School worship report slammed

Rev David McIlveen. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye
Rev David McIlveen. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye

A new report calling for a more inclusive system of worship in Northern Ireland schools – to reflect a “general decline” in Christianity – lacks credibility, a veteran Free Presbyterian minister has said.

The study, which has been produced by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, also recommends that Religious Education should “include more religions and non-religious worldviews on the same basis as religions”.

However, Rev David McIlveen said he did not believe its authors could “substantiate the arguments they are trying to present”.

The former minister said he acknowledged the influence of Christianity in society is not what it once was, but said: “Christianity still has a very central part to play in terms of the structures of our society. I think there is a great effort to pressurise people into this ‘all inclusiveness’ but I think that is really a cover up for a capitulating, or a compromising, of the very foundation and belief that our nation has endorsed for many generations.”

Rev McIlveen added: “Coming out of the Dark Ages, it was Christianity that brought the people out of those very dark times...and I think we have to keep in mind the whole pivotal role of Christianity should not in any way be threatened or undermined by a report that I believe lacks credibility.”

Chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the commission includes 20 representatives from a range of religious and non-religious backgrounds across the UK. It spent two years looking at the role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain and Northern Ireland.

The ‘Living With Difference’ report said: “The religious landscape in this country has been transformed in the last few decades and now includes a large proportion of people who identify themselves as not religious, and censuses and surveys suggest this proportion is increasing rapidly.”