Statutory school worship – managing post-Christendom pluralism

In this guest post, Dr Jonathan Chaplin, an independent scholar specialising in political theology and a member of the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University, looks at some of the background relating to the forthcoming High Court challenge to compulsory religious assemblies in schools.

A High Court action is being launched by Lee and Lizanne Harris against Burford primary school in Oxfordshire, which their children attend. A community school, Burford joined the multi-academy Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust in 2015, linking it formally to the Church of England. The Harrises’ complaint is that the school’s practice of holding a daily Christian assembly amounts to the imposition on their children of religious beliefs they reject and that, by offering their children only the alternative of retreating to another room with no equivalent provision, the school is not treating them inclusively.

This is just the latest manifestation of the increasingly fraught debate over the place of religion in schools, Continue reading