10/23/2007

Faith Based Schools in Sweden

In the fight against fundamentalist Islam, Sweden has made a near fatal misstep.
STOCKHOLM (AFP) — The Swedish government on Monday presented a series of proposals banning public and independent schools from introducing religious elements into their classes except during religion lessons. Religious elements "can take place ... but only outside of coursework. Teaching should not be influenced" by religious beliefs, Swedish Education Minister Jan Bjoerklund told reporters. He said religion could still be studied at school as a separate subject but other classes could in no way be influenced by religious convictions.

One has to ask what the point of faith based education is if one cannot teach their faith.
For example, the origin of human life would have to be explained from a scientific point of view and not a religious one, he said. The Swedish government also plans to allocate additional funds to carry out controls on schools, sometimes unannounced.

Unannounced?
So they can what? Check up on the school to ensure religion isn't being taught? Yikes! Did the draftees of this piece of legislation not see the slippery slope they put themselves on?
The measures presented Monday would be included in new education legislation which is to be presented to parliament for a vote. They would apply to public schools as well as independent schools, which also receive funding from the state. Private schools are exempt.

And therein lies the rub.
Recall my chief concern about Tory's proposed funding plan for faith based schools. Here it is in action. The government offers faith based schools money. However, in order to obtain this money, a few small conditions must be accepted. These conditions always appear harmless at first; what people forget is that a small amount of interference eventually leads to control. If a government gives you money, they always retain the right to tell you what to do with it. What happens when the governments wishes contradict the will of God?
One must always be exceedingly careful when accepting money from the government. Sometimes there are strings attached. Strings wind themselves into ropes and eventually become nooses.
Sweden has some 800 independent schools, both primary and secondary. According to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, about 10 percent of these schools have a religious profile. Bjoerklund said the initiative would help improve transparency about the financing of these schools. He cited the case of an independent Muslim school that had received financial aid from a fundamentalist Islamic organisation in Saudi Arabia.

This is the problem with our age of "tolerance." In the interests of "fairness" The Swedish government has proposed tight measures limiting all government funded religious education. However, only one religion (and not even all of it) is a problem.
This legislation still needs to be voted on. It is my sincere hope that it will not pass.

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