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No justification for forcing religious services on young people

July 19, 2006 12:00 AM

Commenting on the acceptance of a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill that would give pupils aged 16 and above the right to absent themselves from collective worship, Baroness Joan Walmsley, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson in the Lords said:

"There is no justification for forcing young people to take part in a religious service with which they do not agree. Freedom of worship, or non-worship in this case, is a basic part of our rights as citizens of a free country.

"It is totally contradictory to say we think young people are old enough at 16 to work and pay taxes, get married and even fight for their country but then not give them the right to choose whether they participate in worship.

"Forcing young people to attend religious services is self defeating. If we want young people to behave more maturely, we have to give them responsibility for their own decisions over such personal issues as religion."