sex

GOVERNMENT MUST NOT CAVE IN TO RELIGIOUS DEMANDS OVER COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

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GOVERNMENT MUST NOT CAVE IN TO RELIGIOUS DEMANDS OVER COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

 

  • SSS want mandatory sex education with no exclusions.
  • Introduction of Dutch model of sex education to Scotland.
  • Professional sex educators in all schools.
  • Section 28 author calls for no exclusion of LGBTI information.

 

As the Scottish Government prepare a final draft of new guidance on Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education (RSHPE) for young people at school, Spencer Fildes, Chair of the Scottish Secular Society, said today: “We recognise that some parents, either through concern for the appropriateness of the material taught or through religious stances will wish to opt their child out of sex education. However, the consequences for the child of a lack of good sexual education are far-reaching and severe, and so in this case we feel strongly that the right of the child to a good education trumps the right of the parent. And it should be mandatory in all schools, religious or otherwise. It is fine to say that condom use is wrong under a faith view, but not to deny the fact that it protects from STDs and pregnancy.”1

Garry Otton, secretary of the Scottish Secular Society and author of Religion Fascism: The Repeal of Section 282, has called on the Government not to sacrifice children on the altar of religious demands following no mention of LGBTI relationships in draft guidance and the likelihood of religious institutions being given a key role in RSHPE in denominational or faith schools. Otton says: “I went undercover in a Catholic school to witness children bussed-in to listen to an American abstinence-only preacher screaming at children that condoms are not safe, telling them HIV kills you and if they contracted Chlamydia just once, there would be a 25 per cent chance they would be sterile for the rest of their lives. Much of the information she gave was inaccurate and dangerous.3 If this is what is masquerading as sex education in faith schools, it must be stopped. The Government must not sacrifice children on the altar of religious demands. No presumptions can be made about anyone’s sexual orientation or practices, in school or out of it. Every child should receive an appropriate sex education. It is a child’s right.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors: –

 

  1. Scottish Secular Society response to Scottish Government Draft Guidance on Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education:-

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/response-to-scottish-government-draft-guidance-on-conduct-of-relationships-sexual-health-and-parenthood-education/

 

  1. Religious Fascism: The Repeal of Section 28:-

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/the-repeal-of-section-28/

 

  1. Abstinence-only with Pam Stenzel:-

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/abstinence-only-with-pam-stenzel/

 

Giving and Receiving a Sex Education – Garry Otton:-

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/giving-and-receiving-an-education/

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Response to Scottish Government draft guidance on Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education

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Response to Scottish Government draft guidance on Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education.

On behalf of the Scottish Secular Society, we make the following official response to the Scottish Government on the draft guidance on Conduct of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education in Scottish schools.

Good quality education on sexual health, relationships and parenthood education is of paramount importance to the Scottish people. Teen pregnancy rates in 2011 in Scotland were at around 30 per 1000 population [1][2]. This figure is 6 times higher than in the Netherlands, which has a far more comprehensive and coherent sexual education strategy than our current provision.[3][4][5]

Teen pregnancy is tied to long term detrimental impacts for the mother and child, and so to improve the chances for children, we need to improve the circumstances into which they are born. One way of doing this is by tackling the issue of unplanned teen pregnancies.

The Scottish Government is aware of this issue and has pledged to deal with it.[6]  We cannot of course stop teens from acting according to their nature, but we can equip them to make responsible choices which protect them from unintended consequences of those actions. The best method for doing this is good sexual and relationship education.

We are concerned by several areas of the draft guidance, as follows:-

Section 10 – the conscience clause. We recognise that some parents, either through concern for the appropriateness of the material taught or through religious stances will wish to opt out. However, the consequences for the child of a lack of good sexual education are far reaching and severe, and so in this case we feel strongly that the right of the child to a good education trumps the right of the parent. Section 9 of the Human Rights Act limits the right to educate according to religious views in several circumstances, including that of health. Sex education is clearly a significant health issue.

Section 14 – as above, deals with the parents’ sensibilities and views.

Section 15 – the lack of a statutory requirement. If we are to be serious about tackling teen pregnancy rates, not to mention the climbing rates of antibiotic resistant sexually transmitted infections, good sex education should be mandatory with a standard curriculum for all schools, including denominational ones.

