By the time I left school, aged 18, I couldn’t distinguish between which beliefs I had worked out for myself and which were absorbed through conditioning. It wasn’t just our assembly that had a religious flavour. Every lesson started with a prayer. We paused for the Angelus at noon and throughout the school day all moral or ethical issues that arose in class were addressed through the prism of Roman Catholic teaching.

I dare say many readers will have shared my experience of being educated in the faith of forebears. It is traditional for many but is it right?

A UK report published yesterday suggests that we should think again about selecting children and teachers on the basis of religious belief. Living with Difference is the result of two years’ work by the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, which was chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss, formerly president of the family division of the High Court of Justice in England.

The report is controversial in its conclusions, claiming that faith schools are socially divisive.

Before reading its finding I think many, like me, would have said we are a Christian country, mostly Protestant with a sizeable Roman Catholic minority and a Jewish one not much smaller.

Not so, reported the Commission. Using census data, it charts a rapid decrease in Christian belief. Just under half the population of the UK has no religion. Non-Christians are as great in number as Catholics. Numerically, Jews comes fourth behind Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Although non-Christians account for only one tenth of the population, they have a younger profile and so are expanding.

The decline of Christianity and the increase of the non-religious is more marked than in Scotland and Wales than England.

The pace of change is remarkable. For example, between 2001 and 2011 those Scots describing themselves as having "no religion" almost doubled to more than one in five of the adult population.

Given this fast evolving social landscape the report suggests that school assemblies should no longer have a legal requirement to be Christian. Instead it suggests introducing inclusive time for reflection.

In response there was a kerfuffle yesterday at Lambeth Palace and in Westminster. A source close to Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary in England, was reported to have said: "Nicky is one of the biggest champions of faith schools and anyone who thinks she is going to pay attention to these ridiculous recommendations is sorely misguided."

The commission, however, applauded some of the developments in Scotland’s schools. For example, it highlighted the joint initiative by the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland to replace the requirement for religious observance with times for reflection.

It also praised Scotland for having religious and moral education as a compulsory part of the Curriculum for Excellence. It rates the flexibility of Scotland’s national approach compared with the ad-hoc approach in England.

To understand the importance of all this we only need to watch the news. We are not sitting in a homogenous island watching people of extreme religious views slug it out elsewhere. We are living in a crucible of social change.

If we educate our children in religious silos and teach them only the faith of their parents, we know the outcome that might result. Scotland possibly has greater understanding of this than England because of the historical and damaging Catholic-Protestant divide.

So, given that background, how should we react to the revelation that a private Muslim primary school in Scotland is bidding for state funds to expand into secondary education? Al Qalam in Pollokshields would be the first state-funded, autonomous school.

Should we welcome it on the grounds of diversity? Or should we worry that it is an expansion of denominational schooling just when the population is becoming more secular?

In logic, its application for public finding will be hard to deny. State denominational schooling is a principle that has long been accepted in Scotland. If it is all right for Roman Catholics, why not Muslims? Scotland already has one Jewish state-funded school. Why, then, would an application from a Muslim school be denied?

But will acceding to the request to fund another faith school be one more step in the wrong direction? My answer is yes. I don’t like to see children segregated. Because of my Catholic education in Northern Ireland, I was doing my A levels before I met contemporaries from Protestant schools.

We lived in parallel worlds a stone’s throw apart. Had we lived in a society where schooling was secular, I would have shared a classroom with some of them. Would that sort of interaction across Northern Ireland have lessened the likelihood of 25 years of internecine strife? What do you think?

Wouldn’t non-denominational, shared schooling also have been of benefit to Scotland? There might not have been the same degree of violence here but the divide existed and in some people's heads it still does. Scotland still bears the scars.

My school did teach us about the history of religion, about the schisms within Christianity and what constituted the basic tenets of the major non-Christian faiths. Something similar is what the Commission’s report suggests. It’s a step in the right direction but it is no substitute for getting to know and understand people by being with them day in and day out.

This is a nettle that understandably Scotland has been reluctant to grasp. But now is the time before we are faced with a plethora of state-funded faith schools. In my opinion – and the fast-changing religious demographic tends to support this view – all faith schools should now be secularised. No more should be created.

In this day and age, isn’t it time for children to learn together about a world they must share?

I’d like to see it not least because religion is becoming a more fragmenting force in the world as well as in Britain. Faith schools, even if that is not their intention, only abet that alarming process.

When people are educated or live separately, the consequence is the growth in irrational fears. This works both ways. I can see why people from a Christian tradition might fear a Muslim school turning out children with a different and alien ethos. And vice versa. Such fears are fuelled by vague impressions and ignorant prejudice: by separation, by people living in silos.

The commission’s report is clear eyed in saying that it is during school years that we have the best opportunity to inform our children about their own culture, its beliefs and the culture and beliefs of their fellow citizens. Isn’t it by using those years to encourage the children to form bonds with one another that we will most effectively fuse a potentially fragmenting society into a cohesive one?

Scotland and the UK at large are in a post-religious phase in a world of increasing religious zealotry. Our children come from every aspect of this fragmentation so we need to find something other than religion to unify them.

It’s a challenge we will fail at their peril. But even one more state-funded faith school would be a step backwards.