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Humanists to mount legal challenge against new schools

By on Thursday, 12 April 2012

A legal challenge will be launched against the building of two new Catholic schools in southwest London.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) are planning to mount a legal challenge against Richmond Council, following an application by the Diocese of Westminster to build a Catholic primary and secondary school.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster defended the application stating: “The Diocese of Westminster believe that Richmond Council have acted entirely properly in respect of proposals for the establishment of new Voluntary Aided Catholic primary and secondary schools in the borough.

“The proposed court case being brought by RISC and the British Humanist Association, a national organisation that campaigns against the existence of all schools with a religious character, seeks to use procedural arguments to prevent an entirely legitimate proposal to increase the educational choices available for parents and children in Richmond.”

The spokesman said that the establishment of the new schools would provide greater diversity of choice in the Richmond area. He continued: “The proposed new schools are also likely to bring additional benefits by releasing places at other local schools which are currently being taken up by those who would prefer a Catholic education.”

The BHA argue that if the council ratifies the plans they are flouting new rules from the Education Act 2011 that state: “If a local authority in England think a new school needs to be established in their area, they must seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy’ [i.e. a Free School]. Proposals are then adjudicated by the Department for Education (DfE).”

A statement from the BHA continues: “Richmond Council has been clear that it thinks the borough needs a Catholic secondary school to complement its existing Catholic primaries, and that there is also a need for a new Catholic primary to provide additional places. They say that the Act allows them to go ahead with Voluntary Aided Catholic schools without first following the above rule.

“The BHA is concerned that this offers a way of opening religious schools in the face of public opposition by the back door, avoiding the competition that would otherwise be required.”

But Richmond Council said that any legal action from the BHA and RISC was premature. A spokesman for the council said: “The Council has not yet taken decisions in respect of the Diocese’s proposal, or in respect of the use of the site in Twickenham and therefore, any judicial review challenge would be premature.”

  • TreenonPoet

     Parents may compete to send their own children to the best local school, and think nothing of what is best for the local community. It is a form of greed. Uncorrupted local authorities would like to see the highest total value added by local schools.

    If the humanists win, the local authority will be compelled to obey the law. This does not guarantee that the eventual provision of school places will be closer to what humanists would wish for – the system is still weighted against them (and the possiblity of religion-free schools is denied them by law).

    Community schools are not guaranteed to be inferior.

    What this country needs is good quality education. What it does not need is for precious resources to be diverted towards what is euphemistically referred to as ‘spiritual development’, with the consequent intellectual damage. Of course, some catholics cannot see the harm, and even perceive a benefit, in instilling irrationality into innocent young children. When you abandon rationality, anything can be ‘justified’, including measures that scupper civilisation.

  • JabbaPapa

    Quite so. Faith schools are successful because they are selective and for no other reason. 
    Their success is bought at the cost of damage inflicted on the school system in general.

    This has been demonstrated to be untrue by various studies of selective schooling in general — although it is true of some selective schools in particular, in other words those that routinely expel pupils for academic failure.

    Where no such abuses occur, the existence of one school can only inhibit another school if they are competing for the best teaching staff in the local job market, and one of the schools has an unfair advantage in that respect. The question of selectiveness or non-selectiveness is completely irrelevant to this particular problem.

    The existence of selection itself does no harm to the teaching facilities of any non-selective schools in the same area — whose value depends on their own merits, independently of those of other schools.

  • JabbaPapa

    When you abandon rationality, you might even end up posting some trite atheistically-indoctrinated banal Dawkinsisms on blog pages associated with British newspapers on a daily basis.

    Never mind that what you are suggesting is no more than a totalitarian suggestion tending towards the absolute eradication of Christianity from British culture…

    (I can’t seem to have noticed very many Catholics to have been publicly supporting the notion that, say, the teaching of atheism to children should be banned as a form of child abuse, that schools run by atheists should be repressed, or any other such fascistic and bigoted obscentities similar to those routinely spouted by these so-called “humanists”)

  • TreenonPoet

     I agree with your first paragraph. If I became an irrational gnostic atheist by a process of indoctrination, it might apply to me. Luckily, that has not happened.

