Today’s Times front page reports a warning from Ofsted head Amanda Spielman that extremists are using schools to ‘pervert’ education. In explanation, she said head teachers should not assume ‘that the most conservative voices in a particular faith speak for everyone — imagine if people thought the Christian Institute were the sole voice of Anglicanism’.
To refer to and indeed select the Christian Institute as being comparable with Islamic fundamentalism was more than regrettable.
For Ms Spielman to elide violent extremism which threatens actual physical harm with normal orthodox biblical and Christian teaching of the Anglican faith about marriage and sex demonstrates the religious illiteracy of those charged with supervising the education of our children and grandchildren. The Christian Institute is a well-respected research and campaigning organisation which carries out the role of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, or speaking truth to power. Speaking truth to power originates in the teaching and practice of Jesus and the Jewish prophets whose tradition the Christian Institute continues. I trust that someone at the Church of England conference she is speaking to today has the guts to question her ignorance.
If this prejudice and illiteracy is an example of the British values she believes should be taught, we all have to worry.