The most depressing thing I heard in the last few weeks was this: some people I know started attending the Catholic Church, with a view to having their child admitted to the Catholic School in the area (not strictly very near their house). When I say ‘started attending’ I mean that these people were not particularly religious before. In fact, the mother is/was a self-confessed atheist.
What drives people to abandon their values and subscribe to a religion for the sake of ‘better’ education is simply class aspiration. Some faith schools (including the one in question) have excellent results. Parents who are ambitious to the point of dictating and directing every step of their children’s lives are drawn to this. A faith school is a guarantee of success, supposedly.
So, when a self-confessed atheist sends his/her child to a faith school, the message they send out to the world (and their child) is: “it’s OK to be hypocritical and an outright liar, if this will guarantee you success”. Also, “it’s OK to belittle and insult other people’s genuine beliefs by using their faith and place of worship as a means of achieving individual success”. “But the school is good, what does it matter that it’s Catholic?” you’ll hear them reply in defence. A school run by the Catholic Church which has been turning a blind eye to child abuse? A school run by the same Catholic Church that has been preaching against condoms, therefore playing an active role in the spread of AIDS and other STDs? What does it matter that the institution running this school is a backward, conservative, homophobic and corrupt? What if their values and principles go against the trends of modern society? What if their institution is led by an ex-Nazi? “Their results are good, their students succeed”. Would you send your child to a Nazi school? I am sure that a Nazi school could be as successful as any other. Does it matter that the principles of the organisation that runs it are a bit iffy? What does it matter if the agenda includes mass deportations and genocide? Not one iota if Junior gets great results and ‘succeeds’ in life. The message you have given Junior is that it’s OK to do dodgy things in an attempt to succeed. Lie about your religion. Kill a Jew. Pat yourself on the shoulder, you’re a successful member of society.
My greatest gripe is that I, as a taxpayer in a secular country, help fund these institutions which operate on the basis of discrimination. These institutions discriminate against people who are not religious. According to the same logic, I could start a school excluding religious people-I bet that would cause a reaction, would it not? Apart from the fact that discrimination is illegal (and this should apply to schools), why is the taxpayer funding this?
What drives all this is middle class ambition (or ambition to be middle class). It’s not just with faith schools. It’s with any school that has ‘good results’. There is a type of people who lie about their address, sell their houses and move elsewhere, cheat, lie and pull strings in order to get their children into the better schools. Because, as they say, their children “deserve the best”. No they don’t. They deserve something decent, middle of the way, normal, OK. Because everybody’s children deserve the best, but only a few can have it. And for every child of the aspirant greasy-pole-climbers who drive their huge cars to school runs because the school is too far for their precious to walk, there are at least 10 who go to a ‘not so good’ school (ah, euphemism, that most British of traditions). They don’t deserve the best, do they? As far as the middle class is concerned, everybody else can burn in hell (or in Nazi ovens).