Over the weekend there was a report published, that was commissioned by The Religious Education Council, in to the teaching of RE in schools; and in short in said that most schools were not doing too well at teaching the children about it.
Now this got me thinking, now my view on the whole thing is that religion should be a private thing and if you wish to believe in any religion and its associated deities then that should be something you do in your home and/or place of worship. Not something that the tax payer should be picking up the tab for to teach children about.
Now this would leave you with a gap in the school curriculum, and it then raises a question about well what could you fill that gap with? More English, Maths, Science, History or so on. But to me filling that gap with something they already do well seems a tad lazy and lacklustre.
So I had a bit of a think about it, and was thinking what would be beneficial to school children that we could fill up that gap in the timetable with. Now two things sprung to mind immediately one was home economics; we teach the kids how to cook properly and healthily. Which gives them an invaluable skill when they leave school as they know how to turn a pile of fresh produce in to a healthy, tasty meal.
But there was also another thing that would be handy, as these children are going to be the business men and women of the future and dealing with people from other nations, and one skill that we all lack is a general understanding of what people from Germany, Japan, China, Canada all like and enjoy. So we could make a cultural anthropology lesson to fill the place left by RE.
But then it dawned on me, we could combine the two. We could educate the children about the cultures of other nations and teach them how to cook food from those nations. That way we are equipping the children with two useful skills instead of teaching them RE.
Now obviously something like this would require a change in the law for it to be implemented, and would probably face some vehement opposition from some quarters of society. But I think if explained to the public correctly, then there would be overwhelming public support for such a change. As you have to ask yourself what’s more important knowing something from a religious text or being able to cook properly for yourself?
For me it’s a no brainer, let the religious bodies teach about their religion in their places of worship and use that time to teach children useful skills that can help them in life.
Last night I saw some gloating on my time line that Labour may be offering a free vote on the plan to allow religions the option to offer, if they want, equal marriage. Meaning that the Quakers and the Liberal Jewish communities would be able to offer gay couples a religious marriage should they so wish. A move by David Cameron that was very wise and not only considered the religious freedoms of those opposed but also those in favour of it.
The arguments made against this by the conservative Christians who thought this was wrong and evil, were along the lines that such a decision would allow a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights and subsequently all churches would then have to offer equal marriage even if they didn’t want to.
Now I have thought about this and in reality it is a laughable argument, and would never have happened. That’s not to say a challenge wouldn’t have happened but that any such challenge wouldn’t have been successful. Because looking at the jurisprudence of the ECtHR, their main concern with discrimination cases is the use of blanket bans on things. Such as votes for prisoners, the inability for transgender people to change their birth certificates, the previous disparity in age of consent for gay people and so on.
So a law which allowed religions to offer, at their discretion, marriage to everyone would not have violated the convention and so such a case would have been defeated. Thus respecting the views of those who didn’t want to offer same sex marriage.
However and this is where it gets interesting, if marriage equality is passed and it will. Then with what is in effect a blanket ban on all religions from being able to offer it will be challenged in the ECtHR. But under this challenge the courts will find that such a ban is in violation of people’s rights, in that there will be direct discrimination between heterosexual and homosexual couples.
Now there are two fancy ways that this could happen, a challenge in the UK courts would allow the Judge to issue an order of incapability which then would give the relevant Minister of State to issue secondary legislation allowing for religious marriage equality. Or it could go all the way to the ECtHR who could equally say that the UK Government was in violation of the convention, and give them a time period to propose a change before they start awarding compensation.
Now I suggest that those people who oppose religions that wish to offer this to think carefully about this situation, as any challenge to the law would take 3 or maybe 4 years from it receiving Royal Assent. Do you want what is on offer which means that there is some flexibility in which churches can offer it, or do you want the possibility of say a Labour Government ran by the two Ed’s removing all restrictions to churches and effectively forcing it on your church? Just something to think about on this chilly winters day.
Now we all have probably seen the news story about Bideford Town Council and the right to pray before council meetings. Now personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about, if the counsellors wish to pray before they start their meeting I think they should be allowed to. However one counsellor didn’t think it was right and took them to court over it.
Where the judge decided that there was no legal right to say a prayer at a council meeting; and for once rejected the human rights claim. Which is rather unusual as recent history will show that judges have come down heavily on Christians with human rights decisions of late.
Anyhow If we cast our minds back a few weeks, to what was a bad night for the Government in the House of Lords with the Bishops leading a revolt over the Welfare Bill. We had lots of people on the left coming out and backing the Bishops saying it was a good thing that they did, and praising the Bishops somewhat for their actions.
Then on a forum I post on came the news story about Bideford. Where those on the left were all going on about how the church and state should be 100% separate and that religion has no place in politics. Yet these were the same people who only a few weeks ago were praising the Bishops. Then when I pointed out that the Queen is not only head of the state but head of the church, there were some well very interesting suggestions most notably the fact that we should remove the Queen.
Well anyhow it seems that it’s not just Mr Miliband and co that change their position from day to day, but also their supporters that can’t make up their mind on what is good and bad.