Interfaith ties fracture as Church of England won’t stand with Muslims opposing gay sex in school

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Christian-Muslim interfaith relations are at breaking point in Birmingham as the Church of England refuses to support the Muslim community in its stand against the sexualisation of primary school children at the Parkfield Community School in Saltley, an inner-city area in the Diocese of Birmingham.

Mariam Ahmed, a mother-of-two leading the protests, had appealed directly to Rt Rev’d David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and Sarah Smith, Birmingham Diocesan Director of Education, asking for “support towards our campaign which has now been running since 7th January.”

In a detailed email, Mrs Ahmed explained that the parents were not homophobic or transphobic, they were not against anyone, they fully respected the Equality Act 2010 and they taught their children to respect everyone in the manner they would expect to be treated.

Stressing that the “main concern” of the Muslim parents was that the programme taught by the school was “not age appropriate” and psychologically “confusing young children’s minds as young as four years,” Ahmed said that “I and many other parents have had children coming home confused and with lots of questions as to what they are.” 

This was not just a matter for Muslims, but for all faiths, she emphasised, as assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat was teaching a programme where only two of the protected characteristics named by the Equality Act 2010 predominated, i.e. gender reassignment and sexual orientation.


“We all know there are 9 protected characteristics and it is against the law to pick and choose which you can follow more than others, but Mr Moffat who is the author of the book has actually done just that by only focusing on those 2 mentioned,” she wrote, pointing out that there was no consultation with parents or parental consent given in Mr Moffat’s previous school or at Parkfield School.

However, Bishop David Urquhart, responding through Kate Stowe his Chaplain, did not offer any support for the Muslim parents. Instead, the email stated that the diocese expected church schools “to address the requirements of the Equalities Act, recognising that it is a requirement of the law to prepare our children to live in modern day Britain.”

“That includes the right for people to choose their identity and who they wish to love. We believe it is for individual Governing Boards to decide on the resources that best suit them to deliver the Equalities Act,” the email stated.

Ahmed also spoke earlier to the Diocesan Director of Education Sarah Smith and received a similar response in a phone conversation.On previous occasions, the Diocese of Birmingham has supported Muslims to the point of upsetting secularists.

In 2015, the “Boycott Halal” lobby objected to St Saviour’s Church of England Primary School in Saltley, Birmingham, succumbing to “Islamic pressure” and “being certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee.” A Facebook post from the group expressed outrage at a Church of England school “serving up NON STUNNED MEAT AND SHARIAN COMPLIANT MEALS TO ITS PUPILS!” A 2017 reportconfirmed that Anglican and Catholic schools are serving pupils halal meat from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter.

Bishop Urquhart also joined some of Britain’s most prominent imams and others in a Birmingham rally that year to affirm that Muslims opposed ISIS and announce “We are not the jihadi capital of Britain.” In a joint statement with other faith leaders, Urquhart also rejected the distortion of “Operation Trojan Horse” by the media and supported Muslims against “demonising sections of the community in a completely unacceptable way.”

In 2014, the Saltley Methodist Church Facebook page carried posts supporting the protests “against the Israeli military attacks on Gaza in Palestine, which have so far killed over 700 civilians in two weeks, including hundreds of children.” The protests were organised outside the church.

Mrs Ahmed has also written to Bishop Robert Byrne from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and to Adam Hardy, Director of Education for the archdiocese but has received no response.

None of the churches, including the local Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist or Free Church of England churches in the school’s catchment area have spoken out against the “No Outsiders” programme imposed by the school.

“The wheat and chaff will be separated.” Muslim academic Kate Godfrey-Faussett told Rebel Priest Media. “This is becoming more apparent when examining the reactions of people from all faith communities to the recent campaigns against No Outsiders and compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) that are undermining our human and parental rights to raise and educate our children inline with our religious beliefs.”

Dr Godfrey-Faussett, who is leading the national Stop RSE movement against the proposed legislation, added: “To declare ourselves as Muslims, Christians or Jews brings with it a duty to stand for what we believe in. We cannot simply turn a blind eye or discard politically incorrect beliefs to move with the times when the times are moving ever increasingly towards a godless immoral society.”

Dr Lisa Nolland, Convenor of the Marriage, Sex and Culture Groupfrom Anglican Mainstream, who was one of the speakers at the school protests last Thursday, said: “The Church of England has spent£7million on safeguarding. It is now endangering the psychosexual health and development of children by LGBT teaching foisted on primary school children. This tacitly sexualises these pre-pubescent youngsters by eroticising their psychological development. In fact, it foregrounds and magnifies sex instead of turning the sex volume down. And the Church of England, along with such as Stonewall, is a lead player here. What madness is this?”

“The CofE is willing to be seen as ‘interfaith’ when it is politically correct; however, when it could have stood with morally conservative Muslims on issues of child welfare and human sexuality, it is MIA (Missing In Action). How hypocritical is this?” Dr Nolland added.

On its website, the Diocese of Birmingham calls itself “a superdiverse Diocese, with all the world’s faiths represented here.” Rebel Priest has also contacted Fr Alan Thompson from the local parish church of St Saviour, Saltley and Dr Andrew Smith, Director of Interfaith Relations for comment.