Catholic Diocese seeks to convert teachers working in its state schools

13 May, 2024

A project led by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark which has the express aim to convert non-Catholic staff working in state-funded Catholic schools has been condemned by Humanists UK, who have raised concerns about the appropriateness of state institutions putting pressure on their staff to belong to one particular religion.

The ‘Come and See’ project, initiated by the Archdiocese of Southwark, invites non-Catholic staff in Catholic schools to join the ‘Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults’ (RCIA) programme with the aim of converting them to Catholicism. The Archdiocese recently celebrated the conversion of four members of staff to the Catholic faith and is open about its aims. Speaking at the event, Canon Victor Darlington, who led the Mass said:

‘It is not enough to say we do not have enough Catholics, we do not have enough Catholic teachers or enough Catholic headteachers. We have to evangelise, invite people in and encourage them to say yes to the Lord.’

Faith schools are allowed to discriminate in their recruitment and employment policies. Staff or prospective employees can be rejected or barred from promotion if they are not of the ‘right’ religion, or of no religion. Humanists UK campaigns against the continuing religious discrimination in our state school system including in employment and admissions systems. Most recently it has been leading the campaign to keep the 50% admissions cap on new faith schools in England, following the announcement of plans by the Education Secretary to allow 100% religious selection in all state-funded faith schools. 

Southwark is also at the centre of a controversial proposal to merge two primary schools, Charlotte Sharman Primary School and St Jude’s Church of England Primary School. If the plans go ahead it would see the only school with no religious character in St George’s Ward, Charlotte Sharman, close its doors.

Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Lewis Young said:

‘Teachers and staff should be able to freely follow their own beliefs without pressure or incentives to convert to a particular faith. We are therefore deeply concerned by the Archdiocese of Southwark’s blatant attempts to convert non-Catholic staff at state-funded Catholic schools. As faith schools have the right to discriminate against staff of no or the “wrong” religion, we have a real concern that employees will feel pressured to convert.

‘It’s time for the government to get rid of this discriminatory employment practice and make sure all schools, regardless of whether they have a religious character or not, give equal treatment to all individuals of all religious or non-religious beliefs.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at or phone 07534 248 596.

Read about the Archdiocese of Southwark’s recent Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programme.

Read more about our work on faith schools

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.