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UK Catholic educators reject teaching atheism in RE class

The Catholic Education Service in England and Wales has criticised plans for students to be taught atheism, humanism and other non-religious beliefs in religious education classes in state schools.

Government moves to draw up a national framework provoked strong lobbying by the National Secular Society and other groups for a reflection of Britain's true religious profile, including the fact that many have no formal religious belief.

The Institute for Public Policy Research published a report arguing that, as well as teaching children about different belief systems including the major faiths, atheism, agnosticism and human, RE should also develop their ability to debate ethical dilemmas.

Oona Stannard of the Catholic Education Service said such suggestions miss the point of Religious Education being about increasing knowledge and understanding of religion.

"There are other curriculum opportunities available to pursue the exploration of atheism should this be wished eg in citizenship, in personal education and elsewhere," she said.

"To suggest that atheism is a religion is wide of the mark. Atheism is not a subject to be equated to a religion or to be studied as such within timetabled Religious Education."

Pupils could learn about atheism in RE (The Guardian 16/2/04)
Atheism not to be equated to a religion" says Catholic Education Service (Catholic Church in England and Wales 19/2/04)

Catholic Education Service
National Secular Society
Institute for Public Policy Research

20 Feb 2004