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Harrow's Holocaust Memorial Day Event
January 2017

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NATIONAL ISSUES

SECULARISM

  • The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life
    (Living with Difference) (December 2015)
    Members of this very wide-ranging commission included clerics, academics, lawyers, and the BHA's Andrew Copson. They took evidence from hundreds of organisations and individuals. Many of its recommendations are largely secular and pluralist.

  • Some of its general conclusions were:
    • A national conversation required about the principles and values which foster the common good, and should underpin and guide public life
    • A need for greater religion and belief literacy
    • The pluralist character of modern society should be reflected in national forums such as the House of Lords
    • National and civic events, whether in the public sphere or in church, including the Coronation, should reflect the pluralist character of modern society
    • Funding for chaplaincies in hospitals, prisons and higher education should be protected with equitable representation for those from non-Christian religious traditions and for those from humanist traditions
    Find the full report here >>

FAITH SCHOOLS & EDUCATION

  • Dept. for Education refuses to comply with the recent High Court ruling on the RE curriculum

  • The BHA is continuing to campaign against the establishment of new Faith Schools, particularly by the “back door” of initial academy status. See the BHA website for further information. In June 2013 they helped to launch a new campaign called the Fair Admissions Campaign. The Campaign is focused on eliminating religious selection in state-funded school admissions and the religious, ethnic and social segregation it causes.
    The Campaign is being jointly organised by the BHA and a number of other groups, and is being supported by even more. The BHA is on the Campaign’s steering group, and so are the Accord Coalition, Professor Ted Cantle CBE and the iCoCo Foundation and Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign. Other supporters of the Campaign already include the Association of Teachers and Lecturers; the party political groups the Socialist Educational Association (affiliated to the Labour Party), the Liberal Democrat Education Association and Liberal Youth; the race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust; the religious groups British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the Hindu Academy and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; and the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education.

  • CofE uses school chaplains to proselytise
    From The Huffington Post (3rd June 2014) on a report by the Church of England on chaplaincy in UK church schools. Read More >>
  • Remembrance Sunday and its non-religious origins
    Each year, on November 11th, the locus of our national remembrance is the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. Lutyens designed the Cenotaph to be a secular monument and he had the backing for its design from Lloyd George’s government. The Anglican church, at the time, did not like the absence of any Christian symbolism on the monument, but the secular/religious argument is still ongoing, as the absence of any humanist or secular representative or speaker attests. Read more on this theme in an article by Dan Snow in the Guardian (Nov 2014): Read More >>
  • Holy Redundant
    Although previously a hot topic, the reform of the House of Lords now seems to have dropped below the radar. It does however continue to be an issue for Humanists and this has been highlighted by the latest failure of the Church of England in relation to the appointment of women bishops. So much for equal rights! Whether you think that the Lords should be appointed or elected, the most important issue is the removal of the 26 Bishops of the Church of England who sit in the House as of right. No other branch of Christianity and none of the other religions represented in the UK has such a privilege, not to mention the lack of representation of the large proportion of the population who have no religious beliefs. More information is available on the BHA website.
  • Scouts and Guides
    In October 2012 the national press reported that an 11 year old boy has been banned from joining the Scouts because he does not believe in God and did not wish to make the Scout Promise “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and keep the Scout Law”. The NSS organised an e-petition to the Scouting movement that they should be inclusive of youngsters who are atheists or agnostics and have a variant oath which omits mention of God.
    In June 2013 it was announced that the Girl Guides have changed their Promise to exclude mention of God and replace it with the phrase “to be true to myself and develop my beliefs”. There has been a rearguard action by the General Synod against the dropping of God from the Promise and In February 2014 it was reported that “members can provide the context of their own belief before making our promise”.
    The Scouts took longer to come to a decision and rather than abandoning references to God and making an all-inclusive promise like the Guides, it was announced on 8 October 2013 that they have introduced an alternative non-religious pledge to add to those they already have for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. The new version reads “On my honour I promise that I will do my best to uphold our Scout values, to do my duty to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law”. It is a move in the right direction.
  • One Law for All
    On 1 February 2013 The Times reported that a Jewish couple have had a divorce settlement under Beth Din rabbinical law approved by the High Court. This opens the way for similar Sharia law divorces and possibly other legal decisions. The One Law for All organisation opposes such religious courts.
 
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06-10-2016
'One of our members' letter to his MP on new government Faith School plans'

01-02-2016
'RE Classes and Curriculum in Harrow'