The government of Sweden has announced it will be banning any religious activities in schools except for those directly related to religion classes. It is also directing that in religious education, religious ideas must not be taught as though they are objectively true. A columnist in the UK’s far-left Guardian newspaper has urged Britain to follow suit, implying that Britain’s Catholic and Jewish schools are a terror threat.
Swedish Education Minister Jan Bjoerklund told reporters that religious activity “can take place ... but only outside of coursework”. He said that teaching should “not be influenced” by religious beliefs.
The move by the government is being defended as a reaction to the rise of violent Islamic extremism that police have identified with many Muslim schools in Britain and Europe. As such the move is supported by the Swedish Christian Democratic party.
“Pupils must be protected from every sort of fundamentalism,” said Björklund.
Björklund used the example of the origins of human life, which, he said, must be taught from a “scientific” point of view, not a religious one.
“This is naturally brought about by the fact that different viewpoints are being discussed, for instance about the creation of the world - one based on science and one on religious views,” Björklund told a news conference.
Björklund told reporters that the Intelligent Design theory would be banned from Swedish biology classes even as a proposed theory. The rules will make it illegal even for faith-based schools to teach that religious doctrines are objectively true on the grounds that this would be “prosetylising”. Prayer, including religious services or assemblies, will remain legal, as long as no teacher in a classroom teaches that there is any reality behind it.
“Teaching in school must have a scientific basis,” he said at a news conference.