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Am I a Cheat?

School admissions, those who cheat to get into their chosen school and, inevitably, faith schools are in the news again.

I followed some of the coverage on Radio 4 yesterday. Predictably, a lot of issues were conflated and much of the coverage was about parents hiding their real address, but it did seem to imply that people who attend church to get their child into their preferred school are also guilty of cheating.

Am I cheating? The local guidelines imply that attending church such-and-such times for such-and-such  years before the deadline is the criteria for getting the vicar’s signature. If I do this – whilst remaining a steadfast atheist – am I cheating? In terms of the letter of the guidelines, No; in terms of the spirit, Yes.

But what needs pointing out is that these rules are unfair. My child will be denied a place at the nearest state-funded secondary because we are not Christians. (More accurately, because we don’t have a faith; I believe Muslims are given preference over non-believers in the local rules.)  Yet, we pay the same taxes as the believers to fund this school – don’t fall for the line that the Church supports these schools to any significant degree: all running costs and 85% of capital costs are met by the state.

In this situation, I will continue to “cheat” and attend church.

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  1. Stonyground
    14/11/2009 at 2:43 pm

    No you are not a cheat. It is the system that is corrupt and dishonest. I have one daughter, 13 next April, and I am fortunate to live in an area with a good selection of high achieving schools so I did not have to go through this charade.

    Had I been forced to attend church in the way that you have I would certainly have been taking notes on the vicars’s sermons and might have considered writing a book on the experience, so I shall be following your blog with great interest.

    Have you considered informing the NSS about your blog? They are very interested in this matter. You can get letters published in their e-newsletter by contacting letters@secularism.org.uk

    • 19/11/2009 at 12:46 pm

      Hi Stonyground – sorry it took so long to get your comments on the blog: they ended up in the Spam box for some reason. I have now changed the filters.

      I have considered taking notes on the sermons and so forth. To be honest, most are nonsense but pretty unobjectionable: a bit like an extended Thought for the Day. There are some exceptions however. There was the time we were asked to turn to another member of the congregation and explain how we came to our faith. I swear my toes didn’t un-curl for a week!

      I probably should let the NSS know about the blog. Still gaining in confidence using the thing at the moment.

  2. Stonyground
    19/11/2009 at 5:39 pm

    How did you come to your faith? What did you tell them?

    For myself, I read a lot, particularly science books, I became aware that there were lots of religions. Non of these religions made much sense and I had no reason to think that mine was special. When I learned about biology and anatomy at school I realised that I was a part of the animal kingdom and that the notion of an afterlife was absurd. Once you realise that there isn’t much point in religion is there?

    • 20/11/2009 at 9:26 am

      What did I say? I mumbled something about it being very personal and perhaps she had better tell me about her faith. Which she did. At length.

      I came to my non-faith over a period of time. My family were CoE and we went to Church most Sundays – however, they were not dogmatic and never tried to push it. I did go to Confirmation classes at about the age of 12. I remember the vicar trying to explain the Trinity to me. The more he tried, the more I realised: This is just made up stuff. I think that’s when my disbelief really started.

      • dan
        02/04/2012 at 8:33 pm

        I think there is a lot of midunderstanding

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