A new documentary by world-renowned atheist Richard Dawkins calls time on
the growth of state-funded religious schools in Britain. Andrew Copson, vice
president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and chief
executive officer of the British Humanist Association (BHA), is among a number
of experts interviewed for ‘Faith School Menace?’. The show will premiere this Wednesday, 18 August, at 9pm on the UK channel More4.
The film features interviews with child psychologists, politicians and key
players in the ‘faith’ schools debate as well as insights from parents and
pupils. It is passionately narrated by Professor Dawkins, vice president of the British
Humanist Association and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.
Dawkins draws on his own experience as a
father, arguing that the government must stop funding new ‘faith’ schools and
urging society to respect a child’s right to freedom of belief.
Andrew Copson says that, “Throughout the BHA’s many years of campaigning on this
issue, parents, teachers and pupils themselves have consistently opposed
‘faith’ schools. The reasons are clear–they are divisive, discriminatory and
unable to fully recognise the rights of their pupils. Unfortunately, with the
coalition government’s massive deregulation of education, the situation is only
going to get worse.”
Around 7,000 government-funded schools in Britain—one in three—now has a
religious affiliation. The government’s new initiative for “Free Schools” may
increase this number.
“The documentary comes at an opportune time for the BHA as this week we launch
a major new fundraising drive to ensure we can continue to employ our dedicated
‘faith’ schools campaigner for another year,” says Copson. “We hope the
documentary will act as an incentive for all those concerned about the power
and influence of religious groups in our schools to support our work. We must
act now to ensure a fairer, more inclusive education for our children in