Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Former Archbishop supports humanism in schools

Thu 05 Feb 2015
By Aaron James

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams is one of several faith leaders to support proposals to teach humanism in schools alongside Christianity and other world religions.

Twenty eight faith leaders wrote a joint letter to The Times newspaper, expressing their support for the idea.

Other Christian leaders who signed the letter include Revd Professor Keith Ward, Professor Emeritus of Divinity at the University of Oxford, and the former Bishop of Oxford, Baron Harries of Pentregarth.

According to the British Humanist Association, humanism is "an ethical and fulfilling non-religious approach to life involving a naturalistic view of the universe."

The letter said: "As religious leaders we wish to express our support for proposals to allow students to have the option for the systematic study of humanism in GCSE, AS and A-level religious studies, and for detailed content to be added alongside that which exists for the principal world religions.

"Such a change would not compel anyone to systematically study non-religious worldviews or make it possible to do so for the whole of a qualification, but it would allow young people to study a more representative sample of major worldviews common in Britain today."

Liberal Democrat MP and Christian Stephen Lloyd, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education, told Premier's News Hour: "Right from the beginning I've always been very, very clear that it [religious education] should cover off all the world's main religions, as well as those with none.

"Obviously if it's a Christian school or a Catholic school or whatever, then clearly they're going to focus more on Christianity, quite rightly, than they would any of the other religions.

"It's important that a number of the other world religions are properly taught so that children can actually have an informed understanding of the different religions out there rather than perhaps the very partial and inaccurate stuff."

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