NSS calls on Welsh Government to review compulsory collective worship

Nov 1, 2014

By The National Secular Society

The National Secular Society has called on the Welsh government to review the legal requirement on schools to provide worship after parents expressed concern about prayers being imposed on children in non-denominational schools.

A number of parents from Wales have contacted the National Secular Society (NSS) complaining of “excessive worship”, with reports of children being made to pray up to four times a day – without parents being informed.

Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns manager, said the imposition of worship in schools is causing a “moral dilemma” for many parents who don’t want a Christian upbringing for their child, but at the same time don’t find withdrawal an acceptable solution due to the emotional upset this causes for very young children.

Mr Evans said: “We are increasingly hearing from parents concerned about proselytising within their children’s schools, often in the form or excessive worship or assemblies being led by priests or evangelical groups. The obligation on all schools to provide a daily act of ‘broadly Christian’ worship is clearly providing a foot in the door for individuals and organisations with evangelistic intentions.


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43 comments on “NSS calls on Welsh Government to review compulsory collective worship

  • Religious practitioners cannot be trusted!

    A few years ago our National Treasure the Archbishop of Canterbury proclaimed that the introduction of certain elements of Sharia Law into the UK would do no harm. Why did he say that?

    I submit that he said it because it’s religious, and therefore, must be good and benign.

    What a silly sausage!

    We in Britain have Magna Carta, which has had enshrined within it since the year 1215 the fundamental principle of one law for all; including the Monarch.

    So, there is no need what so ever for “God’s law”.

    In fact, it is the very last thing we need, since it would undoubtedly prove to be the thin edge of an extremely nasty wedge!

    Indeed, there is already a subculture of Sharia operating illegally in my country, but recent events here have led me to think that it will soon begin to feel the hot breath of reality on the back of its neck.

    Anyway, yours truly is certainly keeping a close eye on developments.



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  • The whole system of Christian based collective worship in UK state schools needs to be reviewed, with proper respect for non-religious members of communities being allowed to be free from persistent proselytising.



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  • 4
    Lorenzo says:

    Worship should not have any place whatsoever in school, It should in fact be forbidden to impose any form of worship at school. Moreover it must be forbidden and fiercely sanctioned proselytism of any kind in schools. (IMHO is implicitly assumed throughout my statement, obviously.)



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  • 5
    Barry.M says:

    “…with reports of children being made to pray up to four times a day…”

    This is quite disgusting. Nobody should ever be made to pray – children especially! At the same time, they should never be taught that religion is nonsense. Young impressionable minds should be filled with facts and then left to form their own opinions in due course. The same goes for sex, politics, music, art etc. etc.



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  • 6
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Religious practitioners cannot be trusted!

    Putting a shriek after what you say doesn’t make it true! “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

    A few years ago our National Treasure the Archbishop of Canterbury proclaimed that the introduction of certain elements of Sharia Law into the UK would do no harm. Why did he say that?

    Because it’s true?

    I submit that he said it because it’s religious, and therefore, must be good and benign.

    What a silly sausage!

    You’d have to say which one it was, although perhaps by definition all Archbishops of Canterburies (deliberate solecism, don’t get all up in my case) are silly sausages.

    We in Britain have Magna Carta, which has had enshrined within it since the year 1215 the fundamental principle of one law for all; including the Monarch.

    Yeah, that’s worked out real well. I’m sure too that no royal since the invention of the motorcar has ever been let off a parking ticket because of who they were.

    So, there is no need what so ever for “God’s law”.

    In fact, it is the very last thing we need, since it would undoubtedly prove to be the thin edge of an extremely nasty wedge!

    Remind me again what the Queen of England’s official title is. Defender of the Wraith… Defender of the Chafe… That wedge you’re so worried about has had its thick end firmly in place for hundreds of years. I shan’t tell you again about those ecphonemes.

    Indeed, there is already a subculture of Sharia operating illegally in my country, but recent events here have led me to think that it will soon begin to feel the hot breath of reality on the back of its neck.

    Oh god you’re not a ‘kipper are you, Stafford? Put my mind to rest and tell me you don’t support Britain’s version of the Tea Party.

    This is supposed to be an oasis in a desert of ignorance. Let’s not have the Farages, Blooms, McKenzies, Reads, Lynams, Condells and big-tongued mockney chefs befoul our crystal-clear water with their brain-micturant.