We agree with the Scottish Government that the rights of the child as per Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are paramount. We accept however that denominational schools and parents of faith must also be allowed to present their faith view of sexual reproduction in addition to the mandatory material. We would limit this only in requiring that all materials referring to biological aspects of sex education presented must be scientifically accurate and sound, to prevent issues such as those typified by Pam Stenzel’s talk in Paisley, which drew reproofs from NHS Clyde for its inaccuracies.[7]

On consultation with our membership, we documented the following points as being of key concern:-

 

  • Sexual and relationship education should be age appropriate. While relationship education is fine from an early age, our parents were concerned at sexual content being introduced prior to puberty. It was felt that the introduction of sexual content should coincide with the onset of puberty.
  • We feel that both the course and its content should be mandatory, with no opt-outs or exclusions on any grounds.
  • We acknowledge and agree that denominational schools and those of faith must be allowed to present their faith view of sexual conduct, providing all materials are biologically and scientifically accurate. For example, it would be fine to say that condom use is wrong under a faith view, but not to deny the fact that it protects from STDs and pregnancy.
  • There was a general consensus that parents need to be informed of what the content of the course is, and when it is taught. Course information should be freely accessible to all at all times (in both written form and on the internet) and given directly to concerned parents.
  • In terms of a way forward, we would point to the Netherlands, where good comprehensive sexual and relationship education starts at an early age, and is an acknowledged and consistent part of school life. Consequently, their teen pregnancy rate is far lower, and young people start sexual relationships at a later age than in the UK.

Dr Jane Lewis, Professor of Social Policy at Oxford University has studied and compared our systems of sexual education. She said “In the Netherlands, politicians have tended to pass the issue of sex education over to professional sex educators and to charge them with building consensus and developing programmes.” [2]  We would suggest this is a good way forward for the Scotland too, removing the problem of embarrassed teachers, and of teaching which might conflict with personal views. Sexual Education is such an important subject, that it seems worthy of its own specialised staff.

 

References

  1. http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Sexual-Health/Publications/2013-06-25/2013-06-25-TeenPreg-Summary.pdf?93670290709
  2. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Health/TrendSexualHealth
  3. http://sheu.org.uk/sites/sheu.org.uk/files/imagepicker/1/eh194jl.pdf
  4. http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7518/654.2
  5. http://www.rutgerswpf.org/content/sexuality-education-in-the-netherlands
  6. http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/scotland-s-high-teenage-pregnancyrate-will-be-investigated-1-2721300
  7. http://scottishsecularsociety.com/abstinence-only-with-pam-stenzel/

 

  1. Scottish Secular Society, Spencer Fildes, Professor Paul S. Braterman, Caroline Lynch, Mark Gordon, Garry Otton, Gail McMillan and Robert Canning.

 

 

 

 

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Creationist Manoeuvres in the Dark

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Spencer Fildes and Rev David Robertson

Creationist Manoeuvres in the Dark

by SecularSpen

 

I usually stay out of his nonsense but on this occasion, as it was about our petition to prevent evolution denial in schools, I felt compelled to respond to Rev David Andrew Robertson who wrote in The Scotsman (Letters 21-11-14) under “False Accusations”:-

“Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, writing to the Scottish Parliament in response to the SSS petition, has also accused the society of using “inflammatory rhetoric”. They are indeed using this issue as a Trojan Horse to try to exclude Christianity from public education. “

The internet used to be known as the ‘information superhighway’ and largely, I believe it still is. It allows you to quickly connect many dots one may otherwise overlook, particularly if you’re a member of the Public Petitions Committee (PPC)

David Robertson enthusiastically presented his latest press release to the world, however, on this particular occasion; the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) were ready for it – they’re almost weekly anyway. We had already anticipated the content along with its inevitable main reference point – Ken Cunningham’s rather curiously forthright submission to the Parliament’s Petition’s Committee (PPC), presented in his capacity as head of “School Leaders Scotland”, an association of head teachers. I have to admit I was slightly taken aback at the speed of his reply to the PPC, one would have thought such extensive consultation with such a large and important body would take much more time and effort.

