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Prayer in Schools Around World: United Kingdom's Stance on God in Classroom

By    |   Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 07:19 PM

While U.S. courts grapple with whether and how prayer may occur in school settings, schools in England and Wales are required by law to conduct a daily act of worship, which is to be “broadly Christian.”

The U.K. law, which has existed since 1944, often goes ignored, and the National Governors’ Association, which represents more than 300,000 school governors across England, said the law should be abolished in non-religious schools.

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The Church of England stands behind the law, saying its removal would “deny children the opportunity to experience something they wouldn’t experience elsewhere in their lives,” The Telegraph said.

The law has drawn criticism from groups such as the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society.

Parents may opt their children out of the worship assemblies, according to the law.

“I am uneasy with the moral implications of getting non-religious students to take part in religious worship, as well as how this demeans the acts of devotion,” Andrew Jones, head of religious studies and sociology at Goffs School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, wrote for The Guardian.

A 2011 poll conducted by the BBC found that 60 percent of 1,743 adults asked said the law shouldn’t be enforced.

Bruce Gill, of the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education, said the assemblies could teach about community and responsibility rather than being church led, the BBC reported.

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The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend John Pritchard, said the law is an important statement that should be encouraged.

“What we believe as a country is important in the education of our young people, so I think it is an important statement that the country makes to its schools and says will you please do this,” he said, according to the BBC. “If schools refuse to do that, or fail to, then I think they need to be encouraged to do it, I wouldn't use the word enforced though at all.”

In a column for The Telegraph, Tom Chivers called the law “a strange hangover from a time when Britain really was a majority Christian country.”

Only 33 percent of people in Britain described themselves as being religious, according to a 2006 poll by The Guardian.

More important than the notion that the law is outdated, Chivers wrote, “imposing a state-sponsored religion is wrong. The United States, a far more religious place than this nation of lost souls, has enshrined that idea in its constitution: the state must not support or endorse any religion, so that people can be free to choose their own without coercion.”

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While U.S. courts grapple with whether and how prayer may occur in school settings, schools in England and Wales are required by law to conduct a daily act of worship, which is to be "broadly Christian."
prayer, in, schools, world, united kingdom, stance
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2014-19-26
Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 07:19 PM
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