The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
The following addresses were delivered under the profound conviction that in the best interests of religion and education, as also of pupils and teachers, our national system of education should continue free, secular, and compulsory.
It is the duty of the State to provide for its citizens a sound scientific and civic education, based on such natural ethic as experience and practice, rather than tradition or authority, warrant. It is the business of the Churches to indicate the divine implications of what the social conscience and an enlightened consensus of opinion pronounce good, true, and beautiful.
While recognising the expediency and necessity of providing specific instruction in morality and religion for our children, the writer of these addresses is absolutely satisfied that such instruction can be most effectively and economically imparted by the Churches arranging with the educational authorities for the use of class-rooms, during non-school hours, for the specific purpose of imparting definite religious instruction, on the distinct understanding that the services of teachers connected with the work of the secular syllabus would not be available in connection with the teaching of religion.
To impose the duty of imparting religious instruction to the children attending our State schools on servants of the State would be little short of a political and national crime.
To impose the duty of imparting religious instruction on teachers in the State schools really involves the establishment of a State Church for children; and if, as Nonconformists are perpetually reminding us, it is wrong and unjust to use public money in teaching religion to adults (in a State Church), it is difficult to understand how it can be right or just to use public money for imparting religious instruction to the children in our State schools. If, on the other hand, it is right that the page 2 nation should endow any form of religion in our public schools, it cannot be wrong that it should endow it in the Church." If," as Mr. Harry Snell, the able and energetic Secretary of the British Secular Education League puts it, "a State religion is admissible for the child, why not also for the man? If not for the man, why for the child?. . . . . A hackneyed reply to objections is that the objecting parent can take advantage of the conscience clause and withdraw his child from religious education. Granted the willingness of any parent to place his children in a juvenile pillory, the financial imposition still remains. If there be any conscience clause whereby the payment for religious teaching may be avoided, tens of thousands of people in this country would be glad to hear of it."—H.M.