Teaching of Christianity ‘lacks intellectual development’


The teaching of Christianity can be “incoherent” or “too stereotypical”, an academic leading a project to improve lessons in English schools has said.

Lessons can lack “intellectual development”, said Dr Nigel Fancourt of Oxford University.

His comments follow a poll finding widespread support in England for teaching about Christianity in schools.

Richy Thompson of the British Humanist Association said schools should also reflect non-religious world views.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of adults questioned for Oxford University agreed pupils must know about Christianity to understand English history.

Some 57% of 1,832 adults polled agreed that learning about Christianity was essential for children to understand English culture and way of life and 44% said more attention should be given to its teaching.

More than half (58%) said it was important for children to know about the history of Christianity, major Christian festivals (56%) and how it distinguishes right from wrong (51%).

The poll is part of a project to help schools teach the faith in a more rigorous way. Researchers from Oxford’s department of education say their focus on Christianity stems from a legal requirement that English schools should reflect the fact that Christianity is the country’s main religious tradition.

This means that Christianity “will probably be the only religion that pupils study throughout their schooling. It is treated in the same way as other religions but studied more frequently”, said Dr Fancourt.

Written By: Judith Burns
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk


  1. As a budding atheist, I found my college course in Bible as Literature to be fascinating, and if anything, it ate away even more from any faith I might have had. Of course it is critical that teaching ABOUT a religion  be kept separate from teaching a religion. For starters, the fundamental Christian myths about resurrection and virgin birth must be compared to nearly identical myths in other religions. It is the best way to reveal that religion is a cultural artifact.  Then one can move on to the outrages committed throughout history in the name of those myths.

  2. “The teaching of Christianity can be “incoherent””
    Don’t you mean the “teachings” of Christianity can be incoherent?

  3. The teaching of Christianity can be “incoherent”

    Lessons can lack “intellectual development”

    Did anyome else get that no shit sherlock moment?

    Some 57% of 1,832 adults polled agreed that learning about Christianity was essential for children to understand English culture and way of life and 44% said more attention should be given to its teaching.
    I would like to have seen the poll question.  Was it on the lines of “What do you consider essential learning for children’s understandng of English culture?” I doubt it. If it had been I expect football or darts and fish and chips would have been high on the list.

    Why not wycca?  or anglo-saxon instead of those foreign gods and dead foreign languages they want to teach to primary schools?

  4. John Keast:

    “With almost total withdrawal of government support for RE, it is good to see a major university project, sponsored by charitable trusts providing a positive way forward.”

    “a positive way forward”? HAH!

    A positively retrograde step.  No doubt those paying for the piper want him to play their tunes, but what is positive about Christianity? A collection of 2-3000 year old myths, full of self contradictions, a warped view of humanity and a boiling lake for non-believers!

    The more they teach it in schools, the quicker the kids will turn away from it! Here’s some “rigorous” Christianity:

    “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”    (Exodus 22.18). Now kiddies go out and find a witch! And anyone found picking up sticks on the Sabbath deserves death also!

  5. Vorlund learning ABOUT christianity probably is essential for children to learn about English culture and certainly history. Peoples beliefs have shaped a hell of a lot of English history.

    The history of our education system starts with the monastaries and moves on as a result of the reformation. Why do we actually have RC schools today for example?  It’s based in religious disagreements dating back centuries.

    The history of our monarchy is one of religious strife RC king/queen, CofE king/queen get rid of one king/Queen for being one or the other, burn a few bishops from either side etc. King wants to get a new wife because this one isn’t producing a male heir? Look to the bible and ask a pope. Pope says no so get round it by inventing a new version of christianity.

    Our parliaments’ quaint traditions are a result of a King who believed he had a God given right to rule and a puritan protestantant who believed he didn’t. As was the resulting revolution, interegnum and final return of monarchy. Why a monarch with german ancestors? Our patchy religious past.

    The current problems in Northern Ireland stretch back to our religious past with clashes between puritan Cromwell and catholic Ireland – still celebrated today by the Orange Order and still causing problems.

    Nearly half our sayings from the bible. The other half from Shakespeare. To understand a lot of literary references requires understanding of what the writers believed or the prevailing beliefs of the day.

    Guy Fawkes and bonfire night – the result of a religious argument. Priest holes in stately homes, ditto.

    It shouldn’t be taught as true but understanding what someone else might actually believe is the first step to changing that belief.

  6. With the material they have to work with, no wonder there is a lack of intellectual development. One can’t build a house if you lack a solid base, steel beams, bricks, windows, doors, roof, electrical work, plumbing and everything else needed for the project. 

  7. Mark123, I like your characterisation of a catholic terrorist attack designed to kill the entire british parliament as a “religious arguement.”

    Just like 9-11 I suppose? Not sure I agree that we need to read the Quoran to understand that arguement.

  8. Anti-Intellectual? It does teach doctrine that defies what is known to be true. It of course bypasses reason and allows people to justify their actions on such things as superstition and supernaturally revealed knowledge. Its shaky ground. 

  9. You would learn more about way of life studying island populations. History can’t avoid teaching Christianity and all the good and horrible it has done.

  10. “how it distinguishes right from wrong (51%)” 
    This old crock, again! Religion has been blind to so many wrongs that it cannot tell the difference

  11. Boys only? True, Islamic brainwashing is infinitely more powerful than that of any other religion; it is astonishing how most muslims I meet have very poor knowledge of the Koran, ahadith and sunnah. 
    It must be that they only know what they hear in the mosque which is a heavily censored version of the ROP

  12. It would be interesting to know how you teach religion *with* ‘intellectual development’ as opposed to ‘without’.

  13. Actually it’s not a bad idea. Just focus on all the fun things done like the genocide of starvation in Ireland, leading to “the troubles,” in North Ireland. Not to forget the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims in 1492 (it happened in jolly old England too), so many wonderful lessons to learn. The handing over of assets for the turn of the first millenium, the hounding of Darwin. Who says teaching morals doesn’t mean teaching bad morals?

  14. Lessons can lack “intellectual development”,
    Entirely agree.  You could read the Bible or the Koran or any other religious text back to front umpteen times, pass an exam, catechism or win Mastermind on the ‘facts’ contained therein  but you would be ‘learning’ by rote, you would only be ‘developing’ your memory.  In case you wanted to develop your intellect further while engaged in this pursuit, you would either go crazy or, it is hoped, become an atheist.

  15. The theologians have 2000 years of experience of wrong teaching – what a surprise they still do not get it right.

  16. There is a huge difference between learning about Christianity’s (or any religion’s) role in history and being indoctrinated with religious beliefs.  I’m all for learning about how various religions have influenced history and contributed to literature and art – but that doesn’t mean I’m for teaching the tenets of religion to anyone.  Teach Christianity the way we teach about the Greek and Roman Gods – as classical literature.

  17. apart from believing in god and immortality; and that christ was divine, what more does christianity uniquely offer for intellectual development.  and, furthermore, what possible intellectual development could be informed by two such ludicrous beliefs?

  18. Mark.  I know!  But I doubt the average joe on the street does hence my TIC remark about football and while they may be uninformed about english culture it is far from essential learning.  Moreover the history of the english peoples predates the periods you talk about. Saying learning about xtinaity is essential to understanding culture is like saying kids should all practice archery at the butts. 

    The issue I have as that xtianity is rarely studied as a failed epistomology with cultural influences it is taught as fact and without any consideration of the disastrous influences it has had.  You have to study history for that purpose.

Leave a Reply