So let's not resurrect blasphemy codes around Christianity. Let's continue to tear them down and do the same with Islam. Future generations with thank us for it, as will the millions of freedom-loving liberal Muslims around the world living under the intolerable oppression of fundamentalism.
The time has come to strip organised religion of the privilege of being allowed to act as gatekeepers to publicly funded services. Unfair religiously discriminatory admissions arrangements need to be consigned to history and the whole role of religion in modern schooling revaluated.
Terrorist atrocities have a way of bringing the nation together, albeit temporarily. We need a glue to keep us together. Political leaders and civil society must work together in building a more assertive culture that robustly, actively and unashamedly promotes democratic values such as the separation of religion and state, the rule of law, human rights and equal treatment. In that way, secularism can protect us all.
Schools are the ideal place to foster a more tolerant and inclusive Britain and to encourage a healthier, more knowledgeable and sexually autonomous younger generation. Education policy that panders to religion will fall short of delivering this.
For years a small yet vocal minority of committed Christians have sought to perpetuate the myth that Christians in the UK are being persecuted for their beliefs and that UK equality law 'marginalises' them. So successful have they been in promulgating this myth, that the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a major program of research to assess the effectiveness of the legal framework relating to religion or belief.
Recent decades have seen great strides in equality and anti-discrimination legislation. Perhaps the most regrettable outcome of this ruling is that it will be used as a rallying cry for religious exemptions and the rolling back of equality law. Britain is better for our equality laws, it's imperative that we defend them.
There's nothing anti-religious about advocating for secular schools that are open, inclusive and equally welcoming to all children, whatever their religion and belief backgrounds. Religion is fine for those that want it, but Britain's rapidly changing religious landscape screams for the scaling back of religious control of the classroom.
In a move devoid of any common sense, Theresa May's government looks set to capitulate to the demands of religious groups by relaxing admissions rules for faith-based academies, allowing them to select all pupils along religious lines. It's hard to think of a more retrograde policy than the facilitation of greater religious segregation of children and young people in our education system.
Despite the vast majority of Brits being secular in outlook and largely indifferent to religion, our political structures and institutions have failed to keep pace with changing demographics. This leaves the privileged position of the established Church looking increasingly incongruous with the reality of modern life.
The UK has some of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the world. Britain is rightly regarded globally as a tolerant nation; one where everyone, within reasonable limits, can enjoy freedom of religion or belief and is legally protected from discrimination on the grounds of their religion or belief...
Both the Anglican and Catholic Churches have long been able to use publicly funded schools to inculcate children into their religious traditions. Their reluctance to let go of that privilege is understandable. But for the sake of young people's future, people of all faiths should accept that faith-based education isn't in Britain's best interest.
We've almost won the argument on compulsory worship, let's just hope we don't have to wait so long for people to finally admit that organising education around parents' religious beliefs really isn't the greatest idea.
This week it was revealed that officials at the Department for Education (DfE) are investigating up to fifty unregulated schools set up by Islamists, including several established by a former teacher at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse scandal.
The Government may not have the courage or even the conviction to question the wisdom of faith schools, but it certainly shouldn't be entertaining the idea of dictating to local authorities that they must subsidise religious segregation in the form of free transport to faith schools.
05/11/2014 11:48 GMT
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