Newsletters from 2017

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

December 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin

Tel: 01926 258413


A self-governing voluntary association affiliated to the International Humanist and Ethical Union [IHEU] 

and to the National Secular Society [NSS].

freedom / happiness / virtue



Humanists raise a glass to Joan Bakewell

Humanists don’t always have things to celebrate but this year’s Humanist of the Year award is an exception. Members of our local group were delighted to raise a glass to a role model when it was announced that the 2017 award was to be made to the broadcaster and peer Joan Bakewell .

Previous winners of the award include Pakistani human rights activist Gululai Ismail, biologists Richard Dawkins and Alice Roberts, novelists Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman, and most recently Lord (Alf) Dubs, Joan’s fellow stalwart of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.

Joan first became well known as one of the presenters of an early BBC 2 programme, Late Night Line-Up when Frank Muir dubbed her “the thinking man’s crumpet” and the moniker stuck. Joan has promoted Humanist values, not just in Parliament, where she has made over 140 speeches on progressive causes since 2011, but in homes across the UK through her long career in public broadcasting. Her history of programme-making for the BBC includes a number of eye-opening documentaries that challenged, informed, and stimulated the British public, on subjects like sex, race relations, religion and the death penalty. Joan’s support for Humanism in practical ways goes back many years and she has recently taken on the important role as the first woman Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, working in partnership with Conservative Party MP Crispin Blunt to coordinate work across both Houses of Parliament.

On receiving her award, Joan said she aimed as much as possible to promote “a multitude” of voices in society, commenting “I want to hear from everyone. I want to hear from people I disagree with. I want everyone to be equal, everyone to be challenged.” After a rousing speech on the value of freethinking and Humanism, she concluded, “I hope I represent you well. Humanists are people of principle and courage leading good lives, and I hope to be your voice in Parliament.” A role model indeed.

George Broadhead. Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists

Will you help a worldwide humanist campaign?

On December 4th the Dutch Humanist Association will launch a worldwide campaign “What’s their crime?” According to the 2017 edition of Freedom of Thought Report of IHEU (live on 5 December), nonbelievers are criminalized in 85 countries.

The campaign puts the spotlight on refugee nonbelievers who had to fear for their lives in their homeland. They give a personal face to countries in the report which are the most hostile to nonbelievers.

In Afghanistan a joke about atheism can end in a lynching. But Morid (23) did not make a joke. He had to flee immediately when he did not believe. ‘In Afghanistan you never know who you can trust.’

In Bangladesh a death list with 85 religious-critical bloggers circulates. Saikat’s (27) name is on that list. ‘When my name and pseudonym were revealed in a press conference, I fled the same day.’ In Syria everyone must belong to a religious group. If you fall outside, you are outlawed. And that was the case for Ali (32). “Nobody asked for me, no one came to help and everyone would attack me if they could.”

Archbishop’s Shameful Attack on Religious Schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been strongly rebuked by Humanists UK for saying that, in ‘schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished.’

Speaking in a House of Lords debate on education this week, Welby said: ‘[The Church has made] a clear move towards schools that not only deliver academic excellence, but which have the boldness and vision to do so outside the boundaries of a selective system. The Church of England’s educational offer to our nation is church schools that, in its own words, are deeply Christian, nurturing the whole child spiritually, emotionally, mentally, as well as academically, yet welcoming the whole community. A major obstacle to our education system is a lack of clear internal and commonly held values. We live in a country where an overarching story which is the framework for explaining life has more or less disappeared.

‘We have a world of unguided and competing narratives where the only common factor is the inviolability of personal choice. Which means for schools that are not of a religious character, confidence in any personal sense of ultimate values has diminished; Utilitarianism rules. And skills move from being talents held for the common good which we are entrusted with as benefits for all, to being personal possessions for our own advantage. The challenge is the weak, secular and functional narrative that successive governments have sought to insert in the place of our historic Christian-based understanding, whether explicitly or implicitly.’

Humanists UK Chief executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘This is a shameful use of the privileged position that Anglican bishops enjoy in Parliament and an alarmingly wrong-headed and divisive attack on our shared values.

’It is incredibly worrying that the head of an organisation running a quarter of all state-funded schools in England can stand up and attack the values of hard-working teachers and governors, while also implying that the non-religious majority in this country exist in a moral vacuum.

‘In doing so, the Archbishop has effectively outed himself as someone who is deeply prejudiced against both non-Christians and non-Church schools. This is not to mention his appalling attempt to mis-sell the inclusivity of Church schools, most of which continue to religiously discriminate against children in their admission arrangements.
What trust can we place in Church schools to promote the British values of ‘mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs’ if the head of the Church falls so short of doing this himself? He should apologise.’

Teacher Wins Tribunal Case After Being Unfairly Dismissed By Faith School In Religious Discrimination Dispute

A teacher has won her tribunal against the religious nursery she was employed at, after it was deemed that her dismissal amounted both to harassment and to direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and sex. Humanists UK, which campaigns against religious schools discriminating against teachers, has welcomed the tribunal’s decision.

The 24-year-old teacher, Zelda de Groen, was accused of ‘living in sin’ by her bosses at the Charedi Jewish nursery in North London, after parents raised concerns she was cohabiting with her boyfriend outside of wedlock.

Initially de Groen was advised by a senior leader of the nursery to lie to prying parents about her living situation, and was also told that having children outside of marriage would ‘not be tolerated’ by the school. A few days later, after attempting to seek an apology for her mistreatment, she was abruptly disciplined and, shortly after, dismissed from her position for bringing the nursery into disrepute.

Stating that de Groen had been subjected to ‘undoubtedly humiliating, degrading and offensive’ treatment, the tribunal panel ruled that,

‘(de Groen) was being probed about her private life in ways which suggested she was behaving badly and foolishly. It is repugnant to generally accepted standards of morality to require someone to lie, especially about matters so concerned with their protected human rights.’

The tribunal also concluded that a male teacher would not have been subjected to the same ordeal as de Groen.

