U.K. Students Failing in Faith?

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LONDON - Schools in England have taught core values of the Christian faith for years.

Yet, a new report reveals students in the United Kingdom are confused and even ignorant about their Christian heritage.

The Transforming Religious Education report found that greater attention was being paid to the religious experiences of children of other faiths besides Christianity.

The Office for Standards in Education that conducted the report visited nearly 200 schools over three years for the study.

"It is evident that there is uncertainty among many teachers of religious education about what they are trying to achieve in the subject, including how to approach teaching on Christianity," researchers said in their findings.

Rev. Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England's chief education officer, said she is concerned by the results. She feels teaching children the core elements of Christianity is vital.

"It's obviously important that students understand the core beliefs of Christianity and what that means for people in terms of understanding English culture because it's been so powerful of the years," she explained.

So what kind of understanding do young English students currently have of the Christian faith? CBN News spoke to students at Newton Primary School in Chester.

"The holy book is the Bible. They worship in churches. The holy day is a Sunday," one student said.

"If you're a Christian then you believe that Jesus died on the cross and if you didn't, then we wouldn't be going to Heaven," another added. "And He took our sins away so we could be with Him."

Former Bishop of Rochester Rev. Michael Nasir-Ali said he believes England is in danger of losing it's Christian heritage if schools don't provide the right frame work for beliefs.

"The values that arise will also arise from the Christian faith. That has happened in the past," he explained. "We are living now on past capital. Very much on those values. But if the faith is no longer there, the values also will be challenged and disappear."

He called for schools to teach people more about the nature of religious experience.

"It says that whilst the spiritual experience of some pupils is valued, that of Christian pupils is generally not valued and sometimes not even heard," Nasir-Ali said. "This is a matter of great concern in a country where 72 percent of the population describes itself as Christian."

Many U.K. Christians say the report highlights the increasing marginalization of believers in all aspects of society. Several are taking action to try and bring the nation back to its godly roots.

*Originally aired July 2, 2010. 

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Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News United Kingdom Correspondent

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