    My understanding of the word totalitarian does not fit with your usage. A government that promotes rationalism is no more totalitarian than one that promotes democracy.

    If we defined Christianity as following all the teachings of Jesus, then there would be no Christians because some teachings are contradictory. If the definition of Christianity allows selectivity, then a rational version of Christianity is possible that would not be eradicated by rationalism.

    I am not sure what you mean by “the teaching of atheism to children“. If you mean teaching children that no deities exist (gnostic atheism), then that should be banned because it is irrational. To get such a message across by indoctrination would also be child abuse because it would be damaging the child’s capacity for rational thought and feeding it false information. Deities whose definitions are contradictory do not exist, but the existence of some postulated deities cannot be ruled out 100%. (That is no reason to behave as if they do exist.)

  • TreenonPoet

     The studies that I have come across support JByrne24. I used to think such studies were a waste of time, like a study to see whether a reduction in prices had made them lower, but I now know that there are people prepared to argue that up is down if it suits their purpose. Consider the responses of religious witnesses in this report following the presentation of research that shows, for example, the lower proportion of pupils from poor families in faith schools. To quote Dr Rebecca Allen:
    if we take a community school and a voluntary-aided religious school, both located in a neighbourhood with exactly the same levels of deprivation, the community school is likely to have about 50% more free school meal children than the voluntary-aided school“.
    Can you provide links to studies that contradict this?

    Damage to the school system can result for a number of reasons. One reason is that government ministers get away with promoting faith schools. Faith schools miseducate. If you read what the religious witnesses have to say in the report that I linked to, they deny that these schools indoctrinate, and yet indirectly admit that indoctrination is what characterises faith schools. You cannot persuade children into a religious faith, or avoid persuading them out of it, by rational argument. Peter Ervine (speaking on behalf of Archbishop Vincent Nichols) admits that a prime purpose of faith schools is inculcation of the faith (as if this was not one of the techniques of indoctrination). The Government even tries to force this on community schools.

  • JByrne24

    “There is a middle class snob value at work in this issue. These middle class parents will not thank you.”

    Agreed, there certainly is (and they certainly won’t).
    And that is why government must act on this issue – and why, to a limited degree, it already has acted.
    In this (still slightly) enlightened age there are many middle class snobs who are currently nursing bruises of various kinds.
    They do not thank government for this, but will have to learn to put up with it.

    Faith schools form a large measure of the “coasting” schools which government has been keen to criticise in fairly recent weeks. The relative apparent success of these schools is not due to any intrinsic qualities of the schools themselves – but merely to their social selection of pupils.
    The teaching is often mediocre and the school itself often provides little or no “added value”.
    They also have a much greater than average habit of suspending or expelling children from “lower class” or poorer families.
    There are very strong hopes that the new Ofsted regime (one of whose aims is to deal with “coasting”) will expose the true features of these schools.

  • JByrne24

    ms Catholic state, you have missed your vocation.

    You really ought to have been around in Northern Ireland 30 or 40 years ago.
    (Although, having said that, perhaps you were)

  • JByrne24

    The SSPX lot are simply a newish breed of Protestants. 

  • JByrne24

    Perhaps they will one day join up with the Creationists. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Yakety yak ….

  • MJCarroll

    The truth is coming out now:

    1. You want the middle classes sanctioned

    2. You want the faiths sanction

    What will be next?

    It has been obvious for a while now that this secularist/humanist agenda has only been developed to propagate totalitarianism. Your comments make it glaringly obvious.

  • MJCarroll

    Along with the comments of JByrne24 the truth is coming out now:

    1. You want the middle classes sanctioned

    2. You want the faiths sanction

    What will be next?

    It has been obvious for a while now that this secularist/humanist agenda has only been developed to propagate totalitarianism.

    The comments make it glaringly obvious.

  • TreenonPoet

     santion (verb):
    To ratify; to make valid.
    To give official authorization or approval to; to countenance.
    To penalise (a State etc.) with sanctions.

    I assume you mean ‘sanction’ in the sense of penalisation.

