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Balls

Ed BallsEducation Minister Ed Balls made a speech at the Institute of Directors yesterday. This is some of it:

It is now just over two years since we launched our Faith in the System document at the British Library.

It was a hugely important event.

And it came just a few months after I began this job – in fact, the speech I made then was one of the very first speeches I gave as Secretary of State.

I was very much a novice then.

I’m now a veteran – in fact, in the next few weeks, I’ll become the second longest serving Secretary of State since Kenneth Baker.

But I do believe – and I hope you all agree – that Faith in the System was a landmark document.

Warning: Evangelists at Costa Coffee

The NSS reports:

“Café Church” is the brainchild of Baptist Minister Cid Latty of Christchurch Baptist Church, Welwyn Garden City. The concept is simple – people won’t go to church, so why not bring the church to the people via high street coffee chains? “The idea is to encourage those who might feel uncomfortable in a church building to worship in a more neutral environment,” say the organisers.

Costa Coffee and the Gloria Jean coffee shop chain have co-operated with this scheme. I usually go to Costa’s, so it’ll be Starbucks for me.

I’ve emailed Whitbread, Costa’s parent company,

Tonight on Radio 4 – And Another Thing

Tonight on Radio 4, the first part of ‘And Another Thing’, Eoin Colfer’s sequel to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Read by Stephen Mangan, with Peter Serafinowicz. If you miss it, you’ll be able to listen via i-Player.

We’ve written about Douglas Adams elsewhere on this site. Apparently, Colfer’s sequel has been approved by Adams’ widow, and it sounds as though Douglas might have approved. Review tomorrow, probably.

The Flaming Lips – secular Humanism’s house band?

In today’s Guardian, Kitty Empire writes,

If secular humanism had a house band it would be Oklahoma’s Flaming Lips. Having begun life in the mid-80s as lysergic slackers, the Lips have evolved into a kaleidoscopic outfit in which the forces of good and evil thrash it out nightly. Warm fuzziness and faith in human decency triumph most of the time. Their best-known epiphany, “Do You Realize?”, watches the planet hurtling through space before skewering fans with the knowledge that everyone they know, someday, will die.

Do you realise?

Urgent action – juveniles to be executed in Iran

An urgent message from the IHEU:

Behnoud Shojaee and Akram Mahdavi are scheduled to be executed in Evin prison this Sunday October 11, 2009, which falls one day after the International Day Against Execution.

They were under 18 when they committed the crimes they’ve been sentenced for. Please read the IHEU report and act now.

Theos research class, education and atheism

Andrew Brown of the Guardian made a lot of readers cross when he wrote that atheists are all middle-class, Aga-owning snobs. Now Theos, the public theology think tank, says that

Although atheists have historically been drawn from upper social grades and higher education levels, the research shows that converts to atheism are disproportionately drawn from groups with no educational qualifications whereas converts to theism are disproportionately drawn from higher socio-economic grades and from people with a masters degree or higher.

Roman Polanski is NOT a humanist

Hollywood stars who’ve supported film director Roman Polanski, arrested for a rape he committed in 1977, may be regretting rushing to his defence, as public opinion, led by some outspoken women, has condemned him.

According to The Telegraph,

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein said Polanski was a “humanist” who had been the victim of a “miscarriage of justice”.

Oh no he isn’t.

Polly Toynbee, Iran’s enemy

Polly ToynbeeBHA President Polly Toynbee has been cited in the official Iranian media as “One of the great conspirators who wants to overthrow the Islamic regime,” according to a contributor to the BBC’s Dateline London yesterday.

Polly said this is probably because of her presidency of the BHA, “… and we tend to attack all religions.”

You have 6 days to see the programme using BBC i-Player.

Three Cheers for Us!

Apparently, we’ve won an award from the British Humanist Association for The Best Group Website, with a certificate and everything! Hooray! Denis Johnston, our secretary, collected it at yesterday’s Groups Annual Meeting (GRAM) in London. Thank you Denis.

No acceptance speech from me, but a big thank you to our webmaster, my son Nathan Nelson, who keeps the technical show on the web, as it were.