Scottish Government religious subsidy of the week–10. Multi-million pound state funding of Roman Catholic schools

Religion around the world is part of the vast tapestry of human diversity and creativity. Secularism seeks the separation of church and state because it argues that freedom and diversity is compromised if the state seeks to impose one or more sets of religious doctrines on its citizens.

One of the biggest affronts to secularism in contemporary Scotland is the existence of a substantial sector of the state funded education system in which the Roman Catholic Church, an international organisation headquartered in Rome, is able to dictate the religious curriculum, forms of religious observance and the overall religious character of these schools.

Central to the doctrines of this church are the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the cult surrounding the alleged virginity of his mother and the belief that bread and wine turn into the body of Christ in the communion service.

If people want to hold and propagate such views they should be free to do so but the state should not finance such activities. Churches should compete in the adult free market for adherents. The state (taxpayers with all types of religious belief and none) should not subsidise some churches in trying to shape the minds, loyalties and identities of the young.

14 per cent of Scottish schools are Roman Catholic. In 2007/8 Scottish Government expenditure on schools, directed through local authorities, was £4.7bn. This figure will have grown since then. ESS estimates that current annual public spending on Roman Catholic schools in Scotland will be in the region of £750 million – three quarters of a billion pounds. More precise figures are currently being researched.

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