A radical proposal to remove all state funding from religious schools was defeated at the NASUWT conference in Belfast yesterday.

However, teachers at the annual union conference did vote to call on the government to stop building new faith schools. The government is committed to increasing the number of faith-run schools.

Brian Williams, a union member from Cardiff, asked delegates:

“Why should non-religious taxpayers like me fund faith schools? Would parents believe their taxes were well spent on a Marxist school?

“Reverend Blair and his flock not only support religious schools, they seem happy to see their number enlarged.

“Schools are to educate, churches are to indoctrinate. We believe in free state education for all without religious ties.”

Delegates voted in favour of a motion calling for a ban on state funding for any more religious schools, over fears they increase division and tension in British society.

The union, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, has 200,000 members across the UK.

Last month MPs on the Commons education committee singled out the Roman Catholic church for criticism.

The committee attacked church-run schools for refusing to implement government guidelines on setting up anti-homophobic bullying policies.

The church has refused to acknowledge the serious problem of homophobic bullying in the hundreds of schools they run, which are paid for by British tax-payers.

The investigation into all bullying in schools was instigated by Liberal Democrat MP and education spokesman Stephen Williams.

“Bullying is a matter of child welfare, not one of theology,” Mr Williams told PinkNews.co.uk

“If you can’t learn in a safe environment then school has failed in its primary mission.”

Last year Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is head of the Catholic Education Service, told the education committee that specific issues of bullying should not be singled out.

He insisted that the Church had no problems with a person’s sexual orientation, but “sexual intercourse belongs within marriage.”

“I hope the Archbishop will examine his conscience and put the welfare of children first,” commented Mr Williams, who is gay.

All schools are required by law to have an anti-bullying policy, but many do not collate figures on how much bullying goes on.

The committee expressed concern that this may be to protect the school’s reputation.