Politicians in the U.K. are reportedly set to drop plans that would have allowed single-faith schools to remain as they are. Christian schools may soon be required to ensure that half of their students are from different religious backgrounds.
Premier reported on Sunday that although Tory ministers had promised in their election manifesto to scrap plans that would have placed a cap on school admissions, they have now reversed course, due to concerns that Christian-only schools "heighten community divisions."
Chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman told the Sunday Times: "Admission 100% on faith leads to increased levels of segregation within communities."
"I am uncomfortable with anything that leads to increased segregation."
While both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church have made plans to open free schools, the latter has said that it cannot open new state schools if half of their places must be reserved for students of other faiths.
"We cannot open any free schools if the 50 percent admission cap remains. We have not opened any since 2010 even though there is huge demand for Catholic education in some regions," a spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service told the Sunday Times.
The Catholic Church had apparently been planning 40 to 50 new schools, with the locations already chosen, to deal with the influx of Catholic families from Eastern Europe.
MailOnline pointed out that the conservative government had promised to get rid of such caps, but is now set to make a U-turn.
Sir Nick Weller, the chief executive of Dixons Academies in Bradford, sought to defend the change in direction by explaining that there is an "unhealthy" situation in Bradford, where Muslim and white communities "live separate lives."
"You could say Bradford is almost two communities — the Muslim community and the white community," Weller said.
"Families will ignore the school that is nearest them because it is predominantly of one — the 'wrong' — ethnic group and they will send them a little bit further down the road to a school where they feel more comfortable."
The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills shows that more than 500 schools in England alone are either 100 percent white or ethnic minority.
The apparent U-turn comes amid reports of a sharp decline in Christianity in the U.K.
The Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society, launched by St. Mary's University in Twickenham, released in May a study that found that the U.K.'s nonreligious population is now bigger than its combined Christian one.
Moreover, it found that there are 26 believers abandoning the faith for every atheist or agnostic who decides to become a Christian.
"It is no secret that a large proportion of the British population consider themselves to have no religion," wrote Stephen Bullivant, professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion and director of the Benedict XVI Center for Religion and Society at St. Mary's University.
The study, based on a 2015 survey, found that 24.3 million people, or 48.6 percent of the British adult population, identify as "nones," and are predominantly young, white and male.
"This has been a consistent finding of polls, social surveys, and censuses over the past several decades. In fact, the rise of the nonreligious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century."