Catholic church urges pupils to sign anti-gay marriage petition
Students at one south London school were shown a presentation on religious opposition to government plans to let gay couples marry in civil ceremonies. Church leaders believe the proposal would reduce the significance of marriage.
The Catholic Education Service, which acts for Catholic bishops in England and Wales, contacted 385 secondary schools to highlight a letter read in parish churches last month, in which two archbishops told worshippers that Catholics have a “duty to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations”.
The CES also asked schools to draw pupils’ attention to the petition being organised by the Coalition for Marriage, a Christian campaign which has attracted more than 466,000 signatures to date.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “This is a clear breach of the authority and privilege that the Catholic Education Service has been given in schools.
“Surely it is no part of its remit to promote a specific political campaign from this purely sectarian viewpoint. It is disgraceful that children are being encouraged into bigotry when they are attending a state school paid for by taxpayers.”
A pupil at St Philomena’s Catholic high school for girls in Carshalton, in the south London borough of Sutton, told the website PinkNews.co.uk that children aged 11 to 18 had been encouraged to sign the anti-equality pledge by their headteacher.
She said: “In our assembly for the whole sixth form you could feel people bristling as she explained parts of the letter and encouraged us to sign the petition. It was just a really outdated, misjudged and heavily biased presentation.” [More]