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I wouldn’t start from here

Zehra Zaidi’s piece in the Guardian about the latest daft idea from Hazel Blears & Co is spot on. The constant harping on about “community cohesion”, which really means trying to get Muslims and others to all get along, is ridiculous. Can’t they see that the proliferation of faith schools is an obstacle to social harmony?

BlearsThere’ve been many “consultations” that were ostensibly about achieving harmony and understanding, but all they do is exaggerate the differences between people, rather than encourage them to discover what they have in common. Pixie-Dust for Brains Blears is behind the Government’s “Face-to-Face and Side-by-Side: A framework for inter faith dialogue and social action” consultation – another waste of time. In the foreword, she writes:

We have in recent years seen an increase in dialogue between different faith communities which is breaking down barriers, building understanding and strengthening relationships. We have also seen the positive changes that collaborative social action has brought about within our local communities. This growth in ‘active faith’ has seen faith communities putting into practice their values and teachings to enrich and benefit wider society.

Zehra Zaidi: The Young Muslim Advisory Group is divisive as well as unecessary

The creation of religion-based groups like YMAG [Young Muslim Advisory Group] is divisive because it approaches the subject of community cohesion from the standpoint of an assumption of difference. I am tired of the politics of “the other”. It’s about time we embraced the language of “we”. We, the British people – irrespective of background – must stand on a united platform on issues such as social cohesion and extremism.

Andrew Copson, BHA Education Officer, on faith schools and Cristina Odone

Andrew CopsonPity the poor faith schools. According to a pamphlet published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, penned by Cristina Odone, they are under threat as never before from “a government … aligning itself with a stridently secularist lobby”. Few apart from than Odone can have noticed this dangerous development.

Libby Purves sneers at American atheists

The Washington Post reports:

The nation’s largest group of atheists and agnostics is suing President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Friday in U.S. district court, arguing that the president’s mandated proclamations calling on Americans to pray violates a constitutional ban on government officials endorsing religion.

I read about this in Libby Purves’s Times Online column, where she wrote,

The Washington Post reports that a group of atheists in Wisconsin are suing President Bush for having a National Prayer Day. Its going to happen on the first Thursday in May and they tearfully say it will create ‘a “hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders”.

Tearfully? Purves gets snottier about the non-religious by the week.

The baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells is alive and well!

Rev Peter Mullen, who writes for the Northern Echo and the Telegraph, has been on the receiving end of some criticism lately for comments he made on his blog, including:

Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS.

In his defence, he says he was joking. This is not a surprise, as religion is a rich vein of humour – think talking snakes, women created from ribs, huge boats filled with animals, zombies who come back to life after three days and fly away, and Rowan Williams.

CCC says reduce Greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by at least 80% by 2050

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) today published its interim advice to Government on what the long-term target should be to tackle climate change. The CCC recommended that emissions from harmful Greenhouse Gases be reduced by at least 80% by 2050. In a letter to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, the CCC said that the 80% target should apply on average across all sectors of the UK economy and is achievable at affordable cost of between 1-2% of GDP in 2050

IHEU News

Happy human red 2This is a monthly update of news from International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). You can find the full versions of these news stories on the IHEU web site. To receive the monthly news update, sign up here.

HUMAN RIGHTS SPECIAL
This issue includes reports from IHEU’s delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where real progress has been made, particularly on issues of freedom of expression and separation of religion and state. For other news, please scroll down.

Dead Interesting – It’s my life, not God’s

In today’s Observer, Catherine Bennett wrote about Debbie Purdy, an MS sufferer who’d like to be able to die at a time she chooses but will need help to do so. She doesn’t want her husband to be prosecuted for helping her, which could happen, as the law stands. Mrs Purdy isn’t the first to have fought this battle. Diane Pretty is just one high profile case. She died in May 2002, having lost a legal challenge that would have allowed her husband Brian to help her commit suicide when she deteriorated.