Parents should be stopped from pulling their children out of RE classes, preventing them from learning about and other faiths, the Church of England has said.
The Church’s lead on religious education policy said that parents with “fundamentalist” religious beliefs are “exploiting” laws giving them the right to withdraw children from the lessons, in order to prevent them learning about other beliefs.
He also called the practice a “dubious interpretation of human rights legislation” and warned that stopping children from attending the lessons was setting a “dangerous” precedent.
Mr Holloway said that the right to withdraw children from RE lessons is at risk of being hijacked by those who want to “incite religious hatred.” Holloway has had a career teaching RE in schools in Essex and Wiltshire, before taking up his current role at the Church of England.
He said it was essential that young people learned about other religions and world views, to teach them how to get along with people from different faith backgrounds.
He made the comments on the Church of England’s Facebook blog, saying:
“Sadly, and dangerously, the right of withdrawal from RE is now being exploited by a range of ‘interest groups’ often using a dubious interpretation of human rights legislation. The right of withdrawal from RE now gives comfort to those who are breaking the law and seeking to incite religious hatred”.
The Church believes the right for parents to withdraw children from RE should be abolished, and the government should entitle children to RE lessons as standard.
Furthermore, Mr. Holloway said that the current legal set up “perpetuates the myth” that RE is linked to mandatory worship in some way, when it is in fact part of a “broad and balanced curriculum”.