Posts Tagged ‘faith-schools’

A Letter From My MP

Some time back, the British Humanist Association and the Fair Admissions Campaign produced a report, since acknowledged by the Department for Education to be true, showing that a huge majority of religiously selective schools in England are breaking the law in their selection process.

The full report [pdf] is worth reading, but the BHA thoughtfully hit the high spots:


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Gawd but that bloke gets around. A heads-up for those in the UK: He's on Newsnight tonight at ten thirty. But probably not talking about important things like rocket-assisted lions, damnit.

That is all. You may now return to whatever you were doing.
Daz (more…)

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Helping my uncle move house on Thursday, I was sat in the passenger-seat of the moving van, when a strangely familiar voice appeared on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show. Jonny Scaramanga, on national radio, talking about ACE! You can listen to it here. (Starts at about 1:09, and I'm fairly sure radio programmes on iPlayer are available world-wide, unlike TV programmes.) There's also an accompanying written story on the BBC website.

And, of course, you really should be following Jonny's blog, Leaving Fundamentalism, where you can find way more details on the subject of faith-schools in general, and the more fundamentalist kind in particular.

He's still a rank amateur where standy-uppy hairstyles are concerned though.

[Me, when I had standy-uppy hair]

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It must be Easter, 'cause Davie Cameron's doing God again. You could set your calendar by him.

We are, apparently, a Christian country. Well, yeah. With a monarch-headed Christian state church, it is, I would say, extremely difficult to ignore that fact that we are an officially Christian country. We don't have to like it, but the fact that a mere one-point-eight percent (the number of weekly attendants at C of E churches) of our population are deemed worthy of having a guaranteed twenty-six-person representative bloc in our government is a glaring reminder that we are, damnit, a Christian country. The problem is, Davie thinks this is a good thing.

He says:

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn't talk about these things. I completely disagree.

Well colour me shocked. Not only does he disagree, but he disagrees with that most favourite of all arguments which politicians like to argue against; a strawman.

No one, Davie Lad, is saying we shouldn't talk about religion. How on Earth are we supposed to expose it as the mythological, fantasy-based claptrap that it is, unless we talk about it?

What I, and other secularists, object to, is basing governmental policy and law upon it. Not because it's necessarily bad, and obviously not because it's necessarily good, but because it has no evidential basis. If you think something's a good idea, then we want you to show evidence that it's needed and will work. You don't just get to enact policy "because God wants it."

Davie then goes on to utter one of the most meaningless sentences it has ever been my privilege to read. (Well, he is a politician!)

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none – and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

James Kirk looking confused, saying, "Whut?"

So these values which are shared by most people, regardless of faith or lack thereof, are somehow (the implication is) at the same time uniquely Christian values, which need defending from secularists, who presumably aren't a subset of "people of every faith and none."

I'm with James T. on this one: Whut?

He (Cameron, not Kirk) continues…

People who, instead, advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code. Of course, faith is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

Many atheists and agnostics live by a moral code – and there are Christians who don't. But for people who do have a faith, that faith can be a guide or a helpful prod in the right direction – and, whether inspired by faith or not, that direction or moral code matters.

So it's possible to live by a moral code not based on religion (or on Christianity—his setting up of atheists/agnostics in opposition to one specific religion makes that point somewhat fuzzy), and it's possible to be a Christian and not live by a moral code; and a moral code is a good thing to have, and he'd like more people to follow one. But rather than focus on the main issue—promoting the idea of developing and following a moral code—he'd rather promote the religious "prod," even though, by his own admission, that prod would appear to have no bearing on whether a person will end up following a moral code or not.

My thinky-organ hurts. How the hell did a bloke who reasons this badly ever get to be the leader of a major political party, let alone of the country?

He prattles on:

SECOND, as Christians we know how powerful faith can be in the toughest of times. I have known this in my own life. From giving great counsel to being the driving force behind some of the most inspiring social-action projects in our country, our faith-based organisations play a fundamental role in our society. So, in being confident about our Christianity, we should also be ambitious in supporting faith-based organisations to do even more.

Umm, didn't he just get through mentioning that the values of hard work and charity are "shared by people of every faith and none"?

That is why we are not just investing £20 million in repairing our great cathedrals, but also giving £8 million to the Near Neighbours programme, which brings faith communities together in supporting local projects. I welcome the efforts of all those who help to feed, clothe, and house the poorest in our society. For generations, much of this work has been done by Christians, and I am proud to support the continuation of this great philanthropic heritage in our society today.

Here's a thought. Make the churches pay for their own bloody upkeep, and spend that twenty million on something useful.

Here's another thought. Try investing in communities and charitable organisations, but don't privilege those which happen to have a religious flavour to them. It's called "not discriminating on grounds of religion," and it happens to be the law of the fucking land.

And, Jesus H Christ on a jet-ski!, just look at the priorities there. Twenty million quid to repair some bloody buildings, and eight million to help human beings.

Coffee-time. Calm down, Daz…

Okay then, he goes on:

THIRD, greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief that we can get out there and actually change people's lives, and improve both the spiritual, physical, and moral state of our country, and even the world.

