School prayers policy in disarray

The move by the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society of Scotland to propose changes in the law so that the requirement for ‘religious observance’ in Scottish state schools is replaced by a requirement for ‘Time for Reflection’ is an admission that the current law, and the Scottish Government guidelines for school prayers, are unsustainable.

Current guidelines, in recommending ‘Time for Reflection’ based on the practices of the Scottish Parliament, are in fact in conflict with the legal requirement under the 1980 Education Scotland Act for ‘religious observance’.

‘Time for Reflection’ in the Scottish Parliament is not a good model for school activities. The contributors from 14 Christian denominations and 6 other major faith traditions (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Bahai’i, Hinduism, and Sikhism) and some others, in turn, pray, bless or talk to the few MSPs who turn up for this weekly session. The MSPs are entirely passive since there is no opportunity for those who do attend to be involved in any way.

To expect schools to undertake ‘unifying community acts’  that are not confessional goes beyond what the Scottish Parliament achieves in ‘Time for Reflection’ and is practically impossible in the religiously diverse and secular milieux that are to be found in most Scottish schools, Such events are rarely, if ever, to be found in any other walk of Scottish life where each sect and denomination usually goes its own way.

Edinburgh Secular Society suggests that the appropriate solution is to END NOT AMEND Scots school prayers by removing the legal obligation for schools to be involved in such activities. Leave religious services to families, mosques, temples, churches and synagogues and don’t impose them on pupils.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation