Following a petition launched by two Welsh school students, a committee of Welsh Assembly Members has agreed to ask the Welsh Government to consider whether the collective worship requirement placed on schools breaches human rights law. Humanists UK and its section Wales Humanists, which have long campaigned against the divisive and discriminatory requirement and in favour of an alternative requirement to hold inclusive assemblies, have welcomed the news.
Under UK law, all schools must hold a daily act of collective worship, and in schools without a religious character this must be of ‘a broadly Christian character’. The UK is the only country in the world that imposes Christian worship in this way.
The petition, launched by school girls Rhiannon and Lily last month, read: ‘We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to pass a law that removes the obligation on schools to hold acts of religious worship.’
In response, the Welsh government stated that: ‘Collective worship should be sensitive to the range of beliefs held by pupils and the non-beliefs held by pupils in the school and should give them the opportunity to worship, without encouraging them to do something that is against their beliefs’. But the Welsh Assembly petitions committee has nonetheless made the decision to write to the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams, asking her to properly consider the petition and its recommendation.
Wales Humanists coordinator Kathy Riddick commented, ‘Forcing children to worship a god they may or may not believe in is obviously unacceptable and represents an affront to young people’s freedom of religion or belief. It shouldn’t take two school pupils to convince the Welsh Government of this, but nevertheless we hope Kirsty Williams will now give this the attention it deserves and remove this archaic and discriminatory requirement as soon as possible.’
For further comment or information please contact Humanists UK on 0207 324 3078 or email@example.com.
Read more about Humanists UK’s work on collective worship: https://humanists.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/collective-worship/.
At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.
Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanists.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/