Humanists UK has long campaigned against the discrimination suffered by teachers at the hands of faith schools, many of which wrongly see such discrimination as lawful. In 2013 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service co-published a booklet stating that anyone considered to be in a ‘non-chaste’ relationship may be subject to investigation and dismissal. And in 2007 the Archdiocese of Liverpool was reported to have sought legal advice to determine whether or not it could sack a gay headteacher who had entered into a civil partnership.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman commented, ‘We welcome Ms de Groen’s successful tribunal result, and are sorry that she was subjected to this treatment in the first place. Sadly, we are concerned that other similar cases are going unreported, and that teachers are being forced out of work on similar grounds right around the country.

‘Schools should not need to be told that discriminating against well-meaning teachers on the basis of their religion or what they do in their private life is unacceptable, but unfortunately it seems that some do. The Government must move to clarify the law immediately so that no more teachers are treated in this way.’

More religious schools undermining British values, warns Ofsted
Ofsted has warned that an increasing number of conservative religious schools are spreading beliefs that clash with British values and equalities law.

In its Annual Report, launched today, the schools regulator says the proportion of independent schools judged less than good increased this year from 31% to 40%. It said a number of these are “highly conservative” Christian, Jewish, or Muslim faith schools, and in some cases, the premises are unsafe or squalid.

The Report says inspectors have found “sexist and sectarian literature” in some schools and warns that the most basic checks are not always in place.

It says to function effectively, “British society depends on some fundamental shared values as well as a culture of mutual tolerance and respect. But we have found an increasing number of conservative religious schools that are spreading beliefs that clash with British values and equalities law.”

The report also calls for additional powers to tackle the growing menace of unregistered and illegal schools.

The report states that “Current legislation is inadequate to tackle unregistered schools. It limits our powers and allows institutions to exploit loopholes about definitions of education. The existence of unregistered schools is possible because there is no requirement to register a child as home educated, so there is no record of children who have never been in school.”
Ofsted has previously warned that “flimsy” laws mean that children are sometimes left in “shocking” conditions.

Almost ten years ago the Jewish Chronicle first raised the issue of children disappearing from the education system at age 13 and being “systematically undereducated in secular studies” in unregulated schools. Since then the National Secular Society has repeatedly called on the DfE to confront the problem, warning that allowing children from minority faith backgrounds to languish in illegal religious schools amounted to “the bigotry of low expectations”.

In January 2016, the Department for Education set up a special task force dedicated to investigating illegal schools.

The taskforce has so far identified 291 suspected unregistered schools ¬– a high proportion of which are faith schools – and issued warning notices to 38 schools which it suspects are operating illegally. Thirty-four settings have closed or ceased operating illegally. Despite this no founders of unregulated religious schools have been prosecuted.
Stephen Evans, chief executive of the NSS, said: “All schools should prepare pupils for life in modern Britain by giving them a good understanding of the basic values that underpin a free, equal and tolerant society. There’s no reason why children from conservative religious backgrounds shouldn’t receive the same standard of education as all other children. Too many religious schools are failing their pupils by shielding them from the social realities of modern life and preparing them only for life in insular religious communities.
“Meanwhile, unregistered schools are an endemic problem that requires a robust response. Criminal offences are being committed and children and young people’s rights are being fundamentally undermined. This abuse of children ¬¬– and on such an industrial scale – shames Britain. All relevant agencies must work together to tackle this problem once and for all.”

Another Bible contradiction or inconsistency
1 Peter ii. 13 & Romans xiii. 1, 2. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.
Acts v. 29 ; Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

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 evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 3rd January 2018. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782


November 2017

Remembrance Sunday

Bob Jelley reflects on his experience at the recent wreath-laying ceremony on Remembrance Sunday.

On Sunday 12th November 2017, Remembrance Sunday, there are crowds of people gathered in Riversley Park, Nuneaton, in sombre anticipation of the ceremony to come. The sky is an unblemished blue but the sun can give out little warmth, competing – as it is – with a strong, icy wind. Four army cadets practise the steps they will take near to the memorial, perhaps last night they were watching the glittering contestants on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ but this morning, in camouflaged fatigues, a different choreography is required.

Single figures and small groups are allowed through the barriers, with our wreaths we represent a variety of groups: I carry the Warwickshire Humanists Wreath; a group of 5 young ladies with white sachets are Carnival Queens; there are Rotarians and those representing The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes; scout groups; St John Ambulance; schools, Lions and many others.

So many different groups of people, each a social dimension of Nuneaton.
It is a big crowd, braving the cold wind and showing respect for those who were injured or fell in past conflicts.

A wreath is laid in memory of ‘Old Bill’, the statue erected to remember those from Nuneaton who died fighting in The Boer War. A previous statue was stolen, presumably for the value of the bronze it contained, now there is a replacement statue, funded by public donations.

There is a tussle between notes played by a Salvation Army Band and the first marching drums, soon a lone Piper also contributes. There are many veterans, wearing brightly polished badges, testifying to several wars and scores of campaigns. There are overcoat wearing, elected members, the whole of Nuneaton’s body politic out in force. There is a large contingent of soldiers, with red and white plumes of the fusiliers particularly in evidence.

There are Gurkhas, from the local barracks, their heritages are in Buddhism and Hinduism; amongst the waiting representatives there are distinguished elders – Sikhs and Muslims. Different faiths and many with no religious faith gathered, remembering.

The first sharp note of discord comes with the arrival of the clergyman
“We are here to worship Almighty God”
Well no, we are here to remember the fallen.

There are words of worship and there is a first Hymn ‘Oh God , our Help in Ages Past’ on this cold morning the words ‘shelter from the stormy blast’ seem relevant, the rest does not echo the thoughts and beliefs of many of us.
We find common cause when we come to The Exhortation –
‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.’

Now we all agree ‘We will remember them.’

Scaffold-wrapped Big Ben sounds and there are startling bangs from the Maroon, either side of ‘The Last Post’ which is squeezed, admirably, from a frozen instrument. We hear The Kohima Epitaph:

‘When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.’

It is read by a voice that is more than eight decades old and that voice seems to suggest a life time of personal memories and experiences, we can all hear that.

