Blog Latest news and views

#beatcancer

eBay/Paypal and MillerCoors are donating a cent per hashtag (via tweet, Facebook update, or blog post). The campaign is aiming for a Guinness World Record “for the distribution of the largest mass message through social media” in one day.

Click here for my blog post.

NSS President Terry Sanderson interview

Some of the things that Terry says may upset Humanists who regard themselves as part of a “movement” that shares beliefs – a sort of quasi-religion.

Lib Dems call for secular commission

Last weekend, South Central Liberal Democrats Regional Conference passed a resolution calling for the state to be completely independent of any religion and none, as follows:

Conference notes:

  1. That Britain is becoming more multicultural every day and virtually every religious faith in the world is now actively practised in the UK;
  2. The steady decline in attendance at traditional Christian Churches
  3. and That the Church of England is still tied to the Monarchy and the State;
  4. That much discord in the world arises from strong religious belief or none.

Conference believes the time is right to separate all religious belief from its ties with Government and the Monarch at all levels so that all such belief and none is seen to be treated equally across the whole Electorate, reflecting today’s modern British society where humanity and equality are seen as paramount and religious belief is simply personal. We ask Government to set up a Commission to implement this proposal.

Man faces execution after jurors consulted the Bible

AI logoAnd if he smite him with an instrument of iron … the murderer shall surely be put to death (Numbers 35:16).

Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal for a man facing execution in three weeks’ time despite the fact that jurors at his trial consulted passages from the Bible in deciding his fate. Thirty-two-year-old Khristian Oliver is set to be executed in Texas, USA on 5 November. He was sentenced to death in 1999 for a murder committed during a burglary. While deciding whether he should live or die, jurors at his trial consulted copies of the Bible, including text supporting the death penalty, calling into serious question their impartiality.

Read more on the Amnesty UK website.

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?