The programmatic nature of Statement Two

Next we must examine the extent to which Statement Two is programmatic-, that is establish (as set out in Chapter 1) the extent to which it attempts to ‘persuade’, to ‘reconcile conflicting ideas, to cope with contradictions or uncertainty, or to counter alternatives?’. Here, then, we examine Statement Two from these perspectives.

As already discussed, the rhetorical device of adding ‘Several of the agreed syllabuses say explicitly’ is an attempt to bolster the case being made; that is, the construction attempts to persuade the reader of something. Here it attempts to persuade the reader that this practice is becoming more widespread. As such, Statement Two attempts to demonstrate that a distinct interpretation of the 1944 Education Act is growing in legitimacy.

The conclusion of §35 of the Report includes further examples of rhetorical constructs which attempt to normalize this very distinct interpretation:

It can hardly be doubted that, whatever the change in the “climate of opinion” generally, during and since the war, this new orientation of religious instruction is due in large part to the clarification in the Education Act of the relationship between the Churches and the schools, the conscience clause for teachers, the freedom to distribute religious instruction periods throughout the time-table, and the general tone and emphasis of the Act itself and of the Ministry of Education’s Education Pamphlets interpreting its aims and provisions. The careful preparation for the introduction of the Education Bill into Parliament... resulted in a great enhancement of mutual confidence, the development of a common purpose, and a corresponding sense of freedom.73

The opening phrase, ‘It can hardly be doubted’, is suggestive that the authors are addressing an audience that may include those who have significant doubts about this claim. It is another common rhetorical device often used to suggest that there is no real alternative to the viewpoint being expressed. In this way, it functions here to counter alternatives.

The phrase ‘this new orientation of religious instruction’ suggests a moment of discontinuity or transformation, which the authors attribute to the war. It also suggests that there is a singularity to this new orientation; that is, that all should see it in the same way. The phrase ‘the clarification in the Education Act of the relationship between the Churches and the schools’ is also interesting. It suggests an attempt to reconcile conflicting ideas, an attempt to develop a common understanding of the issue. Similarly, reference to the Ministry of Education pamphlets, mentioned above, points to an attempt to close down interpretations; they suggest that the interpretation work has been done already.

When considering the extent to which it attempts to counter alternatives, there arc two further examples to consider. Firstly, within a detailed analysis of the ‘modified’ Dual System established by the 1944 Act, undertaken a few paragraphs earlier in the ICE Report, at §30, the authors prevaricate in relation to the clarification of the content of the syllabus. They state that ‘The [1944] Act does not contain any word more definite than “religious’”.74 This is in contrast to an earlier version of this material, shared by Yeaxlee in 1953, which categorically emphasized that Christianity was not specified in the 1944 Act; Tn any case neither the committee of Privy Council, nor the Board of Education ever laid down officially what should be taught about any subject in the School Curriculum’.75 So here, there is a tension between the aim of an agreed syllabus and its content.

Secondly, Statement Two stands in direct opposition to a declaration made at a ‘Conference on Christian Education’, held at The Ecumenical Institute (at Chateau Bossey, near Geneva) in 1952, at which the ‘British delegates were widely representative of the various types of schools in Britain and also included administrators’ with two School Inspectors being funded by the Ministry of Education.76 There, ‘it was agreed that [the Church] should never seek the imposition of any creed, whether denominational or otherwise’.77

Rhetorically at least then, Statement Two, and the material supporting it within the Report, function as a programmatic statement in their own right. They serve to attempt to persuade, by reconciling conflicting ideas, coping with contradictions, and as a counter to alternatives. Moreover, within its original context, the portion of Statement Two that is drawn from the Lindsey Syllabus was clearly designed to be programmatic, but—presumably—only within the sphere of influence the syllabus was expected to cover. By taking the statement, augmenting it, and including it in the Report, the statement continues to be programmatic, supporting the normalization of a distinct interpretation of the Act which legitimized a proselytizational aim.

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