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Not Apathetic

Tell the world why you're not voting - don't let your silence go unheard

They're not voting because...

Because none of the parties support ...

Because none of the parties support the separation of church and state. Why must my children be brainwashed by the state about religion?

written 18th Apr 2005


Mark Savage replies: Totally agree! Even the local "state" school seems to wish to brainwash my children into chosing a religion. The rule seems to be "chose a god and stick to him/her/it; hatred of other god-followers optional....."

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: My kid's state school has a school song, all about tollerance and differences.."the colour of you skin doesn't matter" etc...the last verse is all about "doing in all for Jesus". The irony is appaling. My kid is 4..what on earth arethey doing filling his head up with this nonsense.?

written 18th Apr 2005

John Bennett replies: If that is what the state is trying to do it hasn't been very succesful!
Actually, the churches and other faith groups contribute a huge amount to social cohesion and get very little recognition for what they do in running luncheon clubs for the elderly, toddler groups, and day centres for all sorts of vulnerable people, as well as making premises availalble for other community groups at heavily subsidised rates all paid for by voluntary contributions by church etc members.

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: fine...but why should the state be teaching a religion as "fact"? This is state sponsored religion, and has no place in a modern society.

written 18th Apr 2005

Rich replies: Indeed, this is the 21st century, state-sanctioned teaching of baseless superstitions is very frightening.

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: I'm an agnostic teacher at a nondenominational state school and I MUST tell you that Religious Education is NOT about teaching children to be religious or 'brainwashing' them. RE is fundamental to increasing the tolerance in our nation. Without RE the pupils I teach would have no idea why they have a holiday at Easter, why Muslim women wear hijabs. They would remain ignorant and not have an opportunity to explore their OWN beliefs.
Comments such as the ones above are coming from a dangerous and insidious position of bigotry and ignorance.

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: then why is my son's school song about "all doing it for Jesus"?

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: then why is my son's school song about "all doing it for Jesus"?

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: They have a school song? Is it a school with Christian funding? Does it have Christian management? All school should provide opportunity for daily worship, but this does NOT mean they are there to brainwash. RE is NOT religious instruction. If you are unhappy with the school song etc and would like further information by all means visit your son's school and talk to the teachers. None of the schools I have taught in have made any attempts to indoctrinate children religiously. Then again most schools dont have a 'school song'

written 18th Apr 2005

Mj replies: An eager Christian girl in my class informed us with relish a few weeks ago that all state schools (which are not faith schools) are officially supposed to be Christian. I certainly remember singing hymns and praying in primary school, but now in sixth form I don't see the reality of this.
I do believe, however that officially, my school is supposed to be Christian.
I'm an atheist, and I would definately prefer a secular state where all religions are welcomed, taught about in RE and tolerated, but there is no official state religion.

written 18th Apr 2005

Rich replies: Indeed, without doubt children should be taught about other cultures and practises etc., but under no circumstances should one superstituous ideology be held above another whether explicitly or implicitly through state-support of faith schools or through enforced praise in school assemblies where children have to sing the hymns as described by other posters.

A secular approach grounded in promoting tolerance is what we need, not "here's what other people believe and we should tolerate them, but this is the right and true faith".

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: "The school holds a daily act of worship for all children in the school, which is broadly Christian in character, as required by the 1998 Education Reform Act"

That is the law...that is the state pushing one religion above others, and above the absence of religion, and I think that is very wrong.

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: Yes I think you are correct about the 'broadly Christian in character' aspect of the Law. Which is probably because there are 36 million people identifying themselves as 'Christians' in the 2001 census of this country (nearly 70%). The term broadly is most likely included in order to (a) placate the staunchly Christian parents and (b) lead to flexibity of interpretation of the law based on local characteristics.

But you are wrong in saying that the state is 'pushing' this religion. I think they are merely reflecting the christian-secularity of Britain as it is today. Very very few schools fulfill the legal requirement you state above.

I think it is imperative though for schools to insist on some form of moral code. What model would you suggest in the absence of Christianity?

written 18th Apr 2005

Geoffrey replies: In what way is secularism not a belief system? It strikes me that in advocating a secular state; you've merely asserted one set of beliefs in place of another - in this case a tacit denial of any truth in any of the major religions. In effect saying that all religions are wrong. This isn't 'tolerance' but philosophical imperialism. It is not a creed that I find attractive.

