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No proof of faith, no free bus ride: Welsh council plans discrimination against non-believers

AN OUTRAGEOUS decision has been taken by Flintshire Council in north Wales to deny free school transport to to children of non-believing parents who attend faith schools.

bus

The Council, seeking to make cost cuts, intends introducing its “pay-if-you-can’t-prove-your-faith” scheme next year, and children would have to produce a baptism certificate, a letter from a priest or other “suitable evidence of adherence to the faith of the school”.

There are 12 denominational schools in the area.

According to this report, it is thought to be the first scheme of its kind in the country and is in stark contrast to controversial moves elsewhere in the UK where councils have scrapped subsidised travel to faith schools – worth around £500 a year per child – across the board.

In such cases councils have been accused of introducing a “tax on religion” and discriminating against people of faith.

Parents and even Roman Catholic priests in the Flintshire area have united to accuse the council, which is making cuts to save around £100,000 a year, of discrimination against people without religious faith.

The task of working out exactly how parents would prove their child’s religion is to be left to the schools.

One school which would be affected is St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School, in Flint, at which more than half of admissions come from non-Catholic primary schools.

One mother with a daughter at the school who fears she will not be able to send her younger child there said:

My children have not been christened, through my choice not theirs, but the school faith is all they have ever known. Just because a child has a baptism certificate it does not mean they are any more active believers than those who haven’t. It is prejudiced to ask parents of non-baptised children to pay for their transport.

Canon Joe Stuart of Connah’s Quay Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church said:

Education in this country is free, you can’t penalise people according to their faith by imposing a financial penalty if they have been accepted to the faith school but don’t share the belief.

Greg Pope, deputy director of the Catholic education Service for England and Wales, added:

We appreciate that this year’s financial settlement has been difficult and that local authorities are having to make tough decisions. However we hope that councils will stand by their obligations to support home-to-school transport, otherwise it makes parental choice difficult for many families.

A council statement said:

Like all councils, Flintshire County Council is under considerable pressure to make savings on its public spending. As a result, the council has had to look at every aspect of its work, especially where it is not compulsory for us to provide services and to consider how they can be delivered more efficiently and cost effectively.

According to this report, Simon Hughes, headteacher at St David’s, questioned how pupils will prove their faith.

As a Catholic school we are not just here to provide education for Catholics; we open our doors to all faiths. It’s a dangerous step to go down in terms of proving your faith – how do you prove your faith? Not everyone has a baptism certificate and baptism does not prove the child regularly goes to church.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:

This proposal is the worst of all worlds. It is bad enough that the council provides free transport to denominational schools in the first place, but it is scandalous that there will now be a religion test. There will be children who live next door to each other who might be going to the same school – one can take the bus and the other, who hasn’t been baptised into that particular faith, will have to make other arrangements. It is the absolute epitome of discrimination, and should be illegal.

Mr Sanderson said the Council should urgently rethink its policy and scrap free transport to “faith schools” altogether.

How ever the council organises this, it will mean discrimination for someone. Other councils around the country have already stopped this business of subsidising religion and discriminating against those who don’t have it. Flintshire should follow their example.

And whilst on the subject of faith schools, Nick Clegg, deputy Prime Minister and an atheist, is accused here of “breathtaking hypocrisy” for accepting a place for his son at the prestigious London Oratory Catholic school.

Hat tip: Agent Cormac (Flintshire report)

21 Responses to “No proof of faith, no free bus ride: Welsh council plans discrimination against non-believers”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    I would have thought that the Equality Act 2010 would cover this as they are discriminating on grounds of faith which is against this law.

    Far better solution, get rid of faith schools altogether.

  2. barriejohn says:

    The NSS site also features another story about poor churchgoers being “penalised” for attending srvices – Awww!!!

    http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Carmarthenshire-parking-fees-plan-tax-religion/story-18353664-detail/story.html#axzz2Mxga4ahu

    Going to church is a freedom people in this country have enjoyed for centuries.

    Being charged to go to church is a tax on religion and it happens nowhere else in the world.

    I can hardly believe that people could come out with such nonsense. The comments, however, are brilliant!

    “The taxpayers aren’t here to fund religious activities. Fund them yourself. Why should non-religous people pay more tax so that religious people can park for free?”

  3. David Lawson says:

    I just had to email the council on this one:

    Hi

    I just read a report that you are considering altering your service for free school buses to faith schools. Namely, that if you can’t prove an adherence to the faith of a particular faith school, cough up your dough. I’d just like to register a number of issues I take with such measures.

    1) Why would you require evidence that you believe something for which there is no evidence? If no evidence is good enough to believe the religion, and indeed lack of evidence is held as a virtue, why does evidence become so necessary to show that you actually believe what you believe? Can’t you just take it on faith that they believe it? It is a “faith” school after all.

