Archbishop's 'shameful' attack on non-religious schools

Archbishop's 'shameful' attack on non-religious schools December 9, 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been strongly rebuked by Humanists UK for saying that, in ‘schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished.’
Speaking in a House of Lords debate on education this week, Welby said:

[The Church has made] a clear move towards schools that not only deliver academic excellence, but which have the boldness and vision to do so outside the boundaries of a selective system. The Church of England’s educational offer to our nation is church schools that, in its own words, are deeply Christian, nurturing the whole child spiritually, emotionally, mentally, as well as academically, yet welcoming the whole community.

A major obstacle to our education system is a lack of clear internal and commonly held values. We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared.
We have a world of unguided an competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal choice. Which means that for schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished. Utilitarianism rules. And skills move from being talents held for the common good which we are entrusted with as benefits for all, to being personal possessions for our own advantage.
The challenge is the weak, secular and functional narrative that successive governments have sought to insert in the place of our historic Christian-based understanding, whether explicitly or implicitly.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for a fully inclusive education system in which children are not defined or divided on the grounds of religion or belief, described the remarks as a “shameful”.
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

This is a shameful use of the privileged position that Anglican bishops enjoy in Parliament and an alarmingly wrong-headed and divisive attack on our shared values.
It is incredibly worrying that the head of an organisation running a quarter of all state-funded schools in England can stand up and attack the values of hard-working teachers and governors, while also implying that the non-religious majority in this country exist in a moral vacuum.
In doing so, the Archbishop has effectively outed himself as someone who is deeply prejudiced against both non-Christians and non-Church schools. This is not to mention his appalling attempt to mis-sell the inclusivity of Church schools, most of which continue to religiously discriminate against children in their admission arrangements.
What trust can we place in Church schools to promote the British values of ‘mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs’, if the head of the Church falls so short of doing this himself? He should apologise.

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  • andym

    Ab of C long ago lost any credentials to preach to the rest of us on values.
    The vile Lord Sacks also weighed in on the same debate with some crap about giving the young compasses. They’d need a bit more than this to locate the fictional towns in the fantasy he tries he to pass of as a genuine Jewish history.

  • Broga

    Look a little below the surface of the spite and bile on which Welby is forced to rely. He cannot enter into a debate with an articulate atheist because he dare not. He knows he would be exposed as a posturing Christian with no hope of coming of the better.
    So what must he rely on? An outpouring of weasel words delivered in the safety of the publicly funded House of Lords. His comments are an affront to the supposed democracy of this country and parliament. They smear the majority of people in this country who do not attend his churches nor give any serious thought to the basis of the values on which he pronounces. The serious thought is given by atheists.
    His comments lack judgement even in the terms of defending himself and his church. They cause offence to those who have arrived at their non belief on the basis of study, much thought and, for some, after the bitter experience of religious belief and membership of a church.
    In his tendentious approach he makes no reference to the paedophile scandals gnawing at the reputation of the C.of E. Where the C. of E., quiescent and ineffective as it is, does not draw attention to itself it can stagger on. The Archbishop now attracts the ire of the knowledgeable and articulate who find his comments shameful. He may find that the usual C. of E. practice of “letting sleeping dogs lie” would be wiser. But then the Archbishop does not seem strong on wisdom.

  • Angela_K

    “…nurturing the whole child spiritually, emotionally, mentally, as well as academically, yet welcoming the whole community” What self-serving nonsense! Religious schools are selective to ensure they keep out any riff-raff who may damage their average grades, the same schools that fill impressionable children with myths, lies and guilt – and you better not be LGBT because they’ll try to physically and mentally beat that out of you too. This is the same A of C who had a word in the vicar’s daughter ear to prevent government intervention in illegal schools, the same AofC who heads a multi-million pound cult but is reluctant to help the poor, the same AofC who is complicit in covering up for paedophiles.

  • Frank

    Welby lost all credibility some time ago. With his own congregation because he has gone on the record saying sometimes he doubts the existance of god, and with everyone else because a man who is reliant on such piffle cock in order to bamboozle and evade cannot be trusted.

  • John Hopkins

    In short, it is an abuse of young developing intellects to present to them the decaying mythologies of established religions as facts, to be believed necessarily, before they are capable of discernment and making responsible personal choices. Religious education of the under-18s (say) should be illegal.

  • AgentCormac

    ‘We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared.’
    He’s right, of course. These days fact and reason have largely replaced the fiction that his organisation has been bandying around since 1543. No wonder he’s getting so worked up – the sanctimonious twerp will be out of a job soon if things carry on like this.

