absolute.

Blessedhope your description of your children's school's values sound absolutely appalling to me. My children are their own people and deserve their own space to learn and explore without me or their father (or anyone else for that matter) telling them what to think and giving them no space to be their own people. I am also 100% OK for them to occasionally have a frivolous conversation with the adults in their lives, in fact I think that's quite important too. I also want them to develop their own sense of morality, and am very confident that I will be happy with their choices because they are intelligent children being taught by good people (and meeting people who don't share your values is valuable too).

Oh and my children went to a ordinary public school in the States for a while, which was generally very good, and similarly go to a public school now we live in Canada. All secular and just fine. I would like there to be more teaching about religions though as it's an important thing to know about.

blessedhope Mon 07-Oct-13 21:29:04


Luckily we can afford one of the minority of schools which DOES offer an 'absolutist' rather than a 'developmental' view, traditional teaching focused on academics, and religion and morals treated as issues of right and wrong; our DCs will have a firm foundation and an understanding that morality does not emerge from the empowered self like everyone is their own little god. When they meet a situation which does not have a definitive answer they have been taught, there will be more general principles to apply as they grow in wisdom. That is to say values inculcation MUST come before values clarification if we are to encourage the best from our youth. Allowed to choose from a nebulous "non-judgmental" menu too early, what's to stop them from becoming pleasure junkies?

You are happy with ordinary state schooling? That's up to you and I wish your children and family all the best- but your discussion of educational philosophy shows that we are simply worlds apart. A hard-shell relativist who puts the words absolute fact in quotes and who sits easy with the Kirschenbaum-Roebuck, pro values clarification, "develop-your-own-morals" progressive school of thought is... um, pretty much exactly the opposite of what we want, to the extent that our monthly outgoings would be somewhat lighter if we were prepared to accept this.

You are substantially right, if perhaps overstating your case a little, about what the majority wish for- that is why alternative schools exist outside of the government controlled one! Certainly the independent school I selected for them, which has been a great blessing for us, reflects a spiritual and pedagogical approach which many parents in this country would not actively seek out; that is why we had to pay and go outside of the state system. Yet I do not think most UK parents would see it starkly as "the opposite" either, except those linked to the professional educational establishment, aggressive Dawkins-style "New" Atheists and pockets of society who are willing to excuse or sympathize with virtually any course of conduct and want to pass that have-it-your-way, bless-the-poor-buggers attitude to their children.

For my part, I do not want my children to go down the same immoral paths as "most" children or to be taught based on methods designed by humanists who believe all is relative. It is my firm conviction that DCs will be more likely to make responsible decisions about behaviour into adulthood if they are taught consistently by home, church and school that right is right and wrong is wrong first of all.

We also believe in common with nearly all Christians that each person is responsible for their own eternal life, when they reach an age at which there is the capacity to consider this, they must make a personal decision for Christ or against Him. Our job as parents is to help steer them in the right direction. From the point where we can only advise, it's up to them- and should one of them ever make their mind up to go their own sweet way at least I can say in good conscience that I tried, while praying they may heed the example of that famed Prodigal Son.

nooka Tue 08-Oct-13 06:09:55

Most children develop perfectly good morals without having their parents/churches views shoved down their throats. That's just one of the ridiculous things that some extremely religiously orientated people feel the need to say. I am no less moral as an atheist now than when I was growing up a Catholic, and my children are no less moral than their Christian cousins.

Anyway nobodysbaby I guess at least your local CoE is highly unlikely to teach your children anything even vaguely like blessedhope's school!

meditrina Tue 08-Oct-13 06:56:13

This isn't about morals.

It's about the Admissions Code which is backed by law.

You cannot refuse a faith school simply because you are of a non-matching belief system or are agnostic).

If you are allocated a school you do not like, or even one you never applied for because all others full, your choice is to accept that, or educate outside the state school system. You can appeal for a place elsewhere, but as tiggy said, you are not appealing against the school allocated, but for the school you want.

And, of course, it's possible that an LEA could take your situation sympathetically, even though they shouldn't. That won't magic up a place at your first choice school. It might get you an offer at the nearest non-specific school with a place. But this will certainly mean a longer journey (which you will have to arrange and pay for as you turned down a place nearer), and you might not like the school at all.

