Time to End Religious Apartheid in Scotland – and England 278

In all the wringing of hands about the violence at the end of the Hibs/Rangers Scottish cup final, there is a reluctance to tackle the root of the question. The debate has in recent weeks been reinvigorated over the Scottish law banning sectarian songs and displays at football matches, with speculation that the Scottish Parliament will now have a majority for lifting it. Public mass displays of hate speech do not to me come under freedom of speech. My guide as usual is the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who stated that to argue that corn merchants are parasites who thrive on the misery of the poor is freedom of speech. To yell the same thing to an armed mob outside a corn merchant’s house at night is not. That seems a precise analogy to sectarian songs in football grounds and Mill – whose father was from Montrose – is right.

But sensible as the ban is, it does nothing to tackle the cause of sectarian hatred. The greatest cause is segregated education. It is difficult to hate people when you grow up amongst them, share your earliest friendships and experiences with them, and learn together. It is easy to hate people when you are taught from your most innocent youth that they are different, and are forcibly segregated from them by the state for all the time you spend outside the family environment in young childhood. They are the other, different, rivals, the enemy. Name-calling, stone throwing, hostile chanting, sectarian singing and your football banner and scarf all ensue in obvious and logical succession.

I find the fact that the state routinely segregates Catholic and Protestant children in school, as the norm in much of Scotland, deeply shocking. The lack of intellectual honesty in facing up to the open consequences is pathetic. It behoves me as someone whose family is Scots-Italian and Hibs supporting to say that the Catholic Church bears a major share of the blame. So do Scottish politicians, who are in large majority too scared of voter reaction to take a firm stand on the issue.

The Catholic/Protestant divide is particularly acute in Scotland, but England has precisely the same problem with faith schools. If you filter out the substantial degree of Islamophobia in many reports, it is still plain that there is a problem with “Islamic” schools which teach values which have no place in modern education. (I would argue they are also a deviation from Islam, but that is a different argument for another day). I recently highlighted the interview by Mark Wallis Simons about education at a Jewish Orthodox school in England where pro-Israel propaganda was such that the pupils would fight for Israel against Britain. Thanks to Tony Blair, the leader who believes God wanted him to start war in Iraq, England has actually seen a growth in state schools which are a strong feature of the neo-cons’ “Academy system”. This has led to state schools being run by all shades of religious nutter including creationists.

Finally I would add to this sorry mix my experience in Blackburn, where with the active connivance of a Labour council there were apparently normal state schools under local authority control, within a couple of hundred yards of each other, which were 99% Muslim or 99% non-Muslim.

The answer to this problem is not to cherry-pick which faith is acceptable and which faith is not. The answer is simple. It has been accepted for centuries that the state has the right and duty to prescribe and provide education for children. There must be no segregated religious education in the UK. Children should attend school in a mixed environment and there learn a broad educational curriculum in which shade of religious belief has no place. Outside of school the religious life of the family is no business of the state. The children’s education is no business of the religion.

Private schools are a further different question. Quite simply I would abolish them, irrespective of the faith question, as they entrench the networks of growing social inequality.

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278 thoughts on “Time to End Religious Apartheid in Scotland – and England

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  • John D Monkey

    Agree 100%. Religion is for adults not children and should be kept out of schools entirely.

    But this is whistling in the wind, it is just not going to happen.

    • Alan

      “Religion is for adults not children”.

      Does an adult really need an imaginary friend to guide them? An adult should be able to think, and act, for themselves.

      Religion should be kept out of school.

      • John D Monkey

        “An adult should be able to think, and act, for themselves.”

        At least adults are able to choose for themselves whether they want to believe in a god rather than the evidence, though why billions of people have the same imaginary friend eludes me.

        But it’s a matter of free will versus control. You and I may think they are fools, but adults are free to be fools. Children are not, they are told what to think by controlling adults.

    • the

      “Religion is for adults not children”

      That is an absurd statement. All religions give great importance to the proper moral education of children. And you’re saying they shouldn’t?

      • John D Monkey

        “All religions give great importance to the proper moral education of children.”

        Even if true, this is irrelevant. And in any case I don’t think it is true (depending on what you mean by “proper moral education”, which often in a religious context seems to consist of telling children that certain behaviours are repugnant or will lead to damnation, and that adherents of other faiths are inferior).

        And I didn’t say that religions should not teach morality, I said religion should be kept out of school. If parents want to pass their religion on to their children, that’s up to them but they should do it at home or in their religious buildings.

        “moral education” actually has no necessary connection with religion or belief in a deity / creator, and can and should be done separately from teaching the tenets of the religion. Some of the worst excesses in our history have been allied to indoctrination of young people with a particular religious belief.

        If an adult wants to believe in a religion, that’s up to them, provided they don’t try to force it on others outside their family. My objection is to the indoctrination of impressionable young minds with stories about a god or creator and exercising control over the behaviour and development of children (and later adults).

        So IMO teaching children about their religion in the home is a matter for personal conscience. And teaching about the different religions in schools, as part of history and personal social development, is justifiable, if done well. But the indoctrination of youngsters as part of formal education that a particular religious faith is the only correct path has no place in schools.

