School worship should not be compulsory

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Commenting on the joint letter to the Secretary of State for Education seeking an end to compulsory worship in publicly funded schools in England, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, one of the signatories,said:

"The notions of compulsion and worship are mutually exclusive, and seeking to enforce prayers by law is offensive to the non-conformist Christian conscience, as well as to many of other faith traditions and to non-believers.

"Authentic acts of spiritual devotion are freely offered and freely entered into expressions of commitment. Making them a civic requirement is inappropriate and unhelpful, confusing the different responsibilities of specifically religious bodies on the one hand, and publicly-funded educational bodies open to people of all faiths and none on the other.

"The issue here is not about whether you are a believer or a non-believer of a certain kind. It is a matter of common commitment to freedom of belief. It should not be the role of the state to enforce or prohibit worship."