If school kids don’t learn more about Britain’s Judeo-Christian heritage we risk losing our national values, a bishop has warned.
The Rt Revd Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: “The Judeo-Christian tradition provides the connecting link to ‘our island story'”.
Children should know about the role of Christians in abolishing the slave trade, caring for the sick and improving working conditions, the former Bishop of Rochester said in an article for Standpoint magazine.
Many of our precious freedoms and values are based on our Christian tradition, but we risk losing those if our history is jettisoned, the bishop wrote.
Speaking about nursing, Dr Nazir-Ali said the profession was “once again, the result of Christian commitment to the sick and needy”.
“It is ironic, indeed”, he continued, “that nurses cannot now pray at work, under threat of dismissal, when their ward duties often began with prayer right up to the middle years of the 20th century”.
In his article Dr Nazir-Ali welcomed comments by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who has called for changes to the teaching of history in schools.
But the former bishop said: “We must ensure that the teaching of history is not just about a number of significant events and personalities and that there should be a connected narrative.”
And he said that “characteristically British institutions and values” are founded on the Judeo-Christian tradition of the Bible.
Dr Nazir-Ali said without the Judeo-Christian tradition, “it is impossible to understand the language, the literature, the art or even the science of our civilisation”.
He commented that it is “only recently that public doctrine on marriage, family and the protection due to the human person, derived from the teaching of the Bible, has been ditched in favour of libertarian novelties that refuse socio-religious sanction for sexual relationships”.
The bishop, who retired from his Rochester position last year, said: “So many of the precious freedoms that we value today, the fair treatment of workers and the care of those in need, arise from values given to us by the Judeo-Christian tradition.
“These values, however, are grounded in the moral and spiritual vision of this tradition. It cannot by any means be taken for granted that these values will survive for long if the tradition itself is jettisoned.”
Last year a leading education professor cautioned that the nation’s primary schools are watering down Britain’s Christian identity for fear of offending other cultures.
Prof Alan Smithers made his comments in light of a Sunday Telegraph survey, which showed that the Lord’s Prayer was no longer being taught in many of the nation’s primary schools.
Prof Smithers warned: “The country is losing its Christian identity. Many schools are not complying with the law relating to spiritual education and I think it is in urgent need of debate.”
Schools have a statutory requirement to provide a daily act of collective worship of a broadly Christian character.