Church attendance is in rapid decline. For example, according to the Faith Survey, Roman Catholic attendance dropped from over 2 million in 1980 to less than 700,000 in 2015. Other churches have in the main followed this precipitous pattern, not least the C of E. Students studying religious education (RE) are also no exception, with a nearly 50% reduction in recent years. I picked the last piece of information up on this morning’s BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme which was reporting on the future of RE. It seems clerical types, having recognised they have a problem, think that RE could be saved if it became the study of religions and ‘world views.’ I smell a rat.
It’s taken long enough for some in the religious community to accept that ‘creation theory’ is not equivalent to the fact of evolution. Are we now being asked to accept that some world views based on superstition can be taught in some form of equivalence with views based on science? Don’t get me wrong – I am quite happy for people to believe in fairies and angels, but young people should be allowed to discover what these things mean, along with the whole religious rigmarole as a result of their own personal path to discovery. Given the state established church still carries so much influence in society – undeserved on current trends – I do not trust them with any aspect of formal education even whilst they clutch at secular straws.