In today’s Guardian – new evidence that faith schools don’t provide the benefits claimed for them, and that they increase social fragmentation. Government Minister Jim Knight provides the usual justification for keeping them.
The New Statesman asked various people what God means to them. What does it mean to you?
The campaign was the idea of comedy writer Ariane Sherine, who’d seen some Christian bus ads with a link to a website with an unpleasant message. How unpleasant? Judge for yourself. I especially dislike the bit about God’s wrath if you reject him –
You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits) (Matthew 25: 41).
It’s staggering that people who can walk and talk and (presumably) tie their own shoelaces still believe in fire and brimstone in 2009.
A few years ago, while visiting a local high school, one of the girls told me that her little sister had been told that their parents would go to hell because they were atheists. Who told her? Her primary school teacher. Did they complain? I believe they did, though I don’t know what the outcome was.
In another local primary school, a class had been doing some science about colours. The head teacher visited the classroom and was admiring a picture of a rainbow. She asked the artist where the colours came from. As the child began to explain what she’d learned about the refraction of light, the head teacher interrupted her. “No, no, no,” she said, “God did it!”
With examples like this of religious nuts imposing their beliefs on children, it’s good to know that such behaviour is generally frowned upon in state schools. Teachers who aim to make the classroom a religiously-neutral zone should be supported. However, religious bullies can make life very difficult.
In Surrey, Muslim parents who’d accused a primary school headteacher of “Islamophobia” were allowed to drive her out of her job and wreck the school’s religiously neutral ethos, while the county council “failed in its duty to protect her”, according to the High Court, who awarded £400,000 damages.
The latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine is now online at www.gayandlesbianhumanist.org.
With a nod to Christopher Isherwood, we say “Hello to Berlin” – the Berlin Film Festival, to be exact. Some of the mixed bag of fascinating movies that were seen there will no doubt be worth looking out for when they are shown at British film festivals, and we take a look at 21 offerings through the eyes of our man in Germany, Colin de la Motte-Sherman.
Comedians are always good for a laugh (well, so they should be). The US irreverant comedy legend George Carlin certainly is – or was. Carlin died last year, and the American Public Broadcasting Service showed a tribute to him. Thanks to videos that can be found on such sharing sites as YouTube, Carlin lives on. Our “Airings” column features one of his most hilarious performances “Religion is bullshit!”.