Björn Ulvaeus: Faith-based schools should be banned
Generations have been indoctrinated by ABBA – morphed into dancing queens with incantations of ‘I dooooo, I do, I do, I do, I do, I dooooooo’; hypnotised as they gaze into their angeleyes. But the group’s Björn Ulvaeus has been seduced by money money money as he proves that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle as the winner takes it all – except the Kingdom of Heaven. Cranmer would never have had Mr Ulvaeus down as an evangelical atheist, but it appears that he is persuaded that any ‘thank you for the music’ is not owed to God.
In Sweden, as in England, there is no separation of Church and State. But ABBA didn’t think to write a song about it when they existed.
Björn Ulvaeus is a member of Humanisterna (the Swedish Humanist Association) which, just like its counterpart in the UK, propagates its atheistic creed aggressively and seeks to undermine the Church-State settlement. In particular, they object to schools with a religious ethos and to any notion of ‘religious indoctrination’ in the education system. Mr Ulvaeus is of the opinion that ‘schools should provide a safe haven from all ideologies, with the obvious codicil that children should learn as much about as many of them as possible from an objective point of view’.
And this objective point of view is, of course, the secular humanist perspective – the ‘neutral’ filter through which the eyes of the child might behold the light. But not too early, for only those who are ‘old enough to think for themselves... should be free to choose their own ideology’.
He does not specify at what age this occurs, and neither does he explain how children will weigh up the arguments on subjectivity and devotion if all they have been taught are the objective facts objectively. But he is adamant that ‘children should be kept away from anything that bears even the slightest whiff of indoctrination. In fact, freedom from indoctrination ought to be a basic human right for all children’.
And Mr Ulvaeus then explains his humanist reasoning for this. He says, objectively and dispassionately, of course, that ‘religious education makes it more difficult for children to form their own views on the world. It puts obstacles in their way that not all are capable of overcoming’.
Secular humanism does not so hinder, for it is an enlightened creed which may easily be overcome.
He adds that any prominent figures who have made remarkable contributions to society did so because they became free thinkers, and this ‘despite, not because of, their Christian schooling’.
Nothing dogmatic about that at all: a teacher could quite happily impart such neutrality to his or her disciples in the sure knowledge that when they are ‘old enough to think for themselves’ they might change their minds about Christian schooling without ever having learnt anything more about it.
Mr Ulvaeus is awfully muddled and confused, and Cranmer rather wishes he had stuck to song-writing. Having made the case against religion in school, he argues that ‘religion has a natural place in their homes and their children grow up with it. And that's fine’.
Why is it?
Surely religious indoctrination in the home may be as corrosive, if not moreso, than that which might be manifest in a school. What if that domestic religion precludes state education? What if it prohibits children meeting and getting to know their peers ‘on neutral ground’? How does he guarantee that the ‘us against them’ divide he ascribes to schools is not inculcated by parents and grandparents?
The belief in the superiority of one religion over another is far more likely to originate in the home than it ever would in a school.
But even if it be taught in a school, let that school be judged by its academic results and the calibre of student it produces – their social maturity, personal morality, the quality of their parenting, their attitudes towards their elders, to institutions of government, and their whole contribution to society.
It shall be seen time and again that church schools consistently out-perform their ‘secular’ counterparts in all of these areas. Education is not about indoctrination: it should be, as Plato advocated, concerned with pointing the eyes of the child to the light in order that he or she might see for him or herself. But the Humanists would negate even that as a pursuit of the darkness.
Just because there is no ABBA does not mean that there is no God.