10 MARCH 1906, Page 15



"religion, irreligion, and Birrelli,gion " contend for the chief place in our schools, are not both Churchmen and Nonconformists, an even many who would not call them- selves Christians, in danger of losing what each desires,— namely, that religious teaching of some sort should be en- couraged and not suppressed? If this teaching is pushed out from school hours, there is no real freedom for the parent to obtain it. The overwhelming majority who desire it will often be at the mercy of the careless minority who want to suck gain from their children's labour. As with laws against excessive hours of work or unhealthy workshops, the com- petition of the worst lowers the standard of all. The decent majority d'epends on protection from the careless few for freedom to act up to its principles. Failing this protection, we shall be driving the next generation into an ignorance which its parents assuredly do not desire. May I draw an illustration from Colonial experience of the possible result ? Not long ago a party of tourists on board ship in the Mediterranean were discussing the seven wonders of the world. Two gentlemen were among the party, of the well- mannered plutocracy which forms the best-educated class in a certain great Colony. "Among the seven wonders," said A, "was the tomb of Christ." Said B: "There is no tomb of Christ, because one day He was walking with His friends, when suddenly there was a dazzling light ; they shut their eyes, and when they looked again He was gone." So far good; "hut," he added solemnly, "I don't know any more except that it happened on Easter Monday." Those who know the Colonies will not ridicule the statement that the man spoke seriously. No doubt his state of mind was somewhat unusually grotesque, hut it could certainly be matched in England. And what else is tobe expected if the burden of special teaching is thrown on parents who, anxious as they generally are that their children should learn the story of Jesus and the favourite hymns, have neither time, nor knowledge, nor skill to devote to the work ?