Little faith in state-backed religious schools

13th January 2012 at 00:00

By tying the Church of England's potential acquisition of the majority of our state-funded school system to the current academies agenda ("Spreading the word", 23 December) we risk obscuring the fact that there has been an expansionist agenda on the part of the Church of England for at least the past decade, since the publication of its blueprint for expansion in 2001.

It is unsurprising that a "national" church to which 80 per cent of the population do not see themselves as belonging (British Social Attitudes survey) and whose services are attended on a monthly basis by under 5 per cent of the population (English Church Census) should see its only hope for future survival as a state-funded service provider. But the idea of government, which should be providing schools inclusive of all, facilitating this drive with public money is shameful.

Most people in repeated opinion polls and surveys over the past decade have expressed opposition to state-funded religious schools, which discriminate against staff, parents and pupils on religious grounds and exacerbate racial, religious and socio-economic inequalities in our society. The prospect of most people in the future having no option but to send their child to one expresses more than anything else the vacuity of the rhetoric of choice with which the expansion of state-funded religious schools in England has proceeded.

Andrew Copson, Chief executive, British Humanist Association, London.

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