In new religious studies classes in the UK, the topics on the syllabus are keeping up with the times:
Students studying a new GCSE Religious Studies course will learn about Druidism, Rastafarianism and the “rise of atheism”.
The new course, Religion and Belief in Today’s World, will be piloted in 2009 by the Oxford Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board. It has been denounced as popularist by critics.
The “groundbreaking” new syllabus largely excludes the Bible and other religious texts.
Religious attitudes towards medical and sexual ethics, including areas such as same-sex relationships and cloning, will be covered.
The influence of the British Humanist Association, the group behind the recent atheist bus advertisements, and the novels of Philip Pullman will be included.
Critics says the new courses are just appealing to popularity.
Anastasia de Waal, of the think-tank Civitas, said: “We seem to be so desperate to make things relevant — to pander to popularity — that our kids aren’t being taught the underlying knowledge they need to succeed in the world. We are doing a huge disservice to our young people.
What underlying knowledge would they be missing? I’m not sure.
Isn’t this what students should be learning in general religious education classes?
What’s going to help you more? Learning about Christianity in depth or getting a broad sense about what people are talking about all around the world when it comes to religion? And let’s face it: Percentage-wise, people are talking less about Jesus and more about atheism. It’s certainly true in America.
The British Humanist Association is obviously thrilled about this inclusion:
Andrew Copson, Director of Education at the BHA, said it is important that students will be given the chance to study alternative belief systems alongside established religions.
He commented: ‘Non-religious beliefs such as Humanism and non-religious organisations like the British Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union are significant features in the landscape of belief today.’
Now, when will we ever see a class like this in the United States…?
(via The Freethinker)