By Gudrun Schultz

UNITED KINGDOM, London, January 17, 2006 ( – Faith-based schools in the UK will no longer be able to limit their students to those of a particular religion.

The British government is introducing an amendment to the proposed Equality Bill today that will remove the power to determine school access based on religious affiliation from religious schools that receive state funding.

Faith-based schools have been receiving increasing government support over the last five years. According to an article in the Guardian in 2001, faith schools consistently achieve better classroom results. Although surveys indicate over 45% of England’s population claims no religious belief, there are 160 applications for every available place in a Christian classroom.

Despite this, opponents of religious schools say they contribute to divisions in society and lead to discrimination. The vast majority of faith schools are Christian. Out of 7,000 schools, 6,955 are Christian. 36 are Jewish, five Muslim and two Sikh.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has said in the past he would not want large numbers of Catholic children attending Muslim schools, although he welcomed the presence of Jewish and Muslim children in Catholic schools.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said that while he welcomed dialogue between the faiths, “fundamentally the creed of Islam is totally diverse from the creed of Christianity.”

Speaking on the state of the Church in the UK, Cardinal O’Connor said Christianity has been “all but eliminated” as a source of moral guidance in people’s lives, and people are largely “indifferent” to Christian values and the Church.

“In our countries in Britain today, especially in England and Wales, Christianity, as [sic] a backdrop to people’s lives and moral decisions – and to the government, the social life of the country – has now almost been vanquished,” the Archbishop said.