More parents say no to prayers in Edinburgh Schools


THE number of parents withdrawing primary school children from class prayers in the Capital has more than doubled.

181 pupils at 31 schools are now opting out of religious observance (RO) – up from 74 over the 2013-14 session – with secular campaigners claiming mums and dads are far more confident about removing children.

Organisations including Scripture Union, Bible Alive, Prayer Space and the Gideons are regularly allowed into city schools to conduct religiously themed activities such as lunchtime clubs and poetry readings.

It is thought the opt-out surge has been driven by parents’ greater awareness of RO after high-profile media campaigns, as well as non-Christian residents who feel uneasy about their children taking part.

The increase follows a petition from mum-of-one Veronica Wikman, 50, which called for a local vote on discontinuing RO – which includes prayers in assembly and events such as Harvest festivals – in Edinburgh’s non-denominational schools amid fears it is a front for indoctrinating pupils.

Ms Wikman said the numbers withdrawing, while small compared to the total primary school roll, would continue to soar in line with a growing tendency among parents to say they do not follow any religion.

She said: “It’s possibly to do with the media coverage that there has been on the issue over the past couple of years – people will have become more aware of RO. Maybe they did not really know about this before so much and have started to look into it.

“I’m not surprised at the rise. More and more people are turning away from religion so it’s natural this will be reflected in the number of people opting out.”

Read the full Edinburgh Evening News article, including quotes from Edinburgh Secular Society,  here

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