Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (at least in Swedish schools)

The Gaol Chapel at Lincoln Castle
The Gaol Chapel at Lincoln Castle

According to the Guardian newspaper Sweden is going to ban the teaching of religious doctrine ‘as though it were true’. It may well be a move to try to crack down on Islamic schools, about which Swedes seem either worried or paranoid, depending on your viewpoint.

Could they not try teaching the critical skills necessary to judge for oneself whether something is likely to be true?

Religious schools don’t indoctrinate children by giving them a diet of facts, true or untrue. They do it by creating a community of faith and learning to which students become emotionally attached. In a sense, then, it doesn’t matter what is taught overtly, the mere existence of a network of relationships is enough for a religious school to impact strongly on its students and their families.

One way of making this relational influence difficult was tried in the Nineteenth Century in Lincoln Castle Gaol in England. The chapel was designed so each prisoner would be able to see the preacher, but be completely unaware of the existence of their neighbouring prisoners. That way they would have the good influence of religion without the negative influence of other criminals.

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