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: I didnt just advocate a secular state. In fact I think it important that schools facilitate exploration of many of the moral beliefs and creeds of the main religions. Many schools do this in a simple form through exploring beliefs and figures of many of the main religions, but through the Christian basis which our country has inherited through the membership of the majority of the population in Christianity and the secular adoption of many Christian festivals and moral codes.

I fear that without religious education, and the morality explored through assemblies and various acitivities, then a school can lack direction and moral guidance of its pupils. Its far too simplistic, as earlier contributions suggested, to state that the teaching of religion in schools is wrong. Statements like that come from a point of ignorance and a belief that most state schools in some way want to 'brainwash' the children into believing in Christianity.

written 18th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: A few comments. Firstly, the statement that only by religion, in particular christianity, can one teach morality I find absurd. If the only way to teach someone what is right and wrong is by telling them that a big invisible sky giant tells them so turns the situation upside down. I feel that morality has nothing to do with religion, I am raising my children to be moral, I feel I have high moral values, yet religion never enters into it. To me, religion was invented to explain morality to those that don't just "get it".

Secondly, the secular adoption of Christian festivals. Christmas and Easter are both originally pagan festivals. Why is that not explained to the kids?

I have no problem with the teaching of religion in schools, religion is an important part of the world. What I do object to is that it, in particular xian, is taught as fact rather than "this is what some people think, this is what other people think and some people don't belive in a supreme being". To teach it as fact is an abuse of the trust between teacher and child. A 4yr assumes what the teacher tells them is fact.

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: Well therefore your 4year old believes what you tell them is fact. Isnt that dangerous?

please tell me where Christianity is taught in state schools as fact? Certainly not in the secondary sector, apart from faith schools perhaps (which I was educated in). Perhaps religious education in primary school may be interpreted by 4yr olds as facts, but the infant brain works like that about many things. And then with that knowledge at a later date the 4yr old makes up their own minds. You think that your 4yr old would be better taught in a vacuum?

written 18th Apr 2005

Stuart Robinson replies: Fear not, I too was educated by the state, though not specifically forced upon us, to believe in Christianity.

Then I turned 9, and saw through it in much the same way as childeren see through the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.

All childeren end up making their own decisions on just about every issue in their lives; very few are so ignorant as to blindly follow something that they learned as a 4-year old through to the rest of their lives.

I also participate in a Religious Education class, and while it is nominally secular, teachers cannot avoid subconciously shoing their biases. For instance, many a Christian teacher will offer as a reason that God doesn't exist: "How can God exist, if their is all this war in the world?". This, while being on the surface a secular opinion, is actually presupposing a Christian belief in a god of love and peace, which is not shared by all.

written 19th Apr 2005

Terry replies: On the Today programme this morning there was an item about Academy schools (some of which teach creationism at tax-payers' expense). The phrase "guided prayers" was used in connection with the "religious education" that is provided. That does not sound like imparting objective knowledge about religion to me. The Tories say they want "not hundreds but thusands" more religious schools, the Lib Dems are in favour of them, too, and we all know about Labour's religious obsession. So, who to vote for? Keep up to date with the latest developments on the website of the National Secular Society

written 19th Apr 2005

Jax replies: "In what way is secularism not a belief system? "

Check out the logic tree:
A bool is a true/false value.
The if{}else{} shows the direction of the logic and where you end up in the logic tree.
I endeavour to show you that secularism is on a completely different branch.
bool believeInGod;

// you are christian
else if(believeInMuhummad)
/// your are muslim
////and so on for all God based religeons
//// you do NOT have a religeon

A religeon is a belief in a god.
The rest of us believe that we still don't know how all of this started, but it's likely that we can't explain it with the texts already printed.
You'll find this fundamentally differs from any other religeon.

written 20th Apr 2005

Vee replies: A religion is a spiritual way of life. It is not just there to 'explain how the world started'. Secularism is not a belief is a NON belief system. I have looked at the website and cannot find any 'moral code' as I put it earlier. I believe it IS important to promote some form of moral code in school...but this does NOT have to be linked to a belief system. And in most schools you will find that the moral code is the behaviour/ equal opportunities/ anti-bullying policy.

