Tagged: religion

Warning: young children given books containing graphic violence

This is a letter in this week’s National Secular Society e-news:

We have a 4 year old son who has just started attending our local non-denominational community School. Last week, along with the rest of his year-group he was presented with an illustrated children’s Bible.

We were given the option to opt-out of this but did not exercise this because we didn’t want our son to feel excluded and trusted the school that the book would be age-appropriate. It was not and our son ended up in tears over the violent illustrations of the crucifixion.

Many other parents were unhappy and we personally are complaining to the school. We have subsequently found out that he Bible’s distribution and funding was carried out by a Charity – Bibles for Children. According to their website they are active in hundreds of primary schools across the country (there is a list in their annual report). We would like to warn other members with children who may be targeted by these people and who might want to take action against these people either on principle or in order to prevent their kids being exposed to images of graphic violence.

Scouts and Guides’ promise to “love God” may be dropped

We’ve had emails from parents whose children want to join the Guides or Scouts, but have been shocked to find that they’re expected to make a promise to “love God”. Letters and emails to the association have failed, so far, to achieve any sort of compromise. Now, after persistent campaigning by the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, Girl Guides may no longer have to pledge to “love God” as part of their Guide promise. Presumably, this would apply to Scouts too. An increasing number of parents have complained that the current pledge discriminates against children who don’t have a religious faith. If they make the promise, they have to lie. Some have opted for the alternative organization, the Woodcraft Folk (which ignores religion) if there’s a branch in their area.

Today’s Telegraph reports,

… the association is considering reviewing the wording of its affirmation for new members, to remove religious references.

The move comes after parents complained it was unfair to exclude children who had not received a Christian upbringing.

Operation Christmas Child – “racist & poisonous”

OCC logoIt’s Operation Christmas Child time again, when well-meaning people are encouraging their children to fill shoe boxes with gifts for needy children overseas. But Operation Christmas Child, run by the evangelical American organisation Samaritan’s Purse, has a destructive agenda. Please don’t support them. Click here to read about “Mad Missionaries and Toxic Gifts”.

The BHA has some suggestions for alternatives to Samaritan’s Purse – click here to see their website.

There is a Campaign against Operation Christmas Child, that describes OCC as “Racist & Poisonous”:

What most people don’t know is that the organisation behind it – Samaritans Purse – is run by that well known islamophobe Franklin Graham – who calls Islam “a very wicked and evil religion”. It’s the same group that rode with Israeli army convoys into Lebanon during Israel ‘s 1982 invasion, and again followed US troops in to Iraq to claim Muslims for Christ.

In 1990 they sent 30,000 arabic bibles for US troops to hand out to the defeated Iraqis – literally at gun point. In Afghanistan their 2003 report proudly declared that with help from the Canadian military; they got “MUSLIM children in the capital city of Kabul to celebrate Christmas for the first time”.

Their stated aim is the “advancement of the Christian faith through… the relief of poverty”. Christian leaders in the UK have condemned this version of Christianity as “racist” and “poisonous”. 

Their poison isn’t just directed at Muslims, they refer to Hindus as being “bound by Satan’s power” and were caught preying on Catholic earthquake victims in El Salvador in 2001- refusing them temporary homes provided by US AID unless they first attend a half hour evangelising “prayer” session. Afterwards Frankilin Graham gloated that in one village they converted 150 Catholics.

You can be sure that Samaritan’s Purse has an equally bigoted view of atheists.

Click here for an example of Samaritan’s Purse literature that’s delivered to children.

Continued > > >

 


 

Religious literacy, and why it matters

There are many atheists and self-styled humanists who are so anti-religious that they don’t want to know anything about it. When they talk about Islam, say, it becomes evident that they know very little about Muslims, and have probably never knowingly spoken to one. As far as they’re concerned, Islam is a threat, and that’s all there is to it.

When it comes to our quality of life, what matters is how people behave, not what they believe. This applies to atheists and humanists too, some of whom could do with lessons in manners. There are times when this sort of attitude leads atheists to do very silly things, like Richard Dawkins’ response to the Haitian earthquake. To demonstrate that humanists are caring people, he set up a separate fund from all the well-established disaster relief funds. A lot of atheists won’t donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) because some of the organisations involved have a religious ethos and they imagine that the money might be used for proselytising, instead of food, shelter and welfare. Dawkins’ fund, which was promoted by the BHA, was channelled through PayPal, an American money transfer system, which meant that British donors couldn’t take advantage of the Gift Aid scheme, so their donations were worth less than they would have been through DEC. This was inexcusable, considering that there are British disaster relief charities without a religious ethos, and that donors could have gone direct to any of them. Humanists are supposed to be rational people, but this wasn’t very rational.

Jesus he knows me!

Touch the screen, touch the screen!


Phil Collins & Genesis, from the album ‘We can’t dance’, 1991.

Can you be good without God? Discussion on BBC Radio Suffolk

What a silly question – of course you can. Whether or not you’re religious has nothing to do with it. Some religious people are bad, some are good. Likewise with atheists. However, there are still many who imagine that if you don’t believe in a god (usually a Christian or Muslim one), you’re a bad person, and everyone who does believe is morally superior.

James Hazell has invited Margaret Nelson and a cleric (not sure who) to debate the question on his radio programme on Wednesday (times may vary). If you’re not local you can listen online. Meanwhile, you might like to check our other website that tells you all about it.

A fine mess

A fine messWhen will Messrs Gove and Pickles stop dismantling our state education and welfare systems, and handing them over to religious organisations? How will we ever put them back together again, when they’ve finished messing about with them?

In education, under Gove’s leadership, the changes are encouraging evangelicals. The Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, wants to take advantage of Mr Gove’s free schools idea, to open a new school.

In Sweden, is it illegal to teach religious doctrines as if they were true?

The trouble with RE (or one of the troubles with RE – there are several) is that it attracts teachers who think religion is a good thing, and consequently are less inclined to encourage any sort of criticism. There is bias in the way that they teach the subject. You might argue that an atheist RE teacher (and yes, there are some) could show bias against religion, but any teacher who is doing the job properly should avoid personal bias. In Suffolk, the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) stresses that RE is to learn about religion, and to learn from religion. It’s the second part of this that worries me, as it depends how you interpret “learning from”. It’s assumed that, in general, religion is a good thing.

In Sweden, it will soon become illegal to teach any religious doctrine as if it was true. Andrew Brown, in the Guardian, reports:

The Swedish government has announced plans to clamp down hard on religious education. It will soon become illegal even for private faith schools to teach religious doctrines as if they were true. In an interesting twist on the American experience, prayer will remain legal in schools – after all, it has no truth value. But everything that takes place on the curriculum’s time will have to be secular. “Pupils must be protected from every sort of fundamentalism,” said the minister for schools, Jan Björklund.

If only this could happen here!

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Postscript: My thanks to someone on Twitter who pointed out that the Guardian article dates from 2007. However, it seems that Swedes did do what they said they would (pdf), though if anyone can shed any more light on this, please let me know.

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In answer to my appeal for an update, I had a message by email and Twitter from Shockwave, as follows:

My Swedish friend answered your question about Religion in schools.

http://sintrenton.tumblr.com/post/3028797783/is-it-illegal-in-sweden-to-teach-religious-doctrines-as

Hope that makes it clear(er).