The SSS knew this would be another weapon for David Robertson to add to his armoury in his relentless assaults attempting to debunk, distort and misrepresent the core aims of the Scottish Secular Society which is to remove unwarranted religious privilege from the public place, in particular, within the Scottish education system.

Let’s examine a few of the issues that arise with the SLS submission…

It would seem, according to Ken Cunningham CBE there is no problem. But what surprises me is the manner in which he responds. It’s hardly the language of a professional representing the views of an impartial body!

He writes of “inflammatory rhetoric frequently used by the petitioners”. Here Ken infers he is familiar with our previous work. So far; so good…

“Inflammatory” – especially in speech or writing – is arousing or intending to arouse “angry or violent feelings”.

So we have aroused angry or violent feelings in you Ken, have we? Now why ever would you feel like that about our petition in your impartial position as head of the SLS?

He continues… “Frequently schools are also encouraged to break down subject boundaries by reflecting where different disciplines interact…” No they are not Ken! Are you implying that the boundary between science and religion should be broken down? If you are, then please remove yourself from any official capacity within the Scottish education system, as this is exactly why we have had to raise our petition. In his words, if our petition was implemented, “there would be a dangerous precedent”.

“There are fairly detailed curricular guidelines applying to both the science and Religious and Moral Education (RME) domains”. No Ken, there isn’t, and you know it. That is why we are petitioning the government to issue such guidelines.

“To link it to the situation in Birmingham as someone has suggested is a little disingenuous”. Ken. The difference here is Christianity, unlike Islam, doesn’t need a Trojan horse, its already operating within the Scottish education system and indeed, owns the stables and enjoys unlimited access to graze on as much land as it likes. Heck, they even have 3/5 unelected representatives on every single council in Troy!

Coincidentally, Ken Cunningham CBE is Secretary and elder at Cartsbridge Evangelical Church, a church where, coincidentally, Mr Robertson presented a recent sermon where he made references to the congregation about the Scottish Secular Society and our activities, along with his own personal interpretation, why we as an organisation exist. Dave wasn’t too flattering about us I may add.

Notable that these comments were also made at the same time our petition was awaiting presentation to the PPC.

As well as a secretary of Cartsbridge evangelical church and head of School Leaders Scotland, Ken Cunningham also sits on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) examination board, as well as the “SCHOLAR advisory board and many other educational groups. He is an influential and prominent figurehead across the education spectrum in Scotland.

We admire the fact that Mr Cunningham possesses a remarkable ability to decouple his love of God from his day job – even if it does somewhat contradict his quote in the Times Education Supplement that stated: “His faith is fundamental to who he is and how he behaves….’I have never known otherwise and never wanted otherwise’.”

This must be particularly difficult given that, the one and only, Dr Alistair Noble, yes indeed – the same Alistair Noble from the “Centre for Intelligent Design”, leader of the very group the Scottish Secular Society are most concerned about, developing and presenting creationist material masquerading as science. Dr Noble has conducted no less than 15 sermons in Ken Cunningham’s church in recent months.

Yes you read that right, 15 sermons in Ken Cunningham’s church!

Noble is also a former colleague of Ken Cunningham at the SLS, holding down an SLS role as “Field Officer”.

Worryingly, at the start of one of Noble’s sermons, he encourages his congregation to listen to the creationist muttering of Stephen Meyer. Meyer is with the Discovery Institute, of which C4ID is a close affiliate. Meyer is also lead author of the mendaciously named “Explore Evolution”, which the equally mendaciously titled “Truth in Science” (a Young earth creationist organisation) was sent to every school library in Scotland a few years ago.

Coincidentally, (and there’s a lot of them), two petitions from the Scottish Secular Society seeking to advance fairness and equality in Scottish Education have now reached the eyes of senior educationalist Ken Cunningham and both have subsequently been refuted. All of this within his official capacities, of course, through consultation requested by the PPC and Education and Culture Committee.

So back to the subject of Trojan horses and David Robertson…

Robertson is audacious enough to accuse the SSS of attempting to plant Trojan horses. This is gobsmacking hypocrisy, given the alleged murky and sinister interconnectivity of certain individuals who share components and missionary objectives of his faith!