    1. Removal of privilege (from any class) is not penalisation.

    2. Organisations that deliberately harm the innocent should be penalised. Do you disagree?

    Secularism is almost the opposite of totalitarianism in that the former denies the state certain powers (concerning religion) and the later gives the state total power. I’m not sure what your gripe is with humanism. If it is that they object to catholics being above the law and influencing the law unfairly, I would ask you which group you think is nearer totalitarianism, humanists or catholics?

  • Rohan

    This is why, in a politically secular state, we need separation of state and atheism.

  • Benedict Carter

    I agree entirely. 

    The State should be completely separated from atheism.

  • TreenonPoet

     “The State should be completely separated from atheism.

    I agree. The state should not express any favouritism towards atheism in the same way that it should not express favouritism towards religion. Sadly that is not yet the case in the UK (for example, regarding collective worship in schools).

  • Diane

    I agree 100% have these idiots below have no clue as to what an opinion actually is and will argue with whatever an individual says ….keyboard warriors

    Pro choice = pro death end of no if buts or mabes’s murder!

    Gay marraige….an abomination….end off, the words sodom and Gomorrah come to mind

    Preventing catholic schools being built…..goes against the right of a catholic parent to have their child educated in a catholic school, being taught the dangers of sin, how much our lord loves us, I could go on.

    I could go on n on but some warriors on here go ott with their reactions to my opinion do I care….erm no I don’t lol
    I’m catholic and I love the lord our saviour Jesus Christ…….end of

  • Diane

    Ms catholic state

    I love reading your well put wise words….it’s appears the wiser one speaks on here the harder the keyboard warriors type.
    God bless you on this divine Sunday and keep your posts coming…..

  • Diane

    Your a bit of a keyboard warrior are nt you dear……sad :(
    Anyhows I’m in no way misled, I do what’s fundamentally right for my children where their education is concerned…having attended a non catholic school which was awful, and was intolerant of my autistic son putting him into a locked playground which they called a rage cage……lovely …they then moved to a Lovley catholic primary which has been nothing but fantastic in so many ways for my children including my autistic son… u see I just can’t see how I’m misled. As for implying lol what planet are you on, what other parents choose for their children is their business.
    As for the ‘some clergy blah blah blah’ I have friends who work in the airport and who have been personally told loose the cross or loose your job! Fact! So how that’s a lie I’m actually confused
    As for the children raised in ‘wrong religions and wrong schools’ I as a catholic would be immorally wrong to judge those little souls….I pray for those little souls that Jesus enlightens them with his love and light at some point in their life’s as it is not their fault that their misled parents have deprived them of the Truth that is the word of god.
    Now may god bless you stranger and should you always seek the word of god in your life

  • Diane

    Well said honey badger …..I think your words are so true….I was told by a wise woman that a family who prays together, stays together …..I make a point of taking my children to mass weekly say grae at meals pray when we can……all to make my kids grow in full knowledge of the love or lord Jesus has for us all.
    I only converted myself a two years ago and moved my children from the dreadful primary school they were in to the nearest catholic primary and the difference was unbelievable …….
    God bless you on this special divine mercy Sunday and keep your posts coming

  • whytheworldisending

    As Catholics we should indeed not deviate from Church teachings, nor from the clear commandments of Jesus in the Gospels, but we are free as Jesus himself said to judge for ourselves by using out common sense. That is particularly so where “Science” has not reached any conclusions on a matter. The trouble with the cult of the expert is that, like all forms of idolatry, it stops us from thinking – very good for sales of rubbish we don’t need, but not much else. Waiting for “Science” to tell us what to do puts us in the position of mindless guinea pigs. Take the BSE crisis – government advice was that there was “no evidence” to conclude that eating British Beef was harmful. Well of course – when the evidence is obtained by allowing the public to go ahead and find out what happens. The nature versus nurture debate is fine for academics with vested interests who want to experiment on our children but Christian parents should use their common sense and be guided by church teachings on the virtue of chastity, which are echoed in the Gospels. The Catholic Church does not teach that homosexuality must for evermore remain “largely unexplained,” therefore it is permitted to hypothesize in a common sense way, from experience, and experience shows that  - like all sin – sexual promiscuity is contagious. Homosexual practices are an extreme form of sexual promiscuity and therefore incompatible with chastity. As for scientific investigation, without the freedom to hypothesise, EVERYTHING would be largely unexplained, because there would be nothing to investigate. Instead of waiting forever for scientists to prove something some would like to be true, we should use our common sense. And why does it matter? Well if the atheists can pretend that homosexuality is genetic and not acquired, then they can argue that we should accept it (right or wrong) but if it is acquired, then they have to justify promoting it instead of finding how it is spread and guarding against that. The wait for science approach plays into the hands of the atheists because it gives them time to spread both homosexuality and the belief that it is normal, by indoctrinating our children in schools and in the media. Your comment – though well meaning – is therefore misguided. Effectively, until science proves it is wholly genetic, we must prevent children from being corrupted by it.