But now the clergyman is back and we listen to words from his faith, inapplicable to many of us, inaccessible to many of us (especially the groups of youngsters) there is more, first from the prophet Micah ‘spears and ploughshares’, secondly from Revelation. There is an Intercession and then The Lord’s Prayer. In this section of the ceremony, the C of E applies its position as established church, to dominate the agenda. A civic ceremony becomes a church service. Disdain and disrespect is shown to those who are atheists, humanists and from other faiths.

The debate has been around for some time, Lloyd George insisted that the London cenotaph, a focus for Remembrance, be a civic, not a religious monument. More recently, the historian Dan Snow put it like this

‘Remembrance is one of our most important duties as citizens. The act itself must reflect changing times. The event at the Cenotaph every November must feel as relevant and profound today as it was when it was first conceived. It must reflect the society it serves. If people switch off, they will forget. And when we forget, we repeat’.

In London, in Nuneaton and elsewhere, Remembrance is hugely important, it’s a civic event for all of us and not merely a religious service for Christians.

The Centenary of WW1: how should Humanists respond?

You’ll recall that Bob has asked us to consider our response to next year’s centenary commemoration ceremonies. Humanist member Audrey Raishbrook replied to Bob and raised an interesting issue for us all. Here’s her comment:

‘Bob, I entirely agree with the sentiment you expressed, BUT where to start changing a long and devoted ceremony that is dear to so many hearts and is very moving. As you point out, the movement towards remembering has escalated especially with the younger generation also the media. I’m happy to meet any like-minded folks to discuss the way forward for the next, very significant year.’

Alison Rowland comments: So how do we respond to this centenary? As Humanists, I think this raises some fundamental questions for us that go to the heart of our beliefs. We champion challenging non-rational thoughts and ideas whilst demonstrating respect and tolerance for the beliefs and opinions of others, even when those ideas come from what we might regard as muddled thinking. So it follows that it must be one of the most difficult ethical dilemmas to respond to when the state suddenly demands that the usual laws and taboos against causing other individuals physical harm be laid aside, and requires you to seek to harm, capture or kill others because they were born in a different place to you, or hold different religious, political or ethical views to your own. It’s part of our ‘prime directive’ as Humanists, pace Gene Roddenberry, to do no harm. So perhaps Humanism tells us that to be pacifists too, and consequently maybe we should be laying a wreath of wide poppies instead?

The history of the Remembrance Day ceremonies is torn with such ethical dilemmas. There were open protests by servicemen at early ceremonies, and pacifism, the treatment of veterans, who was recognised and ‘honoured’ at the ceremonies, and even how animals used in the wars be remembered – all have been controversial areas. We need to consider our response to the centenary carefully in the light of these issues.

Another school visit

Bob Jelley and Jane Sault have visited another secondary school in Coventry to talk to pupils about Humanism. Jane reported that the year 10 students were studying the topic of death as part of their religious Studies GCSE. ‘We both talked to the students, myself to give an introduction of Humanism and Bob to chat about his work as a celebrant. He gave the 24 pupils time to question him about the funerals he has conducted. They were an extremely well behaved class and asked several pertinent questions.’

Viewpoint: Religious privilege is very visible

The subject of religious privileges has cropped up in the news in various guises recently. Since attitude surveys have found that only a minority of people in the UK think of themselves as religious, people are beginning to be a lot more conscious of the incongruity of continuing with state support for religion. One such benefit is the number of broadcasting hours allotted by the BBC to religions to promote their creeds. A very visible part of this is the Thought for the Day slot in the Today programme on Radio 4.

The senior presenter on the programme, John Humphreys, commented last week that he felt that the slot was both “inappropriate” and “deeply, deeply boring”.

Many people including Humanists have no objection, indeed welcome in principle, having a programme with a specifically ethical standpoint, but it should not be part of a daily news programme and should have contributors arguing both religious and non-religious points of view. Religions do not have a monopoly of moral thinking and are somewhat suspect when it comes to acting morally as recent revelations have shown.
But faith schools are the biggest windfall for religions. Churches are the place to teach religion and it is outrageous that particular religions are given state funding to run schools in order to be able to persuade vulnerable children to support their own particular beliefs and exclude local children whose parents are not believers. Sometimes the schools are benign in practice, but sometimes not.

As an instance, the National Secular Society (NSS) has been in the news urging the Government to investigate a faith school that insists that the universe is 5,778 years old and forbids any discussion of “personal relationships”.The NSS expressed concern after its research exclusively revealed the educational policies and codes of conduct at Beis Yaakov Primary School in Barnet. Yaakov is a state-funded school for girls “from strictly orthodox Jewish families”. Should the State be funding this?

Dr Brian Nicol, Coventry And Warwickshire Humanists

Faith Schools and Creationism

The National Secular Society has urged the Government to investigate a faith school that insists the universe is 5,778 years old and forbids any discussion of “personal relationships”.

The NSS expressed concern after its research exclusively revealed the educational policies and codes of conduct at Beis Yaakov Primary School in Barnet. Beis Yaakov is a state-funded school for girls “from strictly orthodox Jewish families”.
According to the voluntary aided school’s visitor’s guide visitors’, creationism is taught as fact, evolution is not discussed and pupils are taught that “the age of the universe is accepted as 5778 years old”.

In a letter to the schools minister, Sir Theodore Agnew, the NSS says that “given evolution is now a part of primary science curriculum, the school’s refusal to teach or discuss evolution in any form clearly indicates the school is in breach of its legal obligation and should face sanction.”

The programme of study for the new National Curriculum in Science includes the statutory teaching of the theory of evolution to primary school pupils both in year 4 (age 8-9) and year 6 (age 10-11). And in 2014 Edward Timpson, then parliamentary under-secretary for education, told parliament state-funded schools should avoid teaching creationism as scientific theory. “Outside of science lessons, it is permissible for schools to cover creationism as part of religious education lessons, providing that this does not undermine the teaching of established scientific theory,” he said.
For more on this visit Coventry and Warwickshire FB page.

The Pink Humanist

The Pink Humanist is a online magazine published by the UK LGBT charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT).

It features topics of special interest to those who identify as atheists, freethinkers, humanists, secularists and sceptics in LGTB+ communities and those who support them. The magazine’s editor is Barry Duke who also edits the Freethinker (the Voice of Atheism in the UK since 1881).

