Carnival of the Godless #99 is up, over at OzAtheist‘s place. Lots of good stuff there from the heathen blogosphere, including one piece of my own – apparently the entry conditions were really pretty lax this time around, because I felt like an intellectual midget up against some of the other entries catalogued here. Go read.
Also, as of tomorrow, there’ll be a law in place in Britain “allowing faith schools… to discriminate on religious grounds when hiring headteachers and support staff”. Schools that receive funding from the state will be entitled to require that people working there must belong to a particular religion.
Wow. That sounds like a really bad idea. The main worry seems to be that children of different religions are going to end up being increasingly segregated, which, no kidding. “Parents should be able to choose the type of education and ethos they want for their children,” says someone whose official title is apparently “Children’s minister”. If you apply that sentence to any other factor than religion, doesn’t it sound like the most abhorrent idea imaginable? What if people want to make sure their kids aren’t learning anywhere run by fags or coloureds? Are we going to accommodate that, too?
The idea is for school staff to be in a position to offer “pastoral support” to children, but I don’t see how specifically religious support – beyond the kind of basic care and help and advice and positive reinforcement that we should expect all schools to give to all children in their charge – is something that’s anywhere within the government’s remit to be spending taxpayer money on.
I went to a couple of private religious schools, solely because they seemed like places I’d get a really good education, which I guess I did. The religion part of those times was fairly boring, even while I was more or less going along with the whole Jesus idea, but never particularly emphatic or zealous. My impression of religion in schools in England has always been that it’s fairly muted and half-hearted, much like religion in England generally, at least compared to the US. We learned about evolution in my biology classes, and discussed the book of Genesis as scientifically inaccurate and literally untrue metaphor in Religious Studies, in these private Christian schools. It’s only in retrospect that I’ve come to appreciate that as anything to be grateful for.