Evangelical groups push creationism in state schools, warns study


Evangelical Christian groups committed to converting young people are being allowed access to children in state schools because of the marginalisation of religious education, a new study by the National Secular Society (NSS) warns.

The report says there has been "a marked increase in the number of parents contacting the National Secular Society with concerns about external visitors to schools exposing their children to unwelcome and wholly inappropriate religious evangelism and proselytisation".

The NSS has now written to the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, calling for national guidance on external visitors, particularly from religious groups,  to prevent visiting groups “proselytising” during RE lessons.

The report claims that low priority given to RE and collective worship in many schools, combined with the short supply of qualified RE teachers and general pressure to provide sufficient teaching hours provides an ideal environment for evangelical groups to exploit - effectively creating an open door for these groups to push creationism and their own brand of sex education.

Head teachers’ leaders warned that religious theories such as creationism were taught as if they were scientific theories.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Religious education must be clearly delineated as such.

"A line is crossed when religious positions such as creationism are taught as scientific theories for example. Neither are schools places for proselytisation without the explicit and informed consent of parents."

A spokeswoman for the DfE said if parents had concerns about visitors to their child's school they should make a formal complaint to the school.

"State schools cannot teach creationism as scientific fact," added the spokeswoman. "They must offer a broad and balanced curriculum and meet their obligations under equalities legislation. Schools have a responsibility under law to ensure children are insulated from political activity and campaigning.

"Ofsted inspections include a focus on this to enable them to identify any inappropriate practice."

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