Remove the right to withdraw pupils from Religious Education in schools of a non-religious character
The current law on Religious Education allows parents to remove their children from RE lessons for any reason under section 71 of the 1998 schools and standards act.
This rule is intended to allow parents to withdraw their children from RE for reasons of conscience. However, the nature of RE in non-religious schools mean it can no longer be justified for this purpose. Religious Education explores the beliefs of pupils, it does not instruct them in what to believe. As such the law does not protect conscience, but ignorance.
The law in its current form allows religious fundamentalists to protect their children from other viewpoints, both religious and secular. It also allows parents with racist, homophobic and other deeply prejudiced viewpoints to remove their children from a lesson likely to challenge them.
We request that the law be changed so the right to withdraw applies only to collective worship and to schools of a religious character.
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