  • Mark Johnson

    I agree. Neither religious nor private schools should have a place in a system striving for equality and tolerance.

  • Neil

    Agreed 100% re faith schools. I come from an English family but grew up on the West coast of Scotland, and was horrified by the anti-Catholic bigotry I encountered there. I rapidly came to the conclusion that the “troubles” in NI would not be solved until kids were educated together (there are other factors as well, but segregated education is far and away the most important).

    Not so sure about private schools. Yes if you want to end entrenched privilege. But what if we have an extreme right-wing govt that insists on using the state system to indoctrinate children? Or suppose I want my kids to learn essential practical skills and grow up in an environment where the key values are honesty and compassion, not the treadmill of tests and exams and a state-imposed national curriculum?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Finally I would add to this sorry mix my experience in Blackburn, where with the active connivance of a Labour council there were apparently normal state schools under local authority control, within a couple of hundred yards of each other, which were 99% Muslim or 99% non-Muslim.

    Multiculturalism, innit? Integration would seem to be preferable, but the special interests will always be against this. Actually, it’s not just schools, is it? ‘When in Rome*’ seems to be a lost concept.

    • Habbabkuk (telling it like it is)

      That’s what it is mate, the special innerests innit, glad you’re talking gutter like the rest of us, know what I mean eh, you are wun of the lads now Baal mi old cock.

  • Lord Palmerston

    > They are the other, different, rivals, the enemy.

    Did you really mean to say that a culturally homogeneous society is more peaceful and trusting? I don’t think you’re supposed to be going around noticing things like that!

  • Usman

    I’m sure there are statistics citing that most Isis recruits had attended secular schools, colleges and universities. Not a single Isis recruit from the UK has a known to have studied in an Islamic school but rather a secular school. So should we now go ahead and ban secular schools?

    Nuclear bombs and all the other evils atomic bombs that have made the world a dangerous place have come about as a result of scientific learning, shall we now go ahead and ban the teaching of science?????

    Rap music has been cited as a strong corellation with Gang related violence, shall we now go ahead and ban rap music??? Arrrghhh………

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Since we’re talking about intolerance and prejudice and perhaps even moral courage (or the lack of it) with a special eye towards Scotland, perhaps this is not too far O/T.


    Prominent SNP politician Stewart Hosie steps down from the deputy leadership of the SNP following the revelation that he has been having an affair.

    Mrs Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister and fellow SNP member, expressed her “regret” that he was going…..and let him go.

    Given that Mrs Sturgeon has been endlessly talked up by her admirers as “not being the same as other politicians” (in the same way that the SNP is claimed to be morally superior to other parties) , should she not have refused Mr Hosie’s resignation, thereby striking a blow for the school of thought which believes that a politician’s private life, if conducted within the law, should be of no relevance to his political one?

    In other words – is Mrs Sturgeon merely another cowardly, mealy-mouthed political leader?

    • bevin

      Didn’t you post this, last night, on the previous thread?
      It was cheap and irrelevant on that thread, too.

      • Habbabkuk (telling it like it is)

        Why is it cheap, “Bevin”?

        Underlying it is an important question, namely: should politicans’ sexual behaviour (provided it is not illegal eg, adultery in the case of Mr Hosie) be a reason why they should feel obliged to resign once that behaviour becomes public knowledge?

        And, even more important , should political leaders who give the impression that they are “different” hasten to accept such resignations? Should they not demonstrate their “difference” by taking a stand and refusing such resignations.

        Is it not time to break the mould, “Bevin”?

        • fred

          I think he resigned more over his expenses being scrutinised than the affair. I don’t think voters are too bothered about SNP MPs stirring the porridge but tax payers tend to resent paying for it.

          • Habbabkuk (telling it like it is)

            I agree that would be a different matter, Fred, and would justify a resignation.

          • fred

            Not the only senior politician under scrutiny.

            There has been a lot of speculation about the use of a bus by the Conservatives to travel round the country campaigning, we have it on highest authority, the author of this blog no less, that that should count as local candidate expenditure not national.

            If this is the case then shouldn’t the helicopter used by Nicola Sturgeon also be counted as local not national expenses?

      • Republicofscotland


        Yes Habb has posted that comment on a previous thread, which leads me to believe that like Fred, it’s all about smearing.


    An issue at the root of this is that many do not strive for equality and tolerance but for the opposite. They use religion to divide and rule.

    France has the very good idea to keep religion out of schools entirely [though I think private schools are exempt from this rule]. Finland abolished private schools a long time ago, I understand.

    Both would be great strides forward for the UK and/or an independent Scotland.

    I went to religious state schools – one C of E and another Catholic. For some reason I never believed in God even as a 5 year old and couldn’t imagine how anyone else could.

    • Habbabkuk (telling it like it is)

      Sorry, who are the “many” and the “they” in the first para?


      BTW, I hope you’ll forgive me but since there are people on here who regularly bleat on about “human rights” – would not the abolition of private school run the risk of being declared contrary to European human rights law?

