Teachers and education experts are among those calling for daily worship sessions to end in schools in the UK following a census that shows that fewer than half the population in England and Wales consider themselves to be Christian.
All state schools are legally required to engage in an act of “collective worship” that is “broadly Christian” on a daily basis. Some experts believe this law is now “archaic”and according to a recent report in The Guardian, several teachers have admitted privately that they no longer stick to it.
Some experts are of the view that less religious assemblies are more relevant now because schools have a more diverse population. The 2021 census also indicated that 37 per cent of the population in England and Wales say they have “no religion”.
The Guardian quoted Nikki McGee, lead teacher on religious education for the Inspiration trust, which runs 18 schools in Norfolk as saying, “The collective worship is pretty much meaningless in schools that are not faith based.”
The law on collective worship was passed in 1944, along with a requirement for all students to study religious education, however, parents and sixth formers can now opt out of these.
Based on the census results, this is the first time that fewer than half of the population in England and Wales are identifying as Christians.
Social surveys in England continue to show a rapid rise in those who define themselves as having no religion. The situation is similar to what is being observed in other countries.
Pew Research Centre projects that in 2070, Christians will likely make up less than half the US population. A study conducted by Pew showed that as of 2020 only 64 percent of people in the US say they are Christians, compared to 90 per cent 50 years ago.