Letter: Humanism kept out of schools

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Bishop of Ludlow suggests (letter, 30 August) judging religions by the "methods used to instil and reinforce [their] beliefs". Surely we should mark down heavily those who seek to prevent the young knowing about other beliefs?

The Christian powers who preponderate in England today do just this. They support legislation designed to prevent children in state schools learning about Humanism, which is the principal alternative to the religions present in England.

The justification for "RE" is that it helps pupils to understand the ultimate questions of living: life and death, the importance of morality, the reality (or otherwise) of "God". It is to indoctrinate with religion to present the religious responses to these questions without acknowledging the reality of the non-religious responses.

The immediate reply to Canon Inge (letter, 30 August) is that Humanism - the life stance that Richard Dawkins supports - is not a religion, because it does not accept the reality of "God". The critical point is that if in truth there is no god, it follows that all religions are so deeply flawed that all will be rejected by those who understand.

This does not mean, however, that Humanists wish to prevent children in state schools learning about religions. Unlike religious people, we want these children to learn about religious and non-theistic responses to ultimate questions - objectively, fairly, and with balance.


Vice President

British Humanist Association

London WC1