Category: Diary

The census – make yourself count

No religion

Most people will have received their census forms in today’s post. You might think that there’s a supernatural side to life, or that there is a god of some kind, but if organised religion isn’t for you, how you answer the religion question is important.

Please help to ensure that the census gives an accurate and honest picture of the religious/non-religious balance of the UK. Don’t ignore the question and leave it blank, or you won’t count.

The 2001 census results were used to justify more faith schools and religious broadcasting, unelected religious leaders being involved in political decisions, 26 bishops in the House of Lords, public services being contracted out to religious organisations, and continuing special privileges for the church. Many people don’t want these things. If that includes you, tick “No religion” – but not before 27 March, Census Day.

Don’t write “humanist”, or “atheist” or anything else at the bottom of the list – they’re not religions. All you need to do is tick the “No religion” box.

Blame

We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

New commenting system and other changes

Bubbles

Here at SHS Towers, our highly trained web monkeys have been labouring over a few changes to the site, and we’re a little bit excited.

We’ve scrapped our entire registration and sign-in system, and replaced it with a new system designed to make it easier for you to share posts, comments and discussion on the Suffolk Humanists and Secularists site.

Testing

Woo woo!

A fine mess

A fine messWhen will Messrs Gove and Pickles stop dismantling our state education and welfare systems, and handing them over to religious organisations? How will we ever put them back together again, when they’ve finished messing about with them?

In education, under Gove’s leadership, the changes are encouraging evangelicals. The Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, wants to take advantage of Mr Gove’s free schools idea, to open a new school.

In Sweden, is it illegal to teach religious doctrines as if they were true?

The trouble with RE (or one of the troubles with RE – there are several) is that it attracts teachers who think religion is a good thing, and consequently are less inclined to encourage any sort of criticism. There is bias in the way that they teach the subject. You might argue that an atheist RE teacher (and yes, there are some) could show bias against religion, but any teacher who is doing the job properly should avoid personal bias. In Suffolk, the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) stresses that RE is to learn about religion, and to learn from religion. It’s the second part of this that worries me, as it depends how you interpret “learning from”. It’s assumed that, in general, religion is a good thing.

In Sweden, it will soon become illegal to teach any religious doctrine as if it was true. Andrew Brown, in the Guardian, reports:

The Swedish government has announced plans to clamp down hard on religious education. It will soon become illegal even for private faith schools to teach religious doctrines as if they were true. In an interesting twist on the American experience, prayer will remain legal in schools – after all, it has no truth value. But everything that takes place on the curriculum’s time will have to be secular. “Pupils must be protected from every sort of fundamentalism,” said the minister for schools, Jan Björklund.

If only this could happen here!

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Postscript: My thanks to someone on Twitter who pointed out that the Guardian article dates from 2007. However, it seems that Swedes did do what they said they would (pdf), though if anyone can shed any more light on this, please let me know.

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In answer to my appeal for an update, I had a message by email and Twitter from Shockwave, as follows:

My Swedish friend answered your question about Religion in schools.

http://sintrenton.tumblr.com/post/3028797783/is-it-illegal-in-sweden-to-teach-religious-doctrines-as

Hope that makes it clear(er).