Posted by: becketfund | March 7, 2009

UK: Debate Over Rights of Faith-Based Schools

LONDON – The Liberal Democrats have voted in favour of allowing state-funded faith schools to continue selecting pupils by faith, the BBC reported on March 7. The party also rejected calls to ban the establishment of new state-funded faith schools during its spring conference in Harrogate. Pupils who are “old enough to decide for themselves” would be allowed to opt-out of faith-based school assemblies, under the Liberal Democrats plans. Many Liberal Democrats, including frontbench figures, believe faith-based admissions can be socially divisive. However others, including deputy leader Vince Cable, argued, during an impassioned debate on March 7, that they must be a feature of a tolerant society. On March 6, representatives of the Anglican and Catholic churches and Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths had signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper saying that banning selection of pupils by faith in religious schools would be “perverse and unjust.”

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