Tag Archives: Education

ESS Letter: May’s faith school ruling is beyond belief.

We were appalled to hear that Theresa May’s UK government is soon to allow English schools run by faith groups but funded by tax payers to select ALL of their students on the basis of the religious beliefs of their parents.

faithbased-english-schools

Having said that it is “unacceptable” for schools to “promote discrimination against people or groups on the basis of their belief, opinion or background” it is twisted thinking now to facilitate exactly that.

What right do religious groups have to take tax payers’ money for this self-promotion and what mandate does the entirely un-elected Mrs May have to make such draconian changes to the English education system ?

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Edinburgh Evening News 15th September 2016

 

Worrying report shows religious zealots undermining Scottish education

A comprehensive report by Prof Paul Braterman demonstrates the worrying penetration of the Scottish school system by religious zealots with profoundly unscientific views of evolution. It can be viewed at;

https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/creationism-in-scottish-schools-final-submission-to-scottish-parliament/

Additional relevant research by ESS entitled ‘Evidence of evangelical organisations targeting and accessing ‘non-denominational’ schools in Scotland’ (including specific Edinburgh information) can be accessed at;

http://edinburghsecularsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ESS-Evidence-of-Christians-Targeting-and-Accessing-Scottish-Schools-Sept-2013pdf.pdf

Scottish Government religious subsidy of the week–10. Multi-million pound state funding of Roman Catholic schools

Religion around the world is part of the vast tapestry of human diversity and creativity. Secularism seeks the separation of church and state because it argues that freedom and diversity is compromised if the state seeks to impose one or more sets of religious doctrines on its citizens.

One of the biggest affronts to secularism in contemporary Scotland is the existence of a substantial sector of the state funded education system in which the Roman Catholic Church, an international organisation headquartered in Rome, is able to dictate the religious curriculum, forms of religious observance and the overall religious character of these schools.

Central to the doctrines of this church are the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the cult surrounding the alleged virginity of his mother and the belief that bread and wine turn into the body of Christ in the communion service.

If people want to hold and propagate such views they should be free to do so but the state should not finance such activities. Churches should compete in the adult free market for adherents. The state (taxpayers with all types of religious belief and none) should not subsidise some churches in trying to shape the minds, loyalties and identities of the young.

14 per cent of Scottish schools are Roman Catholic. In 2007/8 Scottish Government expenditure on schools, directed through local authorities, was £4.7bn. This figure will have grown since then. ESS estimates that current annual public spending on Roman Catholic schools in Scotland will be in the region of £750 million – three quarters of a billion pounds. More precise figures are currently being researched.

Endorse John Finnie’s Bill to end anti-democratic religious privilege

Its time to make your voice heard in one of the most important debates in Scottish Politics at the moment.

John Finnie MSP (pictured right) has launched a consultation on a Bill to remove religious privilege.  The Bill will do four things:

  • to remove the obligation on local authorities to appoint religious representatives to Education Committees;
  • to remove the right of unelected members of local authority committees to vote;
  • to require the full results of local authority voting to be published;
  • to require remote access to the public proceedings of local authorities.

It is imperative that all of us put forward our views, and any thoughts we have on the Bill to John.  This is the first time since 1999 that the Scottish Parliament has been in a place to end the centuries old religious privilege in Scotland, we would urge everyone to support this Bill.

These are three easy ways that you can do this:

1) ESS has created a handy online form which we will use to collate responses and send off to John Finnie.  To do this, click here.

2) You can email John directly at john.finnie.msp@scottish.parliament.uk.

3) If you want to keep it retro, you can write to John Finnie at:
John Finnie MSP
Room M3.19
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP

Also, please use this widget below to write you your local representatives and urge them, and their Parties to support the Bill.  Just type in your postcode, and follow the instructions.

writetothem.com

Concerns about school prayers raised in Scottish Parliament and with Edinburgh City Councillors

Edinburgh Secular Society’s  second Petition Bulletin concerning the petition to hold a local ballot to end prayers in Edinburgh schools highlights concerns about religious observance in Scottish schools raised by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council as well as by ESS.

END, NOT AMEND, SCOTTISH SCHOOL PRAYERS

This Bulletin has been sent to all elected members in Edinburgh.

Second Petition Bulletin.

Kids should get to enjoy Hallowe’en

My pal Scott is five and loves Hallowe’en. He insists that his birthday too is Hallowe’en-themed and his parents happily comply (Originally from Edinburgh Evening News).

What is it about Hallowe’en that kids love? Is it the immersion in the gruesome which works as a healthy end-of-summer catharsis for them? In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche suggests that classical Greek dramatists looked bravely into the abyss of human darkness and affirmed the meaning of their own existence. So is Hallowe’en Oedipus Rex for kids?

Read More →

Scotland’s young people deserve better than this

Young people have a human right to sexual health and relationships education. Something which the religious minority in Scotland is taking away, argues Gary McLelland (originally published on www.secularism.org.uk on 29 October 2013).

Scotland, like many areas, is working to promote safe and healthy relationships, especially among its younger citizens.

As with many issues in Scottish education, religious sectarian divides exist to the detriment of youngsters.

The current guidance from the Scottish Government on sexual health and relationships education comes from a circular issued in 2001. This was produced just before the repeal of Section 28 (2A in Scotland), however as the guidance states, this was a key factor for consideration in the document.

The 2001 guidance states quite clearly that:

"Programmes of sex education should present facts in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner within a framework of sound values and an awareness of the law on sexual behaviour."