It is not the SSS who hold friends in high places; especially those Mr Robertson so eagerly couldn’t wait to quote. Why doesn’t he actually read the petition and see what our “true intentions” really are? Secularists, unlike some other groups, don’t seem to have many political or influential friends across Scotland’s national institutions.

Scottish secularists, like many other campaign groups, merely seek to highlight the glaring inequalities and privilege religious groups are afforded in this country, What’s worse such religious privilege is also protected by antiquated legislation that does not reflect nor properly serve a diverse and modernising Scotland. Such legislation as acted by Falkirk council to ensure Catholic children can attend any school they so wish, unlike children of other faiths and those with none.

I also look forward to the day our government break up the 100% monopoly that Christianity enjoys with Religious Observance in Scottish Non-denominational schools. Is it not time to invite other faiths into assembly such as the Buddhism, Paganism, Sikhism or Islam? Or Humanism, more suitable for those with no faith?

The SSS are not ‘militant’, nor are we ‘aggressive’. Many of our members (including myself) have suffered from religious zealotry for far too long and we make no apologies if we are perceived as an irritant or obstacle to others. Unfortunately every time we challenge religious privilege in Scotland it’s like navigating through a dark room full of strangers but you’re the only ones who actually can’t see, you also can’t see them smirking at each other as you fumble your way around.

Finally, as for Mr Cunningham’s submission and his undisclosed association with Noble, I sincerely hope the PPC bear in mind this simple fact – referees in Scottish league football are not allowed to referee games where they may support one of the teams on the field of play. It removes the suspicion that they may seek to influence the outcome through their own bias.

2014. Spencer Fildes is Chair of the Scottish Secular Society

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Giving and Receiving an Education

 

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Vintage sleaze from fifties pin-ups

Garry Otton

Our friends on the continent boast teenage pregnancies rates as much as six times lower than Scotland’s. What they have and we don’t is sex education starting when you are young. And I mean very young. Young enough that when a TV crew filmed a class of UK teenagers in a Dutch higher school, guess which lot were giggling and squirming with embarrassment? I don’t need to tell you.

It’s hard to believe it was way back in 1973 these words from ‘Summer (The First Time)’ by Bobby Goldsboro were heard coming out of every tranny (which in those days was shorthand for a transistor radio).

“She was 31 and I was 17,

I knew nothing about love

She knew everything.

But I sat down beside her

On her front porch swing,

And wondered what the

Coming night would bring.

 

And when she looked at me,

I heard her softly say:

‘I know you’re young

You don’t know what to do or say,

But stay with me until

The sun has gone away

And I will chase the boy in you away’.”

Chances are, poor Bobby really did depend on his beau to show him the ropes.

We are all entitled to a sex education. No-one should be presuming anyone’s sexuality and everyone should be clued up on how to have straight and gay sex safely. Sex can be taught. Sex is an art and there will be those who are good at it and those who are not. Those who are interested in it and those who are not. So what’s the problem? Well, religion is one of them; social and sexual conservatism is the other. Flashback to the turn of this century and it was Cardinal Winning who spearheaded the campaign to prevent Clause 28, (Section 2a in Scotland), from being repealed. This was a Tory law to stop local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality. It was a farce. Not only Section 2a couldn’t be legally enforced, it hadn’t even been introduced in Northern Ireland and in England and Wales, thanks to Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who brought in Section 28, sex education was the responsibility of school governors, not the local authorities. All that hasn’t stopped a YouGov survey sponsored by Stonewall finding 75% of primary and 44% of secondary school staff saying they either were not allowed to, or were not sure if they were allowed to teach about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in their school. Thank you Section 28!

On gay sex, an official journal in the archdiocese of Glasgow advises: ‘A distinction must be made between tendency and act. Having a tendency or predisposition to behave in a certain way does not justify giving expression to it. For example, anger: I am not entitled to vent my anger as and when I please simply because I have that tendency. The same principle applies to homosexual sex’. Poppycock, as any professional psychologist will tell you. If gay sex can be compared to anger: so too could straight sex! But Catholics are not alone. Gays can unite Catholics with their great adversaries the Protestants. The Grand Orange Lodge in Larkhall was once packed with bemused folk expressing their concerns over teaching packs that had never been used in Scottish schools; one that recommended role-playing gays in class. This is a superb idea that would not only combat homophobia but offer a lifeline for gay kids in school. It so upset the Christian Institute they were sent scurrying around churches in Hamilton to get a petition together. According to a local paper, an elder at Hamilton Parish Church was ‘disgusted’. Should we be listening to these parents? Or should we listen to the experts?

