Hi, I’m 15, from England and at my school we are forced to take a half course in R.E. Personally, I am very angry about this as I am also an atheist. I asked my teacher if we would ever be studying Atheism and she told me that I have to continue R.E into 6th form in order to learn about it. In order to learn about the only real important thing in R.E, you have to choose it as an A Level. It’s a disgrace!
I don’t know anything about religious education in England, but I’m going to guess that atheism isn’t the only philosophy being given short shrift. I’d also not be very surprised if, when religious education is taught as an A Level, atheism still isn’t presented the way we might like it to be. I’d like to learn more about what you are being taught, and would appreciate any information you can share with me.
Since you have no choice about whether or not to take this class, you might want to consider treating it as an opportunity. The more you now about religion, the more you will understand where non-atheists are coming from. This will help you in future dealings with theists. If the classroom is not an appropriate place for debate on the subject, perhaps you could use the class as a touchstone for conversations about atheism with your classmates. Those who are religious may benefit from discussing their beliefs in this way. Those who are atheists will be reminded that they aren’t alone in not having faith in this material, and if the discussions are intelligent and respectful those overhearing may look upon atheism favorably and consider that you may be correct.
From my perspective, religion is incredibly interesting. Granted, I did not attend a school where we were forced to treat it as truth. Even so, I find the historical development of religious ideas fascinating in the same way that I find the modern spread of urban legends fascinating. Splits in various religious groups, how religious documents developed, different interpretations of the same material — it can all be quite interesting.
Now, none of this mitigates the fact that you are being forced to take a class in religion. Unless the class is purely informational (as opposed to devotional), I think that’s a travesty. But unless you are up to the work of protesting the system, your best bet is to try and make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear. Hopefully, as atheism and tolerant theism gain ground, this kind of class will just fade away.
In: Dealing with religious folks, Help