One case of discrimination against Christians that the usual suspects won’t take up

By Jonathan Bartley
July 15, 2009

Ashton Padley wants to get into her local school. But she can’t. The reason? She is the wrong type of Christian (

But if I were a betting man, I would lay serious money that none of the campaigning groups (and Bishops) keen on highlighting cases of alleged discrimination against Christians will take up her case.

The reason is that those people are exactly the same ones who have campaigned for the right of Church schools to discriminate, which has created the case in question.

Ekklesia is a founder member of Accord, a coalition of the religious and non religious who want to see faith schools change their admissions policies and end their discrimination. But we have been opposed by many in the churches who claim that this is in some way a 'secular conspiracy'. The reality which the churches don’t want to acknowledge is that the policies they defend discriminate against the religious too.

Ekklesia has long asked how the churches would feel if the situation were reversed. How would they like it if 'secular' schools gave priority in admissions to humanists and secularists over everybody else? There would, quite rightly, be outcry. Yet church schools, funded by the taxpayer, have worked hard to maintain their own rights to legally discriminate against those of no faith (and those of other faiths) day in and day out.

This affects a number of different groups in society. One are gay and lesbian families who often feel that they can't attend churches because of the way they have been treated by religion in the past. So if their local school is a church school, they go to the bottom of the queue.

And as the case of Ashton Padley has brought the reality home to the churches in no uncertain terms discrimination is even taking place against those who attend churches too.

In the embarrassing silence from the churches who would rather these cases are not highlighted, it looks as if it might be left to the 'secularists' to speak up for marginalised Christians.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.