    Anyway, yours truly is certainly keeping a close eye on developments.

    Cosmic.



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  • 7
    inquisador says:

    Bring back Pat Condell!!

    Laughing at my own jokes is good. I think you should all laugh at my own jokes.

    the archbishop of cant. was in dereliction of his duty when he invited more sharia into the uk. He might have taken some trouble to find out exactly what sharia actually consists of before speaking in favour of it, presumably after talking to sundry apologists for the said cult.

    No offense, Olgun, or any Muslims reading this. I ‘m simply using my free speech right to criticise an ideology; a political one at that, while I yet may.



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  • There is nothing I would hate more than Sharia law inquisidor or any other religious law for that matter. I am not, and have never, tried to do anything but get some sort of balance. I have spent too many years listening to crap from morons in greasy joe cafes. I just expect more here. I am not a Muslim, apart from my relation with my family. In fact, I have changes my religion and my wife twice in the space of an hour just so we could get married. My wife is English and we decided to get away from religion and get married in Indonesia. We thought it best so we did not have to mix two religions in our families. The tour agency was useless in so many ways and we were just young and green. They did not even check to see if the British embassy was open on a Saturday for us to get our marriage licence. We had to spend an extra two days in Jakarta before flying of to Bali. My wife became a Muslim only to be wrongly told by the consulate that it might not be recognised in the UK so she was converted back and I was converted to Christianity. It was such bollocks and we played along because it was not a problem for us because we were not going back without getting married. I know what you were implying by your words but sorry to disappoint you. Some of us just have a ballanced view and learn from history……. And some don’t!!!!!!!!!!

    Ps. I don’t agree with the sentiments on your link either. Unless the cafe mentality persists.



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  • Hitch. Fire!

    Whilst I am delighted not to have change phobics as fellow travellers despite our superficially similar destinations, I still loathe with a passion the whole principle of hate speech legislation.

    The test for it is utterly open to abuse.

    Incitement to violence with a very severe (low) test has more clarity and will allow any speech but with very careful wording. There is not hate speech worthy of prosecution that does not also pass a test of incitement to violence.



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  • 12
    Barry.M says:

    Just to clarify; I believe the ‘facts’ of religion taught in schools should include an understanding of what various religious people believe along with an explanation of irreligious concepts such as deism and atheism.

    I see no need whatsoever to make children pray. However, if they go ahead and choose to pray then good luck to them. At least it will have been a reasonably informed decision if they were fairly educated first.



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  • My bad Phil, but again I struggle to understand your phrasing.

    I will offer this though. Legislation feels, to me, like I am standing on man size jenga blocks with a noose around my kneck. Each time new legislation is passed another block gets taken out. A slow game with obvious results. Without legislation, it feels like the same scenario but with a fast ice hockey game going on below with no rules or any thought for the shmuck standing on the blocks above with a noose around his kneck. Either way, I can only hope the professionals playing the game show empathy and do not anger the crowd. ( my poetic side coming out)



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  • 14
    Barry.M says:

    Conservative spokesman: “Our proposal to introduce Extremism Disruption Orders reflects the need to go further on challenging the threat from extremism and those who spread their hateful views so that we can keep that democratic society safe.”

    As Phil has already mentioned, this would be very open to abuse. Feels like the silencing of Gerry Adams all over again. It’d be interesting to see the current Government shortlist of what they deem to be ‘hateful views’ and even more interesting to consider what might be added to their list in the future!

    As a strong believer in freedom of speech, I welcome ideas from those with whom I might disagree. Let’s have a conversation about sharia law, let’s have a conversation about the government reducing our rights to keep us safe and perhaps let’s even have a conversation about the reasons for British citizens flying off to fight and die in Syria.



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  • I take your point about exclamation marks Katy, strictly speaking they’re tautololical if the point’s have been made succinctly enough; as I think they were.

    However – my word – talk about a miss understanding; note, no ‘shriek’.

    Unlike in my misspent naughty youth, I value most highly our hard won secular, science based culture; which includes European oil painting, various forms of ‘classical’ music, architecture and literature, and I’ve gained sufficient knowledge to recognize the dangers it faces.

    Part of the richness of the culture is the way it has taught us to be accepting – I dislike the term tolerant – of different world views.

    However, I think a tipping point may have been reached, and like innumerable cultures in the past, there now exits a danger that it can be lost.

