Waahh! The Evangelicals Are Coming!!

I finally got round to watching some of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, “The New Fundamentalists” presented by Rod Liddell and aired about a month ago. (I recorded it not knowing that the tape was going into Susan’s school the next morning. I didn’t get it back till a few days later and by then I had lost the urge, so to speak.)

Liddell doesn’t like evangelical Christians, as is made clear. His concern is the growing influence of such in political life. For him this was a big SCARE STORY. Waahh!

Impressions so far? Big Wows. Yawn. The fact is evangelicals (of many and various stripes) have always existed in the UK, always had the influences he describes. Indeed, in the past some of the greatest ever influences for good in society have come from evangelicals. What’s the big deal now? It’s like Liddell himself was completely unaware of this until recently and now he is SCARED and wants to tell everyone about his WORRIES. Waahh! And what a privilege for him – he has the chance to worry on TV!

My response? Well, each time he raised an issue that worried him, I couldn’t help thinking, “Yes. And?”

But here’s a more substantial response (but even then it’s more of a kind of fat-bloke-in-a-‘La-Z-Boy’-chair type of response). One of Liddell’s issues is state-funded ‘faith’ schools, part of Labour’s education policy. OK, I’ll be fair. He is not against Christians paying to send their kids to private Christian schools. Let them. He is against the state funding schools set up by Christians and running along Christian lines. Why should the state subsidise Christian education?

Fair point, maybe? OK, suppose Christian parents wanted to pay for a private education for their children in order to avoid the secular pagan faith position in our schools, could they opt out of paying some of the taxes which fund the state system? Not yet, and so they would effectively pay twice to get the education they want for their children. The question is now the other way round – why should these Christians subsidise state education?

Yes we are free to send kids to private Christian schools, but the fact is, the freedom to differ with the State in this matter costs an exceptional amount of money.

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Waahh! The Evangelicals Are Coming!!

9 thoughts on “Waahh! The Evangelicals Are Coming!!

  1. Johnhttp://john.pettigrew.org.uk/blog/ says:

    To be fair, though, you’re basically saying that we should be able either to opt out of paying tax or to have the Government pander to our whim. One could equally ask why I should pay for schools in Devon give that I don’t live there. However, we generally accept that the price of democracy is not getting our way on everything unless we are willing to do for ourselves (in healthcare, traffic etc. as well as education).

    None of which isn’t to say that they programme was even slightly balanced 🙂

    pax et bonum

  2. Stephen says:

    John,
    It was a bit of ‘stream-of-consciousness’ so I am not entirely sure where I would go with it. I was trying to show how the apparently reasonable and tolerant position of Rod Liddell, in saying that Christians are free to set up there own private fee-paying schools as they like, is in fact not as free and fair as it at first seems. It seems like a kind of tax on being different. It seems to me that either we are willing to live with diversity within the state system, with freedom of parents to choose schools (a system we currently have, I think, and which Liddell objects to) or we have a completely free ‘market’ in schools (and hopefully consequent tax reductions!). I don’t think the latter is likely and it would abandon the poor.

    Of course if only Devon were benefitting from all of us paying tax then we should rightly ask the question, “Why should I pay?” As it is, we all get back something of what we put in, so I am not sure what you are getting at.

    There is a legitimate debate within a democracy about what things must be accepted by all for the sake of that democracy (e.g. a common legal system) and what diversity should be allowed in order to avoid the tyranny of the majority. I am not certain that education should be or remain one of those universal items, given the increasingly godless secularised worldview which underpins it unless, as I said, diversity is permitted.

  3. Robert Hulme says:

    I think you’ve missed the main point about schools.

    That state funding is going towards a Christian school is something I would take issue with, but what is far far more worrying is that the parents in this area have to send their kids to this Christian school. They have no choice, it’s the Christian school or nothing (well actually they have no choice of nothing either as they have to send their kids to school).

    That is I think rather shocking. I wouldn’t want my kids to be sent to a Buddhist / Jainist / Muslim / Pagan / Satanist school and I bet you wouldn’t either.

  4. Robert Hulme says:

    To follow on from what you said a bit…

    I think if there were a variety of schools – some religious some secular, all state funded – and parents could choose where to send their kids that would be one thing. Unfortunately geography and so on makes this impossible so we have to make do with everyone going to the same kind of school.

    In terms of religious teaching I think that schools should not push any particular world view on their students – they should make them aware of what options they have, what people believe and why they believe them. I would hope that students can then work out what they think is correct themselves.

    (gosh isn’t the capatcha in Blogger.com annoying?)

