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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Want to save money? Stop paying for kids to attend “faith” schools

Just the way to save money in these straitened times: stop paying for the Deluded Herd to send their kids to school.

It’s happened in Lancashire in England (and a few more places in the UK, too), and the county council there could save a couple of million quid by not paying for transport for kids to go to “faith” schools.

Quite right. If parents want to send their kids to “faith” schools, let them pay. It’ll cost them £2 per day per child. One “faith” school, St Christopher’s in Accrington, pulls pupils in from far afield.

Some bloke there says the move will hit parents with more than one child at a religious school. Then let them send the child to a school nearer home.

As more councils knock this silly nonsense on the head, it may just start a change in parents’ priorities, and “faith” schools may have to become like ordinary state schools, taking kids from their natural catchment areas, whatever their “faith”, or whether they have a belief system or not.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

British ad watchdog cosies up to Catholic Church

If ever you needed proof that those in any kind of authority are only too pleased to accommodate those of odd persuasions, you need look no further than Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority.

On the strength of just half a dozen complaints it has banned an ad showing two male priests about to kiss.

You couldn’t make it up.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Blessed are the pillaged poor, but ‘listed places of worship’ are more important

Oh, whoopee! The “listed places of worship” in the UK have escaped the ravages of Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review (of which you can read oodles here, among many other places).

But the only thing so far, according to the think tank Ekklesia, that the Church of England has had to say about the review – which will mean mainly the poorest picking up the tab for the financial recklessness of the very rich – is “Thanks for saving our Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme.”

And this isn’t just listed buildings, don’t forget. Not just buildings that are valuable to the national heritage. They are listed places of worship. That makes them more important, then, and is worth a few more pounds out of the pockets of those who can least afford it.

And religious lunatics keep going on about how marginalised they are.

This is what Ekklesia has to say about the selfish Church of England response:

In a statement issued just a few hours after George Osborne’s announcement of the cuts in public spending which will see an estimated 490,000 public sector workers lose their jobs, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Chair of the Church Heritage Forum, said: “I am very glad that the Department for Culture Media and Sport has announced that the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme will continue. Abandoning the scheme, which affects every part of the United Kingdom, would have been tantamount to a tax on fundraising; a great disincentive to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who care for our churches and a blow to the credibility of the concept of the Big Society.

“While I regret that the additional concessions on professional fees, organs and bells, secured in 2006 and already withdrawn, will not be reinstated, I very much welcome the Government’s recognition that church buildings make a large contribution to the community as a whole.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have campaigned tirelessly within the Church of England for the scheme to be maintained and also to the Heritage Minister for his informed concern and determination to find a solution which balances economic necessity with a recognition of the role and potential of our church buildings.”
The Church of England has so far issued no other statement following the spending review.

And he has the gall to regret that concessions on organs and bells and “professional fees” (for whom?) won’t be reinstated. Even if we allowed that old churches can be valuable parts of our heritage as pieces of architecture, not all are, and there is certainly no need for a working organ or a working bell just to keep a building up to scratch.

But that is to ignore that the Church of England is such a huge landowner that it can well afford the upkeep of its churches. If they were owned by the state, that would be a different matter.

Methodists come off a bit better in their response to the big spending review. In a statement yesterday, the president of the Methodist Conference in Britain said the government’s cuts strategy should be judged primarily on how it impacts upon the poorest in society.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Where to draw the line? tells us:

Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu, who retired on October 15 at the age of 79, said on the eve of his retirement that he was willing to go to prison rather than accept the provisions in proposed Philippine legislation that provide for widespread distribution of contraceptives, including abortifacients such as the IUD.

A man of his word, then.

“God forbid, but if they succeed I would be the first to go to jail because I will break the law,” Vidal is quoted as saying. “We’re not supposed to talk against it once it becomes a law, but I am wiling to go to jail because I will continue to talk about and go against it.”

He says the law does sanction those who speak out against it. I can’t say whether he’s technically right or wrong; but, of course, the law shouldn’t so sanction. He should be allowed his free speech, and the best way to counter it is by debate and, if necessary, ridicule, satire, lampoon. These are, or should be, the rights of a free society – but so, too, should this chap’s opinion on contraceptives, nutty though it is.

What he shouldn’t be allowed to do is somehow prevent a lawful act in an unlawful way. Mind you, what is unlawful there is anybody’s guess, if citizens really aren’t allowed even to speak about contraception.

If he seeks to dissuade people from using contraceptives merely by expressing an opinion, then he ought to be within his legal rights, and I say that as a supporter of contraception for anyone who needs it.

But we’ll always meet fuzzy lines. What if he spoke from the vantage point of a very powerful pulpit (I’m using that word in the widest metaphorical sense) and succeeded in stopping people from using contraceptives, possibly even putting their lives at risk? His church is powerful in some places, because it captures the minds of the faithful and threatens them with excommunication and tells them they’ll probably go to hell.

