Fears over Christians attending Muslim schools

Two senior Church leaders have risked reigniting the controversy over faith schools by voicing their reservations about Christian children going to Muslim faith schools.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, welcomed that fact that Jewish and Muslim parents sent their children to Catholic schools because they like the “ethos”. But he said that he would not want large numbers of Catholic children attending Muslim schools because he would not want them to be brought up “in that atmosphere”.

The Cardinal added that, while he welcomed dialogue between the faiths, “fundamentally the creed of Islam is totally diverse from the creed of Christianity.”

His remarks were echoed by the Rt Rev Tom Butler, the Church of England Bishop of Southwark, who said he would not have sent his children to a Muslim school. “Although religion is taken seriously in a Muslim school, I think the particular insight of Islam is… is not mine,” he said.

Both clerics were speaking on the BBC2 programme God and the Politicians, due to be broadcast tomorrow night.

The comments of the Churchmen was greeted with disappointment by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, who said that he had received his secondary education in a Catholic school.

Reacting to remarks by his fellow faith leaders, he told the programme: “I think this is the difficulty which we have – that what is good for myself and my children should also be seen to be good for others as well. And as much as we are all professing that we have to have that understanding of each other, it is important this should be also put into practice.”

Daily Telegraph, 27 September 2005