Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is, a major inquiry into the place of religion in modern society has concluded, provoking a furious backlash from ministers and the Church of England.
A two-year commission, chaired by the former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and involving leading religious leaders from all faiths, calls for public life in Britain to be systematically de-Christianised.
It says that the decline of churchgoing and the rise of Islam and other faiths mean a “new settlement” is needed for religion in the UK, giving more official influence to non-religious voices and those of non-Christian faiths.
The report provoked a furious row last night as it was condemned by Cabinet ministers as “seriously misguided” and the Church of England said it appeared to have been “hijacked” by humanists.
The report, by the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, claims that faith schools are “socially divisive” and says that the selection of children on the basis of their beliefs should be phased out.
It also accuses those who devise some RE syllabuses of “sanitising” negative aspects of religion in lessons and suggests that the compulsory daily act of worship in school assmblies should be abolished and replaced with a “time for reflection”.
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