  • Benedict Carter

    Bunch of Irish post-Christian atheist nutters on this blog.

    Parents are the prime educators of their children: if they want them to go to a school which has Assembly Prayers for example, who on earth are you say that they should not?

    Totalitarianism: that’s the only way you people can exclude Christ.

  • TreenonPoet

    In your original (now removed) post, you claimed that anti-Christian groups are opposing your rights, and mentioned stopping colleagues wearing their Lord’s cross on their neck (amongst other examples). It is a widespread claim that Christians’ rights are being systematically attacked, the right to wear a cross being one example. That is the lie that I was referring to. I hoped the video that I linked to would make it clearer. I am sorry that you are still confused.

    Obviously I have no information about your friends who work at an airport, so I cannot comment on who is in the right there. If your friends are in the right and their employers are in the wrong, a tribunal would presumably adjudicate accordingly. That would not, by itself, be evidence of anti-Christian groups opposing your rights.

    In the case of Shirley Chaplin against Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital, a rule that forbade the wearing of dangling jewellery existed for safety reasons and did not just apply to crosses. The rule did not discriminate against Christians because it applied to everyone in that job. Christians do not have a God-given right to ignore safety regulations. Where possible, employers try to be accomodating by suggesting alternatives. (This is obviously less hassle than firing and hiring, and makes for a happier workforce.) What else could the employers have done, given their obligation to address safety hazards? The Trust did so, but Mrs Chaplin was not prepared to wear the cross in a safe place and she took the case to court. The employment tribunal ruled that the Trust had acted in a reasonable manner in trying to reach a compromise. So, we have an employee acting unreasonably, her employer acting reasonably and being backed up by an independent tribunal, but Christian activists, including the present and previous Archbishops of Canterbury, decide to use the case in evidence that Christians are being badly treated! Lord Carey has even gone so far as to suggest that Christians should have sympathetic judges! Such disdain for the judiciary is dangerous. He refuses to accept the facts of the case and is supported by Christian institutions. And these institutions claim the moral highground and influence government.

    I hate to see injustice, and I emailed my MP regarding one of these cases. His researcher replied that employment rights need to be balanced against religious rights. What religious rights? Why does believing in something on faith give someone special rights over someone who applies rationality? You’re dead right I’m a keyboard warrior. I would rather try to improve things using words rather than weapons. Yes it’s sad that I am driven to do so when I could be doing something enjoyable. It is particularly vexing as I believe this is the only life I have, but I cannot stand by and observe, for example, the ramping up of religious indoctrination with the risk of susceptible children growing up to become like Lord Carey.

  • TreenonPoet

     In what way is a law that requires schools (not just schools of a Christian nature) to facilitate collective worship of a Christian nature not totalitarian when most of the parents are not that way inclined and the children are too young to realise what is happening?

    Who is talking about excluding Christ? It’s the forcing of Christ onto others that I object to.

  • Benedict Carter

    No, you don’t object to the “forcing” of Christ on others. You just reject Christ yourself, that’s the truth of it.