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Vintage sleaze: ‘Amateur Night’ by Peggy Swenson, 1965 Brandon House. 

It’s assumed we are up against a lot of religiously-motivated parents ensuring kids have a good sex education, but then again, many religious parents also want their children to have a decent sex education to save their children’s lives, to prevent them contracting STI’s and prevent unwanted pregnancies. Just say ‘no’ doesn’t cut it anymore. We need to teach children to be sexperts so they know what they’re doing when they do it. We know it makes sense. We must learn from the mistakes of Republican President George Bush when he pumped millions of dollars into abstinence-only projects and the children went on to have sex earlier, used condoms less and increased their chances of getting pregnant. It is the sexual conservatives we must do battle with for the rights to a fair and proper sex education. Not that there is anything wrong with sexual conservatism, disinterest or even inexperience. Nothing at all. But when it comes down to doing it: let’s leave it to the experts, eh?

 

2014  Garry Otton is a gay and secular activist, author of Sexual Fascism (Sex in the Scottish Media) and Secretary of the Scottish Secular Society. 

 

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Press & Journal asked to respond to Scottish Secular Society following likely breach of editorial standards after ‘atheist’ slur.

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PRESS & JOURNAL ASKED TO RESPOND TO SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY FOLLOWING LIKELY BREACH OF EDITORIAL STANDARDS AFTER ‘ATHEIST’ SLUR

 

  • Second press complaint win for SSS
  • Spencer Fildes claim slur is being repeated as true

The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) has today won a ruling after a misleading article headed “Minister in row with atheists” was printed in the Press & Journal. The article claimed: “A row broke out last night between a Free Church minister and a group of atheists over a call to reform the way religion is taught in schools.”

The article continued: “The Rev David Robertson branded the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) ‘militant atheists’ who wanted to impose their own views on youngsters and discourage questioning.”

“But Mr Robertson, who will be the Free Church’s moderator next year, accused the group of using the ‘false bogeyman of creationism’ in an attempt to ‘undermine and attack Christianity in pursuit of their sectarian and bigoted anti-religious beliefs’.”

Robertson continued: “But here we have militant atheists using science as a kind of Trojan horse to get their philosophical and religious views taught and to discourage questioning.”

The Scottish Secular Society are not ‘militant atheists’ and the paper had no right to support this view. Secularism is a political position, not a faith stance.”

Press complaints body Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) was told by the SSS that the society had members of faith on its board, as members of the society and members of its social networking platforms, Secular Scotland on Facebook and Twitter.

After an assessment of the complaint IPSO responded saying “this falls within our remit and discloses a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.” The Press & Journal have been asked by IPSO to “resolve the matter to (the SSS’s) satisfaction, directly, if possible.”

It is the second press complaint’s win by the Scottish Secular Society. In November 2013, The Scotsman printed an inaccurate press release circulated by the Church of Scotland on the SSS’s petition for parents to Opt-in to Religious Observance. The article, “Pupils to get religious guidance…” falsely claimed the petition was authored by the National Secular Society. (It wasn’t, since the NSS were trying to remove RO from schools altogether.) The story gave the impression the result of the SSS’s return to Parliament on 12th November 2013 was a forgone conclusion and the right of parents to opt-in to Religious Observance had been rejected. The Scotsman was eventually ordered by the Press Complaints Commission to print an apology.

Spencer Fildes, Chair of SSS responded today saying: “Certain elements of religious organisations continue to peddle misrepresentation and slurs about what the Scottish Secular Society is about. We are not all atheists and want to build bridges with religions to create a fairer society that respects freedom from as well as freedom of religion.”

