Education is the foundation of a new generation, but it still has its flaws. Even in the most secular part of the world.
Western Europe is the most secular part of the world. That is what I hear from people who live outside Europe. Yes, we certainly are a more secular than the average country in this world, but we still have a long way to go. Our states sure seem secular, but there is one elephant in the room many people tend to forget: education.
Western Europe leans towards a generally socialist society, consociationalism to be more precise. Among other things, this means the government takes care of health care, social services and education. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, because (in my opinion) it isn't. It is however, a bad thing that governments in Europe grant religious schools the same privileges as public (non-religious) schools. The government still funds religious schools, which is weird, because you would think a civilised state would have an educational system that was almost entirely neutral. Religious schools still receive money from our governments. They are subsidizing indoctrination.
Freedom of education as a false argument
Freedom of education is often used to defend the right to religious education. For instance, in the Dutch constitution (art. 23) is written:
Public education will be controlled by the law with respect to one's religion or way of life.
The constitution states that public education should respect the religion or way of life of individuals. Nowhere does it say a school has the right to impose or be based on a religion. The case isn't to forbid religious education; the case is to stop public funding of religious educational institutions, and thus the constitution does not apply.
Foundation of the future
Education is the foundation of a new generation, the foundation of progress in the times to come. It ought to be used to move us forward, not backward. The right to neutral education should be a basic human right. We can't move forward when schools teach us what to think. We can only move forward when schools teach us how to think. It is the process of creating new ideas that moves us ever forward.
I take it as a personal insult that the taxes I pay are used to fund catholic, protestant and even islamic schools. I do not want to be responsible for the indoctrination of minds who do not yet posses the ability to understand how this world works.
Why are religious people so eager to defend the funding of religious schools? The answer is simple: none are an easier target than those who are too young to understand. Children are easily scared. You tell them they go to hell if they do not praise an invisible sky-tyrant, and they will believe you. You tell them this in a classroom and it will reassure them even more.
Religious education is in no sense meant to actually educate children. It is meant to poison the minds of a new generation in order to preserve ancient and outdated values of religion without having to actually convince someone who has already experienced the world without a religion.
Their tactics are simple: Get them while they are still young and vulnerable. They know just as well as we do, that when religious education will cease to exist, so will most of religion.
If one truly wants the best for his or her child, one should be prepared to let them perceive the world as they see it.
When you send a child to a religious school, you are locking it in a room with an idea. It will only meet, speak to and play with children and teachers who all hold the same ideas, values and morality. The child will not get to know other systems, values, moralities and ideas. You call that education? I call that indoctrination.
Preaching an ideology is a job for preachers, priest and politicians, not teachers. Teachers should at all times stay neutral.
There are children out there who could become the ones to cure cancer, build space stations or save lives. All children have this potential -- to take it away in order to preserve backward and ancient values is not only to deny something to the child, it is to deny something to humanity. A child put in isolation with creationism can never suffice in a job related to biology or physics. A child put in isolation with the idea that those who do not believe in Allah should be put to the sword can never learn to respect human life. A child put in isolation with the idea that God sees everything can never do anything without a fear of the ultimate judgement.
People who go out on the streets to scare children are jailed, but those who do it in religious schools are praised.
Freedom of education means exactly what it says, 'education'. Indoctrination is not education. Education teaches you how to form an opinion. Indoctrination tells you what opinion you should hold.
Religious schools only exist for one purpose: preserving religion. To my fellow European secularists (but also non-Europeans): Start breaking the spell. Make this issue known and start revealing the true evil that hides behind the mask of religious education.
Your tax money is being wasted on organisations whose only goals are to preserve lies and deny truth, to teach blind faith instead of thought, exploration and questioning, to replace the will to progress with the fear of moving forward.
Not a single cent of tax money should be given to religious schools and there are two reasons for that. First, those institutions are not schools, and second, they do not educate.