Monday, 9 March 2009

Christian teachers could be forced to act against conscience

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales has warned the General Teaching Council (GTC) that its new code of conduct may force Christian teachers out of the profession. Alarm bells were rung by Principle 4 of the draft code. This says teachers must ‘proactively challenge discrimination’ and ‘promote equality and value diversity in all their professional relationships and interactions’. The bishops and other groups are worried that liberal groups or parents could use these to force church schools and Christian teachers to promote Islam and gay lifestyles. Oona Stannard, head of the Catholic Education Service, said ‘It would be unacceptable to expect anyone ... to promote something contrary to their own faith beliefs’. The Christian Institute lobby organisation voiced the same concerns.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (2/3), The Catholic Herald (6/3)


Granny Annie said...

Why can't we simply be moral and/or religious people without "promoting" or condemning any specific beliefs or lifestyles? Can't we insist only that other be good instead of marking lines in the sand? Can't we very simply live personal examples of our goodness by doing "unto others as we would have them do unto us"?

Olive Morgan said...

Oh, grannie Annie, if only it were that simple! Remember the hymn
'If our love were but more simple, we would take Him at His word and our lives would be all sunshine in the glory of our Lord.'

Fat Prophet said...

I am becoming more convinced that there is a political undercurrent that is working hard to repress Christianity in as many ways as possible. I note the rules and regulations being imposed on us to do with health and safety and wonder if this is some part of a master plan and now we get this news about Christian teachers.
Thanks for the words of the hymn - not one I have come across but what a lot they say and I am tempted to say I could get a sermon out of them.

Olive Morgan said...

Why don't you, FP? Nothing to stop you is there? And we can do with lots of sermons that alert us and challenge us as true disciples of Jesus. In fact, we need them more and more to turn back the tide that you are detecting!

Rev Tony B said...

I think there is an agenda which threatens accepted Christian standards, but whether it is deliberately targetted, I'm not prepared to say.

However, my point is to raise the question of what is actually meant by education. As a Christian, I'd have no difficulty at all in explaining Islam, Hinduism, or atheism to anyone. I once had to tackle an angry parent when I was a school governor who was furious that his child was learning about "foreign religions" - I explained that it was the school's job to teach her about those religions, which were also part of the communities in this country. I also pointed out that a great deal of the suspicion and prejudice in our community (this was an overwhelmingly white rural place) was due to ignorance; knowledge and understanding would build bridges. He said he wanted her to know about the Christian faith so she could live that. Knowing about the faith is the school's job, teaching how to live it is my job, not the school's - bring her to church.

Is it really so compromising for someone who believes homosexual lifestyles are "wrong" to nevertheless help the class to understand them? Or to explain the arguments for euthanasia or abortion when you personally believe both are wrong?

I can understand peole feeling uncomfortable, but to suggest that this would force out Christian teachers seems to me to misunderstand the relationship of faith to education.

PamBG said...

Sometimes I think that I'm the only Christian in Britain who doesn't think that there is a governmental conspiracy to hurt Christians.

'They' want us to promote - promote!!!??? - Islam+homosexuality? Doesn't common sense suggest that these things don't exactly go together? Other than the fact that both gay people and Muslim people are subject to discrimination.

Count me in as one Christian who wants to wholeheartedly proactively challenge discrimination. As far as I'm concerned, it passes the test of 'What would Jesus do?'

Olive Morgan said...

Pam - As I understood it, teachers (regardless of their own faith) are being asked to teach a broad spectrum of the basics of all kinds of faith and issues like homosexuality and abortion - not to promote them! In our multicultural society it would help considerably if we each had some knowledge of other people's faiths, so that we can discuss our Christian belief more readily. Like Tony, I can see that some Christian teachers could feel very uncomfortable about filling in their pupils' knowledge of other faiths but there is no suggestion that they should try to promote any other faith than Christianity.

We Christians don't know enough about what others believe and to find out would increase our faith in my opinion. You are right, Tony, to point out that those who fear that teaching about other faiths would force Christian teachers out of education is to misunderstand the way that increased knowledge (education) affects our faith. I have just come back from a Lenten group in which we struggled to answer the question -
An interested friend asks ou, 'Why do you believe in Jesus Christ?' How would you answer this?

If it were a Muslim or a Hindu friend, I would be able to answer this question with much more relevance to them than I am able to do now if I had been educated enough to know the basics of their faith. So, instead of wringing our hands, we should be making sure that our teachers are well grounded in the Christian faith and held up on a cushion of prayer to help them in their teaching.