In the latest issue human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell writes of the gains made across the world by LGBT activists, but in a separate piece Chris Coates examines moves in the United States by the Trump administration to empower right wing, homophobic organisations which are determined to turn back the clock on equality issues.

Pink Humanist editor Barry Duke, who left Brighton in 2010 to settle on the Costa Blanca and helped organise Benidorm’s first Pride and several subsequent events, reports on the latest celebrations in September. But he reminds readers that “as we blow whistles, wave rainbow flags and dance in the streets, let’s pause to consider the plight of those living in places where being gay remains a criminal offence – 74 countries in total. It’s an appalling fact that 12 of them have the death penalty for homosexuality.“Until they learn that LGBT rights are an integral part of human rights, these countries should be ostracised and denied the billions in foreign aid that they receive from the ‘decadent’ West.”

The issue also has feature articles on bisexuality, and the adoption of the lambda sign by gay liberationists in the US in the 1970s.

There is also a review of Humanist Andew Copson’s latest book, Secularism: Politics, Religion and Freedom, and an introduction to St Sukie de la Croix’s humorous fantasy novel, The Blue Spong and the Flight from Mediocrity.

Other items in the latest edition include a report of the export of homophobia to Romania by US hate groups, and a profile of one of Canada’s most hated street preachers, Matthew Carapella.

The current, as well as past issues of the magazine can be downloaded in pdf format from The Pink Humanist website (

Overwhelming Majority [71%] Of 18-24 Year Olds Are Non-Religious

The latest findings of the British Social Attitudes Survey, published today, reveal 71% of 18-24 year olds say they belong to no religion, while just 3% say they are Church of England and 5% say they are Catholic. These latter two figures only increase slightly to 5% and 9%, respectively, amongst 25-34 year olds.

Overall, 53% of the population say they belong to no religion, 15% to the Church of England, 9% to the Catholic Church, 17% to other Christian denominations, and 6% to other religions.

Humanists UK has said the figures must raise fresh questions about the place of the churches in the running of state schools and their other state-funded privileges.
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson asked, ‘How can it be right that 97% of young people today are not Anglicans, but some 20% of the state schools to which their children will go belong to the Church of England? More generally, how can the Church of England remain in any meaningful sense the national legally established church, when it caters for such a small portion of the population.

As of last year, for the first time in history, the Church of England has more children in its state schools worshipping every weekday, than worshippers in its churches every week.

Mr Copson continued, ‘It is clear that the Church of England is experiencing ongoing and probably irreversible collapse in adherents. This should just be its private concern, but the fact that its response to this has been to seek ever more power and public money, even as the case for such state support evaporates, makes it a matter of public interest. It is long overdue that the Government woke up to the demographic reality of today’s Britain and recognises that ever-increasing state funding for religion, and public emphasis on the activities of religious groups, is the reverse of what the public wants.’

Halal meat

The National Secular Society has welcomed a decision from Lancashire County Council to only supply halal meat from animals that have been stunned before slaughter to schools.

The Council voted in favour of the motion to not provide non-poultry meat to schools and other establishments unless the animals were stunned before slaughter, and to consult with the Lancashire Council of Mosques and other concerned parties on how to best implement this policy.

Geoff Driver, the council’s leader who called for the vote, said in the Lancashire Telegraph, “This is an animal welfare issue, nothing more nothing less. The reason it has been raised now is because the contract for meat supplies is coming up for renewal. In my view, with modern methods of reversible stunning, there is no need for animals to suffer during slaughter”.

This view is actually shared by the vast majority of Muslims in this country where 84% of halal meat comes from animals that were stunned before they were slaughtered.
Animal welfare legislation requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter in order to minimise suffering. The only exemption is for religious communities to meet Jewish and Muslim religious dietary preferences. Under UK law, meat from animals killed under the exemption is only supposed to be for the consumption of Muslims and Jews.
Unstunned halal meat is supplied to 12,000 pupils at 27 schools in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn, Clitheroe and Preston.

The decision to end the policy of supplying non-stunned halal meat to schools across the County has been welcomed by the National Secular Society.
Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns director, commented: “The practice of imposing un-stunned meat from religious slaughter methods on pupils, public service users and the general populace is completely unacceptable, and needs to end. We commend Lancashire on its decision. As long as religious groups are granted an exemption from legislation aimed at ensuring animals do not suffer avoidable distress or pain, the number of animals killed under the exemption should be kept to an absolute minimum – and consumers must be able to avoid such products. A majority of Muslims accept pre-stunning and we would urge all schools and local authorities to resist being bullied into unethical and regressive policy decisions by fundamentalist faith leaders claiming to speak on behalf of all Muslims. The time has come to abolish the religious exemption that allows animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning. Religious freedom should be supported, but this is not an absolute right. Exemptions should not be made on religious grounds to animal welfare regulations intended to ensure that farm animals are slaughtered under the most humane conditions possible.”
The decision to even hold the vote prompted criticism from the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM). Abdul Qureshi, LCM’s chair, said a decision to stop supplying unstunned meat would “create a huge difficulty”.

‘People will pull out of school meals and people who should eat properly will be deprived of that,” said Mr Qureshi. “For us it’s a matter of faith. For Geoff Driver it is his feelings.”

In 2012 the council briefly stopped serving meat which had not been stunned in its schools after it changed supplier. On that occasion LCM asked all Muslim families to boycott Lancashire school meals completely, not only those affected by the ban of halal un-stunned meat.

Although LCM insists on its website that “the slaughter process must avoid all forms of stunning” in order for meat be considered halal, the majority of halal meat sold in the UK is from animals stunned before slaughter.

There are numerous councils in the UK that do not provide any halal meat at all for school meals, and some that will only supply stunned halal meat. For example, Aberdeen City Council states: “Our suppliers take animal welfare very seriously. All farmed animals which are slaughtered for their products are done so humanely, in accordance with EU and UK law. This includes provision to ensure that animals are rendered insensible to pain, distress or suffering, prior to killing and includes the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. Traditional Halal slaughter, which forbids the stunning of animals, is a practice which is not accepted by our suppliers on animal welfare grounds.”

