Dundee Education Newspaper Letters

Religious Observance in Schools – Letter in Courier – 5th Jan 2017


Article in Courier on Dec 30th…followed by my letter in response.



The Scottish Government is considering revising its guidance to head teachers, which states that opportunities for religious observance must take place at least six times a year in non-denominational schools.
Gordon MacRae, chief executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, which has taken the court action over the issue, said: “This survey confirms what we have known for some time, that a majority of people in Scotland support a change in this arcane law.”

Currently, children can withdraw from such services but only with a parent’s approval, following the secularists’ legal challenge.

The findings, for The Times newspaper, show that just 11% believe religious observance should be compulsory in all schools with no ability to opt out, with a further 24% backing the system that allows children to be withdrawn at the request of guardians.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Catholic Education Service said the results showed a strong majority think religious observance is crucial to Scottish schools.

She added: “Religious observance is when people of all faiths and none can come together, in a Catholic school through prayer and liturgy, in a non-denominational school by means of a time of reflection, as a community in an inclusive, positive atmosphere.

“As the poll suggests, this is something valued in Scotland.”

The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, welcomed the debate.

He said: “When time for reflection is done well, it gives children a vitally important understanding of today’s multicultural society.”


Parents have right to opt out

Sir, – There appears to be a great deal of confusion about the subject of religion in schools (December 30).

Despite humanists and secularists exalting at the headlines about a survey apparently showing that a majority of Scots think children should be able to opt out of religious observance, this is not quite what it seems.

Firstly, it will be noted that it is a YouGov survey which is limited in its size and scope.

Secondly, it is already the case that pupils have the right to opt out of religious observance if their parents or guardians agree. The humanists are not really concerned with pupils being able to opt out, after all they are also campaigning for the Time for Inclusive Education whereby no pupil or parent will be allowed to opt out of compulsory indoctrination in the sexual philosophy of the current elites.

This is yet again another attempt by the more militant secular humanists to remove religion in general and Christianity in particular from public life, especially education.

While I agree with your editorial that it would be foolish to move away from educating pupils in the diverse nature of religion (RE), this is not what is being proposed. Humanists want pupils to be able to opt out of religious observance as a step towards removing it from the public school system.

Rather than remove the paltry six such observances per year, what is needed is more religious education and more meaningful observance.

Parents who do not wish this for their children can already opt out.

David A. Robertson.
St Peter’s Free Church,
4 St Peter Street,

Dear Editor,

The following paragraph was not printed….

 It is sad that the Humanists want to remove away that basic human right, recognised by both the UN and ECHR, for parents to have their children educated according to their own religious philosophy. They wish to replace it with compulsory indoctrination into the values and beliefs of secular humanism, and prevent parents from having their children educated in the traditional Christian way. Given that this secular humanist philosophy has already led us into the post-truth world of modern Western liberalism, you can forgive us for asking that the traditional Christian view of education should be allowed to continue – for those who want it.

See also: The Intolerance of Secular Scotland and Christianity in Schools- Letters in The Courier



  1. Sorry this is off the subject, but was not sure where to post it. I wondered what other people thought about this article from The Tines.

    Churches are a heaven-sent place to camp
    Grant Tucker
    January 7 2017, 12:01am, 
    The Times

    The number of people who stayed in churches last year increased fourfold

    The closest most holidaymakers come to a religious experience is praying that it won’t rain and ignoring the dusty bible in the bedside drawer of their hotel. Yet more and more people are choosing to spend their weekend breaks sleeping in a church.
    The demand for “champing”, a portmanteau for camping in churches, grew fourfold last year and the Churches Conservation Trust, which runs the scheme, has bigger plans for this year, raising the number of churches taking part from seven to 12.

    Andrew Flintoff filmed a documentary about his champing experience in 2015

    The idea first came from Peter Aires, director of the trust in the south east, who suggested that people might want to spend the night in otherwise unused churches. “At first we thought it was completely mad,” a spokeswoman said. “However, once we piloted the scheme we saw what a brilliant way it was to raise money and to get more visitors in. We didn’t want people to see our churches as museum pieces. Instead, we wanted them to be living, vibrant places.”
    The scheme was tried in 2014 at All Saints Church in Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, but nearly fell at the first hurdle when thieves stripped copper from the roof, letting in rain on the night before the first campers arrived.
    Undeterred, the trust repaired the church and officially launched the scheme in 2015 with three churches. More than 150 holidaymakers stayed at a champing church that year, including Andrew Flintoff, the former England cricket captain, who stayed overnight in Aldwincle after England won the Ashes series. His experiences featured in a travel series on Sky One last year.

    The trust had a further 650 champers last year at four more churches and will use 12 churches this year, including new venues in Warwickshire, Cumbria, Oxfordshire, Shropshire and Orkney. The season opens on March 31 and runs to the end of September.
    One of the new churches is All Saints, Billesley, reputed to be the spot where Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway. The trust claims that there is also evidence that Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Bernard, got married here. The scheme will be extended to Scotland, with champers allowed to bed down at St Peter’s Kirk, Sandwick, Orkney.
    The experience, which can be booked via champing.co.uk, is basic, with no central heating, no showers, and dry-separating toilets. But prices range from as low as £19 a night to £59 for a deluxe option, including breakfast and help setting up camp. The churches involved cater for solo travellers up to groups as large as 22, but all hire is on an exclusive basis.
    All the churches involved are part of the 350 underused buildings managed by the trust, a third of which are owned by the trust itself and two thirds by local dioceses. All are still consecrated and many have religious services throughout the year, and can apply for licences for weddings and funerals.
    So far the scheme has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the trust. “Champing is saving Britain’s churches from decay,” a spokeswoman said. “Not only is the money helping to preserve our buildings, but it also brings the local community together.” Annabelle Blackham, who runs Active Outdoorsy, booked St Mary’s church in Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire, for ten people last September and plans to stay at more churches this year.
    “I’m not a spiritual person at all but it is a very moving and serene experience,” she said.
    “There are no curtains so the moonlight comes through the windows. It’s magical. I remember lying there thinking, ‘My goodness this church has been here for hundreds of years, imagine all the things that have happened here’. You feel like a part of history.”
    Four of the best
    All Saints Church, Billesley, Warwickshire Sleep at the church where tradition has it William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married. Although it looks like a Georgian country church, its origins go back 1,000 years. St Peter’s Kirk, Sandwick, Orkney Built in 1836, it originally accommodated 544 worshippers. It is the most remote of the churches available for hire, and is the first church to host the scheme in Scotland.
    All Saints Church, Aldwincle, Northamptonshire This was the first church to host the champing scheme. A medieval building situated at the edge of the picturesque village of Aldwincle near the River Nene, its 15th-century tower dominates the surrounding countryside. St Michael the Archangel Church, Booton, Norfolk Arguably the most beautiful of the champing churches, it is the creation of the Rev Whitwell Elwin, an eccentric clergyman and descendant of Pocahontas, the native American chief’s daughter.

  2. The question should be asked publicly of the people pursuing this route, what have they got against Christianity and how has it affected their lives so badly that they feel it should be removed from the public life.

    Children who are not interested won’t take any notice, what we run the risk of by removing Christianity from the education system is a generation of children growing up without morals which will have a knock on effect for the wider society.

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