    Fortunately we all now have superb means of Global communications, fruits of the despicable Western infidels, to counter the bollocks of the supreme hypocrites IS, Boko Haram and their ilk, who employ those self same technologies to disseminate their vicious village idiot nonsense.

    I make no apology what so ever for what I said in my previous post or what I say now; it’s gloves for me! Oops.



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  • Agreed Barry. I don’t trust this government at all. Cameron is all about control.

    Let’s have those conversations. Let’s make sure we also listen to those who live it though. Let us find out from those who fly off to fight without the self sensorship of the press who prefer not to upset the people who pay their wages instead.



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  • Stafford. I hope I’m allowed a slight digression here to defend the liberal use of ‘punctuation’. I like to play fast and loose with this as I see it ( punctuation) as a tool used to enhance expression, not a shackle binding us to a narrow set of conventions.
    Flexibility is the method and expression is the goal.



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  • The link is to Hitch’s famous defence of freedom of speech including hate speech. I applaud it.

    The next paragraph was for Inquisidor who is a Pat Condel and Geert Wilders supporter. I dislike Wilders with a passion and have grown to dislike Condel for similar reasons. I class them as change phobics, pale versions of theocrats. They want Islamic differentness put a stop to and want a society more preserved in aspic. I want Islamic and other shenanigans put a stop to when it intrudes on others freedoms to do what they want. Wilders is something of a fascist in my view as are most change phobics under the skin. I dislike their views but like Hitch and his holocaust denier example, freedom of speech and open discourse is the only map out of our maze. Besides we need to know where and who the haters are….

    Hate speech legislation is a very bad idea with an impossible task in usefully defining what hate is. As Inquisidors link showed it is perfectly designed to come back and bite us. Sling out an incoherent blunderbuss of an attack like “Islamophobia” (intending Muslim-hater) and reasonable debate is stopped dead.

    I want to know very precisely who my enemies are and exactly what they think.

    Hate speech legislation can be reformulated to not put any topic off the map, but still guard against what we don’t want, a mode of speech that is an incitement to violence.

    Now that could certainly hold some clerics and priests to account…



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  • Thanks for the explanation Phil. I can now agree with what you say. Except for, the way in which Hitch spoke. The most useful tool we humans have is communication. If one is not able to speak the language of the people one is trying to communicate with, one can create the opportunity for violence. That is why so many conversations can go wrong on the Net and texting and so often do and why a special language has developed, that most snobs seem to hate. I got the point without the need for his extra punctuation and rudeness. I am not easily shocked, but need to know self control is part of the speakers makeup. I find RD much more to my taste.



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  • . Barry.
    Just to clarify; I believe the ‘facts’ of religion taught in schools should include an understanding of what various religious people believe along with an explanation of irreligious concepts such as deism and atheism.

    Hear hear! Relegate religion to the same course as myths and legends from Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Dreamtime etc. Kids love that stuff! I did. Then bring in the same treatment for the big three. Systems of thought such as Deism, agnosticism and atheism could be brought in at the end, when pupils have enough maturity to grasp the concepts. I think this is not only advisable but manditory.
    It could be called ‘The History of Religious Thought’ or some such. Perhaps each country could start with the beliefs of the original inhabitants.



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  • 23
    Katy Cordeth says:

    Bring back Pat Condell!!

    Laughing at my own jokes is good. I think you should all laugh at my own jokes.

    I frequently find what you have to say hilarious, Stephen.

    The archbishop’s duty? What is that exactly, and to whom was Dr Williams or any other holder of that office beholden in this duty? If it’s Christians then I don’t think you as an atheist have much standing to complain. What is the atheist movement worth if its members criticize Christianity when it suits them and looks to that religion’s leadership for moral authority when a scarier branch of Abrahamism rears its head?

    Williams is no dummy; I’m sure he was quite aware what sharia involves when he said what he did and there was method in what you perceive as the madness of his betrayal.

    Britain is a secular country, despite David Cameron’s pronouncements to the contrary earlier this year. Like it or not, that means people of faith get to have a say in how they conduct their affairs. If Muslims, Jews or even Pastafarians want their own courts to settle matrimonial and similar issues, I say let the baby have its bottle. The law of the land still overrules when it comes to more serious matters. It’s not like Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale got to demand their case be heard in a sharia (I always want to follow that word with ‘Lewis’) court. Nor does it mean there will come a day when the penalty for all shoplifting in Britain is to have one’s hand lopped off.