  • Usman

    I am a muslim man and went to a secular school. In those days (early 90s) the racism was just about bearable but now hearing of the nasty stories and the rampant racist name calling and Islamaphobia that muslim children are subjected to on a daily basis, e.g children being called Isis recruits, then why wouldn’t a loving father want to send his/her child to a school where they wouldn’t have to put up with such nasty psychological torture? No thanks and a little more empathy please Craig.

    As far as I understand faith schools are required to teach the national curriculum, if they are teaching hatred then that should be looked as a separate issue that needs being dealt with rather than a radical approach to closing them down.

    All UK secular schools deliberately teach a deviated version of colonial crimes under the British empire and ignore all the sufferings in history classes. Should secular schools be banned?

    • MBC

      I am very sorry to hear that Usman. In Scotland Muslims like to send their children to Catholic schools because they feel that there is more of a religious ethos in them than in secular state schools. I think they must be able to ask for their kids not to take part in Christian morning or weekly prayers, I don’t quite know how all that works, but I do know that you do not have to be a Catholic to attend a Catholic school. The educational attainment of these schools is good and that’s another reason why parents will often favour them.

      I think we live in challenging times and that all the good people whether Muslim, Christian, or of no faith, need to stick together and challenge hate and prejuduce.

      It cuts both ways. I had a student who was a teaching assistant at one of those Glasgow state schools with a majority of Muslim children, and they were talking about 9/11 one day and the attacks that killed 3000 plus innocent people, when she was interrupted by one Muslim kid, ‘They weren’t innocent, Miss! They were all kaffir!’ and she was shocked that such young children could come out with a thing like that and thought it could only have been because they heard adults say it.

      • Usman

        MBC, than you for your empathy.

        I am ethnically from Pakistan, you may be surprised to know that the most popular schools in a politically unstable country like Pakistan are convent schools which are run by catholic nuns. This is a fact that you would never find in the UK media.

        Most of my muslim cousins in Pakistan have studied in catholic convents where parents have requested exemption from religious aspects I.e. Hyms, choirs etc.

      • Usman


        Upon reflection, On your comments related to the innocents that died on 911, I have heard many Christians that have been to secular and catholic schools that have said that the 1 million plus Muslims slaughtered by the British and US army in Iraq were collateral damage.

        Not only that they have even said we should help our heroes that hurt themselves whilst doing air strikes on Muslims countries that were defending their oil fields from invading armies.

        I have also heard from many Christians saying that European Christians who slaughtered 100 million native Americans were in return given democracy so they ought to be grateful.

        Please consider not only the 3000 innocents that died on 911 but all the other millions of innocents slaughtered by predominantly Christian countries or else it will seem like you are playing the 911 card.

    • Jim

      Very good points Usman, it’s a really difficult one to sort out for everyone’s satisfaction.

      • Usman

        Thanks Jim, if only more people applied a little more empathy and a little more ‘big picture’ and a little less of ‘their view being the only view’ then we can get moving.

        I think Craig is a decent person but boy does he have his unconscious bias blind spots.

        • Anon1

          Or you could have been ginger, or fat, or the poor boy at my school whose name unfortunately rhymed with ‘gay’, and been subject to equal torment.

          You call it ‘psychological torture’, I call it growing up. So stop demanding special treatment.

    • hairyman

      That’s an argument for making sure all schools are well run and are, as much as possible, safe spaces for children to learn. It’s not an argument for segregation (for whatever reason), or for indoctrinating children with religion.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    I want to pick up on one or two points.
    Quote : It has been accepted for centuries that the state has the right and duty to prescribe and provide education for children.
    i don’t think this is strictly true.It wasn’t until about 1870(1872 in Scotland) that the state accepted the idea of financing schools.
    There were a mixture of schools and these were often associated with the church. i.e there was an underlying assumption that these delivered an education in keeping with the tenets of the preferred religion.
    There was a widespread connection between the church and teaching in that trainee ministers and clergy would teach. there was even the expression the ‘sticket minister’ in Scotland -a trainee minister who had to earn enough to pay the fees to complete the Theology degree and the Church training.
    So not quite centuries, and never ‘secular’

    Quote : Children should attend school in a mixed environment and there learn a broad educational curriculum in which shade of religious belief has no place. Outside of school the religious life of the family is no business of the state. The children’s education is no business of the religion.

    i am really not against this idea but the snag i see is that parents have some considerable role in, and influence on, the development of their children and i can see quite a few instances arising where parents may try to intervene or complain about the curriculum. The SNP ‘s latest Education legislation is quite empowering of parents while that seems superficially like a good thing, However, I am not sure (actually I am damned sure of the opposite) that all parents will use these privileges in this respect, to be content with a ‘secular’ perspective.
    In Scotland i have an impression that the religious perspective may be understated( or swept out of sight for much of the time) but it is highly significant issue among those who are in position of power and influence. In other words i am pretty sure there are many of the people who order and run the various elements of Education who are quite zealous in guarding the privileged position of religious beliefs.
    I am also pretty sure that the position in England is even more complex.

  • Habbabkuk (telling it like it is)


    Your penultimate para tells us what you believe should and should not happen/be allowed.

