Christianity should be phased out of public life as Britain is no longer a Christian nation, a report by a former senior judge has said.
A two-year commission chaired by former judge Baroness Butler-Sloss said, among other things, that faith schools are “socially divisive”, daily acts of worship in schools should be axed, imams should sit in the House of Lords and the coronation of the next monarch should be a multi-faith service.
The report also said that Britain’s Religious Education (RE) syllabus was “sanitising” negative aspects of religion and that schools should have a generic “time for reflection” rather than any specific act of worship.
Around a third of state schools in England are faith schools, the vast majority of which are Christian. However, the report said: “Selection by religion segregates children not only according to different religious heritage but also… by ethnicity and socio-economic background. This undermines equality of opportunity.”
As for the quality of religious teaching, the report said that schools “tend to portray religions only in a good light, focusing on the role of religions in encouraging peace, harmony and caring for the poor and the environment, and omitting the role of religions in reinforcing stereotypes and prejudice around issues such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race, and the attempts to use religion as a justification for terrorism.”
It also said that thanks to falling church congregation numbers, and rising numbers of people practicing other faiths, including Islam, the number of Church of England bishops in the House of Lords should be cut. In their place, clerics from other faiths, including imams and rabbis, as well as Evangelical Protestant pastors should sit in the upper chamber of the British parliament.
The Telegraph reports that the Church of England has blasted the report, calling it a “sad waste” that had “fallen captive to liberal rationalism”.
“The report is dominated by the old fashioned view that traditional religion is declining in importance and that non-adherence to a religion is the same as humanism or secularism,” a spokeswoman said.
The Department for Education also defended religion in schools. A spokesman said: “Collective worship plays an important role in schools. It encourages children to reflect on belief, and helps shape fundamental British values of tolerance, respect and understanding for others.
“It is for schools to tailor their provision to suit the needs of their pupils, and parents can choose to withdraw their children from all or any part of collective worship.”