Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said her she didn’t want to see a secular, politically correct dogma dictating the place of religion in schools in an interview with Conservative Home today.
Morgan, who replaced Michael Gove in July, said she attended a “very bog standard CofE” church but acknowledged that there is still a reluctance to talk about faith in politics.
Speaking of her own convictions, she said: “I have a personal faith, but that’s not going to dominate every decision I make in relation to my constituency or to my ministerial post. But I also think people should be free to be open about their own personal faith.”
She took the opportunity to demonstrate her unreserved support for faith schools. “I’m a huge supporter of faith schools, a huge supporter of Church schools,” she said. “I think that our education system owes a massive amount to the Church of England and to the Catholic Church.”
Even so, she said it was important to recognise the spread of religious belief in Britain, and for the education system to reflect that range.
When asked whether there was a danger of instituting a “secular, politically correct dogma” in schools in an attempt to avoid extremism, she replied: “Well there is always a danger, but as a Christian Secretary of State for Education, that is not what I want to see.”
Morgan also spoke about the diverse religious communities represented in her Loughborough constituency, and their model for inter-faith relations.
“I’m nine miles from Leicester, which I think is the country’s first majority non-white city, […] but I think the faiths in Leicester, led I suspect by the Church of England in many ways, are a model of inter-faith co-operation and respect.”
In 2013, Morgan voted against same-sex marriage, and although she said she stood by her vote, her views had changed – largely as a result of the way people had responded to the issue.
“I’m afraid to say we had a storm in Loughborough recently with some people who wrote to the Echo criticising me, and saying the most unpleasant things about same-sex relationships. Lots of letters. I’m not sure I want to be allied with that side of the argument,” she said.