The Church of England has just demonstrated in the clearest possible way how detached it has become from the modern world in general – and British society in particular … and yet it cleaves to positions of privilege and influence completely disproportionate to how representative it truly is.
If you agree with this petition – sign it
I’ve just returned from Preston’s Service of Remembrance – where: representing LSH; I was proud to lay a wreath on behalf of UKAFHA [UK Armed Forces Humanists Association] in remembrance of all the non-religious service personnel who also gave their lives and suffered appalling injury in the service of our country.
Not that you’d know they even exist – if the Right Worshipful Lord Mayor: Guild Mayor & Mayoress; Councillors and [exclusively] Christian Clergy of Preston have anything to do with things … talk about being airbrushed out of history!
It was wall-to-wall Christianity.
We began with “In an ever uncertain world, where the fortunes of nations change frequently, it is comforting to know that God is constant, all powerful, ever loving and full of mercy.” … and didn’t get any better.
A Hymn – a bible reading – The intercessions [including the patronising and insulting “We pray for the mentally distresses and for those whose faith in God and humanity has been weakened or destroyed…” “…and especially those who have no hope in Christ to sustain them …”
Lot’s more in similar vein [You know – the ‘Oh all powerful God we are not worthy’ tripe]
There was an interesting revelation of priorities in praying for “…the Church, the Queen, the Commonwealth and all people …”
Preston is richly [and famously] diverse when it comes to religion; ethnicity; race; creed & culture, and yet: other than the offensively patronising references already mentioned; there was no acknowledgement whatsoever that anyone other than the Christian observant existed.
Despite the fact that there was at least one Sikh wreath-layer participating in the event itself and any number of people who were obviously of other backgrounds and faiths making up the many people who had turned out to view and support the event.
When it comes to Preston UKAFHA has certainly got its work cut out – and deserves all the support it can get.
Along with Guy Otten from Manchester Humanists; I’ll be participating in a live on-line discussion this evening on the Muslim TV Channel ‘Ummah TV’ in Blackburn.
The chairman will be Mohammed Shafiq and we’ll be engaged in debate with an Imam and a Bishop … (sounds like the start of a joke – ‘there’s an Imam, a Bishop and a Humanist …‘).
I’ll let you know how it goes!
Following on from LSH’s ‘Question Time’ event last month – where issues around secularism surfaced a number of times – our guest speaker for May is a member of the National Secular Society.
A founder member of Sheffield Humanist Society Dan Bye will talk about the campaigning work of the NSS – no doubt including the recent Bideford Council Prayers case.
Dan was a columnist for ‘New Humanist’ magazine from 1998-2002 and is the longest serving current member of the NSS Council of Management.
He is also chair of the publishing company of ‘The Freethinker’: the world’s oldest surviving atheist magazine.
7.30 [for 8pm start]
Wednesday 16th May
Great Eccleston Village Centre.
Much as I value and admire the fantastic opportunities Scouting offers to young people I wholeheartedly support the NSS criticism of Bear Grylls recent declaration that the Scouts “…allow people of all backgrounds to come together …”: when; in the teeth of all the evidence that most young people today are not religious, the Scouting movement continues to insist they will not be welcomed if they do not agree to include a duty to God in their obligatory ‘Promise’.
Many years ago now; we wrestled with the same issues when our daughter was looking to join the Girl Guides. During the conversations one exasperated leader exclaimed “she only has to say it – she doesn’t have to mean it”.
As the NSS point out in an open letter to Mr Grylls, young people either have to make a hypocritical or dishonest statement or risk being refused full membership of the Scouts. And when it comes to recruiting potential Scout leaders the Scouts compound their prejudices by categorically stating ‘The avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to appointment to a leadership position’ … a dubious distinction we non-religious now share with paedophiles.
Mr Grylls and the Scouting hierarchy are well aware that the Scouts applied for and were granted an exemption from equality legislation precisely to be able to continue this discrimination and accept only members with religious beliefs; or who are [at least] prepared to make a promise to a god – so public declarations of allowing “…people of all backgrounds to come together.” are; to say the least, disingenuous.
The Barmy Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s latest ploy: encouraging Christians to “…wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives”; couldn’t possibly be divisive could it?
Countless examples of disruption and dispute could be cited to demonstrate why large employers – such as the civil service – specifically prohibit exhibitions of personal faith in the workplace – Because It’s A No-Brainer!
Perhaps his implorations should be answered reciprocally.
Everybody – not just Christians – should be encouraged to display signs of their personal position on religion ‘each and every day of their lives’ too,
I’ll be wearing my ‘Happy Human’ and atheist ‘A’ badges from now on – and if challenged I’ll refer objectors to The Tartan Cardinal’s Office.
