Religious Observance

More debate today about ‘religious observance’ in schools. ..

I get the point – which is that it is difficult to sustain a practice which assumes that children and their families are members of religious and faith communities when many of them aren’t. ‘Pause for Thought’ and ‘Time for Reflection’ are certainly open but they are also somewhat anodyne.

The idea that religion is bad and spirituality is good is overworked. But it seems to me that there is some validity in it – and the recent Census returns support that. Those who wish to make Scotland into a place free of spirituality and religion are not actually in tune with where this society is and where it is going.

I think that there are two important things to hang onto.

The first is diversity. One of the keys to building a society of real quality is an acceptance of diversity. Universal denominational adherence is gone – but a rich diversity of faith and culture is part of what happens when people move around the world. Our children should learn to respect and celebrate that – rather than being encouraged to see all faith expression as dangerous

The second is transcendence. People read books, climb mountains, go to concerts – and are part of faith communities – because they want to engage with that part of the human psyche which rejoices in transcendence. Pauses for thought and times for reflection are an understandable and appropriate way of meeting the needs of where we are now – but they don’t invite us into transcendence.

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