Category: Internet

The Big Society is “natural territory for the Church of England”

From the National Secular Society, a report on the Church of England’s opportunism as the Government promotes a “Big Society”:

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “This is the clearest indication that the Church has been in detailed consultation with the Government about implementing the Big Society idea. Very sensibly, the Church is wary of being used as a means of shoring up the social catastrophe that is coming through the cutting of welfare spending. At the same time, it cannot resist the opportunity to force itself into the lives of those who otherwise are utterly indifferent if not hostile to it.”

Swords, ploughshares, guns & shovels

GunsWhenever there’s any mention of turning weapons into something useful, like tools, or beautiful, like art, someone will quote Isaiah II: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It’s a great idea, whether or not you believe it was God’s. There’ve been two recent examples.

The first is from Mexico. You can read about it on the Inhabitat website:

The city of Culiacán, in western Mexico has the highest rate of gun deaths in the country. After speaking with family members of victims of drug crimes in the city, artist Pedro Reyes decided to use its prolific amount of firearms to help the local botanical garden. In the ultimate act of recycling, Reyes and the garden started a campaign for residents to hand over their guns to the artist in exchange for a coupon that they could use to buy electronics or household appliances. He collected 1,527 guns for the project — Palas por Pistolas — had them melted down and transformed into 1,527 shovel heads that are now being used to plant trees in the community.

The second is from the recent BBC series, A History of the World in a 100 Objects, the Throne of Weapons:

Will the 2011 census mislead on religion?

The BHA and the NSS have both campaigned to have the next census, due in March 2011, changed to reflect a more accurate picture of religion in Britain, though their approach has differed.

The NSS says,

The information gained from the religion question — widely thought to have been inaccurate and misleading — is used by government departments when deciding about allocation of resources. Religious groups have used it to justify privileges.

A majority ticked ‘Christian’ in the last census, yet we know that hardly any nominal Christians go to church, belong to any organised religious group, or understand much about the theology of the religion they claim. Many mistakenly think that being Christian is synonymous with being good.

The 2011 census will be the first that we can complete online. Between now and then, secularists like us will be trying to persuade people to think about how they fill in their forms. If you don’t want the church to continue to enjoy all the privileges it currently enjoys at public expense, don’t give them the ammunition. You might begin by adding the link below to your email signature.

Click here for more about the Census Campaign.

Why can’t I own a Canadian?

Something that’s been on the Internet for a while, but maybe you haven’t seen it – how to deal with homophobes who justify their bigotry by quoting the Bible –

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. On one of her shows she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a US east coast listener, which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

Pope protest, BBC Thought for the Day, and more from the Internet

A Protest the Pope march and rally will take place in Central London on 18 September. See the Protest the Pope website for details. If anyone from Suffolk is planning to go could they please let us know?

Ekklesia, the liberal Christian organisation, has published a report on the BBC’s Thought for the Day that “challenges the terms of the current controversy over BBC Radio 4’s flagship ‘God slot’ by actually analysing its content – with some surprising results.” See their website for more.

BHA President Polly Toynbee tackles Labour leadership contender Ed Balls about his support for faith schools in a video on the Guardian website, about 10 minutes in.

Christina Patterson of the Independent has a go at multiculturalism, female genital mutilation (FGM) and bad manners, and I say “Hear hear!”.

Click on the links for more.

Learning from Northern Ireland

Throughout the current debate about faith schools and the Conservatives’ determination to muck about with our education system so that we have more “academies” run as faith-based independent schools at public expense, the example of Northern Ireland has been conveniently ignored. One of the main reasons why the Troubles lasted so long was because of religious segregation. Those of different faiths or no faith were largely invisible. Several generations of children went to segregated schools, continuing to demonize each other and never mixing.

The integrated schools movement started in 1981 with the foundation of Lagan College, thanks to the efforts of parents who wanted a better way of life for their children. Read more about it on the website of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, and ask yourselves why so many people in England are determined to move in the opposite direction?


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Educational confusion

SchoolchildrenI enjoy visiting schools and talking to students but I’m so glad I’m not a teacher any more. All the teachers I know have complained about frequent changes of government policy, masses of paperwork, and SATs testing (Standard Attainment Tests), which have reduced young children to gibbering wrecks with the stress.

I’m glad I’m not the parent of a school-age child either. There’s been a lot of talk about parental choice, but from what I’ve read, your choices have been limited. If you’re not religious, for example, and all the local schools have a religious ethos, you can either do what many parents do, and pretend to be religious to get your child into the best school, judged by its exam results and Ofsted reports, or what? Find the money to transport your child to a school that’s free from religion? It’s become so complicated that pushy parents are having to devote a lot of time to researching their options.