*** DEBUG END ***

Acts of worship in school are inappropriate, Humanists argue

27 August 2019


THE results of a new poll suggest that half of the people in Britain do not believe that acts of religious worship are appropriate for state school assemblies, Humanists UK have argued.

In a survey of 1613 British adults, conducted by YouGuv earlier this month, 50 per cent of the respondents thought that acts of religious worship were not appropriate for school assemblies while 28 per cent thought that they were. Of the 241 parents of school-aged children in the survey, 51 per cent thought that religious worship was inappropriate for assemblies.

Only 46 per cent of those who identified as Christian said that religious worship would be an appropriate topic.

The poll followed the granting of a judicial review to a couple, Lee and Lizanne Harris, who withdrew their children from assemblies at Burford Primary School, in Oxfordshire, because they included acts of Christian worship (News, 2 August).

Earlier this month, the chief education officer of the Church of England, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that collective Christian worship at non-faith schools is not “religious indoctrination” but a chance for children to explore and develop spirituality.

He wrote: “There is much evidence of the value of collective worship to children and young people, which is why thousands of community schools also have strong partnerships with local churches and faith groups. What happens in schools must be evidence-based, and should not be in response to secular pressure-group campaigns.”

In place of acts of worship, 79 per cent of people said that they would find environment and nature an appropriate topic for assembly, and 75 per cent thought that physical and mental health, or a celebration of achievements, would be an appropriate topic.

Almost half, 48 per cent, of those polled said that education about religion and beliefs would be appropriate for an assembly.

The Revd Stephen Terry, who chairs the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, said: “It is time that the laws demanding daily Christian worship in all state-funded schools are reviewed and replaced. They are divisive, anachronistic, and a barrier to schools’ providing stimulating and inspiring assemblies that are genuinely inclusive.”

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.