The British government recently required that “faith schools”—religious schools receiving government funding—add a second faith to their curricula, at the expense of time allotted to a school’s primary religious instruction. After initially protesting the law, the UK’s chief rabbi has decided that, in Jewish schools, the second religion should be Islam. In a show of apparent reciprocity, the Association of Muslim Schools announced that it would encourage its members to choose Judaism as their second religion. Sara Lehmann suspects that, contrary to the law’s expressed purpose, little tolerance will follow:
How this new love fest will play out should not be anyone’s guess. If history is a correct indicator of predictability, we should look forward to more of the same. Much of Muslim extremism and anti-Semitism derives precisely from its own educational system—its clerics, its teachers, its schools.
And Muslims already do teach about Judaism. Their instructors [cite] teachings about Jews being descendants of apes and pigs, discredit the biblical and historical ties of the Jews to their homeland, and push a distorted Palestinian narrative. We can now expect Muslim faith schools in England to spend 25-percent more of their time doing just that. . . .
Ironically, the new rules governing British faith schools can be juxtaposed with a report this past month by the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life calling for Britain to be systematically de-Christianized. The report cites a major shift away from Christianity, with the number of people describing themselves as having no religion jumping from less than a third of the population to almost half in just 30 years. It also advocates phasing out faith schools, which it describes as “socially divisive.”
If faith is on the decline in England, why force faith schools to split their time by compelling them to teach another faith? . . . . Jonathan Rabson, the executive director of the National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools, described the new requirements as an “unwarranted intrusion into religious freedoms.” It is worse than that; it is a destructive intrusion into religious freedoms.