Proposals contained in the EU’s draft discrimination directive could lead to churches being sued if they refuse to give communion, baptism or membership to non-Christians trying to get their children into a church school, experts said.
The Church of England said last night that it would raise concerns with the Government over the draft directive.
It fears that if the proposals are approved in their current form, religious bodies would lose an exemption they enjoy under current UK law to discriminate on grounds of conscience.
Religious groups warned that the anti-discrimination measures could also lead to gay marriage and homosexuals demanding wedding services in church.
The draft discrimination directive would make it illegal to offer goods and services only to particular sections of society.
It would apply to all organisations offering a service to the public, including hospitals, charities, businesses and prisons, as well as churches.
Faith-based welfare projects could be outlawed if they failed to comply with the EU rules.
One of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers has predicted that the directive could become an «instrument of discrimination or oppression».
Many church schools have admissions policies which cite faith, or membership of the local church, as one of their criteria for allocating places.
When the directive was drafted by the European Commission last year, it contained safeguards protecting exemptions for religious bodies and upholding national laws on marriage.