    2) As atheism and philosophical beliefs are included in religious discrimination laws. Treating one group differently in the provision of a public service as opposed to the treatment of other groups based on the religious/non-religious/philosophical beliefs of that group may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010. Link to section 10 of the aforementioned Act http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/10

    The better alternative to the proposed course of action would be to either a) scrap free school buses for everyone ( assuming their invisible man in the sky can provide for them, which apparently he can’t because he needs Flintshire council to provide it for him), b) have free school buses for everyone, or c) only provide free school buses to council tax payers, who are the ones really paying for this service whether they like it or not.

    David Lawson

  4. Angela_K says:

    Now suppose your local school is a sectarian one and you want your child to attend a nearby non-religious school. Would the Council fund transport for this child – no. This is all about religious privilege again, including the xtian whingers moaning they have to pay to park their cars the same as everyone else.

  5. Brummie says:

    Well said D Lawson and Angela K.

  6. the Woggler says:

    I don’t understand how this can happen in a country where Christians are persecuted on a daily basis.

  7. Lucy 1 says:

    This is so outrageous I thought it must be a hoax. Sadly no.

  8. Broga says:

    @David Lawson: Well done in sending the email. Another possibility is that those with “proof” of faith are pretending and faking to get free transport. The council may be penalising the honest parents. Also, and well said, shouldn’t transport be provided for those who pay for it i.e. the council tax payers.

    As for faking faith I have recently come across this. I have a young grandchild – just over a year old. Her parents meet other parents with similarly aged children. My son tells me that some of those parents have begun going to church in preparation for getting their child, in four years, into a particular infants’ schools. These parents had no faith before and they have no faith now. What we see here is the exercise of blackmail by the churches.

  9. David Anderson says:

    ¡Joder! Throw ‘em under the bus.

    As for Nick Glegg being a hypocrite, you will notice, Judith Woods, that it is Clegg who is an atheist. Have you asked his son what he may or may not believe? Perhaps he (the son) hasn’t made up his mind yet on what stance he will take on the faith question. Perhaps he may choose to be a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. You, (Woods) make the same error that Richard Dawkins points out where you label children by what their parents believe.
    Your piece in thr Telegraph though is indicative of the shite reporters that are now employed by English newspapers.

    (Couldn’t bring myself to post that at the Telegraph, just visiting and reading crap on that site makes me heave.)

  10. barriejohn says:

    More “school stories” than you can shake a thurible at here:

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/media-round-up.html?query=school&tag=&submit=Filter

    Note that London will soon have a Greek Orthodox school. Just look at the smug expressions on the faces of those guys in the photo – tells you all you need to know!

  11. barriejohn says:

    I’ve just noticed that Graham Martin-Royle posted this link in the comments section on that Geeks and Orthodontists school – hahaha!!!

    http://www.thisiscroydontoday.co.uk/story-17646844-detail/story.html#axzz2N2Gfr74K

  12. Tom80 says:

    @Angela_K

    It cuts both ways. Around here the secondary schools are clustered together in a “campus” for want of a better description and one of these is a Catholic secondary school. Because of where we live and the distance to the secondary school All secondary school children have to get the bus to the school and this was council funded.When the council removed funding for travel to faith schools then those going to the catholic school had to pay while those who went to the other schools did not. They caught the same bus and were dropped of at the same point. So if you chose to send your child to the Catholic school you paid, I did,but my next door neighbour did not because his children went to the other school on the campus.Parents are given a choice in where you send your child to school but transport costs made it tough fo some.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Tom: It DOESN’T “cut both ways”. People are CHOOSING to send their children to “faith schools”!

  14. barriejohn says:

    Here’s another interesting story:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-21725422

    Novalis Trust is accused of buying up the pub with the express intention of closing it down. They practise the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (the founder of “anthroposophy”).

  15. barriejohn says:

    I am amazed that children are being entrusted to believers in this ridiculous hokum:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthroposophy

  16. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: I had no idea Rudolph Steiner involved this kind of hokum. I should have guessed. We had a someone who lived on our road a long time ago. She sent her kids to a Rudolph Steiner School. She did not allow them to mix with the other children and they were kept inside and had to spend many hours practising music. She and her husband clearly regarded themselves as superior.

    One Sunday I got their paper, with their pencilled address on it, by mistake. It was The Sunday Express. I took it to them and asked if they had got my paper which, at that time, was The Observer. They had. As I handed over The Express and got my Observer she said, “We usually take The Telegraph but we are expecting people to stay.”

  17. Trevor Blake says:

    God has always had a hard time with iron charriots. “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges 1:19.

  18. AgentCormac says:

    David Lawson

    Well done that man!

  19. Juan says:

    No mames!!!!! Que cabrones retrogradas!!! La Nueva Inquisicion esta cerca.

  20. Jennie Kermode says:

    This is a clear breach of the Equality Act, which protects atheists just as it protects religious people. It won’t stand in law. The council needs to recognise that and back down before it wastes local taxpayers’ money on a pointless defence.