I reiterate: secularism is not a belief system. It is not a religion. But it IS much more than a statement of 'not believing in a God'. To come to that personal judgement you need to have been educate as WHY other people do believe in a God and what religion offers them. You can only come to that decision through knowledge, and knowledge comes through education. And so religious education is fundamental in schools.

written 21st Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: Agreed..but there has to be a difference between teaching reigion as "this is what some people belive in" and teaching bible stories as if they were fact.

written 21st Apr 2005

Vee replies: I think that in the majority of schools, and probably 90% of state school, the Bible, or Qur'an or Torah is not taught as 'fact' as you say, but as a series of things that some people belief in. How do you know that in the schools you mention that these stories are taught as fact? Just because a child retells them as they think they are fact does not mean that that is how they are taught. You can watch a film, know it isnt true by the very nature that it is a film, and yet still feel that it is.

written 21st Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: when a state school song incorporates the words "we are doing it all for Jesus"..that is not right.

written 21st Apr 2005

vee replies: Well I wouldn't advocate that, no! But it's not a reason to change the law to separate religion and education. It IS a reason to request an interview with the headteacher and ask him/her why they sing that.

written 21st Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: I think it is a reason to change the law, it should not be down to the whims of the headteacher to decide on this issue.

written 21st Apr 2005

Vee replies: If you had a law to ban the singing of that particular song, then the singing of other hymns, carols, spirituals would also have to be banned. I dont think that a change in the law is needed or necessary.

written 21st Apr 2005

archie replies: Vee

Many people find any insistance on acknowledging a religion -(any religion)- on any basis as extremely objectionable.
Religion is the last place any sensible person would look for moral guidance.

The need for a belief system is not a given need.

I want to live in a secular world that values humanism and morality without religion.

I am sure you are sincere and honest in your beliefs and thoughts. So were ancient Greeks and Egypians - does that mean we should take the sacrifice of goats to Apollo seriously today?

The expectation that any particular religion has some special place in society or special rights is utter balberdash. It is clearly supersticious clap trap with some morality patched on.

It is time we grew up and treated these childish minority cults with the patronising distaste they deserve.

written 23rd Apr 2005

Hugh Jones replies: Quote: "It is time we grew up and treated these childish minority cults with the patronising distaste they deserve."


Yeah, tell it like it is! :-)

written 23rd Apr 2005

Vee replies: seem to be confusing me with someone who has a religious faith.

I don't.

But I can see how faith systems provide a moral framework, expectations of behaviour and a sense of community which I find missing in much of society.

Why is 'acknowledging a religion extremely objectionable'?

Good to see your secularism has clearly encouraged you to be tolerant of people with differing beliefs...

written 23rd Apr 2005

Archie replies: Vee.
It isn't a question of me have itolerance for people with differing beliefs. The inposition of any religious framework onto education, food distribution and preparation, (indeed the list is endless) - is in itself intollerant.
An orthodox Jew or Muslim or fundamental Christian or Hindu - has to a greater or lesser extent an intollerance for me.

You have been confusing a moral framework with a religious framework. They are not the same thing.
Religions MAY contain a moral framework but they are not in themselves a moral framework,
They are superstitious and quaint expressions of political and cultural control (with some morality stuck on).

Morality and spirituality exist outwith the religious frameworks. "A rose by a nother name".
In this case they perhaps smell even sweeter.

written 23rd Apr 2005

Allison replies: So Vee is saying we should hold onto a religious morality (even if it is without any worth) as it is all we have.

written 23rd Apr 2005

Vee replies: Why is it the case that because someone is religious they have an intolerance for you?

I agree that religions have a religious framework and not purely a moral framework. Of course. But I find it ignorant to suggest that religions are 'quaint expressions of political and cultural control'. They are a way of life. They express the possibilities of various ways of life and have a very valid place in our education system. Alongside secularism.

Why do you feel education has to be exclusive? It does not have to be exclusively secular or exclusively religious. But it does need to be comprehensive, and that includes religion. It is a crucial aspect of the lives of millions of people in this country.

We educate kids to be sporty, but that doesn't mean they are compelled to play sport all the time. And it doesn't tell them which sport they must play. And we don't tell them which team they must follow. In the same way the great majority of schools do not INSTRUCT and brainwash children into following a religion. But they promote the values of various religions, with perhaps in some cases the emphasis of a particular religion. A school without the promotion of religious education is just as damaging as a school without the promotion of physical education. Education should be as much about the soul as it is about the body.

written 24th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Christians and Hindus are highly restricted in their dealings with peoples otwith their group.
This is intollerance.

As you say religions are a' way of life' - a way of daily dealings as a group with others (politics).

They are as I stated clearly quaint expressions of political and cultural control. They are a superstitious and constraining influence on humen potential. Basing your life and your relationship with others on balderdah is something to actively prevent. They are not valid and have no place alongside secularism.

