I don’t know much about the British political landscape, but I do know that there is a war going on over education.
It seems a member of the House of Lord’s, an elected hereditary peer, had a little nutty in Parliament about Catholic schools, and therefore religious education.
My emphases and comments:
Tory peer’s claim that Catholic schools teach ‘Gandhi is burning in Hell’ illustrates lawmakers’ incomprehension of faith schools
By Gerald Warner Politics Last updated: June 21st, 2010
Fruitcake of the Month award must surely go to Lord Lucas, a Conservative hereditary peer, for his remarks in the Lords’ debate on the Academies Bill. On the topic of faith schools, Lord Lucas delivered himself of some opinions and claims that can only be described as mind-boggling:
Although I am not religious myself, I would happily send my children to faith schools. However, if we pay for them as state schools, they should be open to all. We should not see in the bill a rowing back from the commitment to include the wider community in faith schools that we have extracted from the churches to date. Nor should we see an increase in sectarian teaching. There are Catholic schools that teach that Gandhi is burning in Hell. Frankly, I do not think that we should fund that on the state. (Lords Hansard, Academies Bill Debate, 7 June, Column 562)
[Steady on there, Lord Lucas! I think we have to challenge your premise. Do we know that Catholic school teachers in England believe in Hell, or believe that anyone is in Hell if Hell actually exists?]
The part of this speech that has attracted most controversy is the claim by Lucas that some Catholic schools are teaching children that Gandhi is burning in Hell. Why Catholics would have an issue with Gandhi is baffling. Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Cromwell (both Thomas and Oliver) might well be considered likely candidates for perpetual incineration; but I have yet to meet a Catholic who had a serious antipathy to Gandhi. In the wet, ecumenical, Justice ’n’ Peace ambience that prevails in Catholic schools today, [in which it is likely few teachers believe in Hell] he is more likely to be enshrined alongside Nelson Mandela.
Challenged to identify the Catholic schools that were teaching this bizarre doctrine, Lord Lucas refused to do so, for fear of reprisals. Uh-huh. [Albino assassins?] Catholic doctrine in fact refuses to ascribe damnation to any individual, however sinful his life might be, as such a presumption would usurp God’s power of divine forgiveness. Most orthodox Catholics will be less astonished by the specific claim regarding Gandhi than by the suggestion that any Catholic schools today retain the eschatological integrity to teach the existence of Hell at all, [My point exactly.] which they will find encouraging if barely credible.
What deserves more attention, however, but has been obscured by the Gandhi controversy, is the attitude of this Tory peer towards faith schools and the total incomprehension it reveals of their purpose. He believes that “if we pay for them as state schools, they should be open to all”. In that case, [wait for it...] they would not be faith schools: they would be secular state schools, like any others. The whole purpose of the institutions would be negated. [Is this anything like the voucher debate in the USA?]
In Catholic schools (to take the example Lord Lucas seems to have had in mind) the aim is to create an ethos within which children can be schooled in the doctrines and moral precepts of the faith. If one-third – or, conceivably, two-thirds – of pupils are unbelievers, that ethos will be totally subverted. In a hostile secularised world it is difficult enough to inculcate belief in doctrines such as Transubstantiation; if many pupils are sceptical of all Catholic teaching, peer pressure and a secular atmosphere will make religious formation of children virtually impossible.
“Nor should we see an increase in sectarian teaching,” [Religion should not entirely isolated in the private sphere?] drivels Lord Lucas. “Sectarian” is a loaded term that, in this context, should simply be rendered as “denominational”. Denominational teaching is precisely the purpose, the raison d’être, of faith schools. If the state has contracted to support faith schools it should do so properly, instead of trying to gerrymander their admissions policies so that they are no different from secular institutions. This is the creeping agenda of the aggressive secularist lobby.
That lobby is assisted by politicians who may not share its aims but have lost the capacity to think because their minds are so marinated in “inclusive” prejudice. When the political class is incapable of understanding that a Catholic school should exclusively be attended by Catholics or it will not fulfil its purpose, it is sobering testimony to the extent to which brainwashing by political correctness has eliminated the ability of politicians to discern self-evident reality. The PC campaign of the past two decades has not only enthroned secularism, it has infantilised our legislators.
This is a much hotter debate in England right now than it is in the USA, but watch for this in the future in the USA as well.