October 23, 2007

Sweden To Ban Religion In Schools

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.


  1. It seems strange to me that many different theories can be taught in schools (string, for example) but as soon as one even vaguely touches upon the idea that humans may not be in control, Atheists get offended. Isn't removing a possible theory from schools because it has slight religious connotations just as bad as teaching it? Either way you are forcing it. Saying "you can't learn this" or "you have to learn this." Either way, you are forcing your beliefs down people's throats.

  2. So what, we should stop forcing the "belief" in gravity down kids throat? Or what about bouyancy, or how about the entire rest of the natural world/universe science has been able to explain?

    In fact, I'm really quite curious where you came up with this idea that atheists believe humans must be in control. I mean, I know I certainly can't control gravity, or if a bird decides to crap in my yard, or if its going to rain tomorrow.

    So maybe it is the Christians who find it troubling when they are not in control, or more to the point, when their God isn't in control.

    And when does a religious belief become nothing more then "slight religious connotations"? And you may be referring to ID, but if we teach ID, what about the Hindu creation story as that is a THEORY.

    And as an atheist, what gets me offended is when someone things that they know more then an entire scientific community. When their entire argument is based on a book that was written by some guys that lived in the Bronze Age.

    Another thing that should be pointed out is the apparent conception that all theories are equal. When in fact, that is really quite clearly, not the case. Hm... Let's see... Seus throwing lightning bolts, or static electric discharges within the atmosphere? Sure, they are both theories, but that fact is one of them is RIGHT. Which means, the other quite clearly is NOT.

  3. "Isn't removing a possible theory from schools because it has slight religious connotations just as bad as teaching it?"

    No, It isn't. A child's education needs to be based around things that are true, things that can be tested and things that have explanations, This is especially important in a science class.

    As a belief in god requires faith and no tests can be performed to measure it it needs to stay out of the education system. Feel free to brainwash your own kids at home though, Just don't try to do it to my kids in school.

    It's also wrong that you claim science is a "belief" as if it lacks as much evidence as religion. Science is about testable hypothesis that is capable of falsification. Finding out that something isn;t true is as important as finding out it is true in science. The idea of god is not subject to falsification because it's untestable.

  4. Couldn't have said it better, Matt. Like Pat Condell said, if we teach ID then we must teach all other (equally ridiculous) theories, such as, "since there are so many genetic similarities between monkeys & pigs, Man was created when a monkey & a pig hooked-up after a night of imbibement. At least this theory explains the genetic similarities & why no intermediate transitional fossils have been found. We are the pig-monkeys!"

  5. Good point John. Why should it stop at intelligent design? Surely any theory should be taught if evidence is no longer a prerequisite for truth.

    I brought this up in my Let's teach creation in schools post.

    P.S. I'm a big fan of Pat Condell too :D

  6. hahaha, pig monkeys --- ooh ooh, aah aah, oink, oink.

    I'm surprised this is an issue in Sweden since they have the HIGHEST population of atheists, don't they? I thought they were WAY ahead of the game. I'm really surprised it's not the other way around, meaning religious types (the minority) are pissed that Swedish schools are teaching atheism...

  7. D'oh! You said it first, Matt (well, after Pat, that is ;) ). Nice job.

    Oh, & Vamp, a happy "ooh ooh, aah aah, oink, oink" to you, too ;)

  8. i think there's a difference between what's true and what's evident. can't things be true without being evident? does anyone really believe they know it all? i'm not saying believe in something that you cannot prove. but to discredit any thing that is neither proven nor unproven, however, is limiting. if you wish to be an atheist or a christian or whatever, that's a personal choice. anything that a person is truly passionate about, they'll study outside of school anyway, but the complete banning of an idea just seems counter-productive.

    whatever happens,what's important is taking care of each other, and really, that's what's at the heart of all this bickering. saving souls or abolishing ignorance by negating ideas, whatever you want to call it. the intentions are good, and i suppose that's what really matters. as long as we remember that we're all in this together, and there's more to life than our personal ideas.

  9. the flying spaghetti monster will be very angry when he hears of this!