A former Director of Education has hit out at the Welsh Government’s plan to force schools to teach humanism and atheism alongside religious views in RE lessons.
Gareth Jones, who worked as a teacher and headteacher before being made the Director of Education and Community Services for Ceredigion in Wales, told The Christian Institute he has “lots of concerns” about the new Bill being debated in the Senedd.
Under the plans, Religious Education will be absorbed into a new ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’ (RVE) subject, which would include compulsory atheism lessons for all pupils, with no right of withdrawal. The Institute has warned that Christianity could be marginalised, with no limit set on atheistic teaching.
Christianity on the periphery
Mr Jones said: “The primary concern is the fact that they are now expected to teach not only Religious Education but now it’s got to be taught along with atheism and humanism and non-religious aspects.
He added: “I don’t know how teachers will be able to have integrity and credibility in teaching such a complicated set of different aspects which counteract and undermine one another.”
It wants to undermine the whole principle behind teaching religion
He also questioned why atheism or humanism should be taught alongside religion.
“Humanism, as we know in its present form, wants to debunk religion. So it doesn’t seem to me to sit comfortably at all with teaching Religious Education. It wants to undermine the whole principle behind teaching religion.”
“This type of envisaging of religion, ethics and values and including humanist standpoints will push Christianity again further onto the periphery, so that the Christian heritage of our country will be in danger of being lost altogether.”
Body, soul, spirit
Asked why spiritual teaching is important, Jones replied: “You cannot consider the human being without considering that he or she is not simply flesh and blood, but also is a soul and a spirit.
“There’s always been a recognition that that spiritual part of us is important to acknowledge and to develop.
“I believe that a school which diminishes the spiritual aspect, diminishes the human experience.”
He also heavily criticised the Welsh Government for ignoring the results of its own consultation, saying he had: “a real concern for democracy as we go through this particular process.”
The former headteacher pointed out that most of those who responded to the consultation opposed replacing RE with RVE, and that the overwhelming majority said parents should continue to have the right to withdraw their children from lessons if they see fit, but in both cases the public had been ignored.
“If you feel that your children are being indoctrinated by such attitudes and arguments, then obviously parents feel that they’re losing their influence that these children should be brought up in a Christian home … and what they’re meeting with then in these lessons, is something which undermines everything that’s been taught and applied in their own home.”