Earlier this year, when the UK Department for Education issued its new curriculum for GCSE Religious Studies classes, the focus was on: Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Sikhism.
Humanism, a belief system reflected by far more people than some of the religions on that list combined, wasn’t given the same treatment. That’s why three parents eventually filed a lawsuit against the government (with the help of the British Humanist Association).
A month ago, in a major decision from Britain’s High Court, a judge ruled that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (below) was wrong to exclude Humanism from the Religious Studies classes in the country .
To be clear: The ruling didn’t say Humanism *had* to be taught in Religious Education classes, only that specifically excluding it was wrong. But Morgan is now determined to do everything she can to make sure that decision has no significant impact in classrooms where religion was prioritized:
Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, today publishes new guidance to non-faith schools which makes clear that they do not need to give “equal parity” to non-religious views.
Mrs Morgan is concerned that humanists are using the courts as part of a “creeping ratchet effect” which will ultimately see primary schools forced to teach children about atheism.
Going even further, she wants children to be told to believe in God.
A source close to Mrs Morgan said: “Nicky has had enough of campaign groups using the Courts to try and force the teaching of atheism and humanism to kids against parent’s wishes.
“That’s why she’s taking a stand to protect the right of schools to prioritise the teaching of Christianity and other major religions.”
In that way, she’s no different from Religious Right conservatives in the U.S., conflating neutrality with advocacy. The Humanist groups in question don’t want the government telling children they shouldn’t believe in God, but it’s dishonest to talk about what people believe when it comes to God without pointing out that a significant portion of the country — more than 25% according to the 2011 census — have no religious affiliation at all.
By telling schools they can ignore Humanism if they want to, Morgan is making sure every school knows the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of it.
I’ve reached out to the British Humanist Association and National Secular Society for comment and will update this post if/when I hear back.