Author Archives: Cornwall Humanists

School Worship

Religious Freedom and its Limits

Religious Freedom and its Limits

Cornwall Humanists enjoyed a very interesting talk on Zoom at 7pm on Tuesday 21st September, given by the National Secular Society.  Stephen Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the National Secular Society, talked about religious freedom and its limits.

School Worship

Photo by Don McPhee

Stephen told us that the National Secular Society defends everyone’s freedom of religion and belief.
Everyone should have freedom to believe whatever they wish. This is confirmed by the United Nations Charter of 1948, in Article 18, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

However there are areas of human life where balances need to be struck between the undoubted rights of people to practise their religion, and possible harms that might result from certain religious beliefs.

Stephen gave the Jehovah Witnesses’ opposition to blood transfusions as an example, where the parents’ religious belief could result in the death of a child in their care.
It has been decided by the courts that the child’s right to life, takes precedence over the parental rights of religious belief.

In the world of work British Airways failed to prevent a Christian employee, Nadia Eweida, from wearing a visible cross at work, because their policy was found to be inconsistent regarding other religious symbols. By contrast the NHS were successful in preventing nurse Shirley Chaplin, from wearing a crucifix at work.

There are differing views on how animals should be slaughtered, before their meat is eaten.
The majority of meat certified as Halal is stunned before slaughter, but no prior stunning is permitted in the rules of Kosher slaughter.  It would be possible to label meat, to show if the animal had been stunned prior to slaughter, allowing the buyer to make a choice.

Another example Stephen gave was the religious practice of surgery on the genitals of children.  It seems widely accepted in the UK that operations on girls, known as FGM (female genital mutilation) is unacceptable, and it is illegal in the UK.  But circumcision of boys is not illegal in the UK, although there is no medical benefit, for boys or girls, while there is sometimes serious harm resulting from surgery.

In the case of Batley Grammar School, a teacher used a caricature image of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a lesson.  This caused offence to some people of the Muslim faith, who protested at the school.  The Trust which runs the school has said that it wishes to ensure that offence is not caused, but Stephen feels that an Islamic blasphemy code has been quietly imposed at this school.

The right of freedom of religion and belief is accepted, but Stephen suggested that there also needs to be freedom from religious belief.

Peter Wood 23rd September 2021

Comment
Daily, compulsory, Christian worship in our schools does not seem to strike a fair balance between the freedom of religion, and the freedom from religion.

UK – Majority not Religious

April 2021   53% of UK non-religious

Social Attitudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The British Social Attitudes Survey – April 2021

Some 68% of 18-24 year olds say they belong to no religion,
versus just 18% saying they are Christians.

All state schools are required by law to hold a daily act of collective worship, of a “broadly Christian character.”

26 bishops of the Church of England serve in the House of Lords, but only 12% of the UK population identify as Anglican, down from 15% in 2017.

When will out-dated religious priviledge in the UK be ended?

 

Census 21st March 2021

On March 21st  adults will be filling in their census forms.

Cornwall Humanists held a meeting  by Zoom last Sunday, on 14th March.
We discussed the leading question about your religion in the census form.

It asks “What is your religion?” – which assumes that you have one.

The unbiased question would ask,
“ Do you have a religion?” and then,
“ If so, which one?”

It was decided to write to local newspapers, to encourage people to answer the question on religion, without being guided to say that they have one, by the way the question is worded.

This matters because census results are one of the elements used to plan policy on health, education and social services.

So, if you are not religious please tick “No religion” on your census form.

 

Darwin Day Lecture

Morality Explained

Dr Oliver Curry gave the Darwin Day lecture on Friday 12th February.
Dr Curry summarised his findings saying,
“Morality is all about cooperation.”

Dr Oliver Curry

Cooperation can be thought of in seven areas:
1. Kinship – loving your family.
2. Mutualism – loyalty to your group.
3. Exchange – returning favours.
4. Heroism – being brave.
5. Deference – respecting your superiors.
6. Division – sharing resources fairly.
7. Possession – respecting rights to property.

There is a 2019 ten minute Ted Talk by Dr Curry.
He talks about the Science of Morality.
Access his video here.

Religious Education

Gaining Balance in RE

Should RE teach Christianity, or about Christianity?

Understanding Christianity and the study of religion and worldviews, is an academic study by former RE teacher Chris Selway which is recently published.

Key recommendations

The paper argues that several changes are necessary if RE is to gain credibility with the public:

  • It should be taught through an objective, critically-engaged and pluralistic approach.
  • Education about religion should explore both the positive and negative consequences of religion in a balanced way.
  • RE should take “more of a socio-historical or anthropological approach”, rather than one which is focused on theology.
  • There should be a “major shift” in the funding and management of RE.

To see more visit the website of the National Secular Society.

 

The Eden Project

A Link With Humanism

eden projectDid you know that the architect who developed the idea of the geodesic dome was R Buckminster Fuller? (1895-1983)   He was named Humanist of the Year in 1969, by the American Humanist Association.  He drew insights from nature with no supernatural intervention.  His name has later been given to fullerenes, types of carbon molecules, which have structures resembling geodesic spheres.

 

 

What I Believe – Podcasts

Humanists UK Podcasts

Chief Executive Andrew Copson speaks to humanists in the public eye about what they believe, to understand more about their worldview and the values, convictions, and opinions they live by.

The first series ran from early June to early August 2020.
A complete list of the interviews can be found here.

The second series began on 12 November 2020 with Leo Igwe, a Nigerian human rights advocate. He campaigns against superstition and child witchcraft accusations.  The above link will take you straight to Leo’s conversation with Andrew Copson.

History of Humanism

James Croft Lecture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can watch the James Croft lecture which was organised by Plymouth Humanists.
The lecture traces the history of ideas and institutions from Felix Adler to the present day.

You can watch it here.
(You may need to go back to the start of the lecture if it begins half way through.)