ENDS

The Scottish Secular Society (on Facebook and Twitter as Secular Scotland) www.scottishsecularsociety.com

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Jury Service

Jury Service by Robert Canning

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The extent to which belief in God is declining in Scotland might have been hugely over-estimated, judging by my experience last week at Perth Sheriff Court. Picked to serve on a jury, I took my place on the jurors’ bench and awaited an opportunity to follow this advice that I had read in the guidance booklet:

“The clerk of court will then administer the oath to the jury. If you wish to affirm instead of swearing the oath, you can do so, but it would be helpful if you could mention this to the clerk of court in advance. Affirming means that you make a (non-religious) promise before the court that you will well and truly try the case and reach a true verdict on the evidence presented.”

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There was no indication in the booklet of when might be a good opportunity to mention my wish to affirm, and since the clerk of court was still busy picking out names as I took my seat, I decided to wait for a suitable gap in the proceedings. The gap did not appear, as we were kept busy with important business which I was reluctant to interrupt: the copy of the indictment; the copy of the special defence; the reading of the charge; the enquiry as to our suitability as jurors. Throughout all this I held back, hoping that, as the oath is considered so serious and binding, the clerk himself might raise the question of whether we could all honestly swear it, just as he’d raised the question of whether we could all fairly serve.

But without any warning he asked us all to stand up and raise our right hands, and I realised this was my last chance. I put up my hand to indicate that I wished to say something but then realised that I’d been asked to do that anyway, so I had no choice but to go with the flow or cut into his sentence. I said “Excuse me, could I affirm, please?”. He said I could and asked me to sit down. The others swore their oath, which consisted of saying “I do” in token of their agreement to swear by Almighty God. Then I had to stand up and repeat a much longer sentence phrase by phrase, the upshot being that I AFFIRMED I would do the same duty the others had SWORN to do, albeit godlessly.

I was a little surprised to be the only person in a jury of fifteen not to believe in God, but there was no doubting that my fellows had chosen to express their deeply held religious faith by doing what they were told to do and not interrupting anyone to ask to do otherwise. Among the case witnesses, however, the rate of godlessness was three times higher, with two out of ten choosing to affirm. I do not know if they were ASKED their preference, but, unlike the jurors, they were summoned individually by an usher whose undivided attention they briefly possessed, and who was certainly aware of the affirmers’ preference before they entered, since he announced it. It is possible that this individual attention, undistracted by other business, offers witnesses a greater temptation than that offered to jurors to stray from the officially preferred path of righteousness, renounce the God of Perth Sheriff Court, and strive for integrity without supernatural assistance.

The idea leads me to a wicked further speculation: that the strikingly high rate of religious belief I found on display last week in courtroom number 1 might be connected to the use of an opt-out system for the expectedly few non-believers. There is a parallel with religious observance in state schools, where belief in God is likewise higher than the national census might lead us to expect, and where it is likewise honoured by a default arrangement. Children are required to love the school God and sing about it unless their parents opt them out into the corridor to while away a quarter of an hour free-thinking. Jurors are presumed theist until proved atheist by their willingness to interrupt court proceedings. My jury enrolment last week was the only occasion since the religious observance of my schooldays on which I was legally obliged to express a belief in God unless an opt-out was requested. Compared to the hours of loving worship that schools demand from atheist children, this is not a such a great imposition and not worth a complaint, but it seems laughably anachronistic.

It is furthermore illogical. The religious oath chosen by courts as the default option is the less inclusive one, since not everyone can honestly swear it, whereas the secular affirmation, neither endorsing nor denying the existence of God, can be honestly spoken by everyone, but is available only on request. So it is with religious observance in schools: an activity suitable only for children with religious beliefs is chosen as a default form of celebration in preference to activities that ALL children might find meaningful, such as reflecting on the beauty of the world or on acts of human heroism and compassion. Why maintain a divisive default when a comprehensive one is easily available?