However, NSS research indicates that the situation at Lancashire County Council was not unique. Bradford Metropolitan Council’s halal meat contract specification “…is for no-pre stunned halal meat and halal poultry. Pre stunned is not acceptable to either the Bradford Council for Mosques or to HMC (Halal Monitoring Committee).”
Halal meat supplied through Leeds City Council is also accredited with HMC, meaning that it cannot be stunned before slaughter.

The NSS is campaigning for an end to religious exemptions to animal welfare laws, amid concern that the non-stun slaughter industry is growing. Leading vets are among those who say slitting animals’ throats and allowing them to bleed to death without prior stunning for halal and kosher meat causes unnecessary suffering. Significant meat producing countries such as Denmark and New Zealand legally mandate pre-stunning even for Halal slaughter.

The NSS has written to Environment Secretary Michael Gove urging him to remove the religious exemption from animal welfare legislation. New data from the Food Standards Agency recently revealed a sharp rise in the number of animals slaughtered without pre-stunning in the UK.

Bible contradictions

GOD IS WARLIKE: The Lord is a man of war. Exodus xv, 33 – God is a consuming fire. Heb. But I am the Lord thy God that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name. Isaiah 51, 15
GOD IS PEACEFUL: Now the God of peace be with you all; Rom. xv, 33 – God is love; 1 John iv, 8. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak : but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in the church. 1 Cor. xiv, 33, 34 & 35.

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 evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 6th December. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782



October 2017

Humanism in the curriculum

We are very grateful to two of our members, Jane Sault and Bob Jelly, who have given their time recently to visit Campion School, Leamington Spa and talk to pupils there about Humanism. The invitation came from a teacher there with a particular interest in Humanism. Jane and Bob each give a brief report below about their experience, and it’s clear that they gave the pupils some food for thought. We hope we will get more invitations like this, and it’s always good to spread the word!

Jane writes…

“My talk was delivered to a top year 8 class at Campion School on Tuesday. Pupils were generally alert and receptive and, when I thought they were tired of listening to me or watching my power point slides, I showed a link to a couple of Stephen Fry’s videos.

I also asked them to discuss a few matters amongst themselves e.g. is it right that I, as a humanist, celebrate Christmas? (The answer was an overwhelming ‘yes’ because they thought I should have the same amount of fun as everyone else!) I then gave a brief history of Christmas and Easter.

At the end of the session, a handful of students asked some very pertinent questions including a young lady who asked on behalf of those sitting around her if there was a website she could go on to find out more/join the humanists.

It was great that their teacher invited us in to talk to her pupils, although I think she was a bit upset that I had pressed on the pupils how important science thinking was (even though I had mentioned our support of the Arts too) . She explained that all the arts subjects in her school are being marginalised to accommodate more science in the curriculum.”

Bob’s report was as follows:

“I’m just back from Campion School and a session with a Year 7 class, about 25 pupils and their teacher.

There was a laptop, linked to the Net and a projector. I asked lots of questions and praised all answers, wrong ones included. We worked out a rough timeline for religions, leaving the question hanging … how old is humanism?

When a change was needed, we used 1 of the Stephen Fry videos, from the Humanists UK site, overall we used 3 of the 4 videos, just missed out the one on ‘Death’.

We talked about atheism, agnosticism … why is it that Humanists want to lead a good life? … back to The Golden Rule.

Pupils talked about a story from their family, of someone deceased who had appeared in a dream after their passing …

We talked about belief and faith, reason and science.

Their teacher told them at the end that the objective of R.E. was to to give the pupils a taste of different religions, after that it was up to each of them to make decisions.

The session lasted for 50 minutes and I think it went well.”

– – – – – –


Cooperation between people with common goals is needed


The Humanist viewpoint below was published on 6 October 2017 in three of the Courier Series of newspapers (Kenilworth, Leamington and Warwick)

Cooperation between people with common goals is needed

Humanists are concerned with human welfare and happiness but also care about the natural world which is is not an optional extra as mankind depends on the natural world for its survival as a species.

Traditionally religious people believe that their God created the world and gave humans stewardship over it. This is not a view shared by Humanists and others who believe that human beings evolved and go on evolving, along with the rest of nature. We recognize that human welfare is highly dependent on the environment and the continued existence of many other species. Humanists also appreciate the happiness and inspiration that contact with nature and animals can bring. Conversely they believe that indifference to animal welfare and ignoring cruelty can only degrade human sensibilities.

Integral to the Humanist outlook is a scientific view of the world. It was and is scientists – mainly biologists and ecologists – who noticed and monitored environmental problems. However it is society at large that must take the responsibility for how we choose to use scientific and technological developments. Tackling global warming, possibly the most pressing problem of our age, cleaning up our planet and finding new sources of energy will be tasks for scientists and engineers and the rest of us (especially those of us in the wealthier nations) must be prepared to fund and support their work.

Humanists were involved in setting up organisations such as UNESCO, which has world wide environmental responsibilities. We have always supported birth control as an important contribution to lessening the demands on the environment and were active in helping to set up United Nations birth control programmes. Of course Humanists share many aspirations with rational and concerned people of all beliefs. Most environmental campaign groups, such as Greenpeace, Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth and the World Wide Fund for Nature are non-religious and supported by people of all faiths and none. Cooperation between people with common goals, whatever their other differences, is vital if progress is to be made.

George Broadhead

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

– – – – –


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 evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 1st November. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782

Coventry Skeptics in the Pub

Did Churchill Sacrifice Coventry?

A talk by historian Frederick Taylor.

Wednesday 15th November 7.30PM at the Twisted Barrell Ale Brewery and Tap House, Fargo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry CV1 5ED




September 2017


 24 August 2017 Latest issue of the Pink Humanist

The Pink Humanist is an online magazine published by the UK LGBT Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT). It features topics of special interest to those who identify as atheists, freethinkers, humanists, secularists and sceptics in LGTB communities and those who support them. The magazine’s editor is Barry Duke who also edits the UK Freethinker (the Voice of Atheism since 1881).

In the latest issue PTT Secretary George Broadhead vigorously supports the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s participation in Pride in London 2017, and insists that the CEMB should not be barred from future Pride events. 

