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in the rigid sense of those vehement denominationalists who refuse to contemplate as either desirable or legitimate any common teaching of fundamentals. This point deserves the most careful examination. It is surely no unreasonable supposition that an earnest tenure of denominational 'over-beliefs' will at least induce an observance of denominational rules. We may assume that the number of communicants is a trustworthy indication of the number of convinced and rigid denominationalists. In the year 1907 the Easter communicants of the Church of England were estimated to number 2,103,902 in a population of about 34,000,000. The term 'communicant,' however, includes both sexes, and all ages from eleven years and upwards. It is probably an excessive estimate that one-fifth of the total number consists of males of full age. Accepting that proportion as sufficiently accurate for the purpose of the present argument, we get a total of about 420,000 male communicants of full age. The Parliamentary electors of England and Wales, who by no means include all the adult males of full age, number more than five and a half millions. When less than one in thirteen of the electors is a communicant, it would seem certain either that the great majority of the nation is not Christian at all, or that its Christianity tends to take other than a rigidly denominational form. The 'Free Churches claim to have over two million communicants, and if they be added to the Anglicans, we should have one-sixth of the electors on a very liberal estimate included in the list of genuine denominationalists ; but we may well leave the ‘Free Churches' out of reckoning, since (with the exception of the Roman Catholics) they offer no objection to a common teaching of fundamentals. Moreover, if the actual instruction given in the denominational schools be considered, it will be found to correspond far more closely with the undenominational type than with that which is now insisted upon by the exponents of denominationalism. The substance of the Catechism is admittedly undenominational. The Bible has been taught in all the elementary schools by the same methods, and by teachers trained for the most part in the same training colleges. This Bible teaching has in all the schools formed by far the greatest portion of the instruction, and it cannot fairly be described as other than undenominational. Indeed, the often insisted upon fact, that there is no religious controversy in the schools themselves, is properly explicable by this very circumstance, that the teaching given has matched the essentially undenominational type of Christianity which most English folk profess. This same circumstance explains also the singular failure of the denominational schools to impress on the children any strong attachment to denominational Christianity. No complaint is more often heard on Church platforms than the failure of the Church schools to turn out Churchmen; but the reason is more honourable than the complainants imagine. The Church of England has in the main acted

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in the spirit of a national Church, and disdained the lower character of a denomination, when it has put its hand to the task of national education; and by this honourable self-suppression it has been permitted to teach the elements of the Christian religion far beyond the narrow confines of its own strict adherents. In recent years, unhappily, the purely denominational elements in the Church have attained a dangerous prominence, and a new attitude has become habitual among many, perhaps most, of the clergy. The result has been, what a calm review of the national religion would suggest, suspicion, loss of influence, a bitterness previously unknown, finally a crisis.

To these considerations must be added the unquestionable fact that there has been no evidence of any dislike of the undenominational instruction given in the schools created under the Education Acts. These schools have mainly been provided in the urban areas where the Church of England is generally thought to have its main strength : they cannot number among their scholars less than a million children whose parents are Churchfolk, and yet there has been no use made of the conscience clause to withdraw the children from teaching which, if we may believe the self-appointed exponents of parental wishes, does violence to the most cherished convictions of this great multitude of parents. The non-use of the conscience clause has often enough been adduced by Churchmen as evidence that the alleged dissatisfaction of Dissenters with the religious teaching given in the Church schools has no real existence; the argument cannot be less cogent when it is advanced in support of the contention that Church parents are equally satisfied with the teaching provided in the State schools. The conclusion of all this is sufficiently plain. There is nothing to disallow, and everything to recommend, a common teaching of fundamental Christianity to English children. The uncompromising denominationalism which finds utterance on the lips of the selfappointed champions of English parents has no existence, happily, in the minds of the parents themselves. The symbol and inevitable text-book of such common teaching is the Bible. There is no possible alternative. The Prayer-book is notoriously unacceptable to all but the members of the Church of England. It could not be reasonably suggested as a manual for the use of Nonconformists. The Bible is equally revered by all Protestant Christians, and forms an obvious and satisfying instrument for their common education.

The absence of religious tests in the case of the school teachers presents a difficulty far more apparent than real. For, in the first place, the task of the teacher is hardly to be described as the teaching of religion. His duty, as any one who knows the actual working of an elementary school is well aware, is to a great extent mechanical, getting the children to learn by heart facts and passages of Scripture, and giving them explanations which have but little to do with belief in the deep spiritual sense. This is as truly the case in a denominational

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as in an undenominational school. So far as this religious teaching is concerned, the question of the teacher's personal convictions does not necessarily enter into the practical question, and his denominational connexions are quite irrelevant. Next, it is to be remembered that any form of subscription is little likely to provide any effectual protection against personal insincerity.

Probably it will be found that, beyond the obvious provision of safeguards against involuntary teaching on the one hand and disqualifying ignorance on the other, nothing can be done or needs to be done to secure against a risk which, though easily capable of highly alarming description on the partisan platform, is really slight in itself and in the actual circumstances remote.?

