Newsletter

March 2019

Are Faith Schools dividing society?

After a long break we have arranged an event in March and hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend. We look forward to seeing you.

In Coventry we have: Church of England Schools, Catholic Schools, and more recently, Sikh and Muslim schools. Who actually wants religious schools?
The latest British Social Attitudes Survey (Sept 2018) found that in England and Wales, 52% of people said they were non-religious. Just 14% said they were Anglican, yet the Church of England runs 25% of state schools!

In June 2014, President Obama visited Eniskillen in Northern Ireland and seemed to voice bewilderment and opposition at faith schools there:

“If towns remain divided – if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden – that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”

We need to have a renewed conversation about the place of: the priests, the vicars and the church in our schools.

To encourage that discussion, Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists invites you to a meeting, ‪at 7 p.m. on Thursday March 7th 2019‬, at Sidney Stringer School.

Dr Ruth Wareham, Humanists UK Campaigns Manager, will speak to this question: ‘Are Faith Schools dividing society?’

Larkin’ about

Members may be interested in a new book ‘Larkin About in Coventry’ by local author Chris Arnot.

Larkin was born in Coventry (in a house later demolished to make space for the ring road) and was the son of the Coventry city treasurer, Sydney Larkin. From the age of eight he attended King Henry VIII School until he went to Oxford University.

Larkin About in Coventry

Larkin was often sceptical of religion, for instance in his 1977 poem Aubade where he describes it as ‘That vast moth-eaten musical brocade created to pretend we never die’.

Plans for a formal launch of the book (published by Takahe Publishing) including a talk by the author are being advertised on the Coventry 2021 City of Culture website (www.coventry2021.co.uk) for 28 November 2019 at King Henry VIII School, Warwick Road, Coventry.

New Year Meal

Our New Year meal and celebration in honour of Dr Brian Nicol’s work as Convenor of C&WH at The Almanack was well attended. Bob Jelley led the tribute to Brian. Many thanks to our Social Secretary Andrew Ireland for arranging this event.

The assisted dying debate: Why can’t we have a change?

The following Humanist viewpoint was published in the Courier series of newspapers in Warwickshire. The editor has invited readers to write in with their views so please consider writing something, however short. The email address to send a letter to is philip.hibble@jpress.co.uk  Please make it clear that it is a letter for publication and give your full postal address:

Assisted dying is in the news again. A retired accountant suffering from motor neurone disease, who ended his own life, has just written an open letter to MPs imploring them to change the assisted dying law after it “robbed him of control over his death”.

Geoff Whaley, 80, died peacefully in his wife’s arms shortly at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. After been diagnosed with MND two years ago, he decided he wanted to end his own life rather than endure the weeks or months of immense suffering that he knew were otherwise in store. The experience made him determined to use his position to call for a change in the law and to highlight the agony it had forced his family to endure.

Mr Whaley’s letter to MPs began: “By the time you read this, I will be dead.” He went on: “The law in this country robbed me of control over my death. It forced me to seek solace in Switzerland. Then it sought to punish those attempting to help me get there”

Geoffrey Whaley’s story Is a heart-breaking reminder of the cruelty the UK’s assisted dying law inflicts on the terminally ill. Banning assisted dying does not make it go away. Every eight days someone from the UK travels to Switzerland to have the choice denied them at home, but this is only an option for those who can afford it, are well enough to travel, and have loved ones willing to risk prison time. Most dying people are not so fortunate. Around 300 terminally ill people end their lives every year in England, often frightened, alone or in pain. Many more will endure immense suffering even with the best end-of-life care.

Parliament had the chance to change this in 2015, when an assisted dying bill was put before the Commons. It would have allowed terminally ill, mentally competent adults in their final months of life. the option to request an assisted death, providing two independent doctors and a High Court judge could confirm that they met the strict criteria and were making a clear, settled decision of their own choosing. But despite overwhelming public support (the British Social Attitudes Survey, taken in 2017, shows that 78 per cent of the UK supports a change in the law), MPs including our own Jeremy Wright, rejected the proposal.

Millions of people in other countries (Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada, Finland and seven US states) have access to assisted dying laws that provide choice and compassion to dying people and protection to others Why can’t we?

George Broadhead
Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists

‘Freedom of movement and social mobility undermine family life which is the most successful form of social security the world has ever known.’

Canon Dr Giles Fraser writes a Thursday column for UnHerd. He is Priest-in-charge at the south London church of St Mary’s, Newington, a panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze and also regularly delivers the Today programme’s Thought for the Day.

His recent article on how family life is affected by geography quoted above ruffled a few feathers. The full text can be found here.

Diary dates

Thursday 7 March 2019‬, Conference Room, Sidney Stringer School, Coventry at 7pm: Dr Ruth Wareham, Humanists UK Campaigns Manager: ‘Are Faith Schools dividing society?’

Thursday 28 March 2019: Meeting at the Waverley Day Centre, Kenilworth at 7:30 on Disestablishment of the Church of England. Speaker Peter Lawley.

Green drinks

Local humanist friends are invited, along with other green thinking and socially aware people e.g Friends of the earth, Greens, etc. Every 1st Wed evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 6th March 2019. Look forward to seeing you.

In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew tracey@wildflower.plus.com or phone 01926 857782