The CEMB was accused by the East London Mosque and other Muslims organisations of promoting “Islamophobia” by marching with placards condemning Islamic homophobia. Broadhead dismisses their complaints as “baseless nonsense”.

In “The tragic tale of Michael Glatze”, Barry Duke describes the harm done to LGBT communities by an American who went from being a gay activist to a married “ex-gay” Christian preacher who began promoting quack “gay cure” therapies.

After Glatze became the darling of the religious right, a bio pic, I am Michael, was made about Glatze. Glatze, who now describes himself as bisexual, has apologised profusely for attacking homosexuals.

Other items in the latest edition include an examination of gay life in India, a report about Lebanon’s first Pride event and a feature detailing the persecution of Palestinian apostate and blogger Waleed al-Husseini, now living in exile in France.

The rampant homophobia of Stephen Green, of Christian Voice UK, is exposed in “Brickbats and bouquets as UK celebrates the decriminalisation of homosexuality” – a feature about the BBC’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 which partially decriminalised homosexual acts that took place in private between two men over the age of 21.

Additionally, individual articles can be accessed directly from the site’s home page.

Compelling evidence that these policies are wrong

Here is the latest Humanist Viewpoint published Friday 1 September in the Courier series of newspapers (Kenilworth, Leamington and Warwick).

New evidence has been published about the continued decline in religious belief in England. The latest British Social Attitudes Survey showed that 53% of the population now describe themselves as having no religion. Forty-one per cent are Christian but Anglicans (the established church) are only 15%.

We are not a Christian country in anything other than a narrow constitutional sense.

These figures confirm that the Government, led by an avowed Christian, is going entirely against popular opinion in persisting with the policy of official support, and almost total funding, for faith schools and scandalously planning to allow them to take in only children of their own religious persuasion.

It is obvious to most people that the policy is wrong on two grounds. First what is needed in our divided country is integration not segregation. This should start in schools. Second if you wish to teach moral behaviour it is no longer helpful to turn to religions which base their premise on a belief in God that no longer resonates with the majority and particularly younger people.

From a Humanist point of view we would like to see schools teaching ethical and moral behaviour which is not based on faith in a non-existent being but on human experience. Over the millennia we have learned what furthers the progress of mankind. We know that pleasure is better than pain, that cooperation is better than conflict, that kindliness is better than hostility and that all humans must be treated equally irrespective of characteristics such as gender, race, and colour. Children will respond to this with understanding . Requiring a belief in God only gets in the way.

Dr Brian Nicol, Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists.


July 21st, 2017


NHS England has announced that it wants to cease funding homeopathic remedies and other treatments proven to have no efficacy, and has launched a consultation on the matter. The announcement is warmly greeted by Humanists UK, which has campaigned for an end to state funding of homeopathy for many years.  

In announcing the historic change of policy, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens described the homeopathy as, ‘at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds.’ The change means that homeopathy will no longer be funded through the NHS in England, as is already the case in Northern Ireland and Wales. However, it will not impact the funding of homeopathy in parts of Scotland, or through Steiner schools in England which are funded by the Department for Education.

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific medical concept invented by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, which is based on the idea that ‘like cures like’. Homeopaths dilute substances thousands of times beyond the point of containing any of the original substance whatsoever, and then sell the resulting products in sugar pills as ‘cures’ for various diseases and ailments. In well over 200 years, no rigorous scientific test has ever shown efficacy for homeopathic remedies beyond that of a placebo.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We applaud NHS England for taking this evidence-based decision, whose consequence will be greater funding for important things like patient care, staffing, and medicines that really work. We very much hope to see these new guidelines brought into full effect before too long… undiluted!

‘For several years now, homeopathy funding has been steadily reduced as more and more local NHS trusts saw to apply rational thinking and common sense to their funding choices. However, the piecemeal nature of these decisions meant that many thousands of pounds were still being poured down the drain. We’re glad to see that, subject to consultation, the waste will now end in England as a whole, and we congratulate the Good Thinking Society and other campaigners who helped make this happen.

‘We’ll now be looking to intensify the pressure on NHS Scotland to follow the positive example set by Northern Ireland, Wales, and now England, and bring an end to this state-funded pseudoscience in the UK once and for all.’

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at 

Our campaign on homeopathy:

Recent years have seen a dramatic reduction in the availability of state-funded homeopathy. According to research by the Good Thinking Society, state funding of homeopathy has previously ended in Northern Ireland, Wales, Shetland, and the Western Isles of Scotland, as well as many parts of England. State-funded Steiner schools in the South West of England also promote homeopathy.

This consultation invites submissions from the public and patients, as well as Clinical Commissioning Groups and any relevant interest group or body. Read the NHS England consultation document:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Another bible contradiction or inconsistency

Genesis ii, 17: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt SURELY DIE.

Genesis v, 5: And all the days that Adam lived were NINE-HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS and then he died.

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 evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 4th October. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782

August 2017

Viewpoint (from the Leamington Courier, Kenilworth Weekly News and Warwick Courier)

This is the latest of regular contributions to publicise the Humanist outlook and the local group. This was published next to an article by the Attorney General Jeremy Wright who is MP for Kenilworth and Southam.

Supporting the right to die

Humanists UK the national Humanist organisation, formally known as the BHA, is supporting its terminally ill member Noel Conway who wants the right to die and this support is endorsed by the local group Kenilworth-based Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists.

Noel has said that he wants to say goodbye to loved ones “at the right time, not to be in a zombie-like condition suffering both physically and psychologically”.

Humanists defend the right of each individual to live by his or her own personal values and the freedom to make decisions about his or her own life so long as this does not result in harm to others. Humanists do not share the attitudes to death and dying held by some religious believers, notably Roman Catholics, in particular that the manner and time of death are for an imaginary deity to decide and that interference in the course of nature is unacceptable. Humanist firmly uphold the right to life but recognise that this right carries with it the right of each individual to make his or her own judgement about whether his or her life should be prolonged in the face of pointless suffering.

It is completely wrong that people who are of sound mind but terminally ill or incurably suffering are denied the choice to die with dignity. The deliberate extension of suffering as a matter of public policy is a stain on our humanity. The majority of the public want change but as long as Parliament is unwilling to act, it is up to brave individuals such as Noel to fight for all our rights. We will always stand with such courageous and public-spirited champions. The right to die with dignity, in a manner of our choosing, must be understood to be a fundamental human right.

