Asking children to attend Christian assemblies undermines their human rights, according to a United Nations committee.
A highly controversial new report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child expresses “concern” that pupils in the U.K. are legally required to take part in a daily act of collective worship, which is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character.”
Conservative MP David Burrowes described the criticism as “ludicrous” and said the government can “respectfully put those kinds of reports in the bin where they belong.”
The committee recommended that the government “repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship.” Its recommendations are not legally binding.
Parents can already withdraw their children from collective worship, but the committee wants children to be able to act independently of their parents.
Speaking to The Telegraph, David Burrowes said: “The collective act of worship is not an indoctrination exercise. It is recognizing and respecting the Christian heritage of the country and giving people an opportunity to reflect.”
“The UN should spend more time doing its main job of preventing war and genocide rather than poking its nose in other countries’ classrooms.”
According to Article 43 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the committee is to consist of “18 experts of high moral standing and recognized competence” in the field of human rights. It currently includes representatives from Bahrain, Egypt and Russia.
The report contained 150 recommendations on where Britain could be contravening the U.N.’s charter on the Rights of the Child, including the freedom of parents to reasonably chastise their children.