Category Archives: In The News

Humanism should be added to Religious Education

Religion and Worldviews

(The Observer 9th September 2018)

The subject should be renamed Religion and Worldviews to equip young people with respect and empathy for different faiths and viewpoints, says the Commission on Religious Education in a report published on Sunday.

Content “must reflect the complex, diverse and plural nature of worldviews”, drawing from “a range of religious, philosophical, spiritual and other approaches to life, including different traditions within Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, non-religious worldviews and concepts including humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism”.

The report was welcomed by the head teachers’ union, the Church of England and Humanists UK.

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Faith is Fading in Europe

Report in the Economist –  March 2018

A study of religious attitudes and practice among Europe’s young adults, published a few days ago, found that faith was shrinking almost to vanishing point in several countries, although there was huge variation across the continent. Europe’s secularisation, reflecting a break-up of traditional communities and more materialist attitudes, is familiar to sociologists. But its impact is highlighted in recent numbers.

Among people aged 16 to 29, the Czech Republic showed the lowest level of piety, with 91% of that age group saying they had no religion. Similarly high levels of indifference to religion were found in Estonia (80%), Sweden (75%) and the Netherlands (72%). Majorities of young adults in Britain (70%) and France (64%) were equally untouched by organised faith.

Read the whole article

New Survey on Religious Belief

Survey finds more than half UK population
has no religion –  Harriet Sherwood
Guardian – Monday 4th September 2017

British Social Attitudes survey shows generation gap on religious affiliation is widening with only 3% of adults under 24 describing themselves as Anglican

The survey found that 53% of all adults had no religious affiliation, up from 48% in 2015. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the

The Church of England is facing a catastrophic fall in the proportion of young adults who describe themselves as Anglican as data shows an acceleration towards a secular society.

For the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion, and the generation gap on religious affiliation is widening, according to the British Social Attitudes survey.

Only 3% of adults under 24 describe themselves as Anglican – fewer than the 5% who identify as Catholic. Almost three out of four 18- to 24-year-olds say they have no religion, a rise of nine percentage points since 2015.
Read the full article

Mark Preedy speaks at the Creation Fest

Cornwall Humanists Member, Mark Preedy,
in discussion with Andy Bannister

Creation Fest

Mark Preedy debates with Andy Banister

Congratulations to Cornwall Humanist member Mark Preedy for his excellent, rational thoughts at Creation Fest on 9th August at Wadebridge Show Ground. Andy Bannister was putting a Christian view. He is  an experienced speaker, writer, teacher, and full-time Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity.  Justin Brierley chaired a discussion in the Showcase Cafe between a Humanist, Mark Preedy,  and a Christian, Andy Bannister. The discussion is to be broadcast at 14.30 on Saturday 12th August  in the programme “Unblievable” for Premier Christian Radio.

In the public question time Peter Edmead,  a member of Cornwall Humanists, asked Andy Bannister if he could supply one piece of evidence for his views. Dr Bannister told us that he could give five pieces of evidence for his Christian beliefs.   He spoke about cosmic fine tuning as evidence, and the life of Jesus, but the questioner was not convinced that any evidence in a scientific sense had been supplied.  There were seven known Humanists in the audience numbering hundreds.  The Humanists were approached afterwards by people trying to convince them of the truth of Christianity.

The discussion was recorded for broadcast on Premier Christian Radio programme “Unbelievable” which goes out at 14.30 on Saturday 12th August. You can listen online or to the podcast https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes

Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

The following is an article published in the March 2017 issue of the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s “One + All” magazine.

Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

Humanist Pastoral Volunteer

Volunteering at RCHT attracts people of all ages, coming from all sorts of backgrounds.  Most have inspiring stories to tell about why they have chosen to give their time to support patients, staff and visitors at our hospitals.  In this edition of “One + All” we take a look at some of these stories.

Why help? –  Why not?  says pastoral volunteer Peter

Peter Edmead  is a “Humanist Pastoral Volunteer” who divides his time between West Cornwall Hospital and the Royal Cornwall Hospital site at Treliske.  While his role with the voluntary services has had a relatively recent beginning, his interest in providing help and support to those in need has been a long held concern.

“I retired in 2013” explains Peter ‘Prior to that, I’d spent over twenty years working as a full time state teacher. Pastoral support is a major requirement in the teaching profession, especially in my roles of teacher, form tutor, special needs co-ordinator, and then Head  of Science. It was this experience, as well as my interest in Humanism, that provided me with the necessary background for my role as a Humanist volunteer.” 

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Separation of Church and State

Is this what we are aiming for?

