Guardian 23rd May 2016
The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis.
The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population.
Read the article
On 25th April The National Secular Society published a press release warning that academisation risks increasing religious influence.
Three extracts from the NSS press release :
In 2015 the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group said that the Church had an “urgent need” to focus evangelism on children, young people and their parents in light of a catastrophic collapse in adult church attendance.
The earlier CofE ‘Church School of the Future‘ report set out a strategy of expanding the number of Church schools to “intensify the religious input into lesson”, calling for a new “concordat” between the Church and the Government to “reinforce and enhance” the Church’s influence throughout the education system.
The NSS has also raised questions about land ownership, expressing concern that “public land will be transferred from local authorities and placed under control of the local diocese for 125 years, and, given the permission of the secretary of state, the church could use it however it likes”.
Read the whole press release
Briton and New Zealander tie the knot on pirate ship to become the first to be married by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Read the full story from the Guardian. 18th April 2016
Nicky Morgan Secretary of State for Education
George Osborne announced in his budget speech that all schools will be forced to become academies.
When small primary schools form a grouping to give them a viable size for an academy, there may be a religious school in the group.
This may result in the entire academy having to take on aspects of the religious school in the group. This could in turn have the effect of forcing many schools without a religious character, to become to some extent religious schools.
Read the full article from BHA.
Prof Jerry Coyne delivers the Darwin lecture on 13th February
The lecture, hosted by the British Humanist Association (BHA) and entitled ‘Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?’, explored whether comprehension of evolution was inimical to religious belief. Professor Coyne presented data which showed that fewer than one in five Americans believe in the naturalistic evolution which is taught in science lessons.
Read more on the BHA website
Only By Accepting That Britain Is No Longer a Christian Country Can We Start to Look Towards Real Equality
Andrew Copson in the Huffington Post 7th December 2015
Monday’s report from the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life is a watershed moment for recognition of the non-religious and the significant role that they play in the community. While the report gives due attention to the 8% of Britons of non-Christian religions and what their increase means for our public life, it is unique in giving fair recognition to the 50% of us in Britain who say we have no religion: the fastest growing group in this country.
Read the full article
On 6th December William Crawley explored Religious Education, in the BBC Radio 4 programme “Sunday”.
Andrew Copson of the BHA took part.
If you missed the broadcast you can listen to it now. (45 minutes)
Government Broke the Law
In a landmark judgment handed down in the High Court today, a judge has ruled in favour of the three humanist parents and their children who challenged the Government’s relegation of non-religious worldviews in the latest subject content for GCSE Religious Studies. In his decision, Mr Justice Warby stated that the Government had made an ‘error of law’ in leaving non-religious worldviews such as humanism out of the GCSE, amounting to ‘a breach of the duty to take care that information or knowledge included in the curriculum is conveyed in a pluralistic manner.’ The British Humanist Association (BHA), which was responsible for bringing the case and has supported the three families throughout, has welcomed the landmark decision.
Read the report by the BHA
Mary Fletcher has drawn attention to this post from Grace Lobb.
See thoughts from The British Humanist Association
Children from religious families are less kind and more punitive than those from non-religious households, according to a new study.
Academics from seven universities across the world studied Christian, Muslim and non-religious children to test the relationship between religion and morality.
They found that religious belief is a negative influence on children’s altruism.
“Overall, our findings … contradict the commonsense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind towards others,” said the authors of The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World, published this week in Current Biology.
“More generally, they call into question whether religion is vital for moral development, supporting the idea that secularisation of moral discourse will not reduce human kindness – in fact, it will do just the opposite.”