Schools in the U.K. must teach students that Britain is a Christian nation, the country’s education secretary said this week. Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan announced that non-faith schools in the country must tell students that British religious traditions “are, in the main, Christian” when they teach about other religions.
Morgan’s comments came after Prime Minister David Cameron’s Christmas message this year, in which he emphasized Britain’s Christian roots. Morgan’s guidelines are also in response to a British High Court ruling in November, which found that the government had unlawfully excluded atheism and nonreligious views from school curriculum.
Morgan’s new guidance, issued by the Department of Education, states there is "no obligation for any school to give equal air time to the teaching of religious and nonreligious views" in religious studies lessons. Atheism can still be taught, but does not have to be at parity with other religion lessons. It can also be taught in other subjects, such as history or politics.
"The Government is determined to protect schools' freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community. The guidance ... makes absolutely clear that the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education,” said Morgan. "I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritise the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious views if they wish."
The High Court ruling came after three families challenged the government’s new religious studies curriculum, announced last February, which gave priority to religious views, focusing on Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism.
The High Court later clarified the ruling did not call for current religious education curriculum to be changed.