Robert Cannning 2014

Creationism vs. Evolution

SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY AGAINST EVOLUTION DENIAL IN SCHOOLS BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

 

SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY AGAINST EVOLUTION DENIAL IN SCHOOLS BEFORE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

 

  • SSS before committee on 11 November 2014
  • Backed by 3 Nobel Prize winners
  • Now reported worldwide

The Scottish Secular Society’s petition to the Scottish Parliament will be heard Tuesday, 11 November at 10 a.m. The petition, which is backed by three Nobel Prize winners1 requests guidance to preclude the teaching of creationism and Young Earth ideas as factually valid alternatives to evolution, common descent, and an old Earth.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/creationismguidance

Since our opponents at the Centre for Intelligent Design claim that such evolution is “unobserved and contentious”, the issues are as momentous as those in Kitzmiller vs Dover School Board, where a US court ruled that what goes by the name of Intelligent Design was thinly disguised biblical creationism, scientifically untenable, and as such unsuitable for publicly funded schools.

The story has already been picked up by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE)2, an American news organisation, and Brazilians seeking signatures for a similar petition to their government have asked the Scottish Secular Society for their help.

END

Spencer Fildes, the Chair of the Scottish Secular Society said: “The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) finds itself in the incredible position, in 2014, of having to petition our elected leaders to address the serious issue of creeping creationism in our educational institutions.”

Professor Paul Braterman of the British Centre for Scientific Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society board member added: “I do not understand the Scottish Government’s reluctance to issue clear guidance along similar lines to those now in force in England. Such guidance would, in my opinion, be strongly welcomed by the teachers themselves as they come under pressure from old style and new style creationists.”

Former SSS Chair and board member Caroline Lynch added: “Creationism and the denial of evolution have been found in three separate Scottish schools. This, and evidence collected from parents, confirms our belief that such views and excesses may be endemic in the system.”

Garry Otton, founder of the Scottish Secular Society said: “After the Scottish Secular Society found creationism and intelligent design taught in three separate schools last year we wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell MSP, but he, along with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), insisted our teachers need no guidance on this, whilst, (in answer to a question by Patrick Harvie MSP), Mike Russell says we must not go too far and deny people a right to their beliefs. The religious want a fight. This could be as big as Kitzmiller vs Dover.”

Ends

 

For further comment please contact our Chairperson, Spencer Fildes.

Email: spencer.fildes@scottishsecularsociety.com

Notes to Editors: –

1 Sir John Sulston, Sir Harold Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts.

2 http://ncse.com/news/2014/11/banning-creationism-scottish-schools-0015967

Creationism vs. EvolutionPress release on Scottish Secular Society petition: –

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/scottish-secular-society-launch-petition-seeking-guidance-on-how-creationism-is-presented-in-schools/

 

Anger over move to teach intelligent design in school (The Herald):-

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/anger-over-move-to-teach-intelligent-design-in-schools.25756300?utm_source=www.heraldscotland.comutm_medium%3DRSS+Feedutm_campaign%3DScottish+News+

 

Faith has no place in the classroom (The Herald):-

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/faith-has-no-place-in-the-science-classroom.25739522

 

Creationists take fire for wanting ‘objective’ education in Scottish schools (USA):-

http://www.inquisitr.com/1581069/creationists-take-fire-for-wanting-objective-education-in-schools/?fb_action_ids=10205005310514045&fb_action_types=og.comments

 

Michael Zimmerman – “Creationism at Its Most Extreme: Will the Scottish Parliament Respond?”:-

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-zimmerman/creationism-at-its-most-e_b_5582955.html

 

Dr Alasdair Allan MSP Minister for Learning says he has complete confidence in teachers: –

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/alasdair-allan-says-complete-confidence-2826128

 

Alastair Noble’s comments quoted in press release: – http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/would-you-adam-and-eve-it-top-scientists-tell-scottish-pupils-the-bible-is-true-1.1060545

 

Open letter from SSS to Mike Russell MSP Secretary for Education on 1 October 2013 asking for ban on teaching of creationism: –

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/open-letter-to-mike-russell-msp-cabinet-secretary-for-education-and-lifelong-learning/

 

Parliamentary TV footage of SSS petition and former Chair Caroline Lynch exposing Kirktonhome School scandal for first time at 11:00: –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXOAy3YPuSA

 

What the SSS found creeping into RME in Catholic schools:-

http://scottishsecularsociety.com/abstinence-only-with-pam-stenzel/

 

 

The Scottish Secular Society (on Facebook and Twitter as Secular Scotland) www.scottishsecularsociety.com

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SSS Vice-Chair, ex-Muslim Iranian Ramin Forghani speaks at Secular Conference

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SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY  VICE-CHAIR IRANIAN RAMIN FORGHANI SPEAKS AT SECULAR CONFERENCE

  • ‘Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights’ conference in London
  • Forghani calls for promotion of secularism.
  • Iranians risk death sentence for defying Islamic regime.

