I know press reports should be treated with scepticism. But I am concerned lest there be any truth in the idea that the Bishop of Oxford wants to de-emphasise the link between church attendance and places in CofE schools. Although this will win brownie points from the largely secular Educational Establishment, we have to face the facts that:
a. For many people in the UK it is only when they start a family that they really understand the prime importance of love, and the shallowness of secular individualim with pursuit of money, sex and self-indulgance.
b. Because church-going is in many respects deeply un-fashionable many families only start going to church when they have children because they think it will help them get into a decent school.
Reducing this link will therefore result in many families who would otherwise have come to church and been exposed to Chrisianity and God's redeeming love missing out. This will be bad for them and bad for the CofE.
He needs to consider the systemic implications of this policy, and not just look in the narrow context of the Educational Establishment.
An interesting light on the vital role of churches in the UK community is given in this report from the National Churches Trust - highlighted by an article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. The signatories of the report are Tony Hall, Richard Best, Professor Eamon Duffy, Dr David Kynaston, Ruth Lea, Kate Parminter, Dame Stella Rimington, and Sir Timothy Sainsbury
Fair bet therefore that they are all Christians - not widely known for some of them.
Meanwhile Justin Brieley emails me details of a conference he is hosting in London on May14 about sperading the gospel, with John Lennox and others. Details are here.