The Christian Institute have made public a legal opinion they commissioned from John Bowers QC regarding recent changes to the school regulations that seem to require religious schools to cease being religious schools.
Bowers argues that the regulations breach the Human Rights Act, stating:
“Under the second sentence of Article 2 of the First Protocol parents have a right to have their children educated in accordance with their own religious or philosophical beliefs. As a matter of European human rights law, attendance at school does not deprive the parents of their right to “exercise with regard to their children natural parental functions as educators, or to guide their children on a path in line with the parents’ own religious or philosophical convictions”” READ MORE
In terms very reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, Bower’s argues these regulations have as their goal “how children are to think and express themselves and how teachers should encourage them to do so.”
This is the root of why inspectors have been asking children questions about their own personal beliefs as a way of catching out schools. Schools should not be judged on what a random selection of their children privately think and believe. It seems outward demonstrations of love and respect towards others we disagree with is no longer enough. Children, and their teachers must toe the line and believe whatever the government tells us we should believe. There is nothing tolerant about that.It is worth pointing out that these Draconian rules were reported as applying to independent schools, which are surely the schools that should receive the lightest tough of regulation. Parents fund these schools themselves, and they are by their very name meant to be independent. It is already clear, that these same rules are also being applied to state-sponsored schools, and one can only assume that state-sponsored schools, whether religious or secular, will be held to these standards at least as aggressively.
The key problem here is that the regulations are requiring “active promotion” of certain beliefs and values, rather than merely informing and educating. They seem to be focussed on controlling private thought. As such, this has deep implications for the rest of society.
Are we moving to a point where anyone in the UK who dares to hold a differing personal opinion, even if they act with total respect towards those who hold to other opinions are at risk of punishment by the state? Are we no longer allowed to express any disagreement with the viewpoints of others? If so then we are no longer allowed to hold to religious beliefs at all. For by their very nature, religious beliefs disagree with the viewpoints of others.
What has happened in the UK to cause us to move away from a much more helpful definition of freedom:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” Beatrice Hall
It seems that is not enough for the new intolerance. We must all actually pretend that all beliefs are equally valid, and hence invalidate all of them.