Religion should be included in education - in the same way it is included in Parapsychology as a knowledge base as to the crap people allow themselves to be filled with.

"It is a crucial aspect of the lives of millions of people in this country." - Millions of people also want public hanging brought back does that make it a valid desire.

There is no analogy between sport and religion.
Religions have no inherent values - they have a belief system that you must blindly opt into.

There is no soul.
It is a vague and limiting name given to the potential and aspiration of the human condition.

There should be no education system provided by reigious groups.

Why do you think tens of thousands of people filled in the last census by describing their religion as 'Jedi' - it was an act of utter contempt for the presuposition that religion has any place in our secular comunal life.

written 24th Apr 2005

Vee replies: So please tell me how you deal with, on a daily basis, people from differing religions and cultures seeing as you have 'utter contempt' and believe they are 'not valid...balderdash...'?

If I went through my daily life believing and promoting those values about any social group - pensioners, gym goers, businessmen - then society would fragment.

You mention that various orthodox religions are restrictive in dealing with people outside their group - and yet you appear to advocate a secularism that in itself is orthodox, exclusive and will lead to conflict.

Yes - the 'Jedi' census argument. Tens of thousands as you say. And how many of those were students, with contempt for much of established authority not just religion. Wow yes. The Jedi census protest. Yes. Yes that was effective. Tens of thousands Jedi - millions established religions.

Your arguments, if anything, have put me off secularism full stop if it promotes the intolerance of other cultures which you so clearly demonstrate.

written 24th Apr 2005

Allison replies: You clearly see religious belief as a function of a person.
I don't - I see it as a delusion.
You are intentionally putting words into my mouth.
I have 'Utter contempt' for religion not people.
People are not their religious beliefs - just as they are not the brand of cigarettes they smoke or the weight distribution in their bodies. It is a superficial aspect of them.
I deal with other people in an open and direct way - honestly and with good intentions and expectations (unless proved wrong by an individual and then I respond to that individual and not the group they choose to belong to).

Religious groups aren't a social group akin to 'pensioners' or 'gym users' - they are members of a esoteric cult.
Aethism has been part of society for hundreds of years and things haven't fallen apart. Crime and social disorder were higher when Britain was a more 'Religious' country. (Hogarth, Dickens etc)

Secularism is not exclusive and will not lead to conflict - it is the assumption that we are all valid and equal despite what quaint superstitious beliefs we may have. It is the presumption that those superstitious beliefs willplay no part in how our society is govorned.

The 'Jedi' argument.
Religion is established authority.
Contaempt is perhaps too strong a word - perhaps disinterested annoyance.

My arguments are not intended to put you on or off secularism. That is your own choice with not direction or 'God Given" instructions.

You are completely on your own in the moral maze.

written 24th Apr 2005

Simon replies: _Some_ religious people follow everything that they are told blindly, exclude people who think anything else is possibly correct, and are generally obnoxious.

_Some_ non-religious people follow a life which is dramatically anti-religious and will not allow any contact with or discussion of the details of religion, charachaturing it as the worst cases of orthadoxy.

The majority of people are somewhere imbetween these points.

To state that religions are "childish minority cults" which should be treated with "the patronising distaste they deserve" is to put yourself at a lower position than the intollerant minority of religious people in this world. Especially as religious groups are not the small minority you seem to think. For example 1/6 people in the world is catholic, and this is just one religion.

Most of the religious people I know, and those I know of, are extremely tolerant people, extremely kind people and people who do not push their views on others. My problem with secularists is that they push their non-belief as hard as the worst religious people push theirs - a situation which I find dispicable.

I also know that many religious people do not follow blindly. I am friends with a cambridge professor of theology and another of German who does a lot of work in sacred topics - they spend a lot of time exploring, questioning and developing their beleifs, as do many other people I know including myself. To have such a strict, non-explorative secular stance is equally bad as blind religious faith.

I do not know of any schools which directly attempt to indoctrinate the pupils - even religious schools I have contact with are very accepting and understanding of the fact that not all of their students are religious. The majority of RE and other time spent on religious matters is spent on exploring a variety of belief systems, not indoctrinating with one.

As to the matter of a school song, I am very surprised if this is a school song instead of just a hymn that one of the teachers likes to sing (although I do not know this case, and it wouldn't be unheard of). That said, does the school have a christian history? If so, is it right to remove the history and traditions of a school because some people scared of any beliefs are woried about indoctrination? Is it not possible that this is simply a song which has been in place for a long time and nobody has ever thought to change? I don't know.

