Religious Rights and Wrongs

September 4, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Economist

IN BRITAIN, a largely secular country where churches retain their historic role in education, there is little agreement about the place of religion in schools. Some fret that schools for children of a particular faith foster segregation; others cite parents’ right to educate their offspring as they see fit, adding that religious schools outperform secular ones (though opponents say that is because richer children go to them). Such rows tend to entrench attitudes, rather than lead to resolution.

Now campaigners, both godly and godless, are trying to change that. September 1st saw the launch of Accord, a coalition of Christians, Jews, humanists, secularists and teachers who hope to sidestep fruitless rows about whether religions should run schools and instead get them to do it more fairly. They take issue with schools favouring children of their own faith in admissions: “Churches should be championing social justice and equality for all in education, not privileging their own,” says the Rev Christopher Rowland of Accord. And they want to stop schools reserving jobs for co-religionists and those who follow church teachings in their private lives.