Would you be willing to fake a religion to get your kid into a better school? Sending one’s children to a religious school can be a fraught enough experience for non-religious parents without the added awkwardness of having to play along, but according to a new survey in the U.K., 35 percent of parents surveyed said they had or would fake a religion to send their kids to more desirable schools.
According to the Daily Mail, in a new survey for an ITV special called “How to Get Into a Good School,” 35 percent of parents said they either had or would pretend to be a different religion in order to increase their children’s chances of going to their first-choice school. 43 percent of surveyed parents said they would move to get into a better school area, while 26 said they would just lie about their address to get the same effect. 13 percent reportedly admitted that they already had faked an address for that reason.
The poll surveyed 1,000 parents, and 39 percent reportedly said they would have a child baptized if their first-choice school preferentially admitted religious students. One woman reportedly even said that she had joined a church and started attending regularly, just because the school she wanted for her child preferentially admitted practicing Christians and required a Vicar’s note as proof.
Honestly, I can’t say I’m all that shocked or surprised by the survey results, except that 35 percent seems pretty low. I’d expect it to be higher. My parents even tried to do that when I was applying to high schools. The school they liked best was a Jesuit institution that was rumored to give Catholic students a more favorable eye during the admissions process. My mother insisted I could say I was Catholic without really lying, because I had just spent two years in Catholic school, and she was Episcopal, which she figured was kind of the same thing. (She is a believer, but a bit iffy on the specifics of doctrine.) My father was raised Catholic but did not participate thought religion was mainly about getting donations out of people, but that also meant that he figured that since he was Catholic, so was I.
They didn’t actually go through with it, though not for lack of trying. My mother’s intent to say I was Catholic failed when the school’s application asked for the name of our parish, and she did not know what a parish was. She sighed and checked the “non-Catholic Christian” box and figured it was in God’s hands. (For the record, none of this cloak and dagger stuff was necessary. I was one of the top scorers on the entrance exam, and my school admitted students of many different religions.)
My main surprise with the survey is that more people didn’t say they would do it. I can understand how lying about religion is deceitful, but I can also imagine a nonbeliever shrugging and saying, “Sure, you can put some water on my kid if that will increase her chances of getting into Harvard someday.”
What do you think? Would you ever lie about your religion to get your kid into a better school?