I simply think that any accusations of indoctrination, intollerance and bias have to be looked at very carefully to examine if this is actually the intent, or the outcome. It also has to be seen whether the complaint is an equally intollerant request from another section of the population.

I hope that this country can grow to accept some variation from central control over everything including what can be suggested as possible belief systems, and that claims of intollerance by the intollerant will not prevent school children from singing a nice song just because it contains the word 'Jesus'.

written 24th Apr 2005

Vee replies: How is religion a superficial aspect of a person? People die for their religious beliefs. It is intrinsic to their outlook on society.

You may not design your arguments to put me off secularism, but I don't believe that a god gives me that choice, only myself after weighing up the arguments.

I think it is the way in which you dismiss people's religion as a 'quasi cult...superstitious claptrap' tells me enough about how comprehensive your idea of a secular society would be. Would you ban relgious people from taking office? Because if you didnt how would you stop their opinions from affecting policy. Should religious people not vote, because they clearly are not of sound mind, in your opinion?

I think it is far too simplistic for you to say that secularism 'will not lead to conflict - it is the assumption that we are all valid and equal..'. I think you will find evidence to support that argument in many of the religious texts. And of course they have lead to many an argument!

I am not saying that a religious government/education system is the ideal. But am still no clearer how a secular society and purely secular education would be an improvement.

written 24th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Simon -

I do not agree with you.
The acceptance of any credence in a 'religious' or 'theistic' framework for human existence is ignorance. In the same way as a belief that the world is flat is ignorance.

I am clearly an Aetheist. Indeed I might even describe myself as an anti-theist.

I find the imposition of any theistic supersrtucture onto existence to be without any merit by virtue of its inherent absurbity that I must complain and react when this absurd idea is raised.

If something is absurd then it should be pointed out. Any positive outcome from religion is an unintentional byproduct. The essence of the absurdity always remains.

You say: "Most of the religious people I know... are extremely tolerant people"

- That is very nice of them. You mean they should be congratulated for being mature humans.

"I also know that many religious people - they spend a lot of time exploring, questioning and developing their beleifs."

I spend a lot of time in my garden. I think my time is employed more usefully.

written 24th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Vee -

religion is a superficial aspect of a person's conception of themself in the same way that any belief or attitude is a deeply felt conviction. It doesn't make it right because you beieve it.
The basic tennant of religious belief is indeed a 'faith' - an acceptance without proof or need for proof.

People have indeed died for their religious beliefs. What a waste of life that was.

My dismissal of people's religion as a 'quasi cult...superstitious clap trap' has no bearing on my idea of a secular society. They are different concepts.

Secularism is a complex set of inter-relationships that do not depend on religious belief for their function. They are intended to provide a level playing field.

Religious people would not need to be baned from taking office as their specific beliefs would not be part of a direct decision making process. They would of course inform and influence their attitudes but their decisions would be open to question and debate.

"secularism 'will not lead to conflict is simplistic" -
perhaps - but looking at the religious record on confict for the past milenium it couldn't be any way near as bad.

"I'm still no clearer how a secular society and purely secular education would be an improvement."

It would be based on a rational and realistic view of the univesrse and the place of our human existance with it - it would be a starting point free of superstition and clap trap.

Religion has no monopoly on morality or spirituality - "Thou Shalt Not Kill" isnt a religious concept.
Open-ness, tollerence, forgiveness, patience, love, joy, revelation, epiphany are not religious concepts thay are human experiences.

All human experience is our right. It does not have to be viewed through a haze of incese or Koranic bible black binding.

written 25th Apr 2005

Pete the Punk replies: Allison - you're not much of an "aetheist" are you - you can't even spell the fucking thing!

written 25th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Pete.
Is that your contribution?
A snide little poke at my ability to type directly into this thread?
My atheism is not related to my use of the English language. Perhaps that is all you have to offer.

Perhaps you should think about all the points covered and actually think before you talk.

written 25th Apr 2005

Vee replies: "Open-ness, tollerence, forgiveness, patience, love, joy, revelation, epiphany are not religious concepts thay are human experiences."
Which you do not seem to share, because your posts dismiss tolerance of other religions as superficial.

"People have indeed died for their religious beliefs. What a waste of life that was."
According to whom?