    I note, however, that perhaps inadvertently, perhaps deliberately, it does not directly address the following question: should there be compulsory religious education in state schools (as provided for by various education acts in Butler 1944).

    Would you like to tell us now?

      • Ba'al Zevul

        That’s the problem with convoluted subordinate clauses. You completely lose track of what you were trying to say.


  • Born Optimist

    Agree 100% that all education should be free from religion.

    Prejudice becomes ingrained easily and is difficult to overcome as I know personally. Brought up in a slum neighbourhood where there were (so far as I knew) only one Catholic family and one black boy (adopted, I think) I learned that they were different (as were single parents and unmarried couples) though I cannot ever remember anyone ever stating why this was the case. I guess I simply picked up ‘social vibes’ by osmosis.

    Some sixty years later I find I still perceive the groups these individuals belong to as ‘lesser than me’ (ditto the elderly, even though I am now in that group myself) though these biases only show up in psychological tests. Fortunately thanks to a modest level of intelligence, a reasonable education, and a decent public library I learned the distinction between prejudice and discrimination (possibly assisted by membership of the SYHA and travel that allowed me to meet people from other nations/cultures as a teenager). Whilst I cannot totally over-ride the biases inherited from my upbringing I try not to discriminate as that is a choice, unlike prejudice which is an inbuilt habit acquired in childhood and difficult, if not possible, to eradicate.

    Only legislation and the force of law is likely to change the behaviour of the majority of adult and adolescent hooligans but a mixed education in which religion played no part would eliminate much of the root causes of prejudice and discrmination. Dare we hope for a Government with enough courage and foresight to ensure this is the case in future?

  • MBC

    I had a Catholic student who thought much the same. We discussed this in our modern Scottish History class. Sectarianism was a topic. His father was Protestant, his mother, Catholic. It was she who insisted that their children attended the local Catholic school, because, she said, ‘It is our right, and we we fought a long time to get it’. He himself was, as an adult, opposed to separate schools, because he thought as you do, that they preserved ancient animosities and kept them artificially going.

    But he also said that unemployment and the removal of much of former industry and mining, greatly exacerbated the problem. He came from a former mining town, closed down by Thatcher in the 1980s. He said that in his father’s day, religious schools were not the same problem when as adults men ended up going down the same pit anyway, facing the same dangers, joining the same union, and sharing the same camaraderie as men and fellow human beings.

    The problem of sectarianism, he thought, got worse in these former industrial areas in the 1990s when there was nothing to replace the pits, and unemployment exacerbated anomie, and it was in this context that ancient hatreds, bred by separation as children, found fertile ground to become so toxic.

    I always wondered what happened to this young man. He had to take a couple of years out of university and was re-starting again when he entered my class. He was recovering from a serious head injury, inflicited by a Rangers fan who set about him at Queen St station because he was wearing a Celtic scarf. He was in hospital a long time and after his release he suffered major headaches and severe loss of concentration. He was unsure if he would be able to complete his degree. He was already struggling with the course work, and a few weeks later after this conversation, I got a note saying he had withdrawn.

    A young life very probably ruined, by sectarianism – and football.

  • Pete

    Craig, like many very intelligent liberal-minded people you have two massive blind spots in your thinking.

    The first is your naive faith in “the State”. If you want to know how much “the State” can be trusted, have a look at the unfortunate people whose parent has been “the State” i.e. they have grown up “in care”.

    Your second blind spot is that being non-religious yourself you simply cannot grasp how insignificant the norms and values of “the State” may appear to someone who sees life from a spiritual perspective. The true creed of the Western liberal is “you are free to believe anything you like, so long as you behave exactly like the rest of us.” The problem with that view is that a belief is utterly meaningless if it is not expressed in ones’ actions.

    Liberal democratic humanist Western values are a belief system in themselves, a quasi-religion in fact, which is frequently at odds with most other religions, although some religions are more compatible with Western values than others. It would be more intellectually consistent to admit this rather than to pretend that “real” Christianity, “real” Islam, etc means the versions that are most compatible with Western humanism.

  • Pete

    Having said which you’re quite right that religiously-segregated education is very harmful to social cohesion. Kids need to mix in primary and pre-school, by secondary school it’s too late as they will naturally stick with the kids they’re already familiar with once they reach puberty when kids- boys especially- naturally split into their “tribal” groups.

    I did know a chap who came from Peterhead who told me that he’d grown up with an absolutely vehement hatred of Catholics. This evaporated immediately when he joined the Army- presumably because the Army fosters its own separate “tribal” consciousness. (I know there are- or were- religiously segregated Scottish regiments but this guy was in a corps that took recruits from all over).

