Church of England Criticizes Recent Faith Schools Poll

LONDON – A recent ICM/Guardian poll that found that 64 percent of the population was opposed to faith schools has been criticized by the Church of England as being unreliable.

Spokesman for the Church of England Education Division, Nick McKemey, voiced concern about the wording of the survey, claiming that questions were designed to produce a particular answer.

"We have deep reservations about the way the questions were phrased, particularly the question, 'Schools should be for everyone regardless of religion and the government should not be funding faith schools of any kind,'" he said.

"The first part of the question does not have to imply the other. The question is misleading, overcomplicated and designed to produce a particular result," explained the Church of England spokesman.

Mr McKemey went on to say that there was no evidence whatsoever to support the link between attendance at publicly funded faith schools and subversive or terrorist attitudes.

"Equally, there's no evidence which establishes that publicly funded Jewish and Christian schools have contributed one iota to divisiveness in the wider society," he continued.

Earlier this week, the chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, Barry Sheerman, accused religious schools of creating a "ghettoized education system."

The editor of The Philosopher's Magazine, a known critic of faith schools, said that "more than anything else, schools should be places built around what we have in common and not what divides us."

The director of the Association of Muslim Schools, Idris Mears, rejected these statements. He said there were too many "pernicious misconceptions" about Islamic-ethos state schools.

Mr Mears commended Islamic-ethos schools for being "more effective than non-religious state schools in tackling the cultural isolation and resentment simmering in Muslim ghettos."

He went on to praise faith schools for their ability to unite pupils across racial and ethnic lines.

"In the state schools,” he said, “they concentrate on people's racial and ethnic background, and therefore alienate young people more than faith schools, where the young people's identity is based on a faith perspective rather than a cultural one, which ghettoizes them more."

Tony Blair spoke out last month in defense of faith schools, saying that it was "perfectly consistent" in a multi-racial, multi-religious society for people to want their children to be educated according to their own faith.