  • John

    People like us need to take people like him seriously.
    The most recent IHEU report is warning us all that religious extremists like him are gaining increasing control over all forms of public life not just in this country but right around the world.
    The very fact that the so-called “crime” of “blasphemy” can lead to fines, imprisonment, corporal punishment and even capital punishment in some cases in parts of the world should motivate us all to say BOLLOCKS to weasel Welby and others of his ilk.
    The fact that our parliamentary assemblies are stuffed with religious extremists who support one another should give us all pause for thought.
    In this era of neo-conservatism, in which the current UK government appears determined to restore a society they believe existed a century or more ago, we all need to be far more active in calling for and achieving real societal and political change.
    The spectacle of these revolting individuals like Welby, Farron and May should be alerting us to the very real dangers we are now confronting.

  • sowa

    If Christian values are anything “ultimate”, they are ultimate shite. Keep your primitive reward/punishment morality to yourself, Archbuffoon. Empathy and reason are more than enough to form your own judgement and tell right from wrong. I mean assuming you have those, which I’m starting to doubt, because casually smearing others (seemingly unprovoked) comes to you really easy.
    By the way, this is just another proof that Christianity does not seek peaceful coexistence. For them it’s all or nothing.

  • Alan matthews

    Welby, Your old friend Jesus would be appalled at the twaddle that is being preached in his name! If alive today I am sure he would reject all the God nonsense and be a humanist.

  • RussellW

    More verbal diarrhoea from the religiously demented. The Archbishop’s argument, stripped of the verbiage, is the standard version ie non-religious ethical systems are not valid. The Greeks refuted that nonsense 2500 years ago.
    Religious morality is ultimately a human invention with the addition of an imaginary sky fairy as judge, jury and executioner.

  • Broga

    Welby and co want to keep their comfortable jobs including highly paid House of Lord’s sinecures and status with its easy publicity from the BBC. To do that they must continue to foist their myths on to an indifferent public who are then identified by them as Christians.

  • StephenJP

    Part of the problem with Welby is not just that he is mendacious and spiteful, as commenters above have eloquently pointed out. It is also that he is deeply ignorant.
    For the most part, ABs of Cant have been brought up to be steeped in their religion, and properly educated in its origins, history and ambiguities. For example, Welby’s predecessor, Rowan Williams, whatever one may think of his faith, is a nuanced thinker and a skilful Head of a Cambridge college, as well as a (fairly) serious poet.
    Welby seems to have believed he had a vocation, having attended an Alpha course. That alone should have disqualified him from any post above that of parish priest. But the muppets running the CofE seem to have decided that, because he had once been an oil executive, he would be capable of managing the CofE like a business.
    He has instead been a disaster in the post. And I rejoice in this: thanks to his many truly crass, uninformed and insulting interventions, such as this one, he has done more than most of his predecessors to drive the CofE towards irrelevance.

  • Broga

    StephenJP : Rowan Williams is indeed a nuanced thinker and of a different calibre to the banal Welby who doesn’t seem to have a fresh or original thought in his head. I heard Rowan Williams on the radio some years ago discussing T.S.Eliot’s “The Four Quartets.” He was impressive and it would be churlish to deny his talent.
    He is also a fluent Welsh speaker. He was squandering his talents as Archbishop of Canterbury. Can a man of his learning and intellect really believe in the Christian God?

  • StephenJP

    Broga: quite right; I remember the Eliot programme as well. I also remember a TV discussion with Richard Dawkins, where Williams wriggled rather a lot, but at least more or less managed to keep his poise.
    I would love to see a debate between Dawkins and Welby, especially one in which RD for once dropped his usual (and usually admirable) position of courtesy and respect for others’ views, and told Welby how wrong he is, on so many issues.

  • StephenJP

    I forgot to add that another difference is that Williams is capable of seeing a given subject, especially a work of art or literature, on its own terms and for its own sake. Whereas Welby, like all too many Christians (see Thought for the Day, passim ad nauseam), seems incapable of seeing anything in the world except through the distorting prism of his faith.

  • L.Long

    Its important that these kids are taught good xtian values.
    They need to study the buyBull so they can learn that killing, genocide, slavery, keeping sex slaves, and stoning witches are all OK with gawd!!!

  • Broga

    StephenJP: You make an important point about seeing a thing on its own terms. Since I was is my mid teens – a long time ago – I have been, and remain, what might be termed a militant atheist. The result of realising with a shock how I had been conned by religious indoctrination – very mild in my case.
    However, I find much in Buddhism, particularly Zen, not only interesting but helpful. I know it isn’t a religion. In my earlier atheism I would reject any work where the artist was, as I saw it, tainted by belief. T.S.Eliot being one example. William Wordsworth another. And Mathew Arnold and others. I can now enjoy Dover Beach despite his melancholy about the retreat of faith.
    I am confident enough in my atheism not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.