The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches has joined the Accord Coalition, a liberal quango that links both religious and non-religious groups concerned about the influence of faith schools.
Other recent new members, such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy and Campaign for State Education (CASE), join founding members such as the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, British Humanist Association, Catholic think tank Ekklesia, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Hindu Academy.
The Accord Coalition, a broad campaign coalition, encompasses a wide range of different religious and non-religious groups and individuals concerned at the way that faith schools operate.
It seeks to stamp out the right of faith-based state schools to select pupils and teachers on the basis of shared faith – which the coalition is branding as ‘religious discrimination’ – and pushing for the teaching of personal, social, health and economic education to be compulsory for all pupils.
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain is the chairman of the Accord Coalition. He welcomed the Unitarian’s decision to join Accord by saying, ‘Their decision to join and support our objectives not only broadens the wide range of our membership, but further demonstrates that concern about faith schools is not limited to secular groups, but also encompasses those with committed religious faith’.
A 2009 YouGov poll commissioned by the Accord Coalition found that 57 per cent of people ‘agreed or strongly agreed’ that ‘state-funded schools that select students by their religion undermine community cohesion’, while only 19 per cent ‘disagreed or strongly disagreed’.