You can get your badges here:
‘Happy Human’ – http://www.humanism.org.uk/shop/apparel
Atheist ‘A’ – http://store.richarddawkins.net/collections/jewelry-1
Chris Jenord is the organiser of an event in Somerset called The Ancestor’s Trail where people, especially non-believers, walk a branching network of footpaths representing Darwin’s ‘Tree of life’.
Inspired by Richard Dawkins’ book the Ancestor’s Tale, the event has been described as a ‘secular pilgrimage’ celebrating our shared ancestry with all life and raising money for nature conservation.
This will be the third ‘Trail’ event and is scheduled for the 25th-26th August.
As part of this event Chris has to organise speakers to discuss evolutionary biology and biodiversity in a local venue.
The whole event is financed through an online crowd-sourcing website called Crowdfunder.
The ‘pitch’ is now live and already counting down.
Essentially, the ‘pitch total’ needs to be reached by the expiry date for the event to happen.
If not, everyone who has invested gets their money back.
The pitch offers various all-inclusive accommodation packages especially designed for folks coming from further afield.
It’s a long way from Lancaster I know, but last year people were welcomed from Devon, Dorset, London, Norfolk, Yorkshire and even the USA and so the organisers thought such longer distance travellers may prefer to know about their accommodation well in advance.
A second pitch will open in early June, primarily to allow local people to book the two evening events.
You’ll find all the information you need on the Crowdfunder pitch: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/investment/ancestor-s-trail-2012-358or The Ancestors Trail website: http://ancestorstrail.net/
The crowd-sourcing approach relies on folks spreading the word so, if you know anyone who you consider may be even remotely interested, PLEASE FORWARD THESE DETAILS.
To hear more about our project follow this link to our special Ancestor’s Trail episode on Clare Balding’s BBC R4 Ramblings show: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011tsdb. Alternatively, this is the 2011 event video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqnx3f_uHHc
What a fantastic result regarding Council Prayers – And listen to the little lambs bleating! Their undisguised outrage is very revealing isn’t it?.
Nobody saying they can’t prey: nobody’s telling them their faith is outlawed; there’s nothing stopping them from having that quiet chat with the particular invisible friend of their choosing in the car before entering the Council offices – or in a seperate room with like-minded others ahead of Council business.
If this ‘please tell us how to think’ chat is so important to them you’d imagine they could get there five minutes early – on their own time – wouldn’t you.
I suspect what’s really cheesing them off is the fact that they can no longer appear ‘special’; ‘set apart’, ‘superior’. They can’t inflict their beliefs on the rest. They can’t steal that little moment just before getting down to business to impose their brand of ‘thinking’ on lesser mortals.
And you’d think their sky-mate would give them a better argument than ‘It should be done because we’ve always done it’ wouldn’t you. Makes you wonder how we ever got rid of ducking stools if that is the kind of thinking we have to be guided by.
… This is the 2012 Darwin Day Lecture at UCLAN delivered by Pro. Nicola Clayton.
Monday 13th February 7 – 9pm (bar open from 6pm)
The Darwin Lecture Theatre.
LSH have secured 12 free tickets for this event – still a few left.
Get in touch with Ian asap if you don’t want to miss out on what promises to be a fascinating evening.
The next meeting of Lancashire Secular Humanists is 7.30pm – Wednesday 15th February 2012 at Great Eccleston Village Centre, 59 High Street, The Square, Great Eccleston. PR3 0YB
This is our ‘Just For Fun – Charity Quiz Night’
We set one evening a year aside exclusively as a fund-raising event to support of our adopted charity – Rosemere Cancer Foundation: a charity supporting cancer patients in Lancashire & South Cumbria as well as funding vital local research, helping to provide the very best care possible for patients.
As with all LSH meetings – this is open to everybody*.
If you enjoy quizzing – or support Rosemere – or simply like to spend pleasant evenings with an eclectic group of people – this is for you!
Remember – every penny we raise from entrance fees – refreshments and raffle goes to a good cause benefitting the lives of [who knows how many] other people.
So – bring as many friends as you can – join in one of the teams – put your thinking caps on and enjoy!
. . . . .
Just to put your minds at rest – Can I remind you that Ian has been banned from setting the quiz questions [for life!] so this year’s quiz will be set by a guest quiz-setter.
*Lancashire Secular Humanists is a group for free-thinking individuals living lives informed by Logic, Science & Humanity. All LSH meetings are ‘open’ meetings. Anyone is invited to join in our discussions regardless of whether they are humanist – secularist – religious – undecided – or [just] interested. We are people who enjoy participating in intelligent discourse between ourselves and with others about wide ranging subjects on the understanding that the only common denominator will be that nobody resorts to dogma in defence of a contention. Being freethinkers there are many things we secular humanists will not agree on between ourselves, but there are matters on which we do take a firm and unanimous stand … We do not condone discrimination of any sort – nor do we hate religious people … Such views are entirely contrary to any humanist philosophy and we reserve the right to exclude any person promoting them!