Hilary White of LifeSiteNews.com reported in February that Britain's Labour Government has clarified that an amendment to the Children, Schools and Families Bill, which says faith schools may teach the mandatory Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) program 'in a way that reflects the school's religious character,' does not, in fact, give the schools freedom to oppose abortion, contraception and homosexual activity on moral grounds.
The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) warned that the Bill and the amendment were evidence that the spectre of 'totalitarianism' has reappeared in Britain.
A statement from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), made in response to protests from homosexualist groups against the government amendment, said, 'Faith schools cannot opt out of statutory sex and relationships education lessons when it comes into effect in September 2011.
'All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the Bill including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free, as they are now, to express the views of their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.'
The statement quotes the Minister for Education Ed Balls telling the Daily Telegraph that religious schools should indeed be 'forced' to teach pupils that homosexuality is 'normal and harmless.' Mr Balls added, 'If their faith has a view in Scripture, they can inform pupils of that. What they must not do is teach discrimination.'
Labour ministers have confirmed that religious schools will not be allowed to teach their religious tenets 'as if they are true.'
Mr Balls told BBC Radio 4's Today program that in addition to promoting homosexuality, religious schools would also be required to promote abortion as a solution to unplanned pregnancy.
Until the passage of this bill, religious schools had the option to teach children that homosexual activity, abortion and contraception are wrong. But that, Balls said, 'changes radically with this bill. For the first time these schools cannot teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach there are different views on homosexuality. They must explain civil partnership.
'They must give a balanced view on abortion, they must give both sides of the argument, they must explain how to access an abortion, the same is true on contraception as well.'
In a letter to the London Times, Mr Balls reinforced his insistence that faith schools would be obliged to abandon their religious beliefs.
More disturbingly, the British Government has revealed that the Catholic Education Service (CES) had assisted in drafting the legislation.
Indeed, Ed Balls thanked Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, and the CES for their support of the bill: 'To have the support of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Nichols, which I really welcome, in these changes is, I think, very, very important, a huge step forward. The Catholic Church is supporting, for the first time, compulsory sex education with an opt out at 15 years.'
Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for SPUC, told LifeSiteNews, 'People outside the UK must know that the British Government's ideologues are just as radical but even more cunning than the French Revolutionaries.
'Compromise and accommodation with this government will result, not in government concessions, but in increased persecution of those who stand up for life and family. Catholics in particular have been placed in this grave situation by an unholy alliance, forged by the fake Catholic, Tony Blair, between the English bishops and the LabourGgovernment.'
SPUC is lobbying against the passage of the bill, and accuses CES of collaborating with a radically secularist, anti-Christian government that is bent on expanding abortion and homosexuality and suppressing freedom of religious expression.
After CES took credit for the Government's amendment, implying that faith schools would be allowed to teach their religious tenets, SPUC responded: 'The only people likely to be pleased with the press reports about the misinterpretation of this amendment are CES who want Catholic parents and Catholic schools to think they are sticking up for them, when in fact they are betraying their principles. CES has only helped the bill to pass by pursuing the amendment.'
Supporters of the Bill are not happy about the amendment either. The National Secular Society said the Government had betrayed children in faith schools, and Alison Ryan, education policy adviser, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: 'We believe this amendment is unhelpful and unnecessary because it upsets the balance of the Bill by placing the religious character of the school above the promotion of equality and tolerance of diversity.'
However, Mr Balls insisted there was 'no watering down. There's no opt-out for any faith school from teaching the full, broad, balanced curriculum on sex education. Catholic schools can say to their pupils that, as a religion, we believe contraception is wrong, but what they can't do is say they are not going to teach about contraception.'
The amendment was passed by 268 votes to 177 in the House of Commons. The bill now goes to the House of Lords. Earlier in February they rejected amendments to Britain's Equal Opportunity Act which would have forced churches to hire non- believers and homosexuals. Let us hope the Lords will rescue Britain again from this latest travesty.
Babette Francis is National and Overseas Coordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc.