Let’s call a spade a spade.
There’s something very wrong with the label “faith school“. It’s a piece of PR. The word “faith” conjures up images of pious, light-bathed young girls, hands clasped in prayer, gazing hopefully towards heaven, believing that their innocuous prayers for the wellbeing of various friends and relatives will be answered by a benevolent god – or, perhaps as often, Jesus. Faith schools, they would have us believe, are places where students learn peace, love and tolerance for others.
The reality of “faith” when applied specifically to schools, of course, is quite different.
Religions fund schools for one reason above all others: to spread religion. Specifically, to spread the religion that sponsors the school at the expense of those that don’t. And the hope of the churches/mosques/synagogues is that even if the children profess an aversion for religion when they leave school, at times of crisis in later life they’ll come back to the religion they grew up with rather than any other. The promoters of these schools may pay lip service to diversity, but really, what non-Muslim parent is going to choose to send their child to a Muslim school? What Jewish parent would want to send their child to a Catholic school? What atheist or rationalist parent would choose to send their child to any of them? The reality of these schools is that no-one really wants to send their kids there but true adherents of the faiths in question. Whether they actively push religion or not, these schools exist to spread a message, and it’s often not one of truth and beauty.
Let’s start calling these schools by their proper name: sectarian. If we stop dignifying them with the innocuous-sounding “faith” label, we show them up for the brainwashing mouthpieces for religion they really are.
Remember: sectarian schools. Not faith schools.