Tag Archives: Norman Bonney

Worrying words from the Lord High Commissioner to the Church of Scotland

At the opening of the Annual Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Saturday 17 May 2014 the Lord High Commissioner, Prince Edward gave an address on the theme of community, contrasting "the assertion of legalistic rights" with the Christian teaching of responsibility.

Could this possibly be a reference to the persistence of the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Government refusing to consider that the decades long arrangements whereby three church voting representatives are added to each local authority education committee in Scotland might actually not be inconformity with the Equality and Human Rights Act 0f 2010?. Does he mean that religious concepts of ‘responsibility’ should allow churches and the Scottish Government not to follow the law?

The Church and Scottish Government are in dangerous constitutional territory if this unlawfulness continues. Scotland should be subject to the rule of law, not the interests of powerful groups and interests.

See the letter by ESS Honorary President, Professor Norman Bonney, in the Scotsman Monday 19 May 2014

http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/letters/kirk-s-stance-smacks-of-arrogance-1-3414898

Colin Emerson & Norman Bonney present the ESS petition to The Scottish Parliament

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.

Remembrance Sunday: The secular origins and significance of the Cenotaph

Originally posted on secularism.org.uk: Tue, 05 Nov 2013 14:58

New paper calls for secular ceremony of remembrance at the Cenotaph

A new academic paper examining the origins of the Cenotaph and the ceremonies surrounding it has questioned the role of the Church of England at the annual ceremony of remembrance at the Cenotaph, and calls for the event to be made more inclusive.

A new academic paper examining the origins of the Cenotaph and the ceremonies surrounding it has questioned the role of the Church of England at the annual ceremony of remembrance at the Cenotaph, and calls for the event to be made more inclusive.

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[News release] John Finnie MSP Bill to remove religious representatives | Edinburgh Secular Society endorse Finnie’s Bill

News release |Embargoed until 14:00hrs, Tuesday, 5th November 2013

Contact details below

  • Edinburgh Secular Society (ESS) endorses MSP J. Finnie’s proposed Bill to remove the legal obligation for unelected religious representatives to be appointed to all local authority education committees.
  • ESS states that the proposed Bill will enhance local accountability by removing a privilege that is inherently and profoundly undemocratic.
  • ESS calls on all mainstream religions, minority faith groups, secular groups, elected politicians, parents and individual citizens to actively support the democratic principles and aims of the proposed Bill.

ESS welcomes MSP J. Finnie’s proposed Bill in relation to religious representatives on local authority education committees. The current position, whereby religious representatives are appointed to all 32 local authority education committees, is untenable in a democratic society.

  • Every education committee in Scotland is statutorily obliged to appoint three religious representatives.
  • These individuals are not elected, but have full voting rights. They are merely nominated by their respective religious organisations.
  • 2011 census results show all those professing religious beliefs total just over one half of all Scots. There is no mandate for this privileged influence over our education system.
  • They are accountable only to their respective religious organisations and cannot be voted out by the public.
  • The legislation requires one Catholic, one Protestant and one other religious representative; this seems to reinforce the tolerance of a sectarian and secular division in Scottish society.

The proposed Bill complements ESS’s petition, currently lodged with the Scottish Parliament, calling for the repeal of section 124 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, as amended by Section 31 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994. http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01498

During research for the petition, ESS discovered, that despite the Church of Scotland’s claim that they are impartial on Local Authority Education Committees, the Church and Society Council reported to the General Assembly that they:

‘…estimate that these three Church Representatives hold the

balance of power on 19 Local Authority Committees’ [1]

We believe that the proposed Bill offers an opportunity to create a fairer Scotland by enhancing local democracy and accountability. As such, ESS calls on all sections of society, including churches, minority faith groups, secular groups, elected politicians, parents and individual citizens to support the democratic aims of the Bill.

In particular, ESS urges the mainstream churches within Scotland to grasp this opportunity to support and help shape a future which places the democratic principles that underpin our society at the core of our local education system. ESS, working in partnership with MSP J Finnie’s office, is willing to collaborate with any group and discuss how best to progress and support the aims of the proposed Bill.

Quotes from ESS Board members:

“To afford a particular section of society a privileged position within the decision-making process of local government, based solely on their particular and personal religious beliefs, is profoundly and inherently undemocratic, unfair and discriminatory. It strikes against those specific virtues of justice and integrity underpinning our society and which lie at the heart of The Scottish Parliament.”

Professor Norman Bonney – Honorary President Edinburgh Secular Society

“The proposed Bill affords an opportunity for the mainstream churches and our elected politicians to reflect and act on the changing demographics within Scotland. They can show vision and leadership by actively supporting the Bill and the democratic principles that lie behind it. We sincerely hope they do so. “

Gary McLelland – Chair Edinburgh Secular Society

**** ENDS ****

NOTES TO EDITOR

  • For further information contact Gary McLelland – Chairman on 07813060713 or Colin Emerson – Vice-Chair on 07706837007.
  • 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.

