Courtesy of the Sunday Times
Alice Roberts, a scientist and BBC broadcaster, is to lead a campaign by Humanists UK to end the state funding of religious schools — even though she sends her two children to a Church of England primary.
Roberts, 45, whose appointment as president of the non-religious group will be announced today, admits she and her husband, who is also a humanist, refuse to withdraw their children from prayers and collective worship. “Of course you can pull them out of collective worship . . . you can ask for them not to be included in prayers but then it is socially exclusive and it is difficult for the child,” she told this newspaper in an interview. Roberts said that Humanists UK will campaign for secular state education because in an “increasingly non-religious society why are the children of parents who go to church in a privileged position of being able to access some schools?
“You can somehow get access to what is perceived to be a better school by either being religious or appearing to be religious. That is unfair. I have spoken to vicars about this — they think it is unfair.”
But she said she and her husband, who live in Bristol, sought secular schools for their daughter and son.
“Seven out of the nearest nine schools to me were Church of England schools. I applied to the two which weren’t and we did not get in there,” Roberts insisted. She said she had not looked at academic performance but was only interested in the school ethos.
Roberts is taking over Humanists UK and its campaign against religious schools. Asked whether she could be accused of behaving like Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary who sent her son to a fee-paying school despite criticising private education, Roberts said: “It is really tricky actually.” She added: “If I had removed my children from the state system at that point that is buying my way out of the situation that exists for most parents. Especially in rural areas where they don’t have a choice about whether they send their child to a religious school or not.” She said she had positive talks with the head of her children’s school and advised other humanists to do likewise. The church’s figures show it runs one in four primary schools, and more than 200 secondary schools. About 1m children attend a Church of England school.
“We think our views should be respected just as much as if I were a Jewish, Muslim or Hindu parent. [Humanism] is not a void or a position of deficiency,” she said.
Roberts, a regular presenter of Coast, the BBC TV documentary series, as well as appearances on Horizon and Channel 4’s Time Team, is also a professor of public engagement in science at the University of Birmingham and director of anatomy for the NHS Severn Deanery school of surgery. She said: “I am an evolutionary biologist so it particularly rankles with me that we still have creationism in some of our state schools. How can you educate a child in science and in evidence and at the same time say the earth is 6,000 years old? It is impossible.”
This subject keeps coming up.
I went through the Catholic schools from primary right up to adult Over that time I learnt how many leaders within the church held double standards.
And even the Nun that was headmistress, sinned all week then I presume went to confession on the Saturday!! then did it all again on the Monday.
So I understand the discussion of what problems religion can cause in the wrong hands.
I have to say the Catholic schooling didn't really help me, apart from opening my eyes on howbad it can be.
One of my brothers also went through the schooling and through what he saw he became an active humanist.
But he didn't do it lightly, he could discuss with leaders of the church on the rights/wrongs of the faith they believed in.
My brother was lucky enough to become Leader of the council, and at that time(they don't do it now ) they used to have a quick service before meetings.
He used to leave the meeting until it was over !!
But the 2 leading lights of the Humanists organisation sending there kids to a religious school sends out all the wrong messages.
just like education/grammar schools
leaders of all local labour all sent there kids to grammar yet campaigned to close them.
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I think faith schools should be banned, a good one might be neutral while a poor or bad one will simply try to indoctrinate their particular religion to vulnerable children.
Being non religious I believe that the time wasted on that subject would be better spent on other subjects especially those that involve some kind of exercise.
I try to be neutral and polite but it is hard at times.
I don't have a problem with C of E schools as they are not actually religious but not heard many people say they enjoyed their Catholic school education. Many Muslim and Jewish schools ignore the national curriculum yet are not closed down.
I understand your line of Cof E schools, but they (or there leaders) have been caught up in just as much bad publicity
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