Making kids attend Christian worship at school violates their human rights – UN

© Toby Melville
Forcing British children to attend Christian school assemblies undermines their human rights, a UN committee has warned.

A UN committee said Britain may be breaching the Charter on the Rights of the Child by making pupils attend Christian worship at school.

The report by the 18-person committee expressed concern over the practice, which is commonplace in British schools, arguing it may violate a child’s “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

While advocates of secularism in the UK welcomed the findings, critics derided the report’s conclusions as “ludicrous.”

UN officials said they are concerned pupils in publicly-funded schools are required by law to take part in daily religious worship which is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character.”

The committee singled out Northern Ireland and Scotland for not allowing children to withdraw from collective worship without parental permission.

The Committee recommends that the State party repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship in publicly funded schools and ensure that children can independently exercise the right to withdraw from religious worship at school,” the report said.

The UN went on to criticize Britain for failing to make sexual education mandatory in all schools and called on the government to protect children from being smacked by parents.

National Secular Society executive director Keith Porteous Wood welcomed the report’s conclusions.

Laws that mandate worship are inimical to religious freedom and go beyond the legitimate function of the state,” he said in a statement.

Porteous Wood added that he hopes the UN recommendations “will encourage the Government to ensure that young people’s long overdue right to objective, comprehensive and age-appropriate sex and relationships education is put on a statutory basis.”

However, Tory MPs rebuked the report’s findings, describing them as “ludicrous and mad.”

The collective act of worship is not an indoctrination exercise. It is recognizing and respecting the Christian heritage of the country and giving people an opportunity to reflect before the beginning of the day,” David Burrowes MP told the Telegraph.

The UN should spend more time doing its main job of preventing war and genocide rather than poking its nose in other countries’ classrooms. We can respectfully put those kind [sic] of reports in the bin where they belong.