Britain is having a huge debate these days about the role of what are termed "faith schools." In many cases these are schools run by the state church, the Church of England. In other cases, they are Roman Catholic or Jewish. And, of course, with the influx of Muslims into the country, many are Muslim schools. Given the rather abysmal record of many secular state schools, many middle class parents have been opting to send their children to "faith" schools. It's not that these parents have suddenly become religious or started going to church. They just want access to better schools and therefore have been faking a religiosity they don't really possess to open the way for their kids. Many politicians and journalists are angry at them. Some longtime church goers are a bit upset as well-the fakers get the benefits of religion without the tedium of the usual Church of England Sunday homily! One journalist found it disgusting that in a country with a state-run education system faith schools should even be allowed to exist. Many were incensed at the thought of tax revenues supporting schools that were not open to all-apparently careless of the obvious fact that those revenues were producing much better results than in secular schools. So there has been a great brouhaha over faith schools.
Perhaps the most bizarre thing that has come to light is the case of a Muslim teacher who worked in a professedly "Christian" school. She arrived in her Muslim dress, all carefully covered up, except for her expensively decorated eyes and toes. The school refused to allow her to come to class in her Muslim costume. Parents found it intolerable and the school agreed. So she sued. She lost her discrimination suit-though her lawyers are ready to appeal to the European Court, which is so out in left field that it could give any sort of a crazy decision. As I say, she lost her discrimination suit but she was awarded a couple of thousand dollars for her hurt feelings.
Some people in Britain look on this case as proof that no matter how tolerant you try to be toward the Muslim community, it will never be enough. If a school is really a Christian school, one that exists to teach its students Christian truth and inculcate Christian moral standards, why should a Muslim expect to have the right to teach there? We will have to wait to see what the European Court may decide. As I say, that is anybody's guess, but you can be sure that sooner rather than later the British government will capitulate to Muslim pressure and deny Christian schools the right to refuse to hire Muslim teachers, even if they arrive in full Muslim regalia.In Northern Ireland, the Free Presbyterian Church has a number of Christian schools. They do not receive a penny in government support. It may be unfair to Christian parents to have to pay tax to support the state school system and then pay again for the education of their children-especially since Roman Catholic schools in Northern Ireland are fully funded by the government. But being free from government financial support has clear benefits, not the least of which is the right to hire or not to hire according to the beliefs of our church. England's faith schools will find that when Caesar gives with one hand he takes away a lot more with the other.