  • John Flaherty

    Pardon me for being so naive, but why does the Diocese of Westminster need to apply to anyone for the opportunity to build a school?  I can see a legitimate need for the local government utilities to be informed regarding utilities concerns, but that’s it.
    If someone can demonstrate how such a facility would pose a legitimate threat to public safety, that’s one thing.
    But humanist organizations objecting to a school being built?
    I think they need to learn to mind their own business.  Methinks they pose irrelevant concerns.

  • buckingham88

     You have a point here, but then the aim of education must always be to teach children and adults to think, rather than just have an opinion about everything.It is only by doing this that they can make sense of the knowledge and beliefs handed to them.
      In a secular society, there still has to be some principle to base the education system on.Without such an agreed set of principles everyone goes off on tangents, and in the background all you hear is the grinding of axes.
     In every society there will be children who are taught things by example and chalk’n talk that you will disagree with.The advantage in such a pluralistic society of having many schools is the opportunity of choice for parents so they may choose those schools that are congruent with their beliefs and aspirations.
     It may surprise you to know that there are many people who believe in God as adults who are also well educated to think and do not want to deprive their children of this opportunity.
      This wide ranging choice in schooling has been operating in an evolutionary way since 1956 in Australia.It has led to  Catholic systemic schools that have the same socioeconomic profile as the state school next door.Every system now selects  on ability and disability, but to varying degrees.
     This process has been inexorable, as parents have exercised their natural rights, by having children, by petitioning political parties and representatives and at the ballot box.
     Under this system,if you are a swami, atheist, catholic or think sport is the ideal, you can apply for funding.And it saves the taxpayer heaps.
     But remember it all starts with a statement of a fundamental right.
     But then,what else do you want to base the future of your nation, if it is not a natural right.

  • TreenonPoet

     Who do you think will be paying for these schools?

  • BertyBotts

    What this article fails to tell you is that this school is actually wanted by the local community.  95% of respondents to the pre-statutory consultation were in support of the school.
    The council are also proposing to open another larger school for when it will be needed (2016) there are currently over 200 spare places in Richmond secondary schools, the trouble is they are in (currently) undesirable academies.
    There is the capacity for everyone to be happy, but Risc are working hard to ensure that this is not the case.
    There are no Catholic secondary schools in Richmond, despite the fact that 1:7 of our primary schools are Catholic.  Children are spread far and wide when they leave primary school in search of a continued Catholic education.
    I despair that a local school will be used as a pawn by the BHA who are currently asking for funds through ‘Just Giving’ to “Say No to Faith Schools”.
    Risc have tried to pretend that they are not anti-faith, but most of us with eyes have not fallen for that.  Jeremy Rodell has been campaigning against a Catholic school for over 2 years.

  • TreenonPoet

    the aim of education must always be to teach children and adults to think, rather than just have an opinion about everything.It is only by doing this that they can make sense of the knowledge and beliefs handed to them.


    In a secular society, there still has to be some principle to base the education system on.Without such an agreed set of principles everyone goes off on tangents, and in the background all you hear is the grinding of axes.


    In every society there will be children who are taught things by example and chalk’n talk that you will disagree with.The advantage in such a pluralistic society of having many schools is the opportunity of choice for parents so they may choose those schools that are congruent with their beliefs and aspirations.

    This may be considered to be an advantage by some parents who do not consider the wider picture and are too keen to force their view on their children. For example, would it be fair on a child to be sent to a school that encourages racism? On what principle would such a school be permitted or blocked? Even if it is permissible for individuals to be inwardly racist, should society be encouraging it in this way? My answer would be no  – not because a majority might vote against racism, but because it can be deduced from the priciples of ethics and from the latest knowledge that it is wrong. (Facts should always trump democracy.) The principle can be derived in the same way that all human rights can (or ought to be) derived. The principle should be supported by the state and not be overturned in localities that muster a majority vote against it. Only a relevant advance in knowledge, or the discovery of an error of reasoning, should cause the principle to be reviewed.

    Of course, not all principles are so clear cut. In some cases, it may be necessary to resort to some variety of democracy or other compromise to establish certain basic premises. In such cases it must be considered whether the state would be over-prescriptive in enforcing principles that depended on those basic premises.

