According to the Guardian yesterday, the government is going to tell Universities that they should:
consider rejecting demands for separate prayer and washing facilities to prevent their campuses segregating along religious lines
This is because segregation along religious lines risks creating:
a climate where illegal extremist views can flourish
But isn’t this the same government that recently affirmed that it wants to keep compulsory collective christian worship in UK state-funded schools? Isn’t this the same government that repeatedly affirms it’s commitment to faith schools, despite obvious opposition from the public and teachers (that last article, incidentally, goes back as far as 2002. Their view hasn’t changed).
If the government recognizes that segregation along religious lines in Universities is such a bad idea, why are they so intent on spending tax-payers money to segregate pupils at earlier stages? Secularists have long argued that separating kids into schools based around the religious beliefs of their parents leads to lower community cohesion, and that the government should not be sponsoring such segregation, and the government has effectively admitted that the secularists are right.
The government is saying it’s not okay to segregate people when they’re in University, but it is okay before that. They’re saying it’s not okay to segregate and indoctrinate people when they’re starting to be capable of fully assessing the world, but it is okay before that. In fact, it’s not only okay: according to the government it is right and proper to segregate and indoctrinate children into their parent’s religious beliefs in order to promote community cohesion. Unless they’re in University; then it suddenly becomes a danger to national security and a breeding ground for terrorists.
How’s about this for an idea: if kids were not, from a young age, told “you’re muslim”, “you’re catholic”, “you’re CofE”, “you’re Hindu” maybe this wouldn’t be such a problem in the first place! If the state didn’t pay for secondary “faith” schools in the first place, then maybe fewer people would want to self-segregate along religious lines later in life. And, hey, without these institutions being funded by the tax-payer, without the ability of these institutions to select their kids to skew their results, maybe parents wouldn’t want to segregate their kids.
Crazy, I know.
Usual tip ‘o the hat to the National Secular Society