By Hilary White
LONDON, February 23, 2010 (www.LifeSiteNews.com)
Britain’s Labour government clarified this week that an amendment to the Children, Schools and Families bill, that says faith schools may teach the mandatory Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) program “in a way that reflects the school’s religious character,” does not, in fact, give the schools freedom to oppose abortion, contraception and homosexual activity on moral grounds.
The clarification has been hailed by a local pro-life and pro-family group as evidence that the spectre of "totalitarianism" has reappeared in Britain.
A recent statement from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), made in response to protests from homosexualist groups against the government amendment, said, “Faith schools cannot opt out of statutory [sex and relationships education] lessons when it comes into effect in September 2011.”
“All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the Bill including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free, as they are now, to express the views of their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”
The statement quotes Minister Ed Balls telling the Daily Telegraph that religious schools should indeed be “forced” to teach pupils that homosexuality is “normal and harmless.”
Balls said, “If their faith has a view in scripture, they can inform pupils of that. What they must not do is teach discrimination. They must be absolutely clear about the importance of civil partnerships [and that] bullying of homosexuals is wrong.” This is in line with previous statements from Labour ministers that religious schools will not be allowed to teach their religious tenets “as if they are true.”
On Tuesday, Balls told BBC Radio 4's Today program that in addition to promoting homosexuality, religious schools will also be required to promote abortion as a solution to unplanned pregnancy.
Until the passage of this bill, religious schools had the option to teach children that homosexual activity, abortion and contraception are wrong. But that situation, he said, “changes radically with this bill.”
“What this changes is that for the first time these schools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach that there are different views on homosexuality. They cannot teach homophobia. They must explain civil partnership.
“They must give a balanced view on abortion, they must give both sides of the argument, they must explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well,” Balls said. Balls backed up his insistence that faith schools will be forced to abandon their religious beliefs, in a letter to the London Times.
Balls went on to thank Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the English Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and the Catholic Education Service (CES) for their support of the bill. It was revealed by the government last week that the CES had actually assisted in drafting the legislation.
Balls said, “To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols in these changes is, I think, very, very important, is a huge step forward… The Catholic Church, which I really welcome, is supporting, for the first time, compulsory sex education with an opt out at 15 [years].”
Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), “People outside the UK must know that the British government's ideologues are just as radical but even more cunning than the French Revolutionaries.”
SPUC is lobbying against the passage of the bill, and accuses CES of collaborating with a radically secularist, anti-Christian government that is bent on expanding abortion and homosexuality and suppressing freedom of religious expression.
After the Catholic Education Service took credit for the government’s amendment implying that faith schools will be allowed to teach their religious tenets, SPUC responded, “The only people likely to be pleased with the press reports about the misinterpretation of this amendment are the Catholic Education Service (CES), who want Catholic parents and Catholic schools to think they are sticking up for them, when in fact they are betraying their principles.”
Paul Tully, SPUC's political manager, said that CES has only helped the bill to pass by pursuing the amendment. “SPUC condemns the action of the Catholic Education Service (CES) … The CES does not represent Catholic teaching on sex education, and its betrayal of Catholic families is widely lamented within the Catholic Church.”
Anthony Ozimic said, “Compromise and accommodation with this government will result, not in government concessions, but in increased persecution of those who stand up for life and family.
“Catholics in particular have been placed in this grave situation by an unholy alliance, forged by the fake Catholic Tony Blair, between the English bishops and the Labour government. The spectre of totalitarianism, which was seen from Britain in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, has reappeared, this time in Britain itself.”