Newsletter

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

May 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: cwhumanists.org Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin

Tel: 01926 258413

Email: cwhumanists@gmail.com


A self-governing voluntary association affiliated to the International Humanist and Ethical Union [IHEU] and to the National Secular Society [NSS].

freedom / happiness / virtue
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Eggs-actly 

 I have now received a response to the letter printed in April’s Newsletter (repeated here) I sent to my MP – The Rt. Hon. Ken Clarke MP:

I am writing to you as a Humanist about the ludicrous story widely covered by the media, concerning the PM – your party leader and Easter eggs. Apart from the fact that Easter Eggs have a pagan origin, the Church of England put out an overblown statement, via the Archbishop of York, complaining that religion was being “airbrushed” out of the National Trust-Cadbury Easter egg hunt. Then the Prime Minister, a C of E’s vicar’s daughter, decided to publically wade in and condemn both Cadbury and the National Trust, completely ignoring the fact that both their websites used the word Easter countless times.

The Prime Minister was on a trip to Saudi Arabia when she made her statement on the story. Cadbury and the National Trust don’t persecute Christians. Saudi Arabia most certainly does. It also engages in other barbaric practises: public human decapitation, stoning and floggings, to name just a few choice ‘entertainments.’

Apart from the necessity of getting her facts straight doesn’t the PM have much more important fish to fry?

Ken Clarke’s reply:

Thank you very much for your recent email about the fuss over Easter eggs. I have to say that I rather agree with you that this did not seem to me to be one of the most pressing issues facing the country at the time that the newspapers were excited about it. I thought that Cadbury and the National trust produced reasonable answers to the complaints that were made. I suspect that the Prime Minister was prompted to making her remarks by newspaper questions after the statement by the Archbishop of York.

I also share your reservations about the regime in Saudi Arabia. British Governments have, for many years, defended our engagement with that country on the basis that we exercise more influence upon them as an ally than we could by disengaging. I think they are left in no doubt about British disapproval of many of their policies on Human Rights and the status of women. We are also told that we derive considerable protection for our own citizens from the co-operation we have with them, which has saved lives threatened by potential terrorist attacks.

Thank you very much for letting me have your views.

The Rt. Hon. Ken Clarke, CH,QC, MP.


Appalled at appointment of misogynist regime

The latest Humanist opinion published in the Warwickshire Courier Series of newspapers covering the Kenilworth, Leamington and Warwick areas.

Humanists, including members of the local Humanist group based in Kenilworth, are appalled at the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the UN agency exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia also bans women from driving cars. It beggars belief that the UN has chosen the world’s most misogynist regime to be part of a commission promoting women’s rights.

Humanists agree with the executive director of UN Watch who said: “This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights. The UN has sent a message that women’s rights can be sold out for petro-dollars and politics and it has let down millions of female victims worldwide who look to the world body for protection.”

It should be noted that, in addition to the oppression of women, punishments meted out in this medieval Islamic theocracy are totally barbaric. They include public beheadings, stonings and floggings and, unsurprisingly, have been roundly condemned by organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

There is no freedom of belief so Christians are persecuted and apostates (those who abandon Islam) are executed. In 2014, the Saudi interior ministry issued a royal decree branding all atheists as terrorists.

Despite all these horrors, Saudi Arabia enjoys friendly relations with the British and other western governments as well as royalty like Prince Charles.

George Broadhead

Taxpayer-Funded Catholic Schools Should Only Be For Catholics, Says Archbishop Of Liverpool

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon has said that Catholic schools “are different” and “for the Catholic community”, despite their being funded by all taxpayers.

In an interview with Peter Wilby in the Guardian, McMahon set out the differences between Church of England schools and Catholic schools.

He said the Church of England “runs schools for the wider community” but that “ours are different. They are for the Catholic community”.

The Catholic Church welcomed the proposed abolition of the 50% cap which limited faith school’s power to reserve places for children by their religious background, and when challenged on why all taxpayers should have to fund discriminatory schools McMahon said that “parents’ rights to educate their children as they wish is fundamental.”

He deflected criticism that faith schools fuelled segregation by pointing out that “It’s not just the faith school sector which is faced with mono-cultural schools. Many community schools comprise predominantly one ethnicity and faith.”

Stephen Evans, the campaigns director of the National Secular Society, said: “It’s no surprise that Archbishop McMahon wants the taxpayer to fund Catholic schools, but it is alarming to see the Government kowtowing to clerics by agreeing to their demands for more discriminatory faith schools.

“Theresa May’s proposals to facilitate the opening of a new wave of religious schools by allowing such schools to select all of their pupil intake on the basis of faith will be a disaster for social cohesion.

In a letter written to the Parishes and Chaplaincies of the Church of England ahead of the 2017 general election, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have argued for faith to continue to play a central role in politics, and denounced the growing secularism of the United Kingdom. In the letter, the Archbishops write: This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and reimagine our shared values as a country and a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time. Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role….

