Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BHA: Government should listen to critics of religious 'free schools'

BHA: Government should listen to critics of religious ‘free schools’

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 01:35 PM PDT

The BHA has urged the government to listen to senior Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors who have attacked the introduction of ‘free schools’, raising concerns that they could create ethnic or religious enclaves and undermine community cohesion.

Speaking to The Guardian Cllr Les Lawrence, Conservative cabinet member for children’s services in Birmingham, said that independent state schools run by religious groups were ‘deeply worrying’ because they would not be required to teach about other beliefs. He said he preferred a system ‘whereby all faiths are taught in schools [in religious education lessons], irrespective of the primary faith’. Cllr Lawrence also raised concerns that ‘free schools’ could lead to segregation and division: ‘The city council has raised concerns about community cohesion. It is an exclusive, not an inclusive type of education that they would provide, not the kind of comprehensive ethos we have developed in this city.’

These concerns were echoed by Kath Pinnock, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Kirklees council, who warned that a new free school in her area could lead to an ethnically segregated education system.

BHA faith schools and education campaigns officer James Gray commented ‘These latest contributions to the debate demonstrate that opposition to free schools cuts across political divides. Critics from all the main Westminster parties have joined parents and teachers in raising concerns about the threat to community cohesion and objective teaching that ‘faith’ free schools pose.’

‘We urge the government to introduce robust safeguards to prevent a school system becoming even more fragmented along religious lines, and with potentially thousands of children left unprotected against extreme religious views.’

Related articles:

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2.      BHA: priest’s suggestion that children of unmarried couples should be turned away from Catholic schools is ‘deeply unjust’

3.      Silencing "Day of Silence": Fundamentalist groups fight free speech in schools

BJC announces 2011 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest

Posted: 25 Oct 2010 08:51 PM PDT

High school juniors and seniors are invited to enter the 2011 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest, sponsored by the Religious Liberty Council of the Baptist Joint Committee.

By writing an essay on the assigned topic, students have the opportunity to win a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C. Prizes of $500 and $100 are also available.

The 2011 topic asks students to use a single example or multiple examples to explain how religious rights clash with other rights or laws in America and how the student would determine an appropriate outcome. Essays should be between 800-1,200 words and must be postmarked by March 15, 2011.

Visit for the complete 2011 topic, examples and essay contest rules.

Click here to download a 4-page pdf document containing the complete rules and entry forms.

Related articles:

1.       Baptist Joint Committee announces winners of 2010 Religious Liberty Essay Contest

2.      CFI Announces Video Contest Winners

3.      Atheists select Des Moines, Iowa, as venue for 2011 convention, April 21-24, 2011



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