The Christian Institute

News Release

‘Absurd to waste precious RS time on atheistic worldviews’ says The Christian Institute

The Christian Institute

Thursday 3 December 2015

For immediate release

The Christian Institute has described as ‘absurd’ the suggestion that non-religious worldviews should now be included in the new Religious Studies (RS) GCSE.

Last week, the High Court ruled that the Education Secretary made an “error of law” by failing to make clear that the new RS GCSE would not, by itself, meet all of the state’s obligations to provide a pluralistic religious education. The case was brought by the British Humanist Association (BHA).

Media coverage following the ruling was dominated by misleading suggestions that RS lessons would now have to be changed across England and Wales because of the judge’s findings.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute responded saying: “The judgment makes it plain that despite the BHA’s propaganda, GCSE RS can continue to maintain its sensible and proper focus on religion. It is just a shame that the ruling failed to also acknowledge that non-religious ideas already dominate the curriculum at most schools.

“Mr Justice Warby did not challenge the content of the GCSE and said there was nothing unlawful in it. Faith schools were not covered by his ruling and he also made it clear that schools could still prioritise the teaching of Christianity.

“Despite this, his judgment has been seized upon by the BHA to issue yet another of their calls to dilute what, from September next year, will have already become a multi-faith subject.”

Mr Hart continued: “The judge accepted that the state may give priority to one religion above others and so continue to reflect the Christian heritage traditions of the country.”

“The study of religion is a vital part of understanding British history and modern society. There is already too little enough time given over to it – less still to Christianity. Any suggestion that it should be watered-down yet further is absurd. If you try and teach everything, you end up teaching nothing.”

“A recent survey found 40 per cent of people in England don’t even know of Jesus as a historical figure. Rather than cram even more into an already overcrowded syllabus, more time should be given to ensuring that students understand at least the basics of the Christian faith.

“By its very nature Religious Studies deals with the study of religion, not non-religion. Which non-religious view should be included? Should RS be used to study Marxist-Leninism? Even climate change has been accepted as a belief by the courts.

“Humanism is one of the least popular non-religious beliefs. There are just 15,000 humanists in England and Wales according to the last census – barely twice the number of people who describe themselves as ‘Heavy Metal’.

“The notion that atheism should be included in RS to make it more balanced is as ridiculous as suggesting that German lessons would be more balanced if they also covered French.”


Read the full judgment (pdf)

Read the Government’s response

Notes to Editors:

The Christian Institute is a non-denominational national charity which since 1991 has been working on issues including religious liberty, marriage and the family, and Christian education.