Many times in history, real change is not brought about by the establishment agencies or organised groups. It is often the power of the individual. And this is exactly the story of Shraga Stern and his mission to protect the values and issues surrounding religious education – in his case, those of orthodox Jewish teachings and practice.
Spurred on by a passion to be able to continue to educate his children in the way of his community and ancestors, Mr Stern set out on a private mission. Modestly understanding that he might not be able to state his case as effectively without some professional help, Mr Stern has cleverly gone to the top – taking judicious counsel from an eminent QC and delivering this via a prestigious law firm, listed amongst the top 50 UK solicitors.
Mr Stern employed these legal brains to conduct an intense review of the law concerning human and parental rights, as well as unpacking the wording and real meaning of the 2010 Equalities Act. In a 19-page letter to Education Secretary Damian Hinds and Education Minister Nick Gibb, Stone King solicitors – acting on behalf of Shraga Stern – claim that the requirement that all schools teach about homosexuality, same-sex relationships, and gender reassignment is “disproportionate, morally unacceptable and unlawful.” They claim, “Parents of school age children have a right under the common law and Human Rights Act for the schools of their choice to maintain their religious ethos.”
Simultaneously, Mr Stern lodged a number of Freedom of Information requests, which revealed that the Department for Education and Ofsted had allowed themselves to be sucked into the talebearing and exaggerated claims of the secularists. More worryingly, the DfE and Ofsted had subsequently conducted investigations into faith schools on the back of such tittle-tattle, becoming in effect a tool for the humanists and secularists in their campaign to challenge so-called religious privilege, and reclaim what they misleadingly termed religious freedom, while making the case for “a fairer, secular democracy”. The irony and hypocrisy of their claims in terms of requested privilege, religious freedom, fairness and democracy beggars belief! But what is equally astounding is that, in the name of political correctness, the leaders of the institutions overseeing our education have so succumbed as to become the mouthpiece of anti-faith groups hostile to traditional family values. Freedom of speech, of course, allows everyone to have their say; but allowing secularist extremism to influence policy and practice is a step too far.
Mr Stern is to be commended for his forthright actions and determination to secure the future of faith education in the UK. It took just one person to save the people of Israel when, escaping from Egypt, they reached the Red Sea and he stepped into the water, which miraculously parted, allowing everyone to follow. In similar fashion, it has taken just one person, Mr Stern, to step out into the sea of politics, in an attempt to stem the tide of Cultural Marxism. Our hats go off to him.