What has happened in Norway

New Year’s Day saw the separation of Church and State in Norway. The change in the Church’s status was in response to amendments to the Constitution made in 2012:

  • Original Article 2: “All inhabitants of the Realm shall have the right to free exercise of their religion. The Evangelical-Lutheran religion shall remain the official religion of the State. The inhabitants professing it are bound to bring up their children in the same.”
  • New Article 2: “Our values will remain our Christian and humanist heritage. This Consitution shall ensure democracy, a state based on the rule of law and human rights.”
  • Original Article 4: “The King shall at all times profess the Evangelical-Lutheran religion, and uphold and protect the same.”
  • Amended Article 4: “The King shall at all times profess the Evangelical-Lutheran religion.”
    • Original Article 16: “The King ordains all public church services and public worship, all meetings and assemblies dealing with religious matters, and ensures that public teachers of religion follow the norms prescribed for them.”
    • New Article 16: “All inhabitants of the Realm shall have the right to free exercise of their religion. The Norwegian Church, an Evangelical-Lutheran church, will remain the Norwegian National Church and will as such be supported by the State. Detailed provisions as to its system will be laid down by law. All religious and philosophical communities should be supported on equal terms.”

Read full item here.

Anti-intellectual Populism

 

The Rise of Anti-intellectual Populism

It didn’t start in America and it didn’t start with the election of Donald Trump. For months pundits have discussed the phenomenon of ‘post-truth politics’: politics deliberately based on simplification, appealing to the raw emotions of the electorate. Evidence, historical precedent, well-reasoned analyses: all count for nothing. In fact they are repudiated as being the preserve of elites.

This populism replacing reasoned politics is now global and a major threat to universal human rights, to secularism, to reason, and to humanist values.

In India, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government disparages the open secular framework that has long held the most diverse nation in the world in some sort of social harmony. In Poland, the Government is preparing once again for an aggressive assault on the rights of women, justified entirely through appeals to Catholic dogma. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte indulges in sermon-like attacks on atheists, interwoven with rabble-rousing cries to bring back the death penalty. And in Russia, Putin, re-elected President in 2012, has used aggressive foreign policy to settle domestic political issues while imprisoning those who offend the church or criticise his regime. In Turkey, we see one of the greatest tragedies of our age: a country full of cosmopolitan potential transformed into a police state under Erdoğan, without democracy and without a free press or judiciary. In Hungary, the rule of law is rapidly becoming history. Elections in the next few months threaten the rise of far-right authoritarian parties in Austria, France, and the Netherlands.

When the world is so very far from what we want it to be, there is a temptation to retreat, to tend to one’s own garden and look to the private and the domestic. These are, after all, areas of our lives where we at least have some sort of control, and where we can have some positive effect.

This isn’t entirely the wrong instinct. Just as peace between nations starts with love between people and happiness in societies, our little choices can affect the bigger picture. So much of the BHA’s work is directed to the lives of individuals: our school volunteers encourage young people to open their minds and their sympathies, our pastoral carers give like-minded support to those in personal crises, and our celebrants guide families and couples through some of the highest and lowest points in their lives.

But public crises call for our public involvement, not just private actions. 

As humanists, we champion secularism because we believe everyone is treated better when governments and churches are kept apart. We champion human rights not simply because we believe in the equal dignity of every living person, but because we know that this is something all-too easily forgotten by humankind. And we steadfastly champion democracy and the rule of law, along with those civil values that ensure their smooth functioning.

In all that we do, these social values are our guides, along with reason, empathy, and kindness. The future is uncertain and ever-harder to predict. But we must enter it optimistically, rationally, and with a cool head on our shoulders. Our humanist way of thinking has given the world so much over the centuries and its resources are far from depleted. We are entering a dark chapter in the human story, but the light has burned brightly in darker times than this. Today we all have a responsibility to tend the flame.

 

Collective Worship Exemption Requests

More than 125 schools have applied over the past three years to be exempt from the legal requirement to hold collective worship of a “wholly or broadly Christian character”.
Information released to Schools Week following Freedom of Information (FOI) requests shows 127 schools have requested a “determinations” from their local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) board.
Determinations allow schools to amend their collective worship from being “wholly or broadly” Christian in nature.
A full determination allows a school to change to a different religion – for example, a school with a largely Muslim population could hold Islamic worship. A part determination allows different acts of collective worship to suit different faiths within a school, including atheists and agnostics.       Read More

C of E School Expansion Plans

Entirely the wrong direction of travel: Church of England announces 100 more church schools

The Church of England’s educational empire-building continues, with its recent announcement of plans to build more than 100 discriminatory Anglican ‘free schools’, which will have the legal right to select 50% of school places on the basis of religion.

As if that weren’t bad enough, other major players in our sorry ‘faith’ schools sector are pushing for that cap to be lifted. The Catholic Church, for example, is determined to be able to discriminate with 100% of places at its new schools. A national charity responsible for promoting ‘free schools’, the New Schools Network, has also called for a lift on the cap.

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