Yesterday, February 23rd, I attended a SPUC Clergy Information Day in York, about sixty miles from here. SPUC is the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, and its purpose at this meeting was to inform clergy about the Bill on Sex Education which is passing through Parliament at the present time. There were three speakers: Father John Fleming, an Australian, who conducted a survey on the subject in Australia, married Anglican convert now ordained a Catholic priest; John Smeaton, National Director of SPUC; and Bob Edwards, SPUC's Honorary Treasurer.
Father Fleming's first point was that there was, both in Australia and in the UK, an alarming ignorance about sex-ed in schools amongst parents, most of whom said that they were never consulted about having sex-ed in school in the first place. Government's arguments for having sex-ed in schools is that if you give children the facts about sex then the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and the number of unwanted pregnancies among teenagers will be halted. Evidence shows that from 1995 to 2004 all STIs have shown an increase, not a decrease, and there is no chance of the Government achieving its target of a reduction of 50% of teen pregnancies by 2010. So, if sex-ed programmes and all the money put into it have not worked, then what is needed is another sex-ed programme. But this time as a part of the National Curriculum and as part of relationships teaching. In this teaching, faith schools (and especially Catholic schools) must teach about contraception, abortion, and how to go about these things and how to get pills etc, and also to state that homosexuality is normal harmless and couples who indulge are part of the main-stream of English life and this is an equally acceptable way of living. The Government, and Mr Ed Balls, the minister in charge of the Bill, seem to presume that children know nothing about all this in the first place and that the Government is the best "person" to put this right. Parents are not involved in this process, whether a child is being given the morning-after pill or even if a child is being taken to a clinic for an abortion by the school counsellor! The belief of the Catholic Church that all these ways of living are immoral makes no difference: children in Catholic schools must still be taught about ways of committing evil, even though now it seems that teachers will be permitted to mention the Church's beliefs. But Ed Balls and company want this teaching to be what they call "value-free"; as if that were possible! The Catholic Church must not impose its beliefs, whereas the State (in the person of Mr Balls and Co) can impose its beliefs: they know best! It would also appear that those pushing this new sex-ed message believe that the Catholic Church, in the person of Archbishop Kevin Nicholls and the Catholic Education Service, are happy with his new Bill. I do hope that this is not the case. Perhaps they should let us know!
A faith school has a legal right to keep its ethos, but Mr Balls and Co. while paying lip-service to this with one breath are demanding with the next that schools promote anti-life, anti-family practices. With national religious bodies failing to defend schools, schools will find it very difficult to uphold the right to life against such an onslaught.
There was much more along these lines, and also a strong reminder that this line of teaching will be done in all state schools as well as in faith schools. There was a strong hint that in the end this was part of a concerted attack on faith schools and the Catholic Church in particular by secularists in attempt to destroy the only strong voice of morality in this country today.
The last conference speaker ended with the ringing statement that UNTIL THE RIGHT TO LIFE IS PLACED AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL CATHOLIC FAITH AND TEACHING THEN WE CANNOT HOPE TO OVERCOME THOSE WHO WISH TO DESTROY US.