Recent events in Birmingham where State funded, but nominally independent, schools were deemed to have been both teaching, and creating a culture of, Islamic principles. This, the establishment, decided was at best inappropriate and didn’t, in the words of the education Minister, “actively promote British values”, such as democracy, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths.
Who could argue with such thoughts? But before we all nod in agreement, congratulate the authorities for their response and go back to watching daytime TV perhaps we should look a little closer at what has been said and done.
Firstly as Pagans we might want to be a little cautious in accepting the current governments, dominated by the Conservative party, view as to what exactly constitutes “British Values”. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, for example has confirmed his view that the UK is a ‘Christian country’ and calls for a return to “Christian Values” Do we, as Pagans, really want a nation ruled by the principles of another religion enforcing its moral values on all? Values that may well be at odds with those of our own faith?
The history of Government ministers calling for a “return” to “traditional values” is full of examples of Ministers using it as code for repressive legislation or the rolling back of the welfare state. These ‘Values’ almost always really mean “Things I approve of”.
So before we congratulate Mr Gove we perhaps need to consider whether or not he, and others in power, “Approve” of Pagan beliefs and practices, or are we to be next on the hit list of things that do not accord with his view of “British Values”?