    Now consider the question of whether children should be taught something that is known to be false. What would be the educational value in it? The only justification I can think of is that the English language does not support the expression of degrees of certainty very well, and it becomes pragmatic to say X when what is meant is that the latest knowledge leads us to consider that X is true for practical purposes (or something similar). If the latest knowledge shows that X is false, or that the chances of X being true are infinitesimal, then I can see no excuse for claiming that X is true. As a matter of principle, schools should not lie to pupils in that way.

    It may surprise you to know that there are many people who believe in God as adults who are also well educated to think and do not want to deprive their children of this opportunity.

    What opportunity? Being educated to think has nothing to do with the idea that God exists other than that the instillment of the idea in childhood impairs thinking, at least in areas of thought associated with belief in God. How much more intelligent could these thinking people have been without this impediment!

    This wide ranging choice in schooling has been operating in an evolutionary way since 1956 in Australia.It has led to  Catholic systemic schools that have the same socioeconomic profile as the state school next door.Every system now selects  on ability and disability, but to varying degrees.
    This process has been inexorable, as parents have exercised their natural rights, by having children, by petitioning political parties and representatives and at the ballot box.

    Inexorable while many voters remain uninformed or misled perhaps. Just what are chaplains doing in Australian schools?

    Under this system,if you are a swami, atheist, catholic or think sport is the ideal, you can apply for funding.And it saves the taxpayer heaps.

    How does it save the taxpayer heaps? Have you costed the consequences?

    But remember it all starts with a statement of a fundamental right.
     But then,what else do you want to base the future of your nation, if it is not a natural right.

    Irrationality screws up a nation. Declarations of rights should be based on rationality. The right not to be denied education trumps the right of parents to misguidedly screw up your education. 

  • Alyoshenka

    It is worth bearing in mind that the British Humanist Association has a membership of 28,000.  That is, about 0.0004% of the population of Britain – roughly the same number of people attending the average Stoke City match.  For all their noise, they are small fry trying to sound more important than they actually are.

  • John Flaherty

    Sounds like a private school, in which case private funds would be involved.
    Oh, I know, they might dare to use public funds in the form of vouchers or similar forms of payment. Seems the humanist crowd can’t stand to actually practice what they preach.  We’re routinely forced to tolerate the secular hatred for faith.

  • TreenonPoet

     The article states that the schools are to be Voluntary Aided If this is possible, then they would be eligible for capital funding by grant from the Department for Education, so obviously permission would be needed for them to go ahead, and the correct procedures for this ought to be followed.

    You say “they might dare to use public funds” as if the system was antagonistic towards Catholic schools. There are over 2000 state-funded Catholic schools, most of which are Voluntary Aided. People with no religion are a much larger group than Roman Catholics in England and Wales. How many state-funded religion-free schools are there? ZERO. They are not allowed.

    What do you mean by “Seems the humanist crowd can’t stand to actually practice what they preach.“?

  • TreenonPoet

     In what way does the size of their membership affect the strength of their argument?

  • John Flaherty

    Sounds to me as though the system IS antagonistic towards Catholic schools. If there are already over 2,000 state-funded Catholic schools, I must wonder why you protest against another?  One reason that makes sense is a genuine loathing for a school that doesn’t teach secular humanism.
    People with no religion aren’t suffering discrimination in Britain any more than here in the ‘States.  They merely despise having to allow people to believe in something besides secular humanism.

    If secular humanists genuinely wish to be tolerant, they need to knock it off with their screams against schools motivated by faith.

  • John Flaherty

     First, the one parent would have the right to educate their kids as Catholics because the other parent most likely would’ve agreed to such an arrangement before they married.
    Second, I’m not aware that anyone has an absolute right to require an education from anyone.  Especially when parents are the first educators of their children, it makes sense that the state provides help if appropriate, but does not truthfully have the right to impose a regimen of what’ll be taught.  Too many educators forget that part.

    Thirdly, your argument that someone has been denied an education doesn’t hold up.  Until you can document a large group of people who’ve been denied an education somehow, you can’t argue that people have begun losing out.