    Anyway, the majority of regular (i.e. white Christian) magistrates are not exactly well-schooled in the finer points of British jurisprudence. Like school governors, most of them are just weirdos with too much time on their hands and a burning desire to lord it over their fellow citizens. These are people who think owning the collectors’ edition DVD boxset of Rumpole of the Bailey with audio commentary by John Mortimer and Leo McKern is all the qualification they need.

    I agree with you about Condell, too. This site was much more fun when it was Islamophobes as far as the eye could see. Ah, Nodhimmi, Godsbuster, Atheist Squaddie, and the rest… come back guys, all is forgiven. Nobody these days has got any game. I blame Richard for saying he didn’t think it was the business of governments to legislate against Muslim ladies wearing veils.

    C’est la vie.



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  • Maybe you will tell me I am being over sensitive Phil but his Austria speech was one. I just don’t like it when a word is used to paint a whole people when a little addition will make it right. When I write anything about the Cyprus situation and loby the UK government, I use the term “Greek Cypriot administration” and avoid using just “Greek Cypriots”. I don’t go on to denigrate about other faults but try to stick to the particular subject. I realise it was a joke for the particular audience but I certainly do not tell them to kiss my ass. It is something that I brought into the particular loby group I belong to and have fought long and hard to be business like and avoid inflammatory language. I found that the personal threats he received SEEMED to taint his speech and was confrontational rather than getting the audience to sympathise with him, he encouraged rage on others who the audience would have to look to the greater race for. As I say, my hang ups maybe but I do feel they have great effect on the mob.



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  • 25
    inquisador says:

    Dear Phil,

    I dislike Wilders with a passion and have grown to dislike Condel for similar reasons. I class them as change phobics, pale versions of theocrats. They want Islamic differentness put a stop to and want a society more preserved in aspic

    I wonder if you realize that you are missing something?
    You seem to be suggesting that, in effect, the increasing influence of growing Islamic communities in western Europe is value neutral.

    I believe this stems from a humanitarian impulse on your part to hold up the chance of equal rights for all in free democratic societies, with no discrimination against anyone on religious grounds. To limit Muslim immigration would be against our finest principles.

    On the other hand, I agree entirely… Except that,

    The reality we face is, under current immigration rules, a rapidly growing Muslim majority in the larger cities, and eventually, some time this century, in the country as a whole. This much is apparent from relative birth rates, conversions and continued migration, probably with a rising outward migration of non-Muslims. This is currently occurring. At present, with a Muslim population of only about about 5% in the UK, we have neighbourhoods that are unsafe for non-Muslims, we have people like these on the march, imposing sharia laws on the street, huge numbers of mostly Muslim men pressing under-age young girls into sex slavery.

    The vast majority of moderate Muslims are no defence against the actions of organised, fiercely committed young Muslim militants, as the millions of Christians, Alawhites, moderate Muslims, Assyrians, Yazidis of Northern Iraq and Syria who have lost their homes and lives, have found out. Just to give one example.

    We face a threat to our survival as a free society. A likely prospect of civil war at some point, unless we can do something effective to prevent it. This is why Condell and Wilders are correct; and why our finest principles have to be recalibrated to defend the human rights of the other 95% who need our consideration.



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  • 26
    inquisador says:

    Hello Katy,

    I’m honoured to be addressed by such a luminary.

    Thank you for that tribute to my comedic prowess. Thank goodness you weren’t sarcastic. Just as I never am.

    Your comment was brave and witty as usual. I do agree with you on some things, though not so much with your touching faith in the demarcation lines between British and Sharia law. Remember the saying about letting the camel push it’s nose inside the tent? the one that ends with the camel in and you out?

    But never mind that, what do you think of the link I gave to the Tory plans to legislate against criticism of religions, by EDOs?

    PS; no compulsory collective worship. There are three things wrong with that. They are: collective, compulsory, and worship.

    See mods, we’re not off topic at all.



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  • 27
    inquisador says:

    Hello Olgun,

    I’m glad your marriage worked out in the end. If you think I was implying that you are a Muslim in my earlier remark, the truth is, no. I just felt that you were sensitive to anything you perceived as hateful to Muslims.

    Well, me too. My position is that I wish for full and equal human rights for all humans. Problem is, there are grave obstacles to that under Islam, and I feel distress and empathy for suffering humanity when I see the kind of conditions imposed on people by the likes of the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, etc.



