A new report published by the National Secular Society (NSS) has accused evangelical Christian groups of targeting and exploiting publicly funded schools as part of their missionary work.
The report, entitled Evangelism in state schools ? the role of external visitors in publicly funded education, calls for schools to adhere to a visitors policy which prohibits evangelism. The NSS has also written to Michael Gove, education secretary, calling for national guidance setting out best practice for working with external visitors, particularly religious groups.
‘The targeting of our schools in this way by such dubious organisations must be tackled by the Department for Education,’ said NSS president Terry Sanderson (pictured). ‘Most parents have absolutely no idea that such groups are present in their children’s school until the child comes home and starts repeating the messages they’ve been given ? sometimes about creationism, sometimes manipulative evangelical messages.’
Several Christian organisations working in state primary and secondary schools have responded to the report, emphasising that they too wish to see best practice from Christian groups working in schools.
A spokesperson from Scripture Union, a group that uses the Bible to inspire children to know God, told Christianity: ‘There are some valid concerns raised about not proselytising. Some organisations and individuals do overstep the mark, but the vast majority enrich the community and aid staff where they would otherwise struggle to meet the Ofsted guidelines in terms of religious education.’
Another Christian organisation that works extensively in schools, Youth for Christ, said: ‘We would welcome the development of best practice guidelines for external visitors and believe they would enhance our professional approach.’