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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The easy option?

Christian Today tells us that “Last week's publication of A-level results marks the sixth year in a row that the number of students taking Religious Studies A-level has risen, with an increase of 4.7 per cent over 2008.”

The received wisdom on this – I don’t have anything to cite but you hear it said every year – is that RE (or religious education) is an easy option. A young person wishing to make up the numbers and ensure they have enough A-level subjects for university will opt for RE.

So how does Christian Today justify the following?

Church educationalists point to the subject’s popularity as a vivid sign that young people are interested in exploring religious and spiritual perspectives of the world, and in studying the moral and cultural frameworks people share across diverse globalised societies.

How do they know that? What is a vivid sign? This suggests that it’s a sign of this over possible signs of just about all other possibilities. Can people who make such sweeping statements based on the number of RE A-levels taken – without quizzing every candidate on their motives and getting straight answers – call themselves educationalists?

If teenagers are so interested in religion, how come the numbers of worshippers in Christian churches is in decline?

Christian Today even puts a link to some prayers young people can use. Here’s an example, set out like verse:

Heavenly Father
We thank you that you love us
Whatever qualifications we hold, or whatever path we take.
Help us, wherever we can,
To follow in the footsteps of your son,
Jesus Christ.

In other words:

Heavenly Father,
We’re guessing that you love us no matter how shit we are;
We know you don’t mind whether we pass or fail, whether we’re good or crap
And that an RE qualification will be no practical good in the real world anyway,
So help us to be a nomadic preacher and go fish for some, ah, men!
Oh, yes!

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