I find it depressing that you are so dismissive of alternative lifestyles and beliefs. You appear, whether intentional or not, to be ignorant of the details of various religions, and ignorant of how your secularism is intolerant. In your perfect world there would be no religions - akin to in some people's perfect world there are no different races. It just is. There are different races and there are different relgions, and people need to get along with each other. No one should be forced into a belief or a non belief. It is their right.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill" isnt a religious concept."
Then why should you not kill?

written 25th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Religion is self evidently based on an absurdity.

Any action based on absurdities should not be given any importance.

The majority of people in thUK pay vague lip service to their religious background.

You yourself have said that you have no religious faith - yet you teach RE as a subject.
So to you it is about tollerance and acceptance of others.

Sounds like hypocracy and lip service.

Religious faith is absurd.

And yes "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is not a religious concept (again you confuse morality and religion).

Would you teach children that the earth is flat?
No of course not.

written 25th Apr 2005

Simon replies: Allison

"I am clearly an Aetheist. Indeed I might even describe myself as an anti-theist."
I see this as the problem with your viewpoint. Not only do you not personally hold religious beleifs due to lack of 'proof', you dismiss any alternate way of making sense of what is seen around you, including what cannot be adequately explained by science (yes I am a scientist with religious beleifs to put my stance in perspective).

To be anti-theist puts you in the position of trying to supress any religious expression - including in schools (hymns, RE etc). This to me seems to be very narrow minded for a number of reasons:
--> A majority of people in the world (if not in Europe) are religious. To dismiss religion dismisses any understanding of the way these people think - religion has to be studied to understand religious people (and I include other peoples religions if you are already religious).
--> A lot of our history and traditions are based on religious expressions. If start actively removing religion then we will end up removing it all from public life, dismantling the traditions of the country and of many organisations as well as alienating many people.

There are many of us who see the active removal of religious expression distasteful - as much as freedom of and from religion are important, this should not come at the cost of denying people the right to think as they do.

You claim that secularism creates a level playing field. I see that a lot of people are by their very nature afraid of difference and therefore discriminatory. Although religion has been used as an excuse for creating divisions, the vast majority of religions preach tollerance and acceptance, and have done much to reduce discrimination against minorities - unfortunately it is the small minority of extremists who are noticed, and disliked by religious and atheist alike.

As such removal of religion removes a framework that expects tollerance and limits the actions of many. This leaves differences to be noticed in other areas of life (race etc, and they will always be found) without any intrinsic framework to limit the excesses of the few people who want to act in an unnaceptable manner.

In a similar way, many of the 'religious wars' in the past were really excuses put on top of action to gain land, power and prestige. These would be desirable without religion, and removing religion removes a framework that can calm conflict. As such I say that removing religion would not create a better society with a level playing field and less conflict, but cause the opposite to occur.

"That is very nice of them. You mean they should be congratulated for being mature humans."
I apologise for not being clear enough. The majority of religious people I know are far more tollerant and far less prejudiced than others. Those who are intollerant of differences in religion would be intollerant of other things without religion. Those who do not question and explore the weaknesses in their beleifs are the worst type of people.

I believe we both hope for the same end in society - peace and tollerance. However, I do not see the removal of religion as necessary for that, or even desireable in any way.

written 25th Apr 2005

Allison replies: The removal of religion is not on my agenda.
Just a general consensus that it is regarded for what it is a superstitious belief system that is based on an absurdity.

This intrinsic absurdity is my problem.

Regardless of the negative and positive aspects of religion or religious people I dispair that it is taken seriously.

I do not (and have not ) suggested that secularism is some magical solution.
It isn't - it is a starting point.

"I believe we both hope for the same end in society - peace and tollerance. However, I do not see the removal of religion as necessary for that"
You are having a laugh!
Two thousand years of religious intollerance.
The Neo Conservatives with their Moral majority of hypocrates?
The rise of a fundamentalist edge to the practice of Islam.

These are all useful examples of what religion has brought to society.

But Simon - what about the essential and central absurdity of religious belief.

written 25th Apr 2005

Vee replies: Please can you list reasons why religion is 'absurd'? Just to clarify what you mean by absurd.

>"You yourself have said that you have no religious faith - yet you teach RE as a subject. So to you it is about tollerance and acceptance of others. Sounds like hypocracy and lip service."
I think you have a big problem with me not having any clear faith, and yet teaching RE. Why? How is that hypocritical?

>"Would you teach children that the earth is flat? No of course not."

Err...actually... I do teach about how people in medieval times viewed the world in an entiurely different way from now - their descriptions of african creatures and people as having one eye/ extra large necks etc as I am a History teacher first and foremost. I feel it is fascinating to learn about different viewpoints. It gets the kids to try and understand why they hold the views they do - where they get their information from. I would not teach that the world is flat, but I do teach that somepeople thought very differently about our world in the past, why they had these ideas and why today many of us do not.

