Christianity in schools at risk, says pastor

A Church minister who advises an education board on religious affairs has criticised "do-gooders" in the Scottish Executive, claiming they aim to end the practice of Christianity in schools.

Pastor Alastair Simmons said he fears a consultation into religious observance for pupils is being hijacked by people with their own agenda.

He said it was time to speak up before the "politically correct" aims of a few changed the way that the majority of children learned about God throughout Scotland.

Pastor Simmons, who sits on South Ayrshire Council's education committee, made his views felt after threatening to resign from the council in frustration. Following a meeting with the chief executive of the local authority, he has now decided to stay on in an attempt to ensure that his views are heard.

However, he said: "I believe it is a determined effort by a group of people to push through their own agenda. This is a determined attempt to marginalise Christianity.

"It is a politically correct move to take Christian worship out of schools in a country where the majority of people are still Christian.

He was referring to a consultation that was started by Jack McConnell when he was education minister in 2001 to look into religious observance in schools.

While this does not concern the teaching of religious education, which already gives pupils an overview of a broad spectrum of the world's faiths, it involves matters such as assemblies.

There is a feeling among many in Holyrood, including Mr McConnell, that these should be less Christian and concentrate more on the idea of instilling the belief of a "shared community" in pupils, concentrating on all religions and current affairs.