The operative word there is "can." He's already admitted that other religions and moral codes developed by non-believers can also lead to people doing charitable work and so on. So, again, why should the government specifically target the holders of only one of this panoply of world-views to help them in their good work?

He then goes on to praise church-funded schools, presumably under the impression that we'll quietly ignore the existence of schools where the religious organisations funding them are using them to indoctrinate children into narrow-minded political, religious and anti-science sects, and just concentrate on that nice church-funded school we went to, where the only religious aspect was some historical Archbishop or other being mentioned in the school's name.

This country has, he goes on to say, kept to its target regarding foreign aid, even through the recent financial depression. This, he says, should be a source of national pride—and I agree. Quite what it has to do with religion or the Church of England, though, I have no idea. Does my support for aid programmes count less, because I'm neither a member of the C of E nor religious? But then, that's me, being one of those charitable "people of every faith and none" with my non-Christian Christian Values™.

And then…

The same is true of our Bill to outlaw the despicable practice of modern slavery. It is happening because we are actively working to bring all the legislation together, to toughen the penalties, and drive out this scourge that is still all too present in our world.

Of said Bill I know little, so I can't really comment on that. Again, though, what does this have to do with the C of E? He mentions his welfare policies, which, again, has bugger-all to do with the C of E, although I should, in all honesty, mention that in a rare instance of me agreeing with the Church on summat, they have repeatedly criticised those policies on human­itar­ian—dare I say humanistic?—grounds.

All in all, I have to say this reads more like typical politico-bafflegab than a serious statement of commitment to the Church. There's a lot of words, but they say very little.

On the other hand, we still have church schools and faith schools. We still have government privileging faith-groups. We still have twenty-six Bishops in our parliament. And we still have a Prime Minister who sees nothing wrong with insinuating that Militant Secularists™ and Militant Atheists™ are doing Bad Things, without being able to point out just what those Bad Things actually are.

Looking at the tag-cloud on my blog, I see that one of my most oft-used tags is "gay rights." Given his recent, and laudable, push to get equal rights for LGBT folk, in the face of his vaunted church's vociferous and long-winded opposition, and supported by humanist, atheist, and secularist groups, I have to wonder; nature or nurture? Was he born a two-faced back-stabbing bastard, or did he become one?

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When Josh's Hot Jive Five brought down the house at Jericho,
Were you there, Mr Ham, were you there?
Was it done with cornets or with trumpet, adagietto?
Were you there, Mr Ham, were you there?

Were you there, O Kenneth, were you there,
As the Babel-tower reached into the air?
When the Lord said "Bugger that!"
And made 'em all talk crap
Were you there, O Kenneth, were you there?


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I recall, some time back, watching one of those TV debates (The Jeremy Kyle show or summat like that) about faith-schools and related subjects. I don't remember much about the debate itself, though it probably ended up being as conclusive as such events generally are, given that the case from the religious side is always "because God says so," but they never actually want to come out and admit that they think summat's a good idea merely because a big beardy man in the sky told them it was; and so they prevaricate and muddy the waters. But, anyway, that's not the subject of this post.

There was a remark made by someone on the show to the effect that having to say the Lord's Prayer every day in school-assembly is pretty innocuous, and can hardly be classed as persecution. And, for some reason, the remark stuck in the back of my mind. On the one hand; yes I completely agree that being made to say a prayer is hardly equivalent to being burned at the stake. But there's that phrase "being made to." However we look at it, we end up with the fact that kids in this country are forced to pay lip-service to a god of the state's or school's choosing, unless their parents specifically request that they be excused from such nonsense. Persecution it may not be. Indoctrination it most certainly is.


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Could someone tell me what this "aggressive secularisation" is, please?

I ask because David Cameron recently pledged to oppose it, so it must be real, right?

To me, "aggressive secularisation" sounds like it should begin with a cry of "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" and end with three armoured thugs murdering an archbishop in front of his altar. And that doesn't appear to be on the cards. Nor would I, as an aggressive secularistwant it to happen.


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Jonny Scaramanga, has taken up video-blogging!

I'm disabling comments on this post; it's his work, not mine. Please visit Jonny's post to comment. Or, indeed, to catch up on the rest of his wonderful blog.

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QualiaSoup on how religion seeks to infantalise believers and those it wishes to recruit.

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On the instructions of Bishop Fred Henry, a catholic school board has banned HPV vaccinations (which are most effective when administered at an early age), on school premises.

In keeping with the disturbing obsession of his church with matters sexual, Henry, of Calgary, makes the ludicrous claim that:

"If we don't attempt to change sexual behaviour that is responsible for transmission of the HPV, but attempt to solve the problem by getting a series of shots, then we don't have to exercise self-control, nor develop virtue, but can use medicine to palliate our vices"

Bioethicist Dr. Ian Mitchell disagrees, saying:

"It has been studied and does not increase promiscuity," … "If the bishop has evidence, he should come forward with it."

The ban puts at risk the lives of 2,000 girls from Grades 5 to 9 who would receive the injections, a panel told reporters, adding opposition to the vaccine isn't doctrine among the Catholic church's higher reaches.

Read the rest of this story at the Calgary Sun.

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