Unitarians Join Faith School Reform Coalition
The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the umbrella organisation for Unitarian and Free Christian congregations in the United Kingdom, has this week announced that it is joining The Accord Coalition.
The Accord Coalition, a broad campaign coalition, encompasses a wide range of different religious and non-religious groups and individuals who are concerned at the way that faith schools operate. Launched in 2008, Accord already includes among its members the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the British Humanist Association, the British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and the Hindu Academy.
The Coalition aims to prevent religious discrimination in staffing and pupil admissions in all state schools and for them to be required to teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic education and to provide assemblies and Religious Education that teaches children about the wide variety of religions and beliefs in society.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the Chair of The Accord Coalition welcomed the Unitarians' decision to join the organisation: 'The Unitarians' decision to join Accord and support our objectives not only broadens the wide range of our membership, but further demonstrates that concern about faith schools is not limited to secular groups, but also encompasses those with committed religious faith'.
President of the Unitarians, Neville Kenyon said 'we believe that state schools should be open to children of every background, while jobs in schools should be open to all teachers who are qualified to do them. Schools should also teach pupils about the wide range of different religions and beliefs, helping to better prepare them for life in our increasingly diverse society. We are delighted to have become members of The Accord Coalition which successfully addresses issues of religious liberty and is entirely in tune with the Unitarian ethos'.
For Further Comment
"The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches" is the representative body of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in Great Britain. Unitarianism is an open-minded and individualistic approach to faith that gives scope for a very wide range of beliefs and doubts. Religious freedom for each individual is at the heart of Unitarianism. There are 170 congregations and fellowships within the denomination.
A 2009 YouGov poll commissioned by The Accord Coalition revealed the depth of public concern about faith school practices. The survey found that 57% of people 'agreed or strongly agreed' that "state funded schools that select students by their religion undermine community cohesion", while only 19% 'disagreed or strongly disagreed'. The poll also found that 72% 'agreed or strongly agreed' that "all state funded schools should operate recruitment and employment policies that do not discriminate on grounds of religion or belief", with only 9% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. 75% 'agreed or strongly agreed' that "all state funded schools should teach an objective and balanced syllabus for education about a wide range of religious and non-religious beliefs", with only 8% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing".
For more information on the consequences of current policy on faith schools please see our databank of information which contains high quality research on the topic from reliable sources.