Schools in the United Kingdom must teach students that Britain is "in the main" a Christian country and are also not required to promote non-religious worldviews, the Education Secretary has said.
According to a report from the Telegraph, Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, on Sunday sidestepped a controversial High Court ruling which found she "unlawfully excluded atheism from the school curriculum" by issuing new guidelines which state that religious education should "reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian."
The move comes after the U.K.'s high court, petitioned by the British Humanist Association, ruled that the content of the current religious studies program could not fulfill all of a school's religious education obligations, according to the Independent.
"This government is determined to protect schools' freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community," Morgan was quoted as saying while issuing the guidelines. "The guidance I have issued today makes absolutely clear that the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education. I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritise the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious worldviews if they wish."
The new guidelines have been praised by many in the Christian community, including Rev. Nigel Genders, chief education officer for the Church of England.
"There has been confusion about the implications of the high court judgment, and we welcome the publication of this guidance note which clarifies the situation and provides assurance that the judgement does not impact on the content of the new RS (Religious Studies) GCSE," he said, the Independent reports.
Belfast Telegraph quoted a source close to Morgan as saying, "Nicky has had enough of campaign groups using the courts to try and force the teaching of atheism and humanism to kids against parents wishes. That's why she's taking a stand to protect the right of schools to prioritize the teaching of Christianity and other major religions."
In recent months, two of Britain's most prominent figures - Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II -- have stressed the need for prayer and the continuing role of Christianity in British life and amid the continued persecution of believers worldwide.
"As a Christian country, we must remember what His birth represents: peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope," Cameron wrote in his Christmas message. "I believe that we should also reflect on the fact that it is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none."
During her annual Christmas message, the 89-year-old Queen acknowledged that the world has dealt with several crises this year but charged that these "moments of darkness" should not be reasons to become hopeless.
"The Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope: 'Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it," she said. The monarch added that Christianity should not weaken because of these attacks, reminding listeners that Christianity is not about "revenge or violence" but of loving one another.
The Queen also shared her vision of a more peaceful and yet colorful 2016. "Gathering around the tree gives us a chance to think about the year ahead - I am looking forward to a busy 2016, though I have been warned I may have 'Happy Birthday' sung to me more than once or twice."