This important, historical conference in London on 11th and 12th October will discuss the Arab uprisings; ‘Sharia’ and religious laws; the burqa and conspicuous religious symbols; freedom of expression, apostasy, blasphemy and free thought; ‘Islamophobia’ and racism; minorities versus citizenship; the far-Right; honour crimes; faith schools and religious education; reproductive rights and secular values.Iranian activists present at the conference are Bahram Soroush, a founding member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Maryam Namazie, a founder and spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslms of Britain (CEMB); Fariborz Pooya, founder of the Iranian Secular Society; Homa Arjomand, winner of the 2005 Toronto Humanist of the year award; Hamid Taghavee, political and social commentator and analyst; Lila Ghobadi, writer and documentary maker and Siba Shakib, author of the bestseller ‘Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes To Weep’.

Vice-Chair of the Scottish Secular Society, Ramin Forghani will say:-

“Right now the ‘Islamic State’ is slaughtering civilians of Iraq and Syria and beheading foreign journalists and aid workers. Scotsmen Alan Henning has been beheaded by Islamic State in Syria and Mohammad Asghar, an elderly mentally ill man, has been imprisoned and later shot in a Pakistani prison for blasphemy despite the Scottish Secular Society raising over 30,000 signatures and the efforts of the First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron to negotiate his release. I am afraid to go home to my country of Iran. 30-year-old Soheil Arabi, a man described in a ‘poor psychological condition’, has been sentenced to death after being found guilty of insulting the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook.

The religious are drunk on success, seizing every opportunity to expand and proselytise in the face of the shrinking protections of secularism. It might start with a Trojan horse in Birmingham finding their way into a school to indoctrinate young children, but it leads to a situation like in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where streets once filled with free woman choosing religion are now filled with the bowed heads of women in compulsory Hijab who are bound by it.

I lived and grew up in the Iran ruled by an Islamic regime.  After moving to Scotland to continue my education I find myself free, enjoying my life in a multicultural and tolerant society. I am an atheist and the Vice-Chair of the Scottish Secular Society and Chair of Ex-Muslims Scotland. I want to challenge Islam before it tightens its grip on the world around me and silences us all.

I am privileged to have been invited to be an MC at this historic Secular Conference. I hope you will listen to our voices.”

END

Notes to Editors: –

Two–day international conference on the Religious-Right, Secularism and Civil Rights in London during 11-12 October 2014 at the Tower Hotel

Iranian sentenced to death for blasphemy on Facebook

Ramin Forghani signs Manifesto for Secularism

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SIGN THIS PETITION. Keep religious extremism out of Scottish schools!

 

Closing Date for Online Petition: 03 September 2014

 

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to issue official guidance to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/creationismguidance

VOTING ‘YES’ WILL END THEOCRACY AND MAKE SCOTLAND A DEMOCRACY

SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY FOUNDER SAYS VOTING ‘YES’ WILL END THEOCRACY AND MAKE SCOTLAND A DEMOCRACY

  • UK is a semi-theocracy with unelected Church of England bishops and monarch as Defender of the Faith.
  • Article in August edition of ScotsGay magazine urge ‘Yes’ vote for a ‘New Enlightenment’.
  • Scottish Secular Society formally supports independence.

Garry Otton is the founder of the Scottish Secular Society and author of ‘Religious Fascism: The Repeal of Section 28’. In a new article in the August edition of ScotsGay magazine he urges Scotland to vote ‘Yes’ to end semi-theocracy and make Scotland a democracy with a secular constitution.

Spencer Fildes, Chair of the SSS has said: “This country can, with a single tick of a box, rid ourselves of an archaic, unelected component of government that is incompatible with the political discourse of a modern Scotland.”

Ends