Scotland: secularists oppose RE in schools

Secular campaigners are about to launch a new campaign against religious education in Scottish schools.

The Humanist Society Scotland is set to start pushing for parents to withdraw their children from religious education and religious observance.

The society, which campaigns against religion in education, claims schools’ legal obligation to offer a meaningful alternative to RE for those opting out is also not being delivered.

Michael McGrath, the director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, this week dismissed these claims as disingenuous.

Religious education

“Religious observance is a statutory part of the curriculum because successive governments believe it is an important part of a young person’s experience to develop spirituality,” Mr McGrath said. “The right for parents to opt out is included in every school handbook in the country.

“In practice, what we often find is that non-Catholic pupils talk very positively about being included in the faith life of the school and participating is positive for all concerned.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman also dismissed the secularists’ claims.


Since 2005, Scottish schools have been required to make parents aware they can remove their children from religious education and observance.

The Humanist Society is planning to advance their agenda at an exclusive conference next month, that charges £270 for a single attendee.

The Affording Parity of Esteem conference, which takes place next month in Edinburgh will look at ways to encourage parents to remove their children from religious education and will feature such noted opponents of Catholic education as Green MSP Patrick Harvie.

The Scottish Humanist Society openly admits on its website its opposition to Catholic schools, the single biggest provider of religious education in Scotland, and its aim to scrap them.

“Humanists wish to see all children educated together under the one roof,” it says. “God should be introduced as an idea and not a fact, especially to young and therefore impressionable children. The teaching of various religious stories should not contradict what they learn in science; there should be a clear distinction between the supernatural and the natural.”

Scottish Catholic Observer | Ian Dunn | 20th April 2012

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