Newsletter

April/May 2019

Measles, the vaccine, the scare …

The news that cases of Measles are increasing nationally and globally has led to me thinking about what I know, or think I know, about the issue.

Some years ago, I attended a splendid meeting organised by Coventry Skeptics in the Pub.  The speaker was Brian Deer, The Sunday Times journalist who had investigated the work of Dr Andrew Wakefield. 

Dr Wakefield proposed a link between the MMR vaccine and cases of autism and bowel cancer.  Many people were very concerned by this link and many parents refused to have their young children immunised.  

The alleged link, led to a dramatic drop in MMR vaccination rates and a rise in cases of measles.  Had Dr Wakefield made an honest, reasonable mis-assessment, that would have been one thing, however The General Medical Council investigated Dr Wakefield’s work and conclude that the doctor  was “dishonest, irresponsible and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain” of children.  The GMC ruled that he carried out clinically unnecessary and invasive tests on children without ethical approval or appropriate qualifications.  It has to be noted that Andrew Wakefield, did rather well financially from the situation.

Today we have social media sites criticised for posting footage that may encourage/ reinforce self-harm or recruitment to terrorist groups.  Do we need to ban coverage of scientific/medical conclusions, that could lead to harmful social reactions, until those conclusions are verified by the medical establishment?

Bob Jelley

This religious takeover has got to be stopped

Humanist Viewpoint published in Warwickshire newspapers on Friday 12 April 2019

The turmoil in the House of Commons over Brexit has many obvious unfortunate consequences such as the neglect of normal government business and a lack of concern about the effects of austerity on our increasingly unequal society.

As a Humanist I am also concerned at the way that organised religion in our legislature is slowly but surely increasing its power and influence away from the spotlight.  Humanism UK our national organisation  has been tracking this development since 2010 and is worried about the consequences including the increasing support for, and expansion of faith schools.  We have frequently talked in  this column about the virtues of a secular state where there is complete freedom of religion and other beliefs but none are favoured or supported by the state. Subsidising churches to to propagate their creeds  as part of main stream education cannot be accepted.  Religious education is the job of parents and the churches not schools.

There are other worrying developments.  The government’s Minister for Faith is taking seriously proposals to give 85 religious leaders reserved seats in the House of Lords in addition to the 26 Anglican bishops who are already there. The only other country in the world to have religious leaders as of right in parliament is the Islamic Republic of Iran, a totalitarian theocracy.  Does no-one reflect on the irony of this situation when the population of the UK must be one of the least religious in the world?

We also  have a House of Commons with strong  religious leanings that effectively drowns out the humanist voice on important ethical  issues like Assisted Dying (overwhelmingly supported by the public at Large) and putting up barriers to legal humanist marriage ceremonies in England and Wales although they are legal in Scotland and Northern Ireland

This increasing religious take over has got to be stopped and perhaps after Brexit we can give it more attention.

Dr Brain Nicol

Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists

Thanking Derek

Derek Franklyn has stepped down from his role as Facebook Pages manager for Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists.  We owe Derek our thanks for the work and time that he has given, thanks Derek.  His efforts are especially appreciated, since Derek has faced health challenges for the past months.

In recent times, whilst our group struggled to continue, Derek sustained our Facebook presence.  This has kept members up to date with news, meeting arrangements etc and it has been a point of contact for new members, indeed our new Secretary Panos, first contacted Derek and was lured in!

A group of members will follow on from Derek.  Panos, Phil and Alison will embed material from Humanists UK and The National Secular Society.  We want to continue to use the splendid articles that Brian and George contribute to local newspapers; the Chairman (me) has promised to offer responses to news stories.

Our Facebook pages will be enriched if other members contribute.  Articles and responses to news stories etc will be welcomed.

Bob Jelley

Diary dates

Next meeting: Science and Religion

Waverley Centre’s Back Room is booked for our meeting on 9th May, 7 for a 7.30 p.m. start. Glyn Evans has kindly agreed to lead us in a discussion on Science and Religion. All welcome.

June Social

Our June social will take place on Thursday 27th June 7 for 7.30 at Kenilworth Cricket Club, Warwick Road, Kenilworth CV8 1FE. The cost will be £13.50 per person including a cold finger buffet. Contact us to book or for further details.

Green drinks

Local humanist friends are invited, along with other green thinking and socially aware people e.g Friends of the earth, Greens, etc. to meet for drinks every 1st Wednesday evening of the month, 7.30 onwards at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting is on Wednesday 5th June 2019. We 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