Richard Dawkins on Faith Schools August 27, 2010

Richard Dawkins on Faith Schools

Richard Dawkins aired a special called Faith Schools Menace? on More4 in Britain last week. I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but the whole show can be seen after the jump. Feel free to leave your reviews in the comments!

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  • Drew

    Wish we had More4 in the States. Sheesh, they were advertising “The God Delusion” coming up next week. I can’t even imagine the furor we’d have here.

  • I watched this a few days ago. I especially loved the part with the former Muslim man who points out that he was discriminated against, and now after people worked so hard to stop the discrimination, religious groups are voluntarily segregating themselves from the rest of society. The part with the Muslim school was especially distressing.

    I feel badly for the non-religious parents who have to pretend to be religious in order to get their kids into a school near their home.

  • Markus

    I’d really like to see the uncut interviews for this show. Any idea if they are available anywhere?

  • Hi,
    this is interesting, and I wasn’t aware of this system in England. but this doesn’t really apply in the US. Not supposed to have any faith based education in our public schools. in my experience for the most part this is true.

  • Sally

    We don’t have separation of Church and State in the UK, so the religious get away with a lot more – and they’re still not satisfied with it.

    Actually you may be able to watch all of the 4OD episodes online. Go to and then search for dispatches – they commission programmes on various topics. Recently they did one on cousin marriages that was quite good. The God Delusion was on earlier this week, and Faith Schools Menace was on over a week ago I think so you’re a little behind, but you should be able to watch them on channel 4. Failing that, try the channel 4/4OD channel on youtube.

    enjoy! 🙂

    They also did quite a good mini series about a bunch of Amish kids who came to London for their Rumspringa. That was quite good too.

  • Phrosty

    @Erin Kohlenberg: You’d be surprised at just how much this program actually does apply to the US. True, we’re not supposed to have any faith-based education in our public schools, but it slips in pretty often, especially here in the Bible Belt.

  • Kamaka

    The part with the Muslim school was especially distressing.

    I dunno, at least they were honest (and allowed the cameras in). I thought the Muslim teacher who said she taught evolution, but none of her students believed it “because that’s not what we believe” to be far more credible than the “parents have the right to educate their kids as they see fit” guy.

    She’s a misguided propagandist, but he’s a full blown bully-boy.

  • I had no idea that the UK had devoted an entire channel to Dawkins. Nice. If only America could steal those show ideas rather than tripe like Weakest Link, American Idol, America’s Got Talent, et al.

  • If parents want the right to educate their children as they see fit – then they need to educate those children privately. If they want society to educate their children at a state school, then that education has to be for the benefit of society and the children, not for the benefit of the parents.

  • Hitch

    Dawkins makes a solid case, unfortunately it will be misunderstood and misconstrued.

    The problem is of course that the idea is not to give lip service to teaching evolution. The idea is to teach well founded material and critical thinking.

    So to teach evolution as an option to then totally counter it by the faith view is wrong on so many levels. In fact a caring parent of faith should oppose what’s going on.

    A society that intentionally feeds on ignorance and misinformation cannot function. Democracy relies on the citizens being able to engage with things critically and forming sound opinions. Comprehensive education is key to this, not comprehensive miseducation.

  • Ron in Houston

    You also need to be careful about painting with too broad of a brush here. The last church I was affiliated with had a school. The school was probably 95% secular. The kids got exposed to religion but that was a very insignificant part of their time there.

  • Claudia

    I quite enjoyed it and think that the points emphasized in the Northern Ireland segment are key. It’s not merely that children have a right to not be forced into a given faith and it’s not just that these religious schools can give distorted views of reality (anybody else wonder what those Muslim girls are being taught about their intrinsic value with respect to men?). If you segregate children while they are still toddlers you end up with people who have no contact with people of other faiths or no faith. It’s really easy to see someone as the “other” and threatening if none of your friends or family belongs to the group. Religious segregation breeds religious bigotry, in the exact same way as racial segregation bred racial bigotry.

  • Wow! I guess we in the US have one thing a little better…

    I can’t tell if Dawkins has a better PR person or if I just agree with him more, but he seems much nicer in recent appearances.

  • Fancy Nancy

    Yeah, Dawkins is starting to let the facts speak for themselves, eh?!

    Tony Blair – what a disaster … I’ve been saying this for YEARS … good to see this subject on telly .. about time.

  • Reginald Selkirk
  • Jenn

    @PrimeNumbers: Some parents don’t have the time, resources or knowledge/ability to teach their own children, or send them to a private school. So since they lack these things, they’re condemned to sending their kids to a school that basically throws religion at them? I think I can see where you’re coming from, the whole please the group not the individual, but still. That doesn’t seem right. I guess it could be said about both sides, though.

    I don’t know whether we just didn’t have time or what, but my Biology class in my Freshman High School class didn’t go over evolution at all. On the other hand, my best friend who is in AP Biology says that the teacher says a lot about evolution, almost to the point where she wants to leave the class.
    I really wish that my elementary, or middle school would have done what Richard Dawkins did. That is just a great idea, though the age group seemed a little too young for what he was teaching.

    Randomly, I was really impressed with the way Richard Dawkins handled all the stuff people were saying. A really big difference from Bill Maher’s ‘Religulous’. He was so mean, and made sure his point was heard, even if he had to talk over the other person.

  • Danish Atheist

    I hope I will never be treated by that muslim girl, if she makes it to medical school … scary that the base education in a school like that is so poor.

    The sad excuse of a science teacher just smiled daffily, because she couldn’t explain why there are still apes….

    Dawkins’ shows are just spot on. I really loved the one about the health care in England, too.

  • Grimalkin

    We have the same problem in Ontario. Our school system is split in two, with two distinct school boards, both running on public funds. One is secular, the other is Catholic (no other religions allowed, sorry).

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