[1] (Church of Scotland Church and Society Council Deliverance to CoS General Assembly  May 2013 p3/31 para 11.4.3)http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/13790/3_CHURCH_and_SOCIETY_2013.pdf

Leading constitutional academic criticizes the treatment of former Archbishop

News release – For immediate release – Sunday 6th October 2013

  • Leading constitutional academic criticises the treatment of former Archbishop.
  • Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society has issued a call for additional information about the safety and security of the former Cardinal, Keith O’Brien.
  • Edinburgh Secular Society speaks out against the treatment of the former Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Professor Norman Bonney (pictured left – picture available here) is Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society, a position dating back to the mid-19th Century (see here).  Prof. Bonney is a social science researcher, specialising in UK constitutional matters (http://www.normanbonney.blogspot.com/).

Speaking on behalf of the Society, Prof. Bonney asked: “Is the man at liberty or is he being held under constraint? Does he know that he is entitled as UK citizen to live wherever he would choose in the UK and the EU.”

Prof. Bonney goes on: “As well as being excluded from the conclave of Cardinals that elected the current Pope he attempted to set up home in Dunbar (Scotland)  but was apparently coerced by the Church to go into seclusion and exile.

“This case bears all the hallmarks of the ‘kidnapped by a sect’ story that happens from time to time in relation to much less significant denominations. The public of Edinburgh and St Andrews that the cleric attempted to serve over a long period deserve assurance that the Cardinal is a free man who is fully advised of his options by independent lawyers and is not held unwillingly under constraint.”

Prof. Bonney continued:

“There are numerous disturbing aspects of the treatment of this individual that deserve investigation by journalists, and perhaps by the police. Probably he is entitled to an old age pension and as a homeless person the state and the local authority would have certain obligations to assist him to re-establish himself independently. There might even be a charitable congregation or organisation that might support him to live independently. Clearly, however, he will be under constraint. If he wishes to have a secure future with decent  living conditions he may feel constrained to accept the authority of the Church and continue in his current circumstances.

“But there are alternatives. He could write a candid biography, like the former Scottish Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway, which might be a best seller and provide for a more comfortable and freer retirement. He could certainly perform a valuable public function by elaborating further on the idea that Roman Catholic priests might be allowed to marry that he floated in his farewell interview while still in office.”

***Ends***

  • Prof. Bonney is available for TV/Radio and other interviews.  For further information contact Gary McLelland – Chairman on 07813060713 or Neil Barber – Media Officer on 07986183977.
  • Prof. Bonney speaks on behalf of Edinburgh Secular Society.
  • ESS is a leading secular campaign group in Scotland, based in Edinburgh we 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.

Prof Norman Bonney is appointed Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society

Norman Sept 2008On Sunday 29th September, Edinburgh Secular Society presented Professor Norman Bonney with a gift to recognise his services to secularism in Scotland.

Prof Bonney has been appointed as the Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society, a position dating back to the 19th Century.

Gary McLelland, Chair of ESS presented Prof Bonney with a book, Modern Humanists Reconsidered, by JM Robertson (1927), on behalf of the Society.

NPG x120271; John Mackinnon RobertsonThe book which was presented was a significant piece of literature, written by the JM Robertson, who was then the President of Edinburgh Secular Society.

JM Robertson was a significant person in the secularism movement in Edinburgh and throughout the UK.  He went on to assist Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Bessant in setting up the National Secular Society.

Prof Bonney will himself, later this year, release his book Monarchy, religion and the state (2013).

Religious Clarity: Norman Bonney writes in The Scotsman

 

The furore in a South Lanarkshire school that has led to the banishment of members of the Church of Christ from the chaplaincy and volunteer roles in the school and the reassignment of the head and deputy head to other duties with the local education authority (your reports) raises numerous issues.

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Prof. Norman Bonney writes in the Scotsman

Prof. Bonney points out the glaring undemocratic privilege of compulsory unelected religious representatives to the Church of Scotland’s Sandy Fraser.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/letters/christian-values-still-worth-teaching-1-3017620

Diamond Dan – the Orange Man – Letter by Norman Bonney

The Edinburgh Evening News reported on 8 November last year that the City Council Education Authority had withdrawn a cartoon of Diamond Dan, the Orange Man, from a city school because,although this was unknown to the school teachers and probably the pupils, it is used as an emblem of the Orange Order of Northern Ireland.
Last Saturday last I observed the Orange Order Annual Parade through George Square, Glasgow.. It was an impressive and orderly display of the key values that are celebrated by the Order such as the victory of the William of Orange over forces allied to the ousted former Roman Catholic monarch James VII (II)  of the United Kingdom in 1689. This victory established the Protestant monarchy which we still have today and which all the major political parties appear determined to continue whatever the outcome of the independence referendum.
It is thus hard to understand why the City education authority should have removed this disguised but innocent symbol of loyalty to the crown, devised and propagated by a lawful organisation, other than interpreting it as display of uninformed prejudice.
Letter in the Edinburgh Evening News 11 July 2013