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  • I am sensitive in any remarks against Muslims. Just as I am to any generalisation. Your short list is more accurate and acceptable. Does the Jewish community in Stamford Hill bother you at all?



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  • Olgun, thanks thats clear.

    Hitch needed some controversial speech of his own in making his point. Of course Austrians aren’t uniform in their views on these matters, but they are in a sense democratically accountable for a poor hate speech law, and he is suggesting another reason why they let it pass, failing in an earlier act of democratic accountability. If the tories nobble our free speech rights I think an outsider can fairly rope me in to a general complaint that we who could do something about it didn’t…or at least not enough.

    I get your point though. I just know that Hitch would have never judged any given individual for who they were…



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  • I’m not sure how much success they can expect.
    Some parts of Wales are the lands of the chapel choirs! –

    Not to mention Welsh affinity to antiquity and folk customs, in matters such as the Welsh language!

    Having said that, they are selling off some redundant church buildings as congregations decline!



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  • 32
    Barry.M says:

    ‘The History of Religious Thought’

    I like the sound of that very much. As you say, it would make a great timeline to start with the beliefs of ancient indigenous inhabitants before moving on to Norse legends / Greek mythology etc. and then branching out to the more modern religions before ending neatly with deism, agnosticism and atheism. By the end of all that learning most pupils should be adequately-equipped to make up their own minds.



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  • Inqui, I have your back on free speech, but sadly, on the matter of Muslims I didn’t like your evidence before, and like it no better now.

    Once I was more convinced back in 2009 or so of a big UK problem. But now I have talked to more Muslims and researched a lot I am feeling more relaxed about how it will turn out in ten or twenty years. I still believe that the state is far too respectful of (cowed by) communities and their non elected spokepeople. I want to see the state work harder for the rights of individuals using existing laws properly applied.

    Apologists and PCers, though, can be hobbling of this with the fierceness of their cries of intuited harm.

    Oops. Sorry mods!



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  • I don’t think you will have put Katy’s mind to rest. You need to assure her you don’t support Britain’s version of the Tea Party. Now tell us, are you or have you ever been a Tory or even worse a UKIP! (spit) supporter.



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  • 36
    Katy Cordeth says:

    I don’t think you will have put Katy’s mind to rest. You need to assure her you don’t support Britain’s version of the Tea Party. Now tell us, are you or have you ever been a Tory or even worse a UKIP! (spit) supporter.

    *UKIPs



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  • I’m going a little off thread in response to a question moderator.

    I’m not sure if your question’s directed at me Marktony, but I’ve never been a member of any political party.

    I’m not talking about immigration, which has enriched our culture, I speak solely about the undermining of the rule of law.

    Indeed, there is a meeting in December to discuss “A new Magna Carta”.

    I hope that clarifies the matter.



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  • Marktony Nov 2, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    You need to assure her you don’t support Britain’s version of the Tea Party. Now tell us, are you or have you ever been a Tory or even worse a UKIP! (spit) supporter.

    Ah! The U- Kippers – very fishy, – smoke and mirrors for policy!

    I wonder if they are going to help the Welsh stop that damned influx of English immigrants!!!



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  • inquisitor,

    Well if you worry about laws and human rights it should. They live by their own laws. Have changed local areas to suit them in that the central part of their community has No Entry signs at every entry point so that they are the only people who can enter this supposed public highway. If I enter, as I did when I had to do some work there, I can get fined for going through a No Entry sign. The women do not have the same rights as the men and if they break religious laws, like marrying outsiders, they get cast out of the community. They don’t integrate.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnVY6r41oY



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  • 42
    inquisador says:

    Olgun,

    Well if you worry about laws and human rights it should. They live by their own laws. Have changed local areas to suit them in that the central part of their community has No Entry signs at every entry point so that they are the only people who can enter this supposed public highway.

    Well, then that does bother me. I was not aware of it, but I see no good reason for communities to seal themselves from the wider population; not unless they are under threat. I don’t like kosher any more than halal either.



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  • It seems to happen all over the world. We have the same problem in Cyprus, North and South. People coming over and not integrating. Having their own clubs. Their own newspapers and shops and trying to change local laws. We lovingly call them “Brits” 😉 They even have three army bases that they call “sovereign” land and will cause all sorts of problems to keep. ;-))



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