Britain May Drop Student Worship Requirement

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government is seeking to avoid additional student unrest over mandatory worship services at state-supported schools in Great Britain.

The Religion News Service (RNS) reported in September that Blair’s government would work to ease the mandatory worship services at the nation’s schools. Under one proposal being considered, high school-age students would be given the ability to opt out of collective worship at state-subsidized schools.

Worship at the nation’s schools remains mandatory unless parents request that their children be excused. RNS reported that Education Minister Andrew Adonis had told the House of Lords that Blair plans to relax the regulations for high school juniors and seniors.

Adonis’s announcement came not long after another Blair minister had claimed the worship service regulations would not change, prompting students at a state-supported Catholic school in London to boycott mass in protest.

After the incident, Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said, “It has seemed intolerable to us that young people are being forced to worship at school, sometimes against their will.”