  • John Doherty

    I find myself agreeing in most cases with the majority of what Craig has to say, but now he’s just talking rubbish. Sectarianism (anti – Catholicism) in Scotland pre dates the existence of schools, never mind faith schools. At one time in Glasgow 43 separate anti Catholic societies existed when only 39 Catholics were registered in what then was a town. The existence of Catholic schools is used quite often by bigots to excuse their own bigotry ‘ah widnae be a bigot if they didnae have their ain schools, it’s their schools fault’. Victim blaming! The Orange Order, oh how they in their ecumenical glory, would love to see the end of Catholic schools. Ending Catholic education will sort that lot out right enough, they’ll all become equality campaigners overnight once we do away with Catholic schools, self evident that. Catholics in Scotland built their own schools because of the Church of Scotland’s edict that all children attending school would be preached to by Church of Scotland ministers. So called non denominational schools in Scotland are still to this day visited regularly by Ministers, why should my child attend one. I could go on and on and on with numerous examples of Scotland’s blindness to it’s own sectarianism/anti – Catholicism but I feel sickened by this article’s avoidance of the ‘root’ of the problem and lack of intellectual rigour.

    • MBC

      I know a bit about this. It’s true that such was the depth of opposition to ‘popery’ in Glasgow in the 17th century that by 1730 the retiring professor of divinity left a bequest for the best essay annually that could refute ‘popery’. But what I found was that what they meant by ‘popery’ was opposition to an espicopal system of church government plus its elaborate liturgical trimmings. There were very few actual Catholics present in Glasgow by 1730 and any that there were, presumably kept very quiet about it.

      At the same time though rapprochement with French intellectuals was happening, and contact with the Scots College at Paris where all the pre-Reformation church records had been sent for safety at the Reformation and were being cared for by an admirable Scots Catholic priest, Cosmo Innes, I think the name was. The scholarly Innes Society is named after him. There was also admiration for French Jansenism, a kind of Calvinist Catholicism, and in the decades from 1730-1780 there was actually a kind of thawing of hostile attitudes. At least amongst the Scottish literati like David Hume. Native Scottish Catholicism was also a different from Irish. It was more intellectually liberal, tolerant, and irenic. A seminary survived at Glenlivet, under the protection of the Gordons. Presbyterian neighbours would warn their Catholic clansmen if there were government spies about.

      By the 1780s there was more religious pluralism evident in most Scottish cities. This was the direction of travel. But a problem begins to arise around that time with Irish immigration both Protestant and Catholic. Not only were Irish Catholics a different breed from the Scottish strain, but the Orange Order was an import too.

      It’s actually quite complicated by the linked problems in Ireland. There is evidence for both growing religious toleration and growing intolerance.

        • MBC

          Thought so. Thanks. Glasgow was still a charming country town by 1780. Orchards. Salmon in the Clyde. A Dear Green Place. Some signs of minor industry in the outskirts, the weavers at Calton. It was from 1780-1800 that population took off, and especially 1800-1830. That was when the uncontrollable boom took place, and much of this was Irish immigration, a lot of it Protestant.

    • lysias

      That’s also why the system of Catholic schools was set up in the United States in the 19th century. American public schools, i.e., the free government schools, taught a kind of least-common-denominator Protestantism which Catholics objected to having taught to their children.

  • Loony

    As far as I can tell all education is segregated. Sure you have a load of schools who have politically correct strap lines, and glossy brochures picturing people from all around the world. Step inside of them and have a look at how the pupils self segregate along racial and/or religious lines.

    Take a look at the real levels of functional literacy and numeracy – and you quickly understand that there is something seriously lacking with the education afforded to vast swathes of the population.So some people try to help rectify this problem. Maybe parents, but guess what they are going to focus on their own children. Maybe religious bodies, but guess what they are going to focus on their co-religionists.

    This is just human nature and all the hand wringing in the world will not change it.

  • Nuada

    That’d make sense, Craig, if the mobs on the pitch on Saturday turned up in the Kirk or at Mass on Sunday. What do you think the odds are that they did? My guess would be about .001% of sweet Fanny Adams. In the absence of that consistency, you’re actually arguing for yet another intrusion by the state into the family. Think we’ve had quite enough of that.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford aka The Biscuit

    Has been an excellent idea for centuries of wars over it, but it is about as likely to happen as getting rid of man-made horse racing.

    It is a vicious sport where riders beat the crap out of their mounts in every race, though promoters of the sport see it as a nice outing with the other people who really matter no matter what happens to the mounts.

    Religion should be left out of the educational process, as horse racing should be left to the horses.

    • Nuada

      Art, music,poetry, literature and drama too. They all put ideas in peoples’ heads and all are as unprovable as religion.

    • Republicofscotland

      Trowbrige H.Ford

      Some of the Crusades, were funded by the process of paying monies to buy your sins away. The Church at that time even allowed paying in advance for sins not yet committed.

      Many wars have been fought over who has the most righteous god, all religion is madness.

  • the

    It has been accepted for centuries that the state has the right and duty to prescribe and provide education for children.

    This is not true. The state’s “right to prescribe” has not been accepted for centuries, and it is not accepted now.

    Children must be educated according to the wishes of their parents. That is a principle recognised by Scottish, English, European and international law.

    And even if you were to kick the churches out of the doors of the state schools, they’d creep back in through the windows. Look at the Republic of Ireland. There, “national schools” are technically not run by the Catholic church, but in practice the main local official – I can’t recall the name of the office, perhaps it is the chairman of the local board of education, something like that – is always a priest.