    Lastly, your comment about parents not knowing what’s best for their own children demonstrates a hideous contempt for parents.
    You do not have the authority to declare what the best education is.  That’s the parent’s right.

  • TreenonPoet

    I am sure that you are aware of how difficult it must be for an organisation such as the British Humanist Association to set anything before the people for a vote. There is the epetition system (which, in my view is worse under the present regime than it was under New Labour, despite the 100000 signature pledge), but that requires people to be aware of the petition, to be able to sign it electronically, and to believe that the petition could really make a difference. Nevertheless, the BHA has recently raised some.

    If their campaign against collective worship in schools is successful AND it is possible to have objective Religious Education AND the privileges of faith schools are removed (regarding selection), then it will be possible for community schools to satisfy the BHA. (It would not be quite enough to satisfy me.)

    In the last general election, all three mainstream parties supported faith schools (which, of course, were only a small part of their manifestos). Furthermore, the advantage faith schools gain through selection makes them popular. Furthermore, the Church Of England is established and has privileges that benefit other religions to some extent. How does all this give non-religionists an easy time?

    You make some civilised points. Why do you have to spoil it with your “nasty, cranky” insult?

  • TreenonPoet

    Fair point.

    I had in mind Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights which states “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.”
    I think that the right to education arises as a result of the severe disadvantage that someone can be put under if they are denied education in subject areas that society expects people to be educated in. (I think it also benefits society if people are educated.) The subject areas have become wide and fast-changing, and generally need to be taught in a way that is compatible with standardized assessments, so I don’t see how state control can be avoided. However, the relevant state body should be reasonably-well insulated from politics and democracy, just as human rights councils ought to be. (Education secretary Michael Gove does not share my view.)
    Education is being denied in certain subject areas. Some of these are taboo areas that some teachers dare not mention for fear of upsetting religious parents. For example, in science there are difficulties with teaching evolution to children who have been brought up to believe that man did not evolve, or in RE with teaching the likelihood of a deity existing. Some important subject areas are missing from the National Curriculum that would risk shining a spotlight on religions’ weakpoints. Exam papers from the past decade which do not cover propositional logic would be supportive documentation of a sort. I admit that I am assuming that if the curriculum does not cover it, then a significant number of people have not been taught it. What I do know from personal experience is that a lot of people do not seem to appreciate the merit of the scientific method. Evidence for that is in many comment threads. But I do not know what proportion of these commenters are UK-educated. 

    How can you guarantee that parents are sufficiently educated to know what is best for their children?

  • Benedict Carter

    There are vastly more lollipop ladies in England than that sorry mob. Perhaps we should invite their views on religion and secularism?

    We’d get more sense. 

  • John Flaherty

    I am well aware that, just like here in the US, you have the right, as a British citizen, to organize with other people to advocate for a point of view.  If it’s difficult for an organization to enact a point of view into law, it might well be a result of the general populace strongly disagreeing with you.
    Unless you can prove distinctive discrimination against a particular group of people–which it appears you cannot–your only recourse seems to be to howl that you can’t persuade people to change their mind.

    Which is what you seem bent on doing right now.

    I think you have much in common with various advocates from the ACLU or other groups here in the ‘States.  ..Which means that you’re thoroughly peeved that you can’t persuade most folks to abandon their faith for your preferred views.

    I’m sure it’s rough for you, but I can’t help you until you let go of your intolerance for faith.

  • John Flaherty

     Methinks your own citation of the European Convention demonstrates precisely why your having frustrations:  In spite of your objections, this law assumed that parents have the right to educate their own kids.
    I can’t say that I’m interested in hearing from the European Convention about anything at all, but I can say they had at least a little sense on that count.

    As to whether schools ought to be able to teach something different from what they teach, I’d comment that it would appear that any number of parents disagree with you vigorously regarding what their children should learn.  Your insistence that you could reveal weaknesses in religion if given the chance only demonstrates that YOU and perhaps BHA and a few others believe that religious ideals are faulty.

    What makes you so sure that parents are poorly educated?

    Insisting that they believe something that you don’t won’t cut it.

    They have a right to believe as they wish and to see their children educated as such.

