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If my people, who are called by my Name, humble themselves and pray (Part One)

The text, for those who have trouble with a rather individual cursive, reads as follows: Scandal after Scandal. No institution safe....

Friday, 26 April 2013

The devolution of 'Divinity' - or how to undermine a Christian education and Zionism

So what has a Christian Education got to do with Zionism? Once this would have sounded like a stupid question. Even anti-Semites would have recognised the connection between a Christian Education and a belief that Israel should be back in the Land. 

For US readers and others where religious education is not part of the curriculum, I will need to give a little background. For those looking for detail, I suggest Googling 'History of Education Acts UK'. For the rest of us, the UK was slow to take the education of all the nation's children seriously. The Churches had a played a large part, but  could not provide a universal system.

In 1902, an Education Act was passed as a result of the instigation of one Arthur Balfour. Yes, Israel, that Balfour! The argument over religion was between the denominations and not over the inclusion of Christianity. After all, the King James Bible had helped shape the English language.

There have been Christians in the British Isles since Roman times. Although the Anglo-Saxons were, mostly, evangelised by Augustine sent from Rome, the Celtic Church already existed and had made substantial inroads in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the North of England. This latter area, being not only my place of origin but a producer of many saints and clergy even to this day.

The subject was often called 'Divinity' and would be taught by clergy or suitably qualified persons. It was, and is, the one subject protected by law. This gave rise to the belief that it was compulsory. Actually, it was not and is not. Parents could and can withdraw their children from the subject if they have sufficient reason.

When I started school in the late 50s, the subject was usually called Religious Instruction. All pupils had a 'Statutory' lesson of, at least, one period a week. This, although intended as a minimum, soon became a maximum. Getting suitably qualified RI teachers was always a problem.

Somewhere along the way, it became known as Religious Education. Certainly, by the time I left my secondary education in 1971 it was RE. It was also still Christian and automatically included teaching about the Old Testament (Tenach).

After Bible College, when I went to train as a teacher, something had begun to change the nature of the subject. It was now called Religious Studies. My education degree included that component. It was not automatically Christian, and many RS teachers were not Christian believers, or even believers in anything at all.

Religious Studies now included Comparative Religion. Moral Instruction began to pass to a new subject, often called PSME (Personal, Social and Moral Education). This was not Christian unless some of its teachers were Christian. 

Unless a school was denominational, RE departments were under increasing pressure to teach Comparative Religions even when there were no children of other faiths in the school. 

Immigration meant that in the cities more and more pupils were from non-Christian religions. We began to see mosques, gurdwaras, mandirs, viharas, etc. being built. For those not familiar with these terms, they are as follows: Mosque - Islamic and roughly the equivalent of a synagogue (Jewish); mandir - Hindu temple; gurdwara (door of the Guru) Sikh and again a meeting place not a temple; vihara - Buddhist depends on the form of Buddhism.

All the above faiths, together with Christianity and Judaism had to be covered in that one period a week. This was not fair to any religion and academically, so unsound as to be a serious challenge to the intellectual integrity of an educated and conscientious teacher. Most teachers were now trained in RS and were pretty ignorant of the basics of even one religion.

The result was a superficial study of the beliefs and practices of all religions without any real understanding of why and how these faiths worked. Pupils and teachers came to conclusion that all religions were the same, which is New Age thinking or Hinduism without the Indian culture. Unsurprisingly, Muslims are now setting up their own schools citing Jewish and Christian denominational schools as a precedent.

RS is rarely taught to any intellectual standard and without any academic rigour. 

We now have a generation of young adults who have no understanding of the Christian heritage of the UK, no knowledge of the Bible, no knowledge of the Jewishness of the Old and the New Testaments and no knowledge of the history of Israel before 1947.

They have no defence against the twisting of history and the Arab claims to rewrite history. When   Hanan Ashrawi first claimed that Jesus was a Palestinian, I laughed in amazement that she even thought any one would believe her. Surely her credibility as a sane person was destroyed? Apparently not. We get a little game playing with the term Palestinian for those of us who know that Jesus was, and is, Jewish. Anyone else, including the propagandised people of the West Bank and Gaza, assume it means that Jesus was an Arab and /or a Muslim.

By the way, I often had to teach children that Jesus was not a Christian but a Jew. That was ignorance, now they are deliberately lied to.

I no longer teach my subject in schools. I am a preacher and a Bible teacher.

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