Secularism. What a word! The mere mention of the word and idea can often get the most religious people frothing at the mouth. However, secularism should be encouraged, not feared or despised. Secularism is a great benefit to all, not just those who do not actively practice a religion. Secularism simply gives all religious institutions an equal chance of being heard. It is with this idea of religious equality in mind, that I argue that religious visits should be banned in Manx public schools.
Currently, public schools all over the Island hold assemblies and talks in which they invite religious organisations to talk to the students. In theory, this sounds nice as it allows students a break from the usual drudgery of school staff lecturing them, and also allows them to learn about things of a more spiritual matter. In practice, it often acts as no more than propaganda coming from the same individuals over and over. Very rarely do they have anyone outside of a particular sect of Christianity give such a visit.
If schools had various visitors from multiple backgrounds give these visits, then I would be more inclined to be supportive of such practices. However, there are so many various faiths and sects that some organisation would always feel left out and as if their voice matters less, not to mention it’d be a bureaucratic nightmare to legislate and create a quota for. It is therefore, more logical to call for an end to religious visits. This is not to say put an end to religious education, but rather anything relating to spirituality in schools should be done objectively and neutrally, to increase knowledge of various faiths and to call for tolerance and acceptance of these.
As someone who has gone through the education system recently, and is of student age and has only ever been to public schools on the Island, I feel I have sufficient experience to give my opinion. All through primary school we would regularly have a visit from the same vicar from the same church, giving us the same sort of messages. This pattern continued into highschool. We would have the same Christians from the same organisation over and over. We were denied any messages or visits from other religions such as Islam or Judaism. As I grew older, this became more of an issue to me as it felt like the school had some hidden agenda in subjecting us to the same views over and over again.
Religious visits are also counter-productive and actually make students view religion less favourably. The levels of disdain from students after finding out that the “Bible Bashers” were giving an assembly was ungodly. This force of religion into the lives of students discourages them from researching religion or being open to it in the future. People if they have a keen interest in religion, will search out for it themselves.
The current state of religious visits encourages the youth to become close minded and not consider any faiths outside of the one that gives frequent assemblies.
In conclusion, religious visits should not be continued in public schools, as the individual should choose to seek religion themselves, and the only time religion should come up within the public education system is when it is being taught objectively and neutrally to purely increase understanding, and should not be taught with a motive. This should be something the non-religious and even religious (such as I) embrace as it’ll give every religion an equal chance to be heard.