Sunday, 31 August 2008


In the UK, it is possible for anyone to set up a school to proselytize their favourite religion. In fact, this is actively encouraged by the government who will match a small amount of money put up by the school with a much larger sum and running costs paid in perpetuity. Actually, the government has indicated that in some circumstances, it is willing to waive the requirement to raise any money in the first place.

This is nothing short of a national disgrace, but that's not my concern in this post. Some of these faith schools are being accused of discriminatory hiring practices: they are refusing to hire people who do not share their religion. If true, this is also a disgrace. This would not be tolerated in any other type of organisation, but seems to be regarded as oddly acceptable in religious ones. A vicar was interviewed on the BBC's Breakfast news programme this morning. She made the extraordinary claim that faith schools were not in the business of creating new religious people (seriously, wtf?) and were primarily concerned with excellence in education. The interviewer pointed out that if they employ only teachers of the same religion, they will miss out on some excellence in education.

The vicar's response was simply astonishing: she said that the schools weren't discriminating against people of different or no religion. Her view was that teachers with a different religion clearly have an ethical problem if they apply for a job at a faith school. That's right: I'm not discriminating against you because you are black, female and too old. I'm discriminating against you because you are unethical for applying in the first place.

I occasionally wonder whether there's a level of self-delusion that the religious will refuse to sink to, but stories like this blow that theory out of the water.

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