Where is the nearest, typically undersubscribed non-specific school? In our shoes, it's probably worth applying to it higher on your list than the faith school you vehemently don't want your DC to go to.

blessedhope Tue 08-Oct-13 15:25:03

Legislation about state school admissions is not about morals, no- TalkinPeace started a tangent on the thread by mentioning how home and private schooling are much bigger in America largely due to conservative Catholics and Evangelicals. I contributed as a parent who has children at the sort of Christian school she'd be speaking about in here the UK and explaining my reasons why.

Nooka disapproved, accused us of being the "opposite of most parents" and presented her philosophy which is at the other extreme to mine. I thus replied to her points and explained the moral reasons for our decision. This is/was a separate strand of discussion to the original one about appealing "against" a church school.

Oh and nooka if you say godless people are somehow "no less moral" than born-again believers then one would have to define "morality" in humanistic terms. I do not accept whatever definition you have in mind as genuine morality, so the statement is meaningless to orthodox Christians.

pyrrah Tue 08-Oct-13 23:07:23

Intriguingly, born-again Xtians have the highest divorce rate (33%) - and make-up a hefty percentage of the prison population - in the USA...

blessedhope Wed 09-Oct-13 00:17:36

Oh, here we go with the same tired points...

The "prison" line is one of the ones which most ticks me off. Of course doing something (usually) that hurts another person and being locked up for it by the State, having little to do all day in many cases with lots of time to think and an expectation one will at least change to socially acceptable, legal behaviour if not a broader change of character, is going to make people reconsider the state of their souls. Why do you think they are called penitentiaries ? So it doesn't prove what the No-God Squad chorus think it does.

The divorce comparison is biased by traditionalists bothering to marry more in the first place. If you wish to measure our sexual-ethics consistency rate of fornication is FAR preferable- 20% of evangelical Americans (and a higher % of evangelical Brits, that of course being from a much smaller cohort) are virgins at marriage. Only 3-5 per cent of the general population is.

For future reference: it is a waste of your time throwing anti-Christian arguments at me. Though I fully respect your right to have such twisted beliefs- just keep them to the secularist community and/or people who express an interest in becoming godless. After all a lot of you insist on being aggressive to people trying to change your beliefs; I have heard MANY comments from antifaith quarters about how we should "keep it in church" or "home".
I have heard them OFTEN enough before and you don't get to "deconvert" me. Here is a quick list of stump anti-Christian tropes which will lead to me either setting you straight on your ignorance or walking away from a conversation, depending on my mood:

"Crusades", "Inquisition", "witch burn", "cause of wars", "slavery", "anti-woman", "sides of history", "why is there evil?", "genocide" in OT, "times change", cultural relativism, calling people "self-righteous" while professing works-righteousness as THE one and only righteousness, "uneducated", calling parts of faith "outdated", "it is the 21st century" offered as a stand-alone argument, mocking RC's and some Protestants for choosing not to have fully fluid gender roles, so-called "homophobia", "this/that church are anti-science", "Jesus rode on a dinosaur", denying moral absolutes, "sky god/fairy/buddy/daddy", quoting New Atheist authors, comparing sexual orientation to race, "your god" with small g, "wealthy church/poor people in Africa", pro-abortion fanaticism, comparing Christians to Islamic terrorists, "hate" allegations for mere disagreement, non-believers brazenly daring to judge who is a TRUE Christian, saying we were wrong to expose First Nations peoples to Christianity, "all religions are equally valid" (or "invalid"), "paedo-priests", "indoctrination" of children, calling moderate and conservative Christians "fundamentalist", "flying spaghetti monster", "Hitler-Christian" (complete with out of context quotes that appear to back it up), "Fascism was caused by Christianity", non-approvers of gay sex acts are "responsible" for suicides, celibacy derided as "no fun", "boring", "unrealistic", "unnatural" (!!) or even "closetedness", saying [X] is OK because humanistic ethics say so, or man-made laws of the land make it legal, or the majority of society think so, or the "consenting adults"/ "doesn't harm anyone" quips, prison rates of any sort, faith in God as "mental illness" or a "social construct", "zombie", "magic", "superstition", "bigots", "man created G/god(s)" not vice versa, "delusion", "religionists", "god-botherer", Waco/Jonestown, "brainwashed", painting all Christians "brought up"/"raised" that way- blaming their "upbringing", assuming Christians are socially inept or professionally unsuccessful, "God made gay people" [and therefore, the godless logic challenged fool thinks, must fully approve of all sex acts between same-gender couples] , "your truth" as if it could be different to "my truth", "modern" as automatically good, telling people to move to a different country, assuming any believer who doesn't want to answer a complex and/or offensive question "can't" answer it, bashing America, selectively bashing America (so the ultra-Democratic voting areas are fine), calling people "hypocrites" for different views to yours or if they have ever sinned, misuse of "judge not", "God is love", "in male or female", Sermon on the Mount, etc. to justify ultra-liberal or secular predetermined positions, God as one of many "gods" invented by humankind, "mixed fibres", "polyester", polygamy, "cutting of hair", "shellfish", "pork", "cherry-picking"... This list is far from exhaustive.