Education and knowledge of other cultures is ALWAYS of benefit. You appear to be afraid that children are educated in this way. What have you to be afraid of?

written 25th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Vee -
you seem to be going round in circles.
I have stated several times why the very concept of religion is absurd.

Your position in education is hypocritical as you are involved in a process of indoctronation that you don't accept yourself.
(you are encouraging children to accept the absurd idea of a deity).

Teaching people that there 'used' to be a belief that the world is flat is different to teaching people that there are a range of ways people express and absurd idea.
The idea that the world is flat is not given equal status. It is an historical context.

Education and understnding of other cultures and beliefs is one thing - giving credence that holding absurd concepts of existence is quite another.

I am afraid that we continue to present theistic ideas to children in way that encouages them to see them as acceptable ways to concieve the world and their place in it.

They aren't.

written 25th Apr 2005

Vee replies: You have stated you find it absurd, and said stuff about quasi cults etc but I still don't understand what evidence you have that religion is absurd. How are you so sure? What makes you so clever/important?

I am NOT involved in indoctrination! Far from it. I am helping to provide education to enable children to make up their own minds. You cannot come to a decision about what you yourself believe in a vacuum.

written 25th Apr 2005

Gary replies: I have to agree with Allison.
A new range of faith based schools is on the agenda (PPI contracts of course) - where creationism will be given equal status.

That is absurd.

The rise in demand for Islamic schools will follow.

So what you saying Vee is that you think there is nothing wrong with mythology being taught to children as if it were fact.

I would much happier if children were introduced to morality and philosophy from Primary one and we do without religion in school.

Education is far too valuable to waste.

written 25th Apr 2005

Vee replies: Eh? Where did I say teach mythology as if were fact?

You are confusing PPI schools with state education. Yes I have MANY reservations about the outside agencies involved in new 'city' academies and the relaxation of state control of their education. You are using private financing of schools to argue in a discussion about state financing of schools.

Yes I go for the teaching of morality and philosophy! Of course! But in order to do that you would have to include religion as a method of making moral decisions.

written 25th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Vee -

Religion is rooted in mythology.
It has mythological ideas as its basis.

Teaching children about religion (as a thing to respect and take seriously) is teaching mythology.
Asking them to take it seriously (as if it were fact) is to break to trust they have in you as their teacher.

The 'City' Academies will be in a poition to teach a creationist theory (again mythology being taught as if it were fact).

I appreciate that an historical and cultural perspective of religion would be necessary in a teaching scheme of morality and philosophy.
My point is very simple on all this.
If the basis of moral education were more accademic and experiential rather than a specific perspecive of Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, CofE, Hindu, etc I would be delighted.

It is this central core of religious education and indoctrination that I find distasteful.

Children being taught "this is who you are and what you believe" - it might not be what you do in your class Vee but no one ever suggested it was. I have been discussing the very general concept of religion in education.

written 26th Apr 2005

Allison replies: Vee,

perhaps you might like to communicte with this chap.

written 26th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: wow...quite a thread I started here. I just thought I would try to sumarise:

Fact: Some state schools teach religion, in particular christianity as if were fact.

Fact: There is no law preventing this.

That was my issue. I think the teaching of the concept of religion is fine, as long as it is taught as "this is what some people think" and no emphasis is put on any religion over another religion or atheism.

To argue that without religion there can be no moral guidance is totally without basis.

written 26th Apr 2005

Vee replies: over what exactly?

written 26th Apr 2005

Simon replies: "Your position in education is hypocritical as you are involved in a process of indoctronation that you don't accept yourself."
I completely disagree. Religious education is not, and cannot if done properly, be about indoctrination.

If differing views are shown from multiple religious viewpoints, how can this be equivalent to saying "this is who you are and what you believe" as you say. This might possibly tend towards suggestion (not indoctrination) if only one religion is represented, or if a strong bias is present in teaching, but it is certainly not indoctrination to present the religious beliefs of a variety of religions as a way to help understand the culture and actions of a group of people and reduce intollerance.

"You are having a laugh!
Two thousand years of religious intollerance."
I am not having a laugh. There are religiously intollerant people, in the same way as there are racist people. Does this mean that religion is the cause of this intollerance. If religion were removed, would they suddenly become tollerant? I somehow think not. Religion can be used as an outlet for intollerance or an excuse, but it is very rarely the sole cause of intollerance. Most religions preach tollerance and have to some extent curbed the excesses of many of their followers - it is the extremists of _any_ group that you need to watch, not just religious.

