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Inclusive Remembrance Day event in Norfolk

Norfolk Fire Service’s chief fire officer Nigel Williams has arranged a secular Remembrance Day event this year, to avoid the exclusion of some staff members. This quote amused me:

The Ven Jan McFarlane, from the Diocese of Norwich, said: “We often hear that we’re a ‘secular society’ – but attendance at Remembrance Services today and on Sunday, and the numbers who turn to the church at times of significant national events would suggest otherwise.

Could it be, Ven. McFarlane, that people attend Remembrance services and those held for “significant national events” because there’s no alternative? A significant proportion of those who attend such services aren’t believers but go through the motions because they want to share the commemoration of something important. Give people the choice of an inclusive event, and you may see even more people attending.

Ipswich Skeptics in the Pub – Open Talk Night – Music

We’re told:

In our last event before Christmas, the theme is Music. Mark Aaron will talk about online activism in the context of saving BBC 6 music, and John Benton will talk about common logical fallacies regarding hifi equipment.

You’ll find ISP in the green room at the back of McGinty’s.

Humanists in the Armed Forces on Remembrance Day

It’s Armistice Day on Thursday, 11th November, when we remember British service personnel who’ve fought and died in the First World War and all the conflicts since. As usual, the contribution made by those who died without religion will largely be ignored at local remembrance ceremonies on Sunday, but this year it will be different in some British cities.

The UK Armed Forces Humanist Association has issued the following press release:

For the first time ever, Humanists will be included in the Remembrance Sunday service which will take place in Bedford, on the 14th November, and this year the wreath will be presented by David Brittain, who will not only be representing Humanists in Bedford, but also in his position as Humanist chaplain of the United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association (UKAFHA).

“It is of vital importance to the families of many service people, that in a ceremony which is fundamentally religious in nature, that the one in eight who are of no religion should specifically be remembered also. Everyone who fought and died for their country should be honoured, whatever their religion.”

Equal Love

Equal LoveEqual Love is about a legal bid to overturn the twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships in the United Kingdom. They say, why shouldn’t heterosexual couples have civil partnerships, and homosexual couples get married?

We heard about this via the BHA’s regular e-bulletin. If you’d like to sign up for one in your inbox, click here.

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:

November newsletter for you to download now

SH&S News November 2010Our November newsletter is here for you to download and print. Why not make several copies and hand them on to your friends?

In this month’s issue:

  • Suffolk Humanist Sue Hewlett on her involvement with a scheme to link the village school in Stutton, where she taught, with one in Yendi in Ghana.
  • Details of this month’s meeting, when we’ll be electing a new chairperon and member Colleen Nunn will tell us about the geology of Suffolk.
  • A list of books recommended by last month’s speaker, Dr John Mellis, after his talk on theoretical physics.
  • Details of our activities through the East of England Faiths Agency and Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource.

Click here or on the image for your copy.

Click here for help with pdf files.