Abba singer says schools and Religion don't mix

Without thinking too much about it at the time, when I wrote the lyrics for Abba’s songs the message I wished to convey tallies well with campaigns launched recently by humanist organisations in the UK, US and Australia:

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Earlier this month the Swedish Humanist Association (Humanisterna) launched a similar campaign. And in light of the growing influence of religious schools in Sweden, the campaign could hardly be more timely.

Unfortunately the European Convention on Human Rights doesn’t permit the banning of independent religious schools. Under current Swedish law, independent schools may adopt a “confessional direction” as long as they stick to the official national curriculum and adhere to the education system’s “general goals and values”.

A lot of independently managed schools (friskolor) negotiate this balancing act well, but there are also a lot of schools that don’t.

If it wished, Sweden could choose to refrain from using tax money to fund these independent schools. There is nothing in the European Convention on Human Rights that prevents such a course of action. But Sweden has chosen to go the other way.

So do the legal guidelines outlined above ensure that pupils at religious schools are educated in an environment that does not favour any one ideology or religion above all others? No, of course they don’t.

And are not curious, questioning citizens one of society’s most valuable assets? “Of course they are”, is the ringing response you will receive from the majority of Swedes, of this I am convinced. And these are the sort of citizens we want our children to become.

In a recent debate with principals from two religious schools I was accused of being driven by emotions masquerading as reason. But if we hypothesise for a moment that they are right, then surely the same is true of them. And if that’s the case, who should we listen to?

It is precisely to avoid such conflicts 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.

It’s hardly controversial to opine that people in favour of religious schools are themselves believers. Religion has a natural place in their homes and their children grow up with it.

And that’s fine. But does this not make it all the more important for schools to be free of religious influence? Children need to be able to meet and get to know their peers on neutral ground. Religions by their nature always run the risk of creating an “us against them” scenario. However tolerant we believe ourselves to be, there is always a reason people consider their own religion superior to all others.

One of the school system’s most important functions is to create a feeling of community, where all are treated on equal terms regardless of race, class or creed. Society’s way of treating children with the respect they deserve is to combat by all available means any sense of an “us against them” divide.

In my debate with the school principals, they said that societies which had not encompassed different ideologies and beliefs had never been successful. And they’re absolutely right, which is why we have a secular and democratic system of government.

It is important to guarantee people the right to believe whatever they wish. But people should be free to choose their own ideology or belief system when they have become old enough to think for themselves.

Nobody should have to form an opinion on matters of such weight before they are ready to size up the arguments. Above all, 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.

A 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.

The headmasters also put it to me that there were plenty of famous free-thinking, prominent figures who had gone to Christian schools. But really this just annihilates their own argument. These people learned to be free thinkers despite, not because of, their Christian schooling.

One of them is particularly topical this year, 150 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species. Charles Darwin may have gone to a very Christian school but it didn’t prevent him from coming up with the “best idea in the world”. Nor did it prevent him from abandoning his faith. Because, faced with the facts at his disposal, Darwin reached the same conclusion as the Swedish Humanist Association: There’s probably no God.

This article originally appeared on Swedish English-language website The Local

guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jun/30/bjorn-ulvaeus-religion-schools


Other school / faith related articles:

Poll finds 57% think faith schools are divisive - guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jun/08/faith-schools-divisive-opinion-poll

Education, not discrimination - guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/09/faith-schools-discrimination

Sorry Bjorn, but I think that I’ll take my moral guidance from the Catholic Church and not from a 1970’s pop singer.

What/who is Abba?

If you don’t know who ABBA are/were, then count your blessings. They’re a trashy Swedish disco type band from the 1970’s, and once you get one of their melodies in your head you’ll never get it out, no matter how hard you bang you’re head against the wall. Truly the worst band that has ever existed, bar none.

So Bjorn is going to keep kids free from indoctrination by indoctrinating them in secular humanism. :hmmm:

Yep those principals were correct, his emotions ARE masquarding as reason.

Just reading the title of this thread put Dancin’ Queen in my head, where it will be all day. At least it knocked the song that was stuck there since 4th of July, something about waiting for the chirp chirp chirp of an eagle at it’s birth…just that line from 1776 over and over since Saturday.

I agree that public schools and religion doesn’t mix. If they teach religion in a public school in this country, you can bet it isn’t going to be Catholicism.

Yes, that’s why we send our children to a Catholic school. It is a sacrifice, but then, anything worthwhile is always a sacrifice.

My parents also made the sacrifice to send me to a very good Catholic school. I cannot for the life of me understand why Catholic parents today spend so much energy complaining about the public schools! For heaven’s sake, you KNOW that the public school isn’t going to give your children what they need!. If you cannot find a good Catholic school, then get a good curriculum and homeschool.

The Catholic Church and I have our issues now that I’m an adult regarding political and social teachings-but the foundational theology I received back then is just as strong as ever.

Religion in Sweden? Still?:wink:

Were they as big as the Bay City Rollers?

Oh, btw-thanks so much for putting that 1776 line in MY head…it’ll be days before that comes out…

I agree with the gentleman…religion should be kept out of public schools. If I wish for my children to receive religious instruction at school, I’d send them to a Friend’s School…for those of other faith traditions, they should do the same…but keep religious instruction out of the public school.

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- Night
S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- Night
:smiley:

The Bay City Rollers unfortunately don’t have their songs on a Broadway play and film. Momma Mia has Abba Music throughout.

I’ll be 40 next month :blush:

A while ago I was speaking to my 30 year old friend and said that my son liked “Knock 3 times on the ceiling” by Tony Orlando and Dawn. “Who?” she asked. “Tony Orlando and Dawn, haven’t you heard of them?” “No…I’ll ask my mom, maybe she knows.” :blush::eek:
Thanks.

I’m so sorry. It’s still in my head…chirp. It just won’t go away.

Them younguns can sure be annoying. I saw Tony Orlando about 12 years ago, when the TWA dome – now the Jones Dome, where the Rams play – opened. They had a Taste of Branson. I took my mother to see Andy Williams and we had trouble staying awake. Tony Orlando was wonderful, running around on the seats, holding the mike for people to sing Tie a Yellow Ribbon. He and the Bald Knobbers were the highlight of the evening.

So far, I’ve missed seeing all the versions of Mama Mia. I’m a little old to be an ABBA fan. I pre-date disco!

I Love ABBA. Brilliant music.

That said, I agree with him. Religion should NEVER be taught in public schools.

Who cares what washed up singers have to say? For that matter, who cares what any singer/celebrity has to say?

“Unfortunately the European Convention on Human Rights doesn’t permit the banning of independent religious schools. Under current Swedish law, independent schools may adopt a “confessional direction” as long as they stick to the official national curriculum and adhere to the education system’s “general goals and values”.” To paraphrase: It’s too bad that religious schools are still legal, but the State still owns your kids, and will exercise control of their minds."

That is despicable! How dare a group of sodomite atheists (sorry, they mean the same thing) try to say God doesn’t exist!

I think that we should put Abba and all their fans to the firing squad for this heinous persecution of good, loving Christians like you and me.

Go back to worshipping the Devil, Abba.

LOL

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