The fear that faith based schools "where creationism will be given equal status" is probably valid in some very specific cases. However, the parents that would send their children to these schools would indoctrinate via other methods if this route were not available (yes I know a family who home school to give their childen the same very conservative catholic views as the parents, even our priest finds them worrying).

As such, this is unlikely to be a major problem, especially with exam syllabus' containing concepts such as evolution. Faith based schools do not necessarily teach a faith, they provide an environment for people already of that faith, and do try to explore their and other faiths beliefs if done properly.

I fear you are misunderstanding christians viewpoints. I think that very few christians, and even fewer in the educational sector, believe in creationism as you seem to understand the term (ie non-evolutionist). Even fewer of these would even attempt to teach/indoctrinate this creationist view as "fact". I do not see anything wrong with exploring beliefs, both self and other peoples, and I do not see the role of RE is teaching religion - rather studying religion with a major purpose to understand other people.

written 27th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: "I do not see the role of RE is teaching religion - rather studying religion with a major purpose to understand other people."

I agree...but my point that started all this, was that this is not what is happening.

written 27th Apr 2005

Simon replies: I do not believe that it is happening. I know several people who go to religious-based schools who are certainly not indoctrinated, although the beliefs they already hold are possibly encouraged. I also know non-religious people who go to the same schools and are certainly not indoctrinated.

I think that at any good school, fath school or not, religion is explored not taught, and the schools where this is not the case are normally attended by children whose parents would be indoctrinating anyway

written 27th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: "I do not believe that it is happening."

My son's state school has a school song which includes the words "and we're doing it all for Jesus"

What you beleive not to be happening, does happen.

written 27th Apr 2005

vee replies: "My son's state school has a school song which includes the words "and we're doing it all for Jesus"

Exactly. *a* school song. There are many songs like this. I know all the carols off by heart due to an overactive memory and a stateschool education. This has not 'indoctrinated' me into a Christian faith. I spent 7 years as a non-believer at a catholic school. I won the RE prize every year and studied Christian theology to A level. The school did not 'indoctrinate' me. Far from it. I had a well rounded education which explored a range of faiths and beliefs and moral theories. I did not leave aged 18 and join a nunnery. Neither did I take arms in a jihad. In fact I can say I am less of a 'danger' to society from having that education because i can see and understand where all sorts of people are coming from. An atheist father. Now teaching atheist and agnostic children RE at a non faith school.

This 'indoctrination' you talk about does not exist.

written 27th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: I don't think we are going to agree on this. I see the fact that his official school song states "we are doing it all for Jesus" is promoting christianity as fact, and that, imho, is wrong.

I too am an atheist who was at a private school with chapel 3 times aweek. the fact that it is possible to do this does not mean that in the state sector, religion should not be taught as anything other than "this is what some people think".

Imagine the outcry if the school song was "and we are doing this all for Allah"..the outcry would be loud. To me there is no difference. Is there to you?

written 27th Apr 2005

Vee replies: There is an historical and english cultural difference, yes. And it would be much more 'newsworthy' because of the current climate and the fact that it is rare to hear of such an incident. If I was in your position I would want to clarify with the school and governors why they are singing that song if it is the school song. I thought that school songs were very very rare. Are you sure that the school management are forcing all the children to make this declaration every day?

Dont let one example of a simple song cloud your judgement about the position of religion in our education system.

written 27th Apr 2005

MrMarmite replies: I don't think they sing it every day, I don't think I stataed that. B ut they obviously sing it enough that all the kids could sing it from memory...and it was not a particuarly short song.

written 27th Apr 2005

Simon replies: I very much hope that this is not a case of indoctrination (or at least not an intentional case). Most things such as school songs of this sort are from a historical context where nobody has thought to chang them, rather than trying to force these beliefs onto the children.

If you feel strongly that singing anything with a religious pretext to it is against what you believe (this would exclude hymns etc.) then I suggest you talk to the school. They probably havent even thought about it in that light, and just kept singing what has always been sung. I personally have little problem with that being in a school song, but I can understand how some people could take offense - similarly though, I would not complain if a predominantly muslim school had a song saying "and we are doing this all for Allah" although I would be hesitant to send any children of mine (hypothetical children that is) there.

written 28th Apr 2005

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