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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Requiring a Catholic school to convert?

Here's a story about a (to me, anyway) strange debate going on in the suburbs of Glasgow, Scotland:  "Can a Catholic School Be Made to Convert?  Most of the pupils are Muslim.  Now campaigners want the school to change its faith."  The question, apparently, is whether the government should require a (state-supported) Catholic school to become a (state-supported) Muslim school, because most of the school's students are Muslims.  Here's a blurb from the news story in The Guardian:

As the debate rages, the school's headteacher, Winifred Diver, refuses to talk to Education Guardian. But the local priest, who is also the school chaplain, Fr John Gannon, represents the school's position. "There is probably no organisation in Scotland more supportive of the notion that there should be Muslim faith schools than the Catholic church," he says. "But it may be that to poach schools is not the best way to go about it."

When Gannon was saying mass at the school recently, a number of parents interrupted the service at staggered intervals, removing 12 children. The interruption was "deliberately designed to disrupt the mass", Gannon says, and showed "gross discourtesy and contempt". He does not believe these parents were representative of most parents in the school.

Strong relationship

Gannon adds that the staff at St Albert's has built up a strong relationship with Pollokshields's Muslim community. "When parents say they want the school to become Muslim, they seem to think that the teachers would stay on, but of course that wouldn't happen," he says. "There is some serious confusion about what such a change would mean." . . .

While the proposal has caused resentment among Catholics and Sikhs, it has fed a growing sense of injustice among some Muslims. Many people, though, think faith schools are simply divisive.

Alec Macadie, an ebullient lollipop man, sees children in Pollokshields across the road on their way home from school every day. He chats to everyone - parents, children, shopkeepers - and he approves of the way the area has changed over the years. "People don't mix, though," he says. "They tolerate each other." It is for this reason that he believes children of all cultures should be educated together and that religious differences should not be allowed to divide them.

What's next?  The suppression of the monasteries?

Posted by Rick Garnett on February 15, 2006 at 05:23 PM | Permalink

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One of the key goals of the Religious Right in America today is to reinsert religious faith, prayer, and other sectarian sundries in public schools. Fortunately, religious freedom is sufficiently ingrained as a value here that they can't go flat out ... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 15, 2006 10:20:19 PM

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