Category: Diary

Urgent response required – extreme religion in the classroom

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.

In Devon, a headteacher who reprimanded a child for suggesting that non- Christians would go to hell has been bombarded with threats against him and his family.

New Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine online now

The latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine is now online at

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!”.

British Humanist Association e-bulletin

The latest news update from the BHA – click on “read more” for the whole bulletin.

BHA meets Department of Communities and Local Government

Representatives from the BHA met with officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government on Friday to discuss Humanist involvement in their community cohesion work.  This meeting was part of a follow up from the successful meeting the BHA had with Minister Sadiq Khan in February where Mr Khan agreed that humanist representatives should be involved in relevant discussions on public service delivery and cohesion initiatives. Pepper Harow, Local Campaigns Officer, explained, “All too often the department choose to work exclusively with religious groups.  Initiatives such as ‘interfaith week’ as announced last week are planned and implemented without any non-religious voices being heard.  This meeting is a big step in trying to change this.”

Damn atheists!

Thanks to Ariane Sherine, for posting the URL on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter, let us know – we might follow you.

Religion or Belief conference report

The BHA received grant funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission for a project which aims to increase understanding of the ‘religion or belief’ equality ‘strand’. As part of this, the third in a series of conferences was held in Birmingham on 22nd January this year. We’ve previously posted a report from the Daily Mail, which misrepresented the purpose of this work.


With her permission, here is a report on the conference from Alison Rawlinson from Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists, which was published in their newsletter. Alison attended the conference with her husband Mark.

Science and a “spiritual dimension”?

The BBC’s online magazine asks “What do you get if you divide science by God?”, which is possibly one of the daftest questions imaginable. In an article about “the meaning of physics”, Mark Vernon reports:

The Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension”, has been won by French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, who has worked on quantum physics with some of the most famous names in modern science.

Community Network conference calls

Community NetworkOur committee “meets” over the phone. The group is widely scattered over a rural area, so having committee meetings face to face, when committee members are all busy people with family commitments, is often inconvenient. The prospect of having to drive long distances, especially in the winter, can put prospective committee members off volunteering. It’s not very environmentally-friendly to drive when you don’t have to, and petrol isn’t cheap.

For the past few years we’ve held most committee meetings by telephone conference call, arranged through Community Network, a charity based in London that provides tele-conferences for charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.

Humanist ceremonies – what are they like?

If you’ve heard a lot about Humanist ceremonies and would like to know more, come and hear about our religion-free baby-namings, weddings (for heterosexual and homosexual couples), and funerals. Plenty of time for questions.