Christian assemblies in schools should be banned because they breach children’s human rights, the National Secular Society (NSS) has claimed.
The NSS has written to Education Secretary, Michael Gove, demanding that the law on Christian assemblies be abolished.
But a spokesman for the Department for Education said the law on Christian assemblies “encourages pupils to reflect on the concept of belief and the role it plays in the traditions and values of this country.”
The Church of England said: “To deny children the entitlement to take part in worship at school is to deny them a learning experience that is increasingly important in the modern world.”
The National Secular Society’s attack on Christian assemblies follows on from its bid to use the Human Rights Act to end the tradition of council meetings starting with prayers.
The Daily Mail wrote in an editorial: “Another day, another assault on Britain’s Christian tradition, in the name of the new religion of human rights.”
The NSS claimed in its letter that being forced to take part in “mandatory daily acts of mainly Christian worship” is an “imposition on children”.
And while accepting that the “ethical framework” of assemblies has “a vital contribution to make to school life”, the society objected “to collective worship in principle” as they claim it is not “a legitimate activity of a state-funded institution”.
The law in England and Wales stipulates that there must be a daily act of collective worship in schools (this usually takes place as an assembly) and it must be “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” (section 386(2), Education Act 1996).
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from Christian assemblies.
But a Government spokesman said: “Schools have the flexibility to design provision that is appropriate to the age and background of their pupils.
“If a headteacher feels it is inappropriate to have Christian collective worship, the school can apply to have this changed.”