JFS case signals shift in faith schools debate

By Press Office
December 18, 2009

Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling on the JFS (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/10871), Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"We welcome the judgement and urge the government to re-think it's strategy. Rather than viewing the JFS judgement as a threat, the authorities and faith schools' providers should regard it as a wake-up call and a positive opportunity.

"Religiously-based discrimination on admissions and employment is wrong. Schools funded overwhelmingly by the taxpayer should be open to all, welcoming to all, and capable of cultivating an ethos which - whatever its specific ethical and spiritual characteristics - encourages diversity and respect between different communities.

"The JFS case highlights the problem with any admissions policies in state-funded schools based on restrictive religious requirements and judgements."

He added: "The churches also have lessons to learn from this. The core Christian message promotes social justice and opposes discrimination. This is why churches should not be seeking to hide selection policies that favour their own and disfavour others behind talk of 'Christian ethos', as many sadly are. This is a misuse of Christian speech."

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