    Are you suggesting that a national curriculum should be compulsory for all children?

    • Alan

      “And even if you were to kick the churches out of the doors of the state schools, they’d creep back in through the windows.”

      Kinda like some kind of viral infection, eh?

        • Phil the ex frog

          The state worship of a secular education is more insidious than any religious teaching.

          • Ben Monad

            True enough. Indoctrination has a particular odor no matter how it’s delivered. Every day I see politically-correct adepts herding wayward souls back into the fold. But they seem to have the best of intentions.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            Hmm. I’m no social conformist, but at some point there has to be a compromise between the unfettered and divergent desires of the individual and the necessary cohesion of the society he lives in. And I’d venture that the ethical content of the major religions, if it could be divorced from the superstition it’s sold with, might be preferable to state-imposed orthodoxy in that respect.

            I went to a religious school (nonconformist – founded) and there was no friction at all between the nonconformists and any other group there. Mind you, by the age of 14, none of us believed the nonsense anyway.

          • Phil the ex frog

            Are you reading too fast again? I think both Ben and I were preferencing a religous over a state education. I don’t even mind the superstition. Obviously neither are my ideal. And I’m all for cohesion of society and no big fan of individualism (depending on what you mean). It is the state I object to. The state is not society.

      • the

        I’m not religious but I support the right of parents to decide how their children are educated, including if they want their children to have a religious education and if they don’t.

        School is not compulsory, and it shouldn’t be.

        In England the national curriculum is not compulsory, and in Scotland the “curriculum for excellence” (goodness, what shit talk!) isn’t compulsory either.

        So long as there are no grounds to believe that children are being abused, leave families alone.

        If you want the state to have a bit of a cultural push to reduce sectarian punch-ups at football matches etc., get it to run large-scale cultural events where people following different religions and religious denominations get to meet each other, or who are not religious, talk about what they think and do, find out about what and how people from other cultures think, and explore similarities and differences on the basis of respect.

        @Usman, you are right about the forked-tongue way that schools in Britain teach about colonialism. They teach from the point of view of the “white man’s burden” and the “aw, wasn’t that nasty to the poor ickle savages?” In some countries, millions were killed in a short space of time under colonial rule (such as in India and the Congo), but the slaughter is never ever talked about as being on the same level as the slaughter committed by German forces in WW2. In other words, a person with black or brown skin isn’t viewed as having as much value as a Jew.

        It’s the same in Eng Lit at university. Any writer from Africa or Asia is automatically viewed as “post-colonial”. So much damned hypocrisy! They remind me of the kind of white person who acts normally most of the time but whenever they see a black person enter the room, they rush over and shake their hand with both of theirs, and say how NICE it is to have them here, and not to bother if granddad was a slavey-wavey, because no-one will think any worse of them for it. So much hypocritical racism is covered up by “multiculturalism”.

        @BornOptimist – Sure, there is a difference between “prejudice” and “discrimination” – you are quite right about that. But a lot of “equal opportunities” policy just serves to keep prejudice under wraps. There is enormous racism in this country. And where there is racism, there is always ignorance. For example, the person in this thread who retold the story about a child after 9/11 saying the victims weren’t innocent because they were all kaffirs. Do you actually know what “kufr” mean in Islam? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you think it means someone who isn’t a Muslim, when it doesn’t.

        That is such a typical schoolteacher’s story. It’s like when social workers go to council estates and are clearly not actually really going to council estates but going to some fantasy world that exists in their own mind, in which single mothers all leave their babies in washing machines while they go out opening their legs to any man they can find.

        • the

          Following up to my own comment here, but on the way the British empire is taught about in schools, just another quick point – there is never ever any proper consideration of a knot of interests called the City of London.

        • Usman

          I get the hint that these secular schools are teaching innocent children that whilst colonial
          Crimes may have slaughtered 100 million native Americans but then “we gave them democracy” , “but then we built their railway lines in India”, “but then we taught them the chicken tikka masala recipe. “Aargh

        • Anon1

          ^^pair of chippy efniks here. Bet their fathers weren’t so angry about colonialism.

          • Usman

            Anon 1 – stop being a cunt. Their fathers weren’t so angry as they were all slaughtered in their millions in America, Canada, Australia. Etc.

            Those who weren’t slaughtered then they dare not express their anger for fear of meeting the same fate.

            Stop behaving like a cunt!

  • geomannie

    As an adult I moved from Aberdeen to Glasgow and was upset to be confronted by Catholic-Protestant segregation, something that in Aberdeen I was I was aware of, but with no understanding of the depth of integration into west Central Scotland society. I was to learn that in Glasgow, “what is your name?”, “what school did you go to” are highly loaded questions. Children who played together happily at nursery school are suddenly split up with the start of primary school. We had to work hard to allow our kids to keep friends across religious divides.

    As Craig rightly says, religious separation makes no sense on educational grounds and perpetuates the fracture in much of west Central Scotland society. I too long for a politician who will tackle this crazy situation but like others I am not holding my breath.

