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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Evangelism in schools

Read our report on the activities of evangelical organisations in state schools:
Evangelism in schools ­– The role of external visitors in publicly funded education

Our state schools are being targeted and exploited by evangelical groups as part of their missionary work. That is the conclusion of a new report from the NSS looking into the activities of external visitors to schools.

Parents and schools alike should be concerned that evangelical organisations are gaining access to children and young people by seeking involvement in publicly funded education through the provision of religious education, school worship, pastoral work and the setting up of prayer spaces and bible-based school clubs.

Given the rapidly changing religious landscape in Britain, and in particular the diminishing interest in religion amongst young people (and their parents), it is easy to see why evangelical groups regard access to schools as essential if they are to raise the next generation of believers. However, as a matter of principle, we believe there should be no place in publicly funded schools for evangelism and proselytization.

Main findings

  • There is a significant and growing incursion of evangelical organisations into publicly funded education.
  • The activities of external visitors are often undertaken in schools without parents' knowledge and with little, if any, opportunity for withdrawal.
  • The motivations and aims of external groups, either out of complicity or naivety, are going unquestioned by head teachers, governors, Local Education Authorities and the Department for Education.
  • The presence of evangelical organisations and individuals in publicly-funded schools, particularly non-religious schools, is undermining the Human Rights of parents who choose a non-religious upbringing, or an upbringing of any other faith.
  • The legal obligation on all schools to provide religious education, and a daily act of (broadly Christian) worship provides a foot in the door to organisations with evangelistic intentions.
  • The ambiguity about the specific aims and purpose of religious education, and its low status in schools, provides an ideal environment for evangelical groups to exploit.
  • Head teachers are insufficiently discerning about the external groups they are allowing into their schools.

We believe the growing presence of evangelical organisation in schools should be of concern to everyone, religious and non-religious, who cares about the objectivity and integrity of state education and the Human Rights of parents who are entitled to a state education that does not run counter to their own religious and philosophical convictions.

Read the report:
Evangelism in schools – The role of external visitors in publicly funded education

See a list of evangelical groups active in schools

Who’s in your school?

Our research into the activities of evangelical groups in schools in ongoing. If you have information or concerns about external visitors in a particular school, we'd like to hear from you. Please use the form below to provide us with details.

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