Most Britons Support Teaching of Christianity in School, Poll Says

Almost two-thirds of adults questioned by Oxford University in a survey said they support the teaching of Christianity in schools, and two-fifths said teaching about the faith needs more attention in religious education lessons.

Oxford University asked 1,800 people whether they want the majority religion taught in schools, and the outcome shows that the majority, 64 percent, supports teaching Christianity to pupils to help them understand English history.

The survey was part of Oxford's department of education's new project which seeks to support teachers in the presentation of Britain's principal religion in religious education lessons.

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While 43 percent of those surveyed said more attention should be given to teaching about Christianity in religious lessons, 37 percent said many religious education teachers do not know enough about Christianity to be able to teach it effectively.

Asked which topics of Christianity should children be taught about, 58 percent said history of Christianity, 56 percent said knowledge about major festivals such as Easter and Christmas, and 51 percent said the Christian way of telling right from wrong.

What's more, over a third, 38 percent, said the Bible should be taught in school, and 30 percent said pupils should be taught the Lord's Prayer.

Religious education is compulsory in state schools for pupils aged five to 16.

The department of education has said inspectors have raised concerns about how religious education is taught in schools. "One problem identified in research literature is that teachers are sometimes nervous about tackling issues related to Christianity because they are worried that it could be considered as evangelizing."

John Keast, chairman of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, also said inspection reports show that the teaching of Christianity is too weak. "Research and training are key to improving the teaching of all aspects of RE [religious education], but with opportunities for teachers of RE to access good quality training now being so cut back, this initiative is a welcome step forward," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The survey results show that while the government shies away from the country's Christian roots and has been overcautious that it must not be seen as "cultural imperialist," people are being deprived of the Christian education they are looking for.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in the nation's cabinet, recently said Britain should become a country where people are not ashamed of saying they are Christians. "We need to create a country in which people can be unashamedly proud of their faith – where they don't feel that they have to leave religion at the door," Lady Warsi, who is also co-chair of the ruling Conservative Party, said in an article in Daily Telegraph. "That means being proud of Christianity, not downgrading it."

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