  5. Dan B. says:

    Stephen,
    Over here in America, we often have debates about schools, public versus private, etc. Unlike you, our government does not sponsor “faith-based” schools in the sense that tax-payer dollars are used in that way. These private institutions get certain tax incentives, but for the individual student’s parents, these are certainly not realized. There has been much talk of vouchers which allow parents to choose what school their child can attend (giving them tax breaks at the end of the year to off-set tuition).

    Private education is expensive, for sure. My wife and I are intending to home school our children when that time comes, though we will still pay taxes that will ultimately go toward the very school system that we intend not to use.

    To John: you point out correctly that we cannot personally get our way in everything to have certain protections (like police, roads, etc.), but I would argue that the government is probably more involved (especially in the UK) in a person’s life on the local level than it should be. This in turn requires more services and more tax dollars.

    Robert–I am certainly not aware of the current state of the education system as to the schools, etc. It seems that there are some geographic areas that need a bit of help. However, I would have to remark on the “worldview” comment you made. I think it’s impossible for any school to teach without doing so from a certain worldview, whether secular or not. Presenting “options” would have to be done before every concept, every subject, and I don’t think that would be done by most instructors.

    But again, these are just silly comments from a guy across the pond.

  6. Stephen says:

    Rob,
    I take your points, but if there is lack of choice in the state sector, then that is a matter of government policy and you should aim your fire there, not at Christians who want to contribute to the provision of education.

    I think your point about schools not pushing a world view is naive. Fundamentally, education depends on where your faith lies – and everyone has a faith. One cannot not push a world view. The structure of thought and ideas is built upon it. It cannot be confined to a class on religions where the kids have a right good debate after which they move on to the next subject. It determines how you teach all subjects – physics, languages, sport etc.

    Dan,
    The US is interesting, from what I can pick up. I understand that the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention have almost come to the point of advising members to withdraw children from the state sector because of the rampant secularist worldview found there. Christians are not in good conscience able to to bring up their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. What’s your take on this?

  7. Robert Hulme says:

    Dan B – I agree with what you’re saying to some extent.

    I think it is hard to be entirely neutral if you like in a school, however I think some attempt at neutrality must be made.

    I think there is some mileage in vouchers or something to allow parents to take their kids elsewhere (although I fear the segregation effect Dawkins talked about in his recent television program).

    I do think it is wrong for people to have to send their children to a Christian (or other specifically religious school).

    Whatever state schools are to be like (given that we live in a multicultural society where schools need to meet the needs of children from a variety of social, economic, racial, and religious backgrounds) they should not specifically favour one religion over another (or none).

  8. Robert Hulme says:

    Certainly my ‘fire’ should be aimed at the government and not at individual Christians (which I have never done btw)… However you did comment in your blog about what the TV program was about, and I was originally trying to point out that I think you missed the main point he was making.

    You talk of choice in the state system. As I understand it there is very little or no choice because people have to go to schools that are geographically near to them and the education system does not have sufficient funding to have a variety of schools to pick from in each area. That may be a problem – but making certain schools religious does not solve the problem.

    I suppose your view on the issue depends on whether you think that an average school is anti-Christian in nature. Do you think this?

    You talk about how ones beliefs touches how they teach in all areas. I cannot see what you mean by this. It seems to me that the majority of subjects are not affected by the religious beliefs one might have. How would a religious (say Christian) lesson of mathematics or physics differ from a secular one?

    I don’t agree that we all have faith – at least in the way that you seem to mean it. Faith as defined by the dictionary ‘Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence’ is certainly not what I have.

  9. Dan B. says:

    Stephen,
    My take on the “withdrawal” that the SBC and the PCA is that I agree with it, but I would hope that the withdrawal is accompanied by an informed decision to proactively place the children in a different situation.

    See, it’s one thing to call for a withdrawal, and all parents pull their children from the state school, but now do not know what to do. My wife and I, even before we were married, wanted to home school our children; but this is not necessarily the solution for every parent. The secularist worldview here in American schools can vary from state to state, even from county to county. Our church recently had Voddie Baucham (a GREAT speaker) come and preach to us. He advocates strongly for home school, because he sees no distinction between biblical instruction and education. Schools, as they exist in the public arena, were not always in existence–families were usually in charge of education. This changed with the advent of industry and growth of government in the 1930s.

    The question I always have for those that think the public schools are fine, I ask are they willing to spend the necessary time each evening to “reinstruct” a child who has been fed secular garbage? Now, let me be clear–not all teachers are this way, but over the years, it has gotten worse. I mean, when elementary school kids are taught how to use condoms?

    Christian schools can be good, but sometimes they can be no better in some instances. Each parent has to be active in choosing a method of education, and not merely send their children to public schools by default. Sorry if this is a little jumbled, but I hope it makes sense.

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