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The Pod Delusion, Andrew Penman and Faith Schools

I recently discovered a pod-cast with the excellent title of The Pod Delusion. As you’d guess, it’s from a secular, rationalist view point.

Just finished listening to episode 56 which features a brief interview with journalist Andrew Penman. In it Penman cogently explains the reasons why he attended church for some years to get into the local state Primary. It was great listening for me – although his dilemma concerned a Primary and mine is about a Secondary School – many of his reasons and experiences are the same as mine. What’s more we both know that many of the other attendees are also faking it but everyone plays along. He makes similar comments about the demographics of his church that I have made about mine and wonders, as I do, just how bad CofE attendance figures would be if the atheists-with-kids stopped going.

The interviewer also admits to faking religion: just how widespread is this practice? It seems that Penman is unusual in speaking about it. He also wrote about this in a book School Daze and an article in The Independent – which got quite a few negative comments on it from believers unhappy at what he did. These same commenters rarely mention the fact that “their” schools are paid for by all of us and yet get to exclude some of us on the grounds of religion.

I heartily recommend The Pod Delusion. You can download the MP3 of Episode 56 here and the Penman interview is about 34 minutes in.

  1. Stonyground
    31/10/2010 at 6:11 pm

    I also find it interesting that Christians have a problem with taxpayers who have been denied the use of a school that they payed for, in equal measure, resorting to deception in order to claim what is rightfully theirs. The fact that such deception is needed is because of the blatant discrimination that is practiced by their Church.

    “Just how bad CofE attendance figures would be if the atheists-with-kids stopped going.”

    I live in a rural area where, as far as I am aware, all of the primary schools are CofE but none of the secondary schools are. As a consequence, non of this attending church to gain a school place occurs. We are also treated to a parish newsletter that we get, without asking for it, every month. This month’s editorial contains a thinly disguised begging letter that quotes some interesting facts and figures.

    “At the 2001 census the population of the area covered by the deanery was 20,341. In 2009 the average number of people attending those 21 churches on a normal Sunday was 328. So for every one hundred of the population, about 98.5 are not at one of these churches on a Sunday morning – though some may of course be in church somewhere else.”

    The average attendance at church services is around fifteen. If the CofE was a proper business they would have closed and sold off most of these 21 churches and would be packing the 328 into the ones that remain. Maybe they are counting on the Good Lord’s promise to provide.

    • 01/11/2010 at 1:31 pm

      I think the CofE is hanging on for dear life and will grasp at faith-schools to boost their congregations. This is why I suspect that, although many Christians know the system is unfair, they will stop attempts to reform or abolish it.

      Heard the next Pod Delusion episode and there’s a piece on Catholic abuses of the few legal safeguards in the admissions procedure. Also some interesting stuff on Nick Clegg’s choice of school. It’s here at about 22 minutes in.

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