Legalising assisted dying must of course ensure that strict legal safeguards are in place and empower people to make rational choices over their end of life care free from coercion. It is very important that there are strong safeguards in any assisted dying law but international evidence from countries where assisted dying is now legal shows that such safeguards are very effective.

George Broadhead, Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

White Supremacists Riot In Charlottesville, West Virginia, USA (from Humanists UK)

Just a week ago, we gathered with 400 humanists from more than 50 countries to discuss threats to humanism from rising white nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism, anti-democratic populism and authoritarian strongmen regimes.

This weekend, we saw much of what was discussed last week come violently to life on the streets of Charlottesville, a quiet university town in the Eastern United States, as neo-Nazis, former leaders of the Klu Klux Klan, and a new class of angry white supremacists from across the country converged on the city, spoiling for a fight. Videos on Twitter show gangs of thugs kicking and beating young black men; bleating racist hate slogans; and chanting their vision of an all-white America.

Amid all this, a 32-year-old anti-fascist protester, Heather D. Heyer, was killed by a neo-Nazi’s vehicle-ramming attack, which injured 19 others.

The parallels between the methods of white nationalists and Islamic extremists are all too clear, but it is one that has been seen throughout history: pogroms and riots from would-be fascists and equivocations from their sympathisers in government, creating a sense of impending calamity and setting a population – a democratic community – against itself.

While the precise form of victimising and scapegoating shifts from culture to culture, the pattern is similar. For the American far-right, the targets are non-whites and Muslims. In Malaysia, the Government recently announced a ‘hunt’ for suspected atheists. In India, humanists and Muslims are both targeted by Hindu nationalists.

As humanists, we condemn fascists, racists, and authoritarians of all stripes.

At our recent conference, we discussed what we saw as possible solutions to the rising tide of authoritarianism and hatred in the world today – not just in the US and Europe, but across the Americas, Asia, and Africa – and identified a resurgent human rights culture, democratic revival, and, most importantly, education, as key tools for this. Pragmatically, we must accept that these are not easy fights to fight; they will demand grit and perseverance from us all.

Today, we suggest simply this: the next time someone asks you for a favour that is reasonable for you to do, do it for them. As humanists, we can come together and change society in bigger ways. But all of us, as people of goodwill, can do more at the individual level, too, to promote the kinder, more tolerant approach to life this world so sorely needs. We can do it today. We can do it every day.

Government plans mass expansion of Church of England faith schools across England

The Department for Education hopes to open at least another 140 Church of England schools in the next five years, according to the Church Times.

And the Church of England’s chief education officer, Revd Nigel Genders, has confirmed that 40 new church schools will be opened within the government’s next wave of free schools.

“We want to be proactive in opening as many new schools as we can because we know parents love our schools,” he said last week. ‘We have schools lined up to put into the next phase. We want to do more, and our conversations with the department continue to be encouraging.” Genders said the C of E would bid for “every school where appropriate”. Twelve faith schools were among the 131 new free schools approved in April. The faith-based Oasis Multi Academy Trust also gained the right to open three more.

Last year the government declared that it “values and is committed to” its formal partnerships with the National Society, which promotes and resources almost 5,000 church schools in England and Wales and the Catholic Church. It added that the government “remains committed to securing the religious character and ethos” of religious schools.

The Church of England claims that its “Church schools are not ‘faith schools’ for Christians but Christian schools for all and, as such, are committed to serving the needs of the local community.” However, the church’s education officer says it has a “deeply christian” vision and “seeks to promote an education that allows children, the young and adults to live out Jesus’s promise of “life in all its fullness”.

Deeply Christian vision? Such as: Matthew 18: 7-9 ; If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed and crippled than to have 2 hands or 2 feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and discard it. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. This is repulsive on three levels:

It is repulsive because Jesus is such an idiot here and completely out of order.

It is repulsive because Jesus demands that people maim themselves.

It is repulsive because of Jesus’s entire concept of “hell”.

Cutting off your hand, foot or gouging out an eye accomplishes nothing.

Using bible evidence the following text will endeavour to shoot down in flames the C OF E’s case for church controlled education in the UK.

The Jesus cult of the C of E, the RC Church and the NT is much more worth attacking than the vague god myth or in trying to prove that Jesus did not exist. Even if he never lived it would be impossible to produce evidence as a negative cannot be proved. According to the Christian’s own holy New Testament Jesus believed in slavery, torture, everlasting punishment, devils, and evil spirits and in many other absurdities. He asserts: You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. Despite his admonitions to ‘love your enemy’ he shows very little inclination to put his own precept into practice. He is very vindictive and revengeful concerning his enemies and wants to torture for all eternity those who disagree with him or refused to accept he is the messiah, which is about as far as ‘enemy loving’ as it is possible to get.

In Luke 19:27 Jesus says “As for those enemies of mine, who did not want me for their king, bring them before me and slaughter them in my presence.” How very loving? Also he seems to have forgotten all about his daddy’s “Thou shalt not kill” commandment. Maybe Jesus was merely setting the precedent for that hallowed Christian practice of “Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you.” It is difficult to think of a more sadistic and inhuman doctrine than that of hell – endless perpetual excruciating torture. Yet it was this ‘perfect man’ himself who though it up and seemed quite attached to the idea which he refers to many times, far more so than ‘loving enemies’.

The way in which Jesus is always harping about the torments awaiting those who wouldn’t accept his megalomaniac messages must make him one of the most horribly vindictive human beings who have ever walked the face of the earth. What a wonderful example of tolerance, morality and compassion to present to our impressionable schoolchildren in our UK ‘Blind Faith schools.’

Vast Majority Of Welsh Councils No Longer Hold Prayers During Council Business Meetings: Posted in The Sun, 23 Jul 2017

Councils across Wales no longer hold prayers as part of their official business after the National Secular Society won a court battle over the practice.

NSS analysis of new research from the BBC has revealed that almost none of Wales’s local authorities now holds official prayers during meetings.