In this connexion reference may fitly be made to the deplorable habit, which this controversy has developed among the fiercer controversialists, of applying to practical arrangements a relentless and apprehensive logic which ignores the probabilities of actual life and is profoundly unreasonable. Is the Apostles' Creed offered as a rallying point for sound undenominationalism? We are at once warned by the scrupulous advocate of undogmatic Christianity that there is the most serious risk that the children's minds will be perverted by unsound handling of the clause which speaks of the holy Catholic Church.' As if, in point of fact, the ordinary English Christian saw nothing in that clause but the pros and cons of ' Apostolic succession ’! It would be as reasonable to suggest that the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments were incompetent to serve as instruments of undenominational teaching because in good sooth there are frightful possibilities of the new criticism' about both formularies, and the Sabbatarian question, to say nothing of Socialism, Christian and otherwise, lurks beneath the text of the Decalogue! The rigorous logic of fanaticism is the despair of common-sense, and human life could not proceed for one hour if the indispensable procedures of daily use and wont had to satisfy the conscientious apprehensions which are freely expressed in this unhappy strife. It is the most unfortunate of circumstances that men like Lord Halifax and Mr. Athelstan Riley, and a host of less-known individuals clerical and lay, whose hobby is the hair-splitting controversy of theological specialists, and whose interests are predominantly ecclesiastical, should have been allowed to move into the front line of educational discussion, and darken counsel by their subtle dialectic and insatiable suspicion. If the robust good sense of average Englishmen had been able to have free play, a modus vivendi reflecting the kindly and honest habits of common life would long ago have been found.

? On these points I take leave to refer to what I have said in Religion in the Schools (Macmillan, 1906). See the chapters entitled “Of the Bible as the Manual of Fundamental Christianity,' and of the Teachers in the State Schools.' In this connexion the character of the training colleges bas primary importance.

Unless the handling of practical questions can be resumed by those whose interest is not the pleasant excitement of so-called religious controversy but a reasonable working arrangement, there will be no escape from existing confusions save by the unhappy plan of the Secularists.

From all this the conclusion appears to be evident, viz. that there is nothing in the conditions of a State-system of elementary schools which properly prohibits the teaching of those religious fundamentals on which, in spite of their denominational divisions, English people are agreed. The establishment of such a system, however, is obstructed by the existing interests, material and sentimental.


First of all there are the school buildings, held in many cases under trusts, which require denominational instruction. Next, there are the moral claims of those builders and supporters of schools who have demonstrated by the logic of personal sacrifice that they are conscientiously averse from undenominational teaching. Lastly, there are the claims of those parents who are definitely attached to denominational methods and would feel themselves aggrieved if existing facilities were abolished. The first case is sufficiently simple, and can be dealt with by the now familiar method of overriding the trust-deeds by Act of Parliament. No one will seriously maintain that the national will in the matter of education is to be for ever limited by the arrangements agreed upon by the Committee of the 'National Society. When the legal difficulty is removed, there remains nothing but the question of fair compensation. In view of the fact that these buildings were originally erected for educational purposes, and have been maintained by moneys contributed under the compulsion, indirect but none the less real, of the law, it is hard to see what 'property'exists in them when their educational function ceases. Their parochial uses, apart from education, have been considerable ; and these ought fairly to be provided for, if the buildings are taken over by the State. The case of the genuinely ' voluntary schools must be sharply distinguished from that of the ordinary denominational schools ; broadly this is the distinction between the single-school areas and the towns. It would be clearly unjust to make no difference between schools which have been kept in being solely because they represented an economy, and schools which were only maintained at an evident and considerable sacrifice.

I agree (said Mr. Balfour at Manchester in 1895] that if voluntary schools do not represent great voluntary effort they will probably lose their value and their efficiency. But while they represent great voluntary effort, while they are the outward and visible sign of a great feeling in the country among parents that their children should be educated in the faith of their fathers, then they

deserve, and ought to receive, something more than this bare treatment. And will anybody deny that the voluntary schools of this country answer to the requirements which I have just enumerated ?

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It may be replied to this challenge, that few persons acquainted with the history of the 'voluntary schools as a whole, and with the methods by which they have been maintained up to the present, would allow that in the true sense of the words they represented great voluntary effort,' at least so far as the last two generations are concerned. At the same time, there are a certain number of urban schools of which Mr. Balfour's words would be true. They have been maintained alongside of the State schools, and the men who have subscribed to their building and maintenance have also paid their school rate. Some form of contracting out' would seem to be the obvious course to take with these schools. Moreover, a distinction ought to be made between the sacrifices of individuals which may have their source in proselytising designs, and those of denominational parents which have a worthier origin in genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of their children. The former deserve little consideration from the State : the latter merit very generous treatment. If a system of contracting out’ could be devised by which a clear revelation of parental choice could be secured without any undue burden being laid on the parental purse, or any educational disadvantage incurred, the case of these schools would be easily dealt with. Nothing can be more offensive to the self-respect of a free democracy than the claim on the part of wealthy individuals to impose their own religious preferences on the poor by no better title than that of their wealth ; yet it may well be the case that very much of the money contributed to 'voluntary schools has no better explanation, and is wrongly adduced in argument to prove the will of the people. Even the most ardent advocate for 'voluntary' schools will hardly maintain that if Mr. Carnegie were to transfer his interest from free libraries and church organs to the extension and maintenance of Church schools, the nation would not be entitled to set aside the argument of conscience, and to refuse the evidence of parental conviction offered by his benefactions. The case of Mr. Carnegie would only differ in scale from that of countless subscribers to 'voluntary schools. The amount subscribed is no safe indication . of the desires of the parents. All this points to the necessity of authorising the payment of fees in any schools allowed to 'contract out of the State system. There remains the case of parents, mostly living in the single-school districts, who have a genuine preference for

• It must not, however, be forgotten that since 1902 rating for elementary schools has been universal, and consequently that voluntary contributions, even in single. school areas, have acquired a new moral impressiveness as expressing a genuine sacrifice on the part of subscribers. Besides a very large sum has been raised for chool buildings in the last six years.

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