So maybe talking about it in his case would amount to more than the same act by some bloke in a café.

But, then, where do you draw the line?

So I’m vacillating. Hmm.

Oh, OK, then, send him to jail!

On second thoughts . . .

Thursday, 14 October 2010

It’s OK to rape your wife

So it should not be considered a crime if a husband rapes his wife, eh? This is the opinion of some Sharia Council chap here in the UK.

The link above is to Digital Journal, where a few people in the comments section below aren’t too pleased, either. One commenter says, “Three words. THROW. HIM. OUT.”

Let us continue to go forth and multiply, then, eh?

From today’s Independent:

In an authoritative and ominous warning, the 2010 Living Planet Report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the definitive survey on the state of the planet’s health, signals that that tropical ecosystems are being degraded and tropical species are declining at an increasingly rapid rate, with the world’s population now consuming the output of one-and-a-half sustainable Earths [our emphasis].

And ridiculous Catholics will continue to tell us that we must continue to breed and will not let a little thing like overpopulation sway them from their strict line on family planning.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Claire Rayner: a friend to gay people, a friend to secular humanism

We’re sorry to hear today of the death of Claire Rayner. She was a friend to gay people and a friend to secular humanism.

Rayner died at the age of 79, and, she told relatives that she wanted her last words to be, “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”

Claire Rayner
She had intestinal surgery in May, and has been ill since then. She died in a hospital near her London home.

Rayner has praised our sister publication, Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine, and has often been in contact often with members of our parent organisation, the Pink Triangle Trust.

Of G&LH’s return as an online publication in 2008, Rayner said:

Great to see you’re back. This beats any other resurrection (Lazarus? Eat your heart out!) about which you may have read in the Bible – which of course, sensible atheists read from time to time so that they can stop believers in their tracks with apposite quotations. What with this and the emblazoned bendy buses all over London, I begin to think we may be getting somewhere – and the other indication is the growth of religious fundamentalism. It shows the religionists are running scared!

Here’s to happy godless future where people matter more than popes and their like. Every power to your elbows!

“In 1996,” says the BBC website, “she was awarded the OBE for ‘services to women’s issues and health issues’.

“She was involved with 50 charities, and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Commission on Nursing and the last government’s Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly.”

Rayner was also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and a vice-president and former president (1999–2004) of the British Humanist Association.

On its website, the BHA quotes Rayner as having said, “I was a humanist without knowing it for many years before I found the Association – when I did, it was like finding a sort of home. Here were people with a range of views that matched mine, who shared my respect for life in all its forms and who, above all, did not in any way try to bully other people to follow their beliefs.”

Another quotation the BHA cites is: “You think for yourself, and work out your own morality . . . I’m fascinated by the idea of trying to find your own way through the world with your own maps rather than someone else’s . . . All I know is there is no God in my universe. I’ve looked and looked, and there ain’t no God there. But I don’t want to be a dogmatic atheist. I like mythology, and a life without stories doesn’t bear thinking about, just let us not have supernatural beings. What is natural is awe-full enough. We don’t need a First Cause.”

Rayner, agony aunt to many, friend to many more, will be missed in many sections of British society. You’ll find tributes today wherever you look, no doubt, and we think they’re well deserved.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Appealing for the right to discriminate

When will the more extreme religionists learn that they’re losing their grip on the freedoms of other people?

You’ll remember that the Charity Commission here in the UK ruled against a Catholic adoption agency – Catholic Care – which wanted to discriminate against same-sex couples who wanted to adopt children.

After lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth, the agency – the last remaining one in England – has filed for appeal against that decision.

Simon Caldwell writing in the Catholic Review says:

The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam in northern England, had sought to continue its policy of assessing married heterosexuals and single people as potential adopters, which means it will not deal with gay couples . . .

Lawyers for Catholic Care are arguing that Section 193 of the 2010 Equality Act allows charities a limited right to discriminate if it represents a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

The commission has argued, however, that such “discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.”

Such a lot of energy, not to mention money and time, put into trying to do the dirty on people just because they have a sexual orientation that isn’t the one recommended in desiccated old scriptures written by ancient herders.

It’s a funny thing, life.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Stating the bleedin’ obvious

A Vatican official is objecting to the awarding of the Nobel Prize to a pioneer of in vitro fertilisation.

Well, he would, wouldn’t he?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Vatican a valuable partner in fight against poverty? Pull the other one!

The National Secular Society points out fittingly that the damned Vatican is supposed to be a big partner of the UK in its fight against global poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and yet it does everything in its damned power to thwart said goals.

So much for its being a valuable partner. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.