  • Republicofscotland

    Well, insanity appears to be looming in the halls of Holyrood, in the shape of the unionist parties, LibDems, Tories and Labour the latters, James Kelly MSP has led the way in trying to repeal the OBFA. Which will allow all manner of sectarian rants to go unpunished. Why would unionist parties want to encourge religious sectarianism.

    Ah yes, the old divide and conquer strategy that’s serviced the empire over many centuries, and in many continents, just look at Norther Ireland. I would say though that the religious divide that still raises it’s ugly head in Scotland, began with John Knox,or at least he had a part to play in it. The implimenting of faith schools didn’t help to build a cohesive society, they helped to divide them, and bolster the predijuces, that still to a certain extent, survives in Scotland to this day.

    In my opinion all children in Scotland should be educated at non-denominational schools. If they want to attend any religious practices thereafter then that’s for their parents to decide or arrange.

    Other factors that would help close the religious divide, would be the banning of the odious Orange Walk. That in reality celebrates a victory in another country (Battle of the Boyne) of one religious group over another.

    • The

      @RepublicOfScotland – “In my opinion all children in Scotland should be educated at non-denominational schools

      Count me out of any party or movement that would make school attendance compulsory.

    • Phil the ex frog

      “Why would unionist parties want to encourge religious sectarianism.?”

      Because their being relies on it? Possibly.

      • Republicofscotland


        Why? Count you out of compulsory education,

        Scotland has one of the oldest compulsory educational acts in the world, which may have led to the “Scottish Enlightenment” era,

        Of which Sir Winston Churchill once said that ‘Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.’


        • The

          RepublicOfScotland – Please re-read what I said. School attendance is not compulsory for children of any age, either in Scotland or in England.

          Education is compulsory, and parents have a responsibility to provide it, either by sending a child to school or by other means. It’s wholly up to the parents. That’s the legal position, and I support that.

          If you weren’t so keen on saying Scotland’s better than everywhere else, or maybe if you were “enlightened”, you might have understood the sentence “Count me out of any party or movement that would make school attendance compulsory” the first time you read it.

          You going on about the 15th century makes me think of sectarians who go on about the 17th. So a landowners’ parliament passed an Act 520 years ago making it compulsory for landowners’ sons to go to school and learn Latin etc. So what? That has no earthly relevance to today whatsoever. And nor does the battle of the Boyne or the siege of Derry.

      • Republicofscotland


        Yes that’s probably correct.

        Thinking of religious bigotry the poor folk of Ireland sometime fled to Scotland, only to be persecuted by unionists in Scotland. Today you have well known Catholics who from Scotland who know fine well the persecution their ancestors faced whilst joined to the union, yet they persist on voting to remain within the union.

        Men such as John Reid and Michael Kelly who could often be seen at Celtic Park supporting Celtic football team. Yet both were and still are vociferous in their defence of the union.

        I think that those men aside, the Catholic community in Scotland still fear some form of persecution if Scottish independence is gained, a case of better the devil you know. Though in my opinion I don’t think that scenario would pan out. A need for non-denominal education in Scotland would go a long way to vindicating that.

  • Geoffrey

    Talking of apartheid, Dr Mustafa Barghouti gave a very powerful presentation,which Avi Shlaim said afterwards was the best presentation of the situation in Palestine he had heard for 23 years. Dr Barghouti said the apartheid was much worse than anything seen in South Africa and he strongly advocated BDS.
    The presentation was given at Palestine Unlocked on Saturday in Oxford. There is a further presentation on Human Rights for Palestinian prisoners this evening see http://www.palestineunlocked.com

  • RobG

    In France, as well as banning all religion from the education system, in 2004 the government somewhat controversially banned pupils from wearing ‘conspicuous religious symbols’.

    Mind you, at the moment in France schoolkids are having a lot of difficulties with continuing their education. Not only are many teachers on strike, but also school buses aren’t running due to lack of fuel…


  • MJ

    “The Catholic/Protestant divide is particularly acute in Scotland, but England has precisely the same problem with faith schools”

    Craig, this feeble non sequitur is simply an attempt to drag the English into what is very much a Scottish problem. Any issues arising from faith schools in England are very definitely not precisely the same as the Catholic/Protestant divide in Scotland.

    England has none of the tribalism, thuggery, marching and drum-beating that is to be found in Scotland. In football there are vestiges of the Catholic/Protestant thing with Liverpool and Everton, but a more convivial and good-natured rivalry you would be hard pressed to find anywhere in football. There really is no comparison at all.

    The Protestant/Catholic, lowland/highland division runs through Scottish society like the Great Glen and far more profoundly than trivial things like independence. Please leave England out of it.

  • Roderick Russell

    Re: Craig’s comment -“Private schools are a further different question. Quite simply I would abolish them”
    As someone who was educated years in both private and state schools I didn’t notice much difference. There may be a problem today, but I would suggest that it has more to do with poor performance by certain State schools rather than the existence of a private school sector.

    Of course, there are a small handful of “great” public schools (the Eton’s of this world) where their old boy’s network does promote former pupils far beyond their abilities and to the great detriment of the rest of society. But this preference doesn’t apply to most private and public schools in any meaningful way.

