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By Dr. Eric Edmond
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What the French can teach us about education and law

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Napoleon was a very great man not just on the battlefield but in his reforms to French law and education. He deemed that religion should have no place in French education and French schools have been secular ever since. Napoleon did it to preserve the rights of man and equality embedded in the French revolution. This has enabled the French to avoid the problems we are now having with Muslim schools, burkas, veils etc. Its Non! No ifs buts or maybes to paraphrase PM Dave.

We cannot do the same because we gave rights to religous groups to run their own schools and instill their own religous beliefs in the children attending these schools taught by teachers of that same religion. This all started with the Church schools attached to the local churches around 1400 and was pretty harmless when everyone was a Catholic.It started to go wrong when the faults of the Catholic church were so manifest and many that Protestantism arose and the wealth of the church was so obscene that Henry VIII destroyed the abbeys etc to get his hands on their wealth. Had the church followed the teachings of Jesus they would have given it all to the poor but they did not, and there the problems started to multiply.

The Church of England run by the monarch was set up as a compliant pseudo religion but the Catholics had to be kept out of the monarchy, hence we ended up with the Hanoverians as our monarchs. The Catholics understanably got a bit miffed at this, agitated for reform culminating in the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 which allowed Catholics to become MPs and repealed the Test Acts that were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and Nonconformists.

English Catholic schools had been forced to move abroad but started to come back in the early 1800s. These were largely fee paying public schools like Downside available only to the wealthy so was of no benefit to ordinary Catholics. I quote from a Catholic Education Service document,

In 1847 a unique partnership was agreed with the State, and Catholic Poor-School Committee was established by the bishops of England and Wales (at that time still vicars-apostolic), to represent them collectively and to focus on the promotion of Catholic elementary education for the growing Catholic population, particularly fuelled by immigration in the big cities and industrial areas.

History has a great way of repeating itself! Irish Catholic immigrant labour was imported from the early 1800s  to fuel industrialists insatiable demand for cheap labour to work in their factories and fatten their profits. We of course are facing the same problem today except the majority of immigrants are now Moslems imported for the same reasons. (There are a smaller number of Polish RCs for which the local Catholic churches are extremely grateful.) The Moslems are now agitating for their own schools which given what has been granted to the Catholics we cannot logically refuse unless we ban all religion in schools.

The Jews have had their own schools since around 1850 although wealthier Jews prefer to send their children to Eton etc. Currently around 60% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools which I believe also take some Gentiles and Muslims.

More worrying is the precedent set by Jewish Beth Din courts. I quote from the Independent,

Jewish Beth Din courts have in fact been operating in the UK for more than a century and are frequently used – particularly by the Orthodox community -– to solve civil disputes. Under British civil law a third party can be used to resolve a dispute as long as both sides agree to the arbitration. They cannot, however, replace civil law. Critics say that because sharia and halakha (Jewish law) uses religious texts to define their practice they are often biased against women.

So when the Muslims want to use Sharia law we find again we have granted these rights to Jews so it will be difficult to refuse the same to Muslims.

The French from Napoleon see this far more logically. Hence they have banned burkas etc in public places and ban religion from schools. We should do the same. Endless UK fudge will lead to disaster. The problem like the third Heathrow runway is there are a significant number of influential Catholics and Jews who will fight against this but the problems will really mount when we have an even larger number of influential Islamics demanding parity with Catholics and Jews.


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