[NB- If you choose to KEEP KEEP KEEP shoving them and others like them in my face I may opt for other responses more "in-kind". I know that isn't "turning the other cheek"- but hey, this is Earth not Heaven, I continue to have a sin nature and as Jesus and Paul suggest when they discuss not "provoking people to anger" or being a "stumbling-block", under such provocation I may not play nice. All of us can be tempted, so to say this is more honest than self-righteously pretending to be perfect.]

MortifiedAdams Wed 09-Oct-13 00:25:58

TBH at 10, which id assume she is,.she is likely.not to have yet chosen a faith to follow, or whether she is indeed Atheist or Agnostic. So going to a CofE secondary wont be going against her beliefs, just yours

clarinsgirl Wed 09-Oct-13 00:49:53

OP, like you I don't like the idea of my child attending a faith school. However, as has already been pointed out, there are no truly secular schools in the uk state system. You'd be better concentrating on finding the best school for your DC based on other factors (but I love your idea of a letter from the Vicar ��).
I am an atheist but this is not a significant factor in my dislike of faith schools. I believe everyone should be free to make their own choices about religion, not have these choices managed for them by parents or the state. In my view segregating children on the basis of religion is just wrong and does nothing to promote free will and tolerance.

meditrina Wed 09-Oct-13 07:08:35

OP seems to have vanished, unfortunately, and so it's not clear if comments that may help her with her question may not be seen by her now.

Yes, I know threads can take in a life of their own. But OP wanted help on a UK schools admission question and posted in 'Education'.

Perhaps a spin off thread on the the role of Chritianity and thr US divorce rate might be more appropriate - not least as a you can put a new title on a new thread (and put it in a more suitable forum for theme). That might get you a better debate, for those with an interest in that other subject probably wouldn't guess it was here.

nooka Thu 10-Oct-13 15:29:05

Mortified although generally speaking I would agree, our beliefs (and the strength of them) do change over time especially as we grow up but at 10 my ds was very clear he was an atheist.

blessed you really can't complain that people on a thread about atheism and how to avoid a religious school are antitheist, and you you hardly help your cause by providing a list of anti-Christian memes. You really think we haven't thought about most of them? Regardless likely all it does for the OP is reinforce why she does not want her children to be forced to attend a school with an ethos that may well be very very different to that her family espouses, which you having opted for a non-mainstream publicly provided school should be able to sympathise with. Unless of course you think that school should proselytize.

exexpat Thu 10-Oct-13 16:30:48

The DD may well have her own religious views: I was a very definite atheist by age 10. I was brought up going to church & Sunday school, but decided I didn't believe any of it by about age 8. Still had to put up with compulsory hymn-singing etc all the way through school (though I very determinedly stood there with my mouth firmly closed during hymns).

But even if the DD decides to rebel against an atheist family and find some sort of religion, she could still do that at a non-church school, which unfortunately may have just as much hymn-singing etc as the church one, depending on the head.

exexpat Thu 10-Oct-13 16:38:58

Oh, and blessedhope - at the end of your rather lengthy rant about all the arguments you will not listen to, you say "If you choose to KEEP KEEP KEEP shoving them and others like them in my face..." - I don't think anyone was shoving anything at you. You chose to come on a thread where an atheist was asking for advice about school admissions criteria, and as far as I can tell, haven't posted anything relevant or helpful at all, but were picked up on some of your assertions of moral superiority.

Meanwhile, all the millions of atheists in this country get religion 'shoved' at them on a daily basis, through schools, the involvement of the church in politics, and other things as minor as the Radio Four 'thought for the day' refusing to include any non-religious 'thoughts'.

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