Contemporary politics needs to re-evaluate the importance of religious belief. The assumptions of secularism are not a reliable guide to the way the world works, nor will they enable us to understand the place of faith in other people’s lives…

Religious belief is the well-spring for the virtues and practices that make for good individuals, strong relationships and flourishing communities. In Britain, these embedded virtues are not unique to Christians, but they have their roots in the Christian history of our four nations…(Archbishop must mean like the 2 Christian communities in Belfast NI where an enormous wall has had to be erected to stop them loving each other too much)

Political responses to the problems of religiously-motivated violence and extremism, at home and overseas, must… recognise that solutions will not be found simply in further secularisation of the public realm. (Really? the verbal diarrhoea he utters shows how much he is out of touch with reality.) Mainstream religious communities have a central role to play; whilst extremist narratives require compelling counter-narratives that have a strong theological and ideological foundation.

Responding to the letter, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘This is a letter to a country that no longer exists. The public today overwhelmingly recognise that sound virtues and ethics are not the preserve of the religious nor “spring” from Christianity. That is just a self-aggrandising lie, and an insult to the majority of the British people who have non-religious beliefs and values and contribute enormously to British life as they have for generations.

‘The Archbishops are right that our country stands at a crossroads but they are wrong to say that greater religious privilege is the path that will lead to a happier future. The cause of social cohesion and a peaceful society will not be advanced by the special pleading of already powerful elites whose beliefs have no popular support, but by the creation of a shared national life that treats everyone equally, regardless of religion or belief.

‘Polls show that British people also believe that religion is already too privileged. The Church of England in particular often uses that privilege today to harm others. The most glaring example is the way in which many of its fully state-funded schools continue to turn away those of other religions and beliefs in their admissions – a practice that may shortly be extended – and shut out poorer children. If the Archbishops want to do their bit for a better Britain they should put their own house in order before lecturing others.’

Campaigns against blasphemy laws gather steam following Ahok conviction and Fry investigation

Indonesia, Denmark and New Zealand are facing calls to repeal their blasphemy laws, following the conviction of Jakarta’s former governor for blasphemy and an investigation into Stephen Fry.

Former Governor Ahok was sentenced to two years in jail, a much more severe sentence than was expected, after he quoted from the Koran and was accused of insulting it. There have been angry protests against him throughout the trial. Police estimated that 15,000 attended a protest against him in March, but the true figure could be much higher.

Following his conviction and sentencing there have been complaints from Islamists that it was too lenient.

Amnesty International said the verdict “demonstrates the inherent injustice of Indonesia’s blasphemy law, which should be repealed immediately.

“Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in jail. The verdict will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant nation.”

Ahok has said that he will appeal against the sentence.

NSS communications officer Benjamin Jones commented: “This grim ruling should shame those democratic countries which still retain blasphemy laws.

“This week Ireland has dropped a criminal investigation into Stephen Fry for blasphemy, but Ahok had no such luck. If his appeal is unsuccessful he will spend the next two years in prison. How can Ireland speak out against this appalling human rights violation while it has similar legislation?”

Following the news of the investigation, media in New Zealand reported that public figures there were “surprised” to learn that the country still had a blasphemy law, although it has not been used in almost a century.

Both Prime Minister Bill English and Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson have called for the law to be repealed. The Prime Minister said he believed the law had only ever been used once, and said blasphemy laws were “not a good idea.”

He said that New Zealanders would be “taken aback” if their authorities made the same choice as Gardaí in Ireland did to actually investigate a case.

And campaigners in Denmark are circulating a petition to secularist and human rights organisations around the world to drum up international support for their campaign against Danish blasphemy laws.

Danish law punishes “Any person who, in public, ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of any lawfully existing religious community” with a fine or even a prison sentence of four months.

The petition says that “Denmark’s blasphemy ban is manifestly inconsistent with Denmark’s tradition for frank and open debate, and puts Denmark in the same category as many illiberal states where blasphemy laws are being used to silence dissent and persecute minorities.”

It draws attention to the case of a man prosecuted earlier this year for burning a Koran, the first prosecution under the law since 1971.

The National Secular Society, which played a crucial role in abolishing blasphemy legislation in England and Wales, is a signatory to the petition.

Bible Contradiction:

GOD IS SEEN AND HEARD.

And I shall take away my hand, and thou shalt se by back parts. (Ex.33 : 23)

And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend. (Ex. 33 : 11)

And the Lord called unto Adam, and said to him, Where art thou? And Adam said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid. (Gen. 3 : 9,10)

For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (Gen. 32 : 30)

Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and 70 of the elders of Israel. And they saw the God of Israel…..They saw God and did eat and drink. (Ex. 24 : 9,10,11)

GOD IS INVISIBLE AND CANNOT BE SEEN OR HEARD.

No man hath seen God at any time. (John 1 : 18)

Ye hath neither heard his voice, at any time, nor seen his shape. (John 5 :37)

And God said, Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live. (Ex. 33 : 20)

Whom no man hath seen nor can see. (1 Tim. 6 : 16)

Diary dates

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 Green Drinks every 1st Wed eve of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meering Wednesday 7th June. 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