LONDON (Christian Examiner)—Great Britain's education secretary says schools must teach that Britain is a "Christian country," according to The Telegraph. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan published the new guidelines to "non-faith schools" on Sunday.
The new guidelines also clarify how schools interact with non-religious views after a landmark court decision from the nation's highest court said the secretary had unlawfully excluded atheism from the school curriculum. The Telegraph reports that Morgan was concerned that atheist groups were using the courts as part of a "creeping ratchet effect" that would one day lead to primary schools being forced to teach children about atheism.
"I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritize the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious worldviews if they wish," Morgan said.
The new guidelines say that schools have no obligation to give equal teaching time to both religious and non-religious views. Morgan hopes her statement makes it clear that "the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education."
The guidelines come after a two-year commission concluded that Great Britain was "no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is." The commission called for Christianity to be systematically removed from public life in the country.
Morgan says her guidelines protect schools' freedom to "set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community." The Telegraph reports that Morgan had grown tired of campaign groups using the courts to force the teaching of atheism and humanism against the wishes of parents.
The guidelines give priority to religious viewpoints—in particular Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism—over non-religious ones.
Morgan also recently promised to more closely enforce homeschooling regulations. According to the Leicester Mercury, this statement came after education officials admitted they have no idea how many children are not attending formal classes.
The Mercury suggests the new guidelines will focus on ensuring local authorities keep up with the records of students who are being schooled at home.
"We recognize many parents do a great job educating their children at home but, without proper oversight, there is a risk that some children may be exposed to harm," Morgan said, according to the Mercury. "We want to better understand the situation and tackle the providers of unregistered settings who are taking advantage of the legal position on home education to avoid proper control and inspection."
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