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Why I despise the hypocritical non-believers who colonise faith schools

Nice Daily Mail rant...

The church was packed, the guests all in their finery. The baby, adorable in an antique christening robe, lay asleep in his mother's arms.

The vicar sprinkled water over his forehead. The godparents renounced the Devil. The congregation said the Lord's Prayer.

A christening should be an occasion filled emotion. So why was my reaction to attending this - and many others like it, in recent years - not one of joy but of profound distaste?

The answer lies in what the baby's mother, in designer outfit, told me over her third glass of champagne.

'Of course, this is the most ludicrous pantomime. I'm the most vocal atheist imaginable. But who cares? Our son's place at the church school is guaranteed. This Christening will save us hundreds of thousands of pounds.'

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AtheistInChurch said…
How I despise the hypocrisy of the Churches claiming their mumbo-jumbo is responsible for the better performance of faith schools when we all know it is due to their ability to select intake.

How I despise the hypocrisy of the faith schools demanding special privileges for "their" schools when they are not "theirs" at all but paid for by all tax-payers.

I am an atheist and I go to church to get my kids into the nearest state school - a well-performing faith school. Yes, I feel hypocritical, but the rules are not fair and so I do what I must.

wombat said…
I was rather amused by the juxtaposition with this article in Newscientist in which a caterpillar fools ants into accepting it into their nest and then scoffs their eggs.

Perhaps an analogous approach is effective - it seemed to have worked for The Atheist Missionary. ( as described here. )

No need to feel guilty or hypocritical just get your larvae to convert them.
Anonymous said…
If baptism is all that is required, then who cares. Some old mumbo-jumbo that doesn't have the magic that it is claimed to have.

But I see your point. Tacit support of a religious institution by an atheist. That's why I object to Bush and later Obama's Office of Faith based initiatives - with my taxpayer money.
Greg O said…
The sacrament of christening - depending on exactly what one takes its significance to be, which I know varies from denomination to denomination - seems to me to have a strong claim to embody the most vile idea anyone ever had: the idea that every newborn baby is fundamentally evil, tainted with guilt and sin, and stands in need of having that sin washed away. An occasion that should be filled with joy? Aargh!

Two points people often fail to grasp in the context of the faith school debate:

1 - people who say things like "It is exquisite hypocrisy for this bunch of oafs to want to ban faith schools but send their own children there" - one of the comments on the Mail page - haven't quite thought things through. Since secularists don't accept that religious belief should be a factor in school admissions, why shouldn't they "colonise" the local, state-funded schools they pay for through their taxes while opposing the Churches' right to run those schools?

The questions isn't "why are atheists sending their children to Church schools?", but "why are Churches running atheists' state schools?"

And what about the hypocrisy of the Churches in happily accepting tax revenue from families to whom they would just as happily deny a school place?

2 - One often finds people talking about the "secular schools" that atheists would be sending their children to if they weren't such hypocrites. This infuriates me. The fact is that while there are indeed *non-denominational* schools in the UK, *secular* schools are illegal. Every school - except those where special arrangements exist to accommodate high Muslim intakes, etc - is explicitly Christian insofar as it is obliged to offer Christian collective worship to its pupils. We actually sent our children to the local C of E school (which doesn't exclude atheists or anyone else, incidentally, and thus genuinely reflects the local community) partly because it seemed *less* religious than the local non-denominational school.
Stephen Law said…
Excellent points Greg.
Greg O said…
Why thank you Stephen!

I think the point about "secular" schools is one atheists and secularists should be much more aware of. We're often as guilty as anyone of conflating the distinction between religious and non-religious (secular) schools, and the distinction between Church schools and community schools.

Not only is that plain wrong, it also plays into the hands of people who defend the status quo on the grounds that it offers parents a "choice" as to whether or not they send their children to a school where they'll be expected to worship Jesus and "learn from" Christianity. In reality, no such choice is available (except insofar as schools break the law on collective worship and RE).

Personally I would advocate greater care in talking about these issues. When we mean Church schools, we should say "Church schools" - not "religious schools".

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