School worship should not be compulsory


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."