This was, at the time, a welcome progressive move from the Scottish Government, an acknowledgement that young people have a human right to appropriate factual education about sexual health and relationships, and given the political environment at the time, was clearly a sign of a move towards a progressive secular Scotland, where the reactionary cries of religious fanatics was being firmly put in its place.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has made LGBT equality a cornerstone of his political career, the slogan ‘It Gets Better’ is used to denote his party’s alliance with equality.

This image of progressive equality has taken a bit of a battering recently, with the discussions around the introduction of same-sex marriage. Religious groups have been the most vocal in Scotland against the introduction of marriage equality north of the border, with the meek and mild Church of Scotland being forced into embarrassing anti-social positions.

Despite the fact that many of Scotland’s religious citizens, including the majority of Roman Catholics, are in favour of marriage equality, and the Quaker Church in Scotland of the opinion that it would strengthen the institution of marriage, religious groups have not been shy in queuing up to claim ‘religious persecution’. Despite the Scottish Government’s clear plans to legislate for same-sex marriage, it has held a lengthy consultation period, seeking a range of views on either side.

It seems that despite their previous commitment to equality and a progressive secular society, the Scottish Government is keen not to offend any religious groups. So much so that they are intent to legislate a ‘conscience clause’ or backdoor opt-out for any person who considers their religious beliefs to overrule equality.

Not content with ensuring that any religious groups can discriminate against same-sex couples whilst they act on behalf of the State to solemnise marriages, the Scottish Government has now gone one further in effectively making sexual health, relationships and parenthood education optional.

In a draft revision of the 2001 Circular, the Scottish Government has inserted a very vague conscience clause:

"In issuing this guidance it is the Scottish Government’s expectation that if a teacher, child or young person is asked to do something against his or her conscience, he or she should be able to raise this with the school or local authority."

This clause is worryingly vague and has been written, by the Scottish Government’s own admission, as a response to the proposed legislation on same-sex marriage. This is clearly an attempt by the Government to stop the requirement (of 2001) that teachers teach the law.

Even more worryingly is that this opt-out now applies to pupils as well. Unless this clause is seriously revised, or removed, we may see a situation in Scotland where religious teachers are not expected to teach the law, and parents and pupils may remove themselves.

It seems, for the Scottish Government at least, the vocal views of the religious minority have trumped the reasoned and sensible majority, and that the education of young Scots comes a mere second to the hurt feelings of the Godly.

As Scotland moves towards one of the most important periods in 300 years, is the Scottish Government really content to treat its young citizens in such a childish way.

The consultation can be viewed here.

Edinburgh Secular Society comment on the 2011 census religion statistics

News release – For immediate release – 8th Oct 2013

Edinburgh Secular Society comment on the 2011 census religion statistics.

• “No religion” polls at 37 per cent…higher than The Church Of Scotland.

• Church of Scotland polls at 32 per cent…a 10 per cent fall since the 2001 census.

• Another 7.5 per cent of the total Scottish public turn their back on the Kirk since the last count.

• ESS questions the mandate of the Church of Scotland to have privileged access to our education system.

The religious statistics produced after Scotland’s 2011 census show, as many had expected, that religion is an ever decreasing choice for many Scots.  The 2011 census figures for Scotland reveal such plunging numbers declaring religious beliefs that it is predicted in a few years the total number of people declaring any religious belief will be a minority.  The most striking figure is that “no religion” has increased dramatically to 37 per cent. This is higher than The Church of Scotland at 32 per cent which is a reduction of well over 400,000 from its numbers in the 2001 census.

An ESS spokesperson said, “We respect individual adult religious choice but the Church of Scotland cannot presume to speak for anyone other than its followers. It continues to impose its minority beliefs in our non-denominational schools and together with other religions has unelected representatives on all Scottish education committees. Almost two million Scots now declare that they have no religion. So what does that mean for the age-old religious assumption of church involvement in our education system? Religious Observance is still compulsory and evangelising missionaries use this  to infiltrate the school system.”

ESS continued:

“The right to evangelise is an important religious freedom but it does not extend to recruiting from our schoolchildren.”

ESS calls on the Scottish Government to begin the process that will :

  • Repeal the legislation that requires Religious Observance is all Scottish schools
  • Repeal the legislation that imposes unelected religious representatives on all Local Authority Education Committees.

***Ends***

  • Speakers available for TV/Radio and other interviews.  For further information contact Gary McLelland – Chairman on 07813060713 or Neil Barber – Press and Communications Officer on 07986183977.
  • ESS is a leading secular campaign group in Scotland. We are based in Edinburgh and cover a range of national issues relating to Secularism.  ESS believes in freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
  • ESS is affiliated to the National Secular Society, although views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the NSS.

www.edinburghsecularsociety.com

Edinburgh Secular Society meet with representatives of the Church of Scotland

On Friday 27th September 2013, Gary McLelland, Colin Emerson and Norman Bonney (Chair, Vice-chair and Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society) met with representatives of the Church of Scotland at their offices in George St, Edinburgh. Present from the Kirk were Ewan Aitken (Secretary of Church & Society Council), Sally Fulton-Foster (Convener of Church & Society Council) and Sandy Fraser (Convener of Education Committee).

Read More →

The Christian ‘missionaries’ at work in our schools–Sunday Herald

hs-logo

 

Edinburgh Secular Society’s research into evangelical Christian groups targeting the country’s schools has been recognised in this article by Sunday Herald.

Edinburgh Secular Society believes that there is compelling evidence that Scotland’s non-denominational schools are being turned into de facto state-funded Christian faith schools.  You can view the article online, or below:

Read More →

Post Navigation