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 The idea that we should be segregating children based on the religious beliefs of their parents is wrong, outdated and damaging to our society.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
The societal division of state education can hardly be said to be in the wider public interest.
Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP
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 wholeheartedly support the No More Faith Schools campaign. Education should level the playing field despite background and give access to the latest advances in science and human progress and encourage freethought and inquiry whilst religion contradicts and/or discourages all of the above. Children are not extensions of their parents but individuals with human rights. Why must they be divided and segregated based on their parents’ beliefs when no such divisions are acceptable when it comes to parents’ race, sexuality or political opinions. An end to faith schools would mean that we finally see our children as citizens and not as the property of their parents and that we as a society value them more than any faith or belief.
Maryam Namazie, Human rights campaigner
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.
Religious indoctrination has no place in state schools. It is a matter for the home and only the home. If the situation was reversed and children were encouraged in school not to believe in a god there would be an outcry from the churches. Well then the same consideration should be given to those of no faith.
My children are forced to pray and sing to a god that we don't believe in. We have no alternative school near enough for us to walk to, so we have no choice but to attend.
In South-West Scotland, where I was educated, faith education (RC especially) is practically universal. There is repeated, heated opposition by clerics and primates to any form of amalgamation of faith and non-faith schools, so that practically none such exists. The outcome of this is religious bigotry and sectarian enmity, well into adult life in many cases, often life-long.
I believe all schools should aim to encourage diversity and an understanding of others. This cannot be done through segregation. No school should be allowed to discriminate access on grounds of religion and we should aim for all schools to be religiously diverse.
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