A Bible Society study found that large numbers of children are not being taught about the Bible, Koran, or Torah to avoid favouring ‘one religion over another’. The study found that more than a fifth of pupils had not been exposed to any religious texts such as the Bible, Koran, and Torah at school, and also revealed that less than half of teachers were confident about incorporating these texts in lessons. Reasons for downplaying the texts included poor training and guidance, but one in five teachers said they were reluctant to teach religious books in case they were ‘taught inadequately or incorrectly, or create the perception that one religion is favoured over another’.
Ofsted also found that many pupils were leaving school with a ‘very limited understanding’ of Christianity because of a dip in standards of religious education.
The latest research was based on two separate surveys of almost 800 teachers and 566 pupils aged eight to fifteen.
Large numbers of teachers supported greater access to texts such as the Bible, Koran, Torah, Mahabharata, Guru Granth Sahib and the Book of Mormon and around forty-two per cent of school staff said more pupils should be taught religious texts across the curriculum, including in lessons such as English, history and citizenship.
Christian Concern has launched an initiative to help protect those in the UK who want to leave Islam but fear the consequences of doing so. Entitled ‘Safe Haven’, the project is a response to the brutal treatment experienced by some in the UK who have left Islam and become Christians. It offers confidential advice and support to those considering leaving Islam and may even help individuals to relocate.
One of those who spoke at the launch event, Fiaz, explained, ‘My own household, my brothers, my parents, they don’t want anything to do with me. They’d rather see me dead’. His own experience has moved him to highlight the problems that others in the UK, especially women, face if they want to leave Islam.
‘When an Asian girl turns away from the culture or the religion itself then it’s all about honour. They are at greater risk than the men are’, he warned. ‘There are hundreds and hundreds of women across the country who have turned away from Islam. And there are those who are still at home, but they are too afraid to turn away because they don’t feel that they have anywhere to go’.
Another supporter of the project explained how, as a ten-year-old she thought about leaving home but ‘felt that I couldn’t dishonour the family and leave, so I ended up being quite suicidal and didn’t talk to anybody and spent all my time on my own’.
Now she asks, ‘It’s OK for people when they convert from another religion to Islam. Nobody says, “I'm going to kill you”. They don’t live in fear of their lives. Why is it that when a person leaves an Islamic background, becomes a Christian, why do we have to live in fear of our lives'?
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Prince Charles’ coronation service should be opened with a reading from the Koran, a senior Church of England bishop has said. Lord Harries of Pentregarth said, ‘The gesture would be a creative act of accommodation to make Muslims feel embraced by the nation’. Critics attacked the idea, accusing the Church of ‘losing confidence’ in its own institutions and traditions.
Lord Harries, a former Bishop of Oxford and a leading Church of England liberal thinker, said he was sure Charles’ coronation would give scope to leaders of non-Christian religions to give their blessing to the new King.
Douglas Murray, associate editor of the Spectator, said if Muslims were included in the coronation service, there must be room too for Hindus, Sikhs, and atheists and added, ‘If there were to be a reading from the Koran at the coronation, surely as a matter of reciprocity, all mosques in the UK should have prayers for the King and the Armed Forces every week at Friday prayers’.