Kelly condemns religious isolationism
But under EU anti-discrimination laws, Muslim schools are entitled to the same state funding as Anglicans, Catholics, and Jewish groups, which all have well-established faith schools in the UK. Essentially, the British Government is constrained to fund all faith-based education equally, or to cease funding them altogether. The dilemma for any political party is that the Church-based schools have traditionally yielded among the best exam results, and they are very popular with parents. The withdrawal of state funding from these would be politically unacceptable.
But to insist that all faith schools are somehow ‘equal’ is to ignore history. Most of the state-funded Church of England schools are not ‘religious’ in the sense of proselytising. For many years, these were the only means by which poorer children could obtain any education at all, and the ‘religious’ dimension is little more than nominal. It is important to distinguish between schools with historical religious affiliation, and those that actively seek state funding to promote a particular religious worldview.
But isn’t this agenda a little hypocritical coming from the Opus Dei representative to HM Government? One Scottish bishop has stated that Catholic education is ‘divisive’ and contributes to the problem of sectarianism. There has been evidence of abuse (many kinds) in Roman Catholic schools for decades, yet they have not been threatened with closure. Apart from the Church itself, the Catholic school system represents the only significant social institution of civil society over which the Catholic community, through the Church, exercises a degree of control. Some of them might even be deemed guilty of ‘glorifying terrorism’ through their tacit support of the IRA or projects on the ‘Bloody Sunday massacre’. Is not Catholic education ‘isolationist’? What about ‘stamping out’ Catholic schools that are trying to change British society to fit Catholic values?
While Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus all now benefit from state funding, what would happen if the Church of Scientology or the Unification Church (’Moonies’) wanted to open a school? Would these be deemed a respectable religion or a sinister cult? And if the latter, why should Dan Brown be dismissed when he talks of the sinister indoctrination of the Opus Dei cult? The creed of Roman Catholicism may be as distasteful to some as that of Islam, and it also has a quest for power and influence, even placing ’sleepers’ in positions of influence. These deadly agents pretend to be loyal to Her Majesty and to representative democracy, but are really accountable to a foreign puppet-master known as ’The Pope’, or ‘King of the Vatican’, whom some contend to be a former disciple of Adolf Hitler. Should schools with such a leader, pursuing such an agenda, be ‘stamped out’?