Catholic school denies pupils prayed to Allah

Teachers at a Catholic school in Wales have moved to quash rumours that children prayed to Allah during a religious education lesson.

According to The Universe newspaper, a report in a national newspaper claimed that pupils at St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School in Barry had been given prayer mats and compasses and then told to find east to locate Mecca and bow their heads in prayer.

However, teachers at the school have defended their actions, saying that the children were not asked to pray but only to go through the motions as part of a well-established religious education program.

"We live in a multi-cultural society and Religious Education at St Richard Gwyn RC High School teaches pupil to understand cultures and beliefs other than their own, while concentrating on giving them a strong understanding of the basis for their own faith," said Headmaster Mike Clinch.

He added that during the incident that children were not really praying but utilising active learning techniques so they could gain "an appreciation of what Islamic prayer feels like."

"When studying Islam, pupils use a compass to determine the direction of Mecca, and then are encouraged to go through the appropriate physical movements an adherent to Islam would do," he said.

Catholic School Says Pupils Didn't Pray to Allah (The Universe 21/3/06)

Susan Pascoe: Celebrating our great Catholic tradition (Kairos Catholic Journal 19-26/3/06)
Vouchers to fund private education (The Australian 21/3/06)

22 Mar 2006