I am a political secularist - I believe the State should adopt a level playing field when it comes to religious belief. Even many religious people now recognise that the State funding of religious schools involves giving special privileges to religious communities that are not afforded to the rest of us. This is unjust, anti-democratic, and should stop.
Stephen Law, Philosopher and author.
Faith schools contribute to the fragmentation of our education system and the religious segregation of pupils. This is not conducive to social integration, cohesion and equal opportunities for all. That's why I'm supporting the 'No more faith schools' campaign. I want to see an education system that is free from religious control and that brings together pupils from all backgrounds and beliefs.
Peter Tatchell, Human rights campaigner
If we are aiming for an inclusive society, the fewer divisions we can impose on our growing children the better.
Virginia Ironside, Journalist, agony aunt and author
I support this campaign. There is too much segregation in life. As we live together so we grow through sharing and understanding not by reinforcing a faith or belief or one set of values. Children from all faith and belief backgrounds should be educated together and allowed to develop their own beliefs independently and within the rich communities in which we all have to live.
Lord Cashman CBE
I support the National Secular Society’s campaign to end the segregation and discrimination in our state schools. The idea that we should be segregating children based on the religious beliefs of their parents is wrong, outdated and damaging to our society. It is extraordinary that, in 21st century Britain, we should allow taxpayers’ money to be spent on state schools that discriminate against children based, not on their ability or need or where they live, but simply on their parents’ religious beliefs. While many parents believe faith schools are better than other schools, the evidence is clear that this is simply not true. Only faith schools that use faith as a way to select more academic pupils by the back door get better results. Faith schools serve no purpose other than to divide our children and our communities and they should be consigned to the rubbish bin of history.
Julia Hartley-Brewer, Broadcaster and journalist
I think it's a disgrace that my child's school is being closed down and that he is being forced into a religious school. I do not want organised religion rammed down my sons throat.
Natasha, Great Yarmouth
When I asked the local vicar, who is also a governor at my child's primary school why they still had a discriminatory admissions criterion he said "well how else are we going to get people into church", obviously more bothered about bums on seats in his church than treating local children equally. When I then asked the head why they the governing body had just voted to maintain the discriminatory denominational admissions criteria she said "it's not on my agenda and not up for discussion". I doubt either of these people would want their children, family or friends to be discriminated because of their beliefs yet they promote this when it comes to those not of their faith.
The Scottish Secular Society strongly supports the NSS "No More Faith Schools" campaign. At a time when social cohesion is a matter of great concern, it is folly to increase the amount of separation between different faith communities by segregating children according to parental affiliation. In many parts of England, faith schools already dominate to the point where parents (and pupils) find themselves with no option other than schools whose religious identities they do not share. It is not the case that the specific ethos of faith schools is universally shared; if it were, they would not need to be labelled as distinct faith schools. In our diverse society, it is an imposition on taxpayers, half of whom do not even identify themselves as members of a religion, to be forced to subsidise the indoctrination of children with beliefs that they do not themselves subscribe to. Finally, problems have already arisen within schools of more than one religion because of the influence of extremist doctrines denying evolution, despite the fact that in England the importance of evolution is recognised in the curriculum from the primary level onwards. For all these reasons, we consider that the further expansion of faith schools will work against intellectual independence and good community relations, contrary to the interests of schoolchildren, and of the wider community of which they are part.
Professor Paul S. Braterman, Science adviser to Scottish Secular Society
In our increasingly diverse society, we need to foster an environment of understanding between our differing communities. If we do not allow our children to encounter people and ideas that are different to their own, they may well never come to understand that we all have some common values. By encouraging segregation for whatever reason, we create a them and us atmosphere that can only seriously limit any chance of social cohesion.
Carrie-Ann, Stoke Newington
I don't understand why the government encourages dividing our children and creating segregation along religious lines. We should be working towards a fairer, more cohesive society instead of a society that promotes separatism, which leads to a lack of understanding of others outside of the faith which our children have been given by their parents.
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