The Two Faith Solution
1. The Government’s proposal that students of GCSE Religious Studies would each have to show evidence of having studied two faiths has apparently united all faith groups in the UK in furious opposition.
2. What a shame.
3. In the Rosh Hashanah prayers tomorrow we repeatedly proclaim God’s kingship over the whole world – it is a universalist message, with very little about the Jewish people in it and a continual concentration on the challenges and opportunities of humanity.
4. All around the world today we see religion being used as an excuse for the worst kinds of evil (including that particularly dangerous and insidious evil – simple indifference to others’ feelings, needs and sufferings).
5. And all around the world we see that evil combated by simple humanity, expressing itself in a variety of forms and manners, some religious, some ethical, some pure – unlabelled – human instinct.
6. The Rosh Hashanah liturgy celebrates the universality of the human condition – its weaknesses and its strengths.
7. Why deny children the opportunity to do the same, just because they happen to be studying a GCSE?
8. This is not a proposal for compulsory religious education for anyone; merely a proposal that if your own religion is important enough to you to be worth basing one of your school qualifications on, and if you would like that qualification to be recognised in the form of a public examination, you should accept the public’s wish to enhance your citizenship potential by simply learning a little bit about what motivates some of the other human beings with whom you share the world, and with whom you share most or all of the characteristics that shape and drive your own spiritual journey.
9. Sounds like a good idea to me – and hopefully a recipe for a happy new year for us all.