Poll reveals children's fear of other faiths


One in 10 children in primary schools thinks that people who are religious, or from a different religion from their own, are "dangerous", according to a survey.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Bible Society, also found that nearly three in four teachers believe the education system could do more to tackle inter-religious strife by changing children's attitudes.

More than 25 per cent of teachers believed that teaching the Bible and other sacred texts could improve social cohesion. But less than half were confident about using religious texts in their lessons.

The survey, which polled teachers and children aged 8 to 15 from schools throughout England and Wales, also revealed that more than 20 per cent of pupils had never been exposed to any of six listed scriptures from different religions, which included the Torah.

At a meeting to discuss the findings in Parliament this week, Bible Society chief executive James Catford said every pupil should be exposed to the Bible. "Understanding religion is essential to understanding and engaging in the modern world," he said.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, of Kinloss Synagogue, noted that religious stories could provide the building blocks for understanding, "but when they are badly taught, they can do terrible damage."

The survey comes amid government discussions on reforms to GCSE studies to improve interfaith understanding. Proposals would require students to study at least two faiths for the course, whereas now they can confine themselves to one.

But the National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools says that some Jewish schools would drop GCSE religious studies rather than comply with the change.

Najos director Jonathan Rabson said: "We contest the notion that the only way to foster such respect for fundamental British values is by imposing the study of other religions."

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