A fine mess
When will Messrs Gove and Pickles stop dismantling our state education and welfare systems, and handing them over to religious organisations? How will we ever put them back together again, when they’ve finished messing about with them?
In education, under Gove’s leadership, the changes are encouraging evangelicals. The Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, wants to take advantage of Mr Gove’s free schools idea, to open a new school. Pastor Gareth Morgan told the Times Education Supplement about their plans:
Creationism will be taught as the belief of the leadership of the school. It will not be taught exclusively in the sciences, for example. At the same time, evolution will be taught as a theory.
The church website carries a video that states: “If creation is true, there is a purpose to life. If evolution is true, there is no purpose to life.” It adds that “if creation is true, then man is a fallen creature and we need a saviour. If evolution is true then man is an evolving creature and we don’t need any saviour”.
Gove says that he’s set up a new due diligence committee at the the DfE:
It will be the responsibility of that committee to monitor all applications for new schools. And to monitor existing arrangements in existing schools to make sure there are no risks of extremism taking hold.
We’re going to ensure that we have the resource here to help local authorities and others to deal either with a small group of governors hijacking a school or a group who are promoting a school who are inappropriate, whether they be religious extremists or political extremists.
Just how “extreme” is extremism, in Gove’s terms? Will Pastor Morgan get his school?
Meanwhile, as Alex Kennedy pointed out in the Guardian,
… teachers in faith schools that are almost 100% state-funded can be appointed, disciplined, paid, promoted and dismissed according to their beliefs, with fewer legal protections than would apply to the chief executive of a religious charity or business. If more proof were needed that the law as it stands is rotten, then it is significant that both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the joint committee on human rights think that it may contravene European law.
Mr Pickles has been just as busy. Under the Big Society banner, he’s keen for councils to hand over services they can’t afford (because of government cuts) to charities and voluntary organisations (who’ll struggle for funding, as their grants won’t suffice). Many of these will be religious organisations. At a meeting with faith leaders, Pickles said,
Some see religion as a problem that needs to be solved. The new Government sees it as part of the solution. I want to send an important signal that we value the role of religion and faith in public life. The days of the state trying to suppress Christianity and other faiths are over.
Trying to suppress Christianity? When was this? Over the last few years, the state (led by Labour and the Conservatives) has done just the opposite.
It’s a fine mess.