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Annie Brown.

WHEN I was at primary school, the teacher asked those pupils who had been christened in a church to put their hands up.

I didn't know if I had but I kept my hand down anyway.

The teacher was aghast at this sacrilege and asked me why I had not been christened - to which I innocently responded that I couldn't remember, since I had been a baby at the time.

In this shaming exercise, this Christian woman had forgotten that Jesus taught us to "judge not".

This week, the Scottish Secular Society reported that the reach of the Church of Scotland remains considerable in non-denominational schools.

This despite the fact 50 per cent of Scots are not religious and have grown out of having imaginary friends, especially the omnipresent kind.

I was raised by an atheist and a lapsed Catholic and I was told I could follow any religion I chose.

I was encouraged to read books by Oscar Wilde and taught that all men and women are equal, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Surely any real Christian would approve of such an egalitarian perspective.

But growing up in a working class west of Scotland town, I soon realised the Bible had more currency than Oscar Wilde and a progressive upbringing.

Not many people I knew had read the Good Book but being able to say you were protestant or Catholic was critical, in a place where "atheist" didn't cut it.

A non-denominational school was in reality "proddy" and every morning we had to recite the Lord's prayer.

We had weekly visits from the Church of Scotland minister, who would deliver coma-inducing sermons.

Of an evening the boys from the Catholic school would fight with the kids from the "proddy" school, which In a Scotland haunted by sectarianism, religion in schools is damaging taught them that religion is a great excuse for conflict.

I did find God briefly at the baptist church at the age of 12 but the minister preached that a wife was her husband's chattel and with the help of a dictionary, I realised religion was not my bag.

I now resent that my parents had nowhere to send their child where she could be taught without indoctrination. Thank the Lord there were no Muslims in my school or this poor man's Miss Jean Brodie would have imploded.

All schools should be nondenominational and all children should be taught about all religions in the name of tolerance.

It's outrageous that in a modern, multi-cultural Scotland, parents still have no control over whether their children are brainwashed. In a Scotland still haunted by the blight of sectarianism, religion in schools is damaging.

Catholic Church spokesman Peter Kearney this week challenged humanists to "put their money where their mouth is" and build their own schools.

We did, Mr Kearney, our taxes fund nondenominational schools and if religious zealots would stay away, we'd get the service we paid for.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 2, 2016
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