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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Archbishop’s Defence of Faith Schools “Disingenuous and Self-Serving”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s defence of Church schools as promoting community harmony is described by the National Secular Society as disingenuous and self-serving. Keith Porteous Wood, the NSS’s Executive Director said: “The concept of faith schools is self-evidently divisive. The existence and expansion of Church schools simply provides other religions and denominations with a justification to demand their own schools. Religious schools divide society on religious lines, which often also correspond to ethnic lines.

“The best chance to encourage integration is to do so in schools that reflect the diversity of the whole community. We should make all state schools open equally to children of all faiths and none.

“The expansion of Church of England schools means that Muslim, Hindu and Jewish communities will demand more and more religious schools of their own – and this in turn will drive a bigger wedge between children from different communities. This increasing tendency to define children by their parents’ religion will increase ignorance and suspicion between communities that will have even less opportunity to get to know each other.

“The whole point of faith schools is to give the impression that the religion or denomination they represent is superior. Some even preach that those who do not follow their religion will face eternal damnation, torment and burning in hell. Nothing could be more divisive.

“The most vociferous proponents of keeping or expanding faith schools are those with a vested interest. It is no surprise that the Archbishop is so keen on these schools. His Church has got most to gain from them. With around a million pupils, his Church runs more state-funded schools than any other religious body. Schools are the only hope of saving the Church of England from extinction. Attendance has been in decline for the last six decades and this is set to continue as two thirds of secondary school pupils define themselves as not belonging to any religion[1].

“The increasing tensions between religions are only going to get worse if the Government continues on its religion-obsessed path of opening more and more ‘faith’ schools.”

[1]http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR564.pdf


Published Mon, 13 Mar 2006