Jesus Christ ‘should be downplayed in school’

Teachers should no longer be expected to “accord a special status to Jesus Christ” as part of traditional acts of collective worship for pupils, it was claimed. Guidance sent out to local committees – established to determine RE in communities across England – called for a focus on a “wide range of religious traditions” such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. This is from the Telegraph…

By law, conventional state schools are required to stage daily acts of collective worship that are “broadly Christian” to reflect the country’s heritage.

But the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (NASACRE) said this was “not intended to be interpreted as Christian worship in any conventional sense”.

In a report, it also insisted that long-standing Government advice issued in the mid-90s which suggests most religious assemblies should focus on Jesus Christ should be discarded altogether.

However, the comments were attacked by the Church of England.

A CofE spokesman said: “Given that the central figure in Christian belief and practice is Jesus Christ we would expect all schools to include in their collective worship programme stories of his life and work and impact.”

Andy Yarrow, head of Chelsea Academy in west London, told the Times Educational Supplement: “You can’t separate Christianity from Christ. Without Christ, Christianity loses its distinctiveness.”

The law on religious assemblies in schools is enshrined in the 1944 Education Act. It states that all community schools – state primaries and secondaries without a specific religious character – must have a daily act of worship that is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.

Legislation was updated by Government guidance in the mid-90s – circular 1/94. It said that the “majority of acts of worship over a term” must be Christian, adding: “It must contain some elements which relate specifically to the traditions of Christian belief and which accord a special status to Jesus Christ”.

Currently, local advisory councils containing faith leaders, teachers and council representatives are established in each area to advise schools on RE and worship.

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