Letter on Bible Reading

The Times (August 1893)
Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, vol. 2

[367] In a leading article of your issue to-day you state, with perfect accuracy, that I supported the arrangement respecting religious instruction agreed to by the London School Board in 187I, and hitherto undisturbed. But you go on to say that "the persons who framed the rule" intended it to include definite teaching of such theological dogmas as the Incarnation.

I cannot say what may have been in the minds of the framers of the rule; but, assuredly, if I had dreamed that any such interpretation could fairly be put upon it, I should have opposed the arrangement to the best of my ability.

In fact, a year before the rule was framed I wrote an article in the Contemporary Review, entitled "The Board Schools– what they can do, and what they may do," in which I argued that the terms of the Education Act excluded such teaching as it is now proposed to include. And I supported my contention by the following citation from a speech delivered by Mr. Forster at the Birkbeck Institution in 1870–

"I have the fullest confidence that in the reading and explaining of the Bible, what the children will be taught will be the great truths of Christian life and conduct, which all of us desire they should know, and that no effort will be made to cram into their poor little minds, theological dogmas which their tender age prevents them from understanding."


C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University