ConservativeHome reports via the BBC... "All new religious schools could have to offer at least 25% of their classroom places to "non-believing" children, the BBC has learned. Education Secretary Alan Johnson believes the move could reduce religious and racial tension. His plans stipulate that where there is "strong local opposition" to the policy, councils would need government consent before implementing the quota. A Conservative Party spokesman said they welcomed the proposals."
I find this a terribly difficult issue. We talked about it with Ann Widdecombe on Vox Politix on Thursday. She and my co-presenter Zoe-Anne Phillips almost came to blows about it. I am not religious, but I do believe in religious freedom. Religious freedom of expression is coming under attack from all quarters at the moment, sometimes understandably, sometimes not. The case of the BA employee who was suspended for wearing a crucifix is especially worrying. Britain is still a Christian country, whether some like it or not. BA say they suspended the lady for wearing jewellery. For Christians, wearing a crucifix is just as important to them as wearing a turban is to Sikhs. I doubt very much whether BA would suspend a sikh for wearing a turban.
Faith schools are a good thing as long as they teach children that there are indeed other religions. Most faith schools accept children from denominations other than their own. They don't need to be required by Government to do so. School admissions should not be the concern of central government bureaucracy. I'm sorry my own Party seem to be welcoming this initiative. They shouldn't. I thought we were supposed to be trusting education professionals to do their jobs without goverment interference.