    Here in Western Canada, where I life, there are both private and state schools. My children attended a State schools that was also an international school (international students paid fees; local students didn’t) and they got an excellent education that that I doubt any of England’s great public schools could come close to.

    The solution lies in improving the quality of the State schools, rather than in banning the private ones. As for religion: I agree that the State should not be funding religious based schools. There is a place for religion, but just not in the class rooms.

    • Phil the ex frog

      What shite. Council estate born and bred and still living in working class community I know state schools. These past couple of years I have worked in a private school. So I am getting to know this network as well.

      There is no secret to the success of the private schools. Guess what that is? More money. The class sizes are half to a third the size of state schools.

      Private schools sustain the privilege of the ruling classes. They should all be closed. That they benefit from charitable status is just a joke that was never funny.

      • Republicofscotland


        Totally agree with that point of view, if I recall correctly (I’m sure I’ll be corrected if wrong) don’t those private schools also receive some state funding. If so I can’t see why that should be.

        Britain as a whole would be a much better place to live in if its politicians came from state funded schools. Politicians would be more likely to be in touch with the people, and not isolated in the “Westminster Bubble”

        Electing privately and educated and privileged individuals into government (jobs for the boys so to speak) leads to a me, me, me self important culture.

        • Phil the ex frog

          ” don’t those private schools also receive some state funding.”

          They receive state subsidy in the taxes they don’t pay because they have charitable status.

      • Roderick Russell

        Not shite at all! There was a time when there were State schools in Scotland and England that were more than capable of competing with the best private schools. It is sad to hear that, since the destruction of these schools decades ago, working class children no longer have the opportunity to compete. The solution isn’t to destroy the private schools, but to improve the State ones.

        I was also surprised to hear that funding for State Schools was less than funding in the private sector. Years ago this was not the case for day schools. In fact often State Grammar Schools were better funded than their private equivalent. Either there has to be more funding for education or something has gone wrong with how the State is allocating its educational funding (perhaps as with many bureaucracies: too much overhead – too little allocated to the class rooms).

        This problem also seems to hinge on Britain’s stupid class system. One doesn’t have it here in Canada. This divide and rule class system is promoted as much by some working class politicians as it is by old Etonians. That’s why the Grammar schools were destroyed. The solution isn’t to destroy the private schools, but to improve the State ones.

        • Phil the ex frog

          “This problem also seems to hinge on Britain’s stupid class system. ”

          Yes it does.

          “The solution isn’t to destroy the private schools, but to improve the State ones.”

          This fails to consider that those with the power to improve state schools have no interest in doing so. For further information please consider the class system you mentioned above.

          Not that I am a big fan of state schools mind. The actual education at private sch0ools is also better because of the relative lack of state interference (as well as the previously discussed dosh differential).

      • Anon1

        “Council estate born and bred and still living in working class community…”

        This is just inverted snobbery.

        “Private schools sustain the privilege of the ruling classes. They should all be closed.”

        You can fuck right off, mate. If I want to send my children to a public school then I will. And if you don’t like that then you can work to improve the state system so that there is no need for private schooling.

        • Phil the ex frog

          The only private school a sad fuck like you can afford is the one in your wet dreams. You know, where your lover resides.

          • Anon1

            Or the one I attended and sent my two children to.

            But keep going, Phil, the revolution is just round the corner. 😀

          • Phil the ex frog

            Yeah, not convincing. Are you sure they’re not a fantasy family going to fantasy schools in your fantasy world? You just don’t come across as the family type. Think hard. Has anyone else met them?

          • Phil the ex frog

            Anon1, focus. Are your children four fingered twins? Close your eyes and think of their mother. Do you see this?

          • Phil the ex frog

            Stay in the room Anon1. Does the hot young maths teacher remove her glasses, shake down her hair and have dirty dirty sex with you willingly and without payment? Does your son not hate you? Can you fly? Think hard.

          • Phil the ex frog

            No phlegm in your soup. Pigeons exchanging pleasantries. It’s as light as day Anon1! Does a feeling of falling forward startle you elsewhere?

          • Phil the ex frog

            Are the staff smiling behind your back? Is your daughter not a self-loathing scum-fucking crack whore? Feel your belly wet with dirt’n sweat?

            Are you still with us Anon1?

          • Phil the ex frog

            Did 7 skinny dogs just eat 7 fat dogs? Does your sofa smell fresh? Is there no packet of not fully used xmas crackers in the sideboard? The truth is in there somewhere Anon1.

        • Phil the ex frog

          Anon1, I do concede that my original background sentence was all a bit prolier than thou unnecessary. Sorry about that. Now, which school did you go to, Hogwarts?

  • brown

    Until private schools are abolished, there could be some value in the West African approach of Christians going to Muslim schools and Muslims going to Christian schools, which works iff the state complies with the UDHR and provides human rights education. In some cases the human rights education comes not from the schools themselves but from media and state-sponsored civil society. But if independent schools were required to teach the equivalent of the International Baccalaureate, sectarian cultural content would not be so divisive.

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