  • TreenonPoet

     Their views tend to be middle-of-the-road.

  • Riopalos

    ” Humanist”, sound a bit hyphocritical. Better call themselves ” Anti-Teist”.

  • Gladiatrix

    There is no such thing as a Richmond Council within the Diocese of Westminster, I take it that what is being referred to is the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and not Richmond in Yorkshire.

  • Benedict Carter

    Looks like the SSPX is in!

    Goodbye assorted Vatican II die-hards, liberals, dissenters, heretics, apostates, schismatics, neo-Protestants, you Modernist destroyers of the Lord’s Vineyard!

    The Day of the Hippy is definitely numbered!!!!

  • buckingham88

     Good one treenonP. I’ve thrown in the towel on our other discussion as I have been a bit busy.Always interested in your thoughts.

  • TreenonPoet

     I agree with the statement “scientific method doesn’t guarantee that even scientists will always be scientific” and I think it is important to distinguish between science and what scientists do, but I cannot agree with so many other statements or sentiments in your comment that I will only tackle the key assertion that “most of us seem to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being“. I can see why this might be the case in the states because atheists are so demonised there that I could understand why some of them would prefer to seem to believe. The situation in the UK, at least, is different. No doubt there are some who feel under pressure to profess belief, and it is true that antagonism against atheists has increased over the past 8 years (in what appears to me to be a reaction against certain atheists daring to speak out in a country accustomed to religious deference), but I think it is a lot easier being an athiest in the UK. By the way, the Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition are atheists.

    A very telling Ipsos MORI poll (PDF) taken in 2011 counted 33% as having no religion. At least another 13.5% considered themselves to be Christians but did not believe in a supreme being. Those of other religions were not the focus of the poll, so it is not known how many of them did not believe in a supreme being. So we have at least 46.5% not believing in a supreme being, but possibly over 50%. Other polls give different results. For example, YouGov poll (PDF) taken this year counts only 10% of Britons as believing in a higher spiritual power, with a further 30% believing in a personal God.

    But even if 99% believed in a supreme being, what is the school going to use taxpayers’ money to say about this being? That It always answers prayers (when the teacher knows from experience that It doesn’t even if the teacher believes otherwise, and when any child can establish that It doesn’t and begin a descent into religious insanity)? That It is an all-powerful, all-loving being (that teacher and child know to false by observing suffering). That It may send the child to Hell (talk about child abuse!)? For a school to say that this or that is true because Mommy and Daddy say it’s true is not teaching the child to think, and it may escape the notice of the 99% believers that it is not only a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, but an evil misuse of it.

  • Chris Squire

    What this comment fails to tell you is that this consultation was the one conducted by the catholics – primarily of their own flock. The results of the one done by the Council have not been published yet. The proposal to open another larger school is in fact no more than an agreement with the 6th form college to do a feasibility study of using part of its site for a new school.

    The spare places are indeed in the three new rebuilt failing comprehensives, now relaunched as academies, which have a lot of improvement still to do to be considered by the Twickenham’s aspiring middle classes who wish instead to see a new free school on the Clifden road site: which says: ‘Good news everyone! We’ve just heard that we’ve progressed to the next stage of the Free School application process. On May 15th we will be interviewed by DfE officials about our proposal. We’re delighted with the news, and will be doing lots to prepare over the next couple of weeks.’

    For more information about this issue, go to: The judicial review challenges the lawfulness of the Council’s action and inactions. If it is found to have acted within the law (now amended by the Education Act 2012) the Catholic school will go ahead – and the Tory group on the Council will be booted out at the next election in May 2014.

  • Chris Squire

    That is correct – it is often referred to ‘Richmond borough’ to make this clear as Richmond Yorks is a District council (though it likes to title this itself informally as ‘Richmondshire’). 

    It should really be called ‘Twickenham’ as it is the principle town in the borough, where the council’s offices and the Clifden Road site for the new school are.

  • edex21

    The humanist society seems to be against what separates us from beasts and makes us human. It seems to be an organization against humans. It should be called the anti humanist society. I am the only one that sees this oxymoron?