Author: Margaret

Winner of the Bad Faith Award

Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, head of the UK Islamic Sharia Council, has won the 2010 Bad Faith Award for asserting that there’s no such thing as marital rape. “Clearly there cannot be any ‘rape’ within the marriage,” he’s reported as saying. “Maybe ‘aggression’, maybe ‘indecent activity’.”

The Winterval myth

You may have read that the Pope, Eric Pickles MP, the Daily Mail, and many others are blaming atheists, Muslims, councils and various other killjoys for “banning Christmas” in the interests of not offending anyone – “PC gone mad!” – and are calling the festive season “Winterval” instead. Calm down. It’s not true. Kevin Arscott, who writes the Angry Mob blog, explains that the story is all due to bad journalism (and there’s a lot of it about) in an essay you can download as a pdf file.

Celebration of Human Rights

UN logoA Humanist contribution to an inter-faith Celebration of Human Rights hosted by the Ipswich & District Bahá’í­ community at Ipswich Central Library, 10 December 2010. The theme was Article 26:2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Spiritual Education”: Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.


The Article we’re celebrating today refers to “Spiritual Education”. I have a problem with this, because I don’t know what “spiritual” means. I know what other people say it means, but there are several definitions, some of them religious, and I find them mostly too vague to agree with them. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll ignore that part of the Article and talk about the rest: about education, and about understanding and tolerance. These are things without which no civil society can function properly, and without which there is endless scope for disharmony and conflict.

Christmas with children, without hassle

This was an article in a newsletter from 2008 by Sophie Lovejoy, who has two young children. It provides ideas for parents with limited budgets who’d like to keep their spending under control, yet still have a good time.

Xmas cookingChristmas is invariably a challenge with small children, particularly if you aren’t Christian. For the past few years, my halcyon days of totally ignoring Christmas have been entirely forgotten. I got away with not celebrating when Tess was one, but as she turned two, I couldn’t hold out any longer. Once Toby came along, I had no choice but to rethink how I’d manage over the festive season. I work very hard in the run up to Christmas to keep the kids focused on the people they love, and who love them. Part of this is making almost all our gifts and cards, and I try to make something for each of the children too. I occasionally let the kids buy something very small, but usually my response when they ask is “Do you have any money? No? Well we’ll have to make something then.”

Persecuted Christians? In Britain?

Christians are saying that they’re ‘Not Ashamed‘, apparently, and Eric Pickles has declared war on the war on Christmas. I didn’t know anything about the Not Ashamed campaign when I came out of the shower this morning and answered the phone from BBC Radio Suffolk. Due to some crossed wires, I was expected to comment on air. Had to ask what I was supposed to be commenting about. So if it makes no sense, that’s why.

Anyhow, for a few days you can listen again. I’m on about 40 minutes into James Hazell’s programme.

Our “Good Life Without Religion” website attracts 1000s of visitors

A good life without religion websiteOur new single-page website, A Good Life Without Religion, went live at the beginning of September to coincide with the distribution of our car stickers to members and others. So far, it’s been viewed 29,928 times. Many of the visitors may have come through search engines, some through our online publicity. The site is designed as an introduction to humanism for anyone who’s disillusioned with religion, or simply looking for like-minded people. It should appeal to anyone, anywhere. The language is simple, designed to be accessible to people of all ages, from early teens upwards. There’s a set of frequently asked questions, such as “What’s the purpose of life, if you don’t believe in an afterlife?”. It was a Suffolk Humanists & Secularists’ initiative, but it may lead to any humanist or secularist group, through the links.

We suggest that you add the URL to your email signature and any other humanist and/or secularist publicity.

Parents don’t necessarily choose faith schools for their religion

Ekklesia reports on the results of a YouGov poll commissioned by ITV at around the time of the Pope’s visit. They show that a school’s religion doesn’t necessarily come top of their priority list.

Factors such as performance of the school, how easy it is to get into, the area the school is in, curriculum (which may of course have a religious influence), class sizes and facilities all seem to have been more important for parents.

New Secular Charter from the National Secular Society

The NSS Council has devised a new Secular Charter that seeks to be fair to everyone, to be achievable and to be benign. Seems good to me.

The Society promotes the separation of religion and state where law and the administration of justice are based on equality, respect for Human Rights and objective evidence without regard to religious doctrine or belief.

Christopher Hitchens and the atheist Nazis myth

With reference to my last post about the Pope and his repetition of the atheism=Nazism lie, here’s Christopher Hitchens. He begins by saying, “Atheism is not a moral or political position of any kind,” which of course it isn’t. Yes, there are some nasty atheists, but Hitler wasn’t one of them. He was just nasty.