Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cabinet rift over plan to teach Jesus to Muslims: Education Secretary's proposals drawn up in wake of 'Trojan Horse' plot leads to clash at top of Government

  • Nicky Morgan's proposal are intended to stop 'brainwashing' of children 
  • Comes in wake of 'Trojan Horse' plot by radical Muslims to take over schools
  • Theresa May has lined up alongside colleague to support the proposals 
  • But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is said to be against the plans 
  • Mr Pickles said to be backed by heads of Catholic and Jewish faiths in UK  

An extraordinary Cabinet row has broken out over plans by Ministers to force Muslim schools to teach pupils about Christianity.

The move by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is intended to stop Islamic extremists from ‘brainwashing’ children. But it has led to a clash at the top of Government, with Home Secretary Theresa May lining up with Mrs Morgan against Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Mrs Morgan drew up the proposals in the wake of the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by radical Muslims to take over schools in Birmingham, which led to the Government rushing in new measures to compel schools to teach ‘British values’ of tolerance.

Nicky Morgan, is said to have drawn up the new proposals in the wake of the Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham schools 
Nicky Morgan, is said to have drawn up the new proposals in the wake of the Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham schools 

However, The Mail on Sunday has learned that the plan has infuriated Mr Pickles, who has argued it ‘violates religious freedom’, and warned about the impact on Catholic and Jewish schools.

The Education Secretary wants to amend the Religious Studies GCSE course, which stipulates that pupils should study one ‘world religion’ – usually restricted to their school’s faith.

Mrs Morgan wants students to learn about a minimum of two religions to ensure that Muslim pupils become aware of ‘different perspectives’.

Mr Pickles – backed by the heads of the Catholic and Jewish faiths in the UK – has pointed out that the plan could also compel other faith schools to teach pupils about Islam.

A Government source said: ‘Eric has really gone off on one over this.

Theresa May
Eric Pickles
Home Secretary Theresa May, left, is supporting the plans, while Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, is against 

‘He thinks that it is just meddling, and it will have a knock-on effect on the freedom of Catholic and Jewish schools to restrict their teachings to just their faith and preserve their distinctive ethos. 

Theresa however has been fully supportive. 

She thinks the most important thing is to stop a new generation of Muslims from being lost to the extremists.’

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is expected to raise the proposal at a meeting with the Prime Minister later this month. 

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, is also understood to have privately expressed his concerns over the reform, while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is ‘broadly supportive’ of the move.

Last night an ally of Mrs Morgan defended the plan as essential to stop the radicalisation of children. The source said: ‘We saw in Birmingham the dangers of allowing schools to inculcate an intolerant and ultra-Conservative version of their faith in young and impressionable pupils.

‘If they are obliged to learn about another religion – in an even-handed manner – it will help to stop them from being brainwashed.’

The Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Westminster declined to comment last night. 

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