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I was asked to contribute to a discussion on James Hazell’s Saturday Show on BBC Radio Suffolk. James introduced the slot on Facebook as follows:
The Warr Zone at 11 – Are we losing our religion? Rows over prayers at council meetings, falling church attendences and an MP who says Europe needs to ‘get comfortable’ with christianity. Do you need religion in your life?
The “Warr” in the title is Simon Warr. I’d never heard of him before but apparently he teaches at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook (he isn’t the headteacher, as some have described him), and he writes a column for the East Anglian Daily Times as well as being on Radio Suffolk. If you listen to the broadcast, from about 2 hours and 10 minutes in, you’ll find that Mr Warr isn’t strong on listening skills and shouts a lot. Click here for his website, and see below for his appearance on The One Show, where he advocated beating children.
You have about a week to hear it on iPlayer – click here to listen. I don’t think that it will have enlightened many of those who are confused about the “militant secularism” claims.
Margaret Nelson will be on the James Hazell Show to talk about all the fuss generated by the Bideford ruling on council prayers, and the claims of “aggressive secularism”.
Times shown aren’t exact. You can listen on i-Player or Listen Again.
Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief, prune back far-reaching hopes! Even while we speak, envious time has passed: pluck the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow!
Click here to read Baroness Warsi’s speech to the Vatican today, in full. You might want to pour yourself a stiff drink first. You’ll need it.
Europe needs to become more confident in its Christianity.
Let us be honest –
Too often there is a suspicion of faith in our continent, where signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings, where states won’t fund faith schools, and where faith is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded.
The naturalist Charles Darwin was born 203 years ago today, Darwin Day.
In his book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin set out what is probably the most important idea in the history of science. He reasoned that plants, animals and all living things are not static and unchanging, remaining as they were made by a divine creator; instead they change subtly from one generation to the next and those that are better suited to whatever environment they find themselves in prosper and reproduce more, while those that are less well suited don’t. In this way, plants and animals gradually change, eventually developing into new species and producing the huge variety of nature that we see today. Darwin’s theory, evolution by natural selection, is at the root of our understanding about life on Earth: it explains why there is such diversity in nature, why we are here, and why we are as we are.
On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, yet there are still many who reject evolution as an explanation for how we came to be here, prefering the Biblical story of Genesis or another creation myth – there are many – and there are still too many children leaving school ignorant of the theory of evolution.
For more on evolution and ‘Intelligent Design’ (Creationism in another form) click here for our article, We’re all Monkeys.
… the sharpest young opinion-formers are atheists. This is a development that seems to have been missed by the old boobies who pass for bishops in the Anglican and Catholic Churches. It’s a rapid and startling change in our religious landscape and not one that is going to be reversed.
Following a Judicial Review initiated by the National Secular Society to challenge the practice of having prayers as part of the formal business of council meetings in Bideford Town Council (Devon), the High Court has ruled:
The saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a Council is not lawful under s111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue.
This began when Bideford Town Councillor Clive Bone, who’s an atheist, was elected in 2007; he found that he was expected to say prayers at the beginning of meetings. Councillors in other areas have had similar objections, saying that this practice puts off atheists or people of other faiths from standing for election. Click here to hear Mr Bone talking about it.
I have repeatedly tried to persuade Babergh District Council (my local council) to change its practice of beginning full council meetings with prayers, and been told that they see no reason to change. Maybe this will make them think again.
From 2002-2003 British Guyana-born Harold Mangar was chairman of Suffolk County Council. He decided that he wanted to do things differently. During his term of office, Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource provided speakers from various local faith groups, and a humanist (me), to address full council meetings ten minutes before their council business began. The day I did it, several councillors told me that they normally arrived late to avoid prayers, but had made a special effort to come and hear me.
Now that the High Court has ruled, we will be drawing Suffolk local authorities’ attention to the illegality of their practices.