Eighteen of the 22 unitary authorities in Wales did not hold prayers as part of council business. Only one, Denbighshire, said it did so regularly. 13 others regularly hold prayers separate from council business. In theory this means atheists or those of other faiths do not have to attend, but in at least two cases there appears to be no meaningful separation between the prayers and official business. Vale of Glamorgan recently re-introduced Christian prayers at the request of a new mayor after her predecessor had ‘humanist blessings’.

The National Secular Society said councils “shouldn’t be clubs for Christians” but the Church in Wales said prayer or reflection “could be hugely beneficial” and provide an opportunity to “ask for God’s guidance on our decisions”. The BBC obtained its information under the Freedom of Information Act.

In 2012 the High Court ruled that the prayers said at Bideford Town Council were not lawful, as there was no statutory power to hold them under the Local Government Act 1972. The judge said prayers could only be said where Councillors had not been formally summoned to attend. The ruling came after an atheist Councillor complained about the practice and the NSS initiated a judicial review of it. It was seen as a test case which could affect local councils across England and Wales.

In 2015 the government changed the law in England. The Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Act made provision for the inclusion of prayers, “other religious observance” or “observance connected with a religious or philosophical belief” at local authority meetings. But (except for a few cross border authorities) the Act does not apply in Wales.

The NSS has campaigned for prayers to be clearly separated from official Council business in order to protect equality and freedom of and from religion.

Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns director,said: “It’s clear that the vast majority of Welsh councils have either scrapped prayers altogether or removed them from the body of their meetings. These arrangements, which we campaigned for, allow Councillors and members of staff who do not wish to participate in prayers to avoid them without having to excuse themselves. ‘Local councils shouldn’t be clubs for Christians and unless acts of worship are properly separated from official business, the religious freedom of non-Christians will not be adequately respected.

“Where the formal separation is tokenism or unclear, and where any Councils are failing in their legal obligations, we will be writing to urge them to ensure that their meetings are both lawful and equally welcoming to all sections of society. Everyone has the right to manifest their religion, but that shouldn’t extend to allowing believers to impose acts of worship on those that do not share their faith.”

[It is not Christian to pray publicly. Jesus in his SERMON ON THE MOUNT, supposed to be the peak of Christian teaching declares, when you pray, you should do it privately and not make a public show of it and not make vain repetition. When the Tories altered the law in 2015 to allow prayers during local authority council business it proved once again that those in authority who claim to be Christian haven’t read much about Jesus’ principles in the bible either and make their own rules as they go along.]

Bible contradiction

Possible question posed in RE exam. Using the KJV bible for evidence which of the following statements is correct?

Arphaxad who lived for 35 years was the father of Salah.

Arphaxad who lived for 35 years was the grandfather of Salah.

In Genesis xi, v12 Arphaxad was the father but in Luke iii, v35, 36 Salah was the son of Cainan who was the son of Arphaxad which makes him the grandfather. (The h in Salah is missed out in the New Testament)

A top mark to be awarded for answering this possible question in RE exam- it’s impossible to get wrong


Terror Attacks: Statement by Humanists UK

These London Bridge attacks in London come to us as a sobering reminder of the fragility of human life, and, so soon after the heinous terror attack at an urgent reminder of our need to do more to protect our diverse society from the growing threat posed by extremist ideology.

As in Paris, as in Manchester, as in Berlin, as in Mosul, as in Stockholm, as in Nice, as in Mogadishu – just a few of the 61 Islamist terrorist attacks globally in the last 18 months which have left over 1,700 dead and over 3,500 injured – the targets of the murderers were not strategic sites of national importance.

They were bustling centres of civilian activity: restaurants, bars, cafes, and free public spaces, symbolic only of the pursuit of community and happiness. In Borough Market or London Bridge on any evening, you’ll find people enjoying themselves, spending time with friends and loved ones, living their lives. The war that Islamist extremists preach is not only a war on ‘the West’, in vague geopolitical terms, but a war on a way of life that prizes freedom: whether that’s the freedom to drink alcohol, the freedom to choose one’s own beliefs, to dress how we like, or to simply let off steam after a busy week’s work.

The victims of the attack represented London in all its diversity and strength: they included people from all around the world, of many different races and creeds. The only named victim so far is Canadian woman Chrissy Archibald, who lived her life according to a belief ‘that every person was to be valued and respected’, who spent much of her adult life volunteering to help the homeless, who was a contributor to human happiness and welfare and wellbeing. Every victim of this attack, like Chrissy, will no doubt have stories from their life that can inspire us as they emerge for us – stories that have now come to a dramatic and sudden end. When we consider the victims of recent terror atrocities in London, Manchester, Paris, and Brussels, or in towns and cities in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, or Iraq, it only takes a few moments of reflection to realise just how amazing most people are. The vast majority of us, however imperfect and complex and contradictory we may be, are good people trying to live good and fulfilling lives

What, then, can we make of this current spate of atrocities? These attacks conform, no doubt, to the classical aims of terror: to disrupt our way of living, to turn neighbour against neighbour, to weaken our democratic community. As ever, they also invite us to strip away our own freedoms in the name of safety. They inspire fear and loathing. Their intention is the corruption of our hearts and the weakening of our resolves so that the way will be paved for the victory of a brutal alternative vision of the world.

But as for the increasing frequency of such attacks, and the cause, our elected representatives surely have more thinking to do. If when these attackers are named we learn that they were of British origin, as was the case with the Manchester Arena murderer, then surely it will be more apparent than ever that the UK is suffering not only from adherents of a creed hellbent on destruction, but from failures of our own domestic policy across education, the building of social cohesion, and anti-extremism efforts, which have allowed an ideology of hate not just to fester but to spread. For the moment, with the names of victims still to be announced, grief and reflection are all that are called for. But, in the weeks and months that follow this, we re-commit ourselves as an organisation to working to address the many causes – religious and otherwise – of the murderous campaign of the current extremists, and to work together in this with the rest of civil society, including with the many religious believers who share our aim of a free and tolerant world.

We all have the power, as individuals, to choose life and to continue enjoying ourselves. To do less than this would be surrender: it would fulfil the aims that ISIS set for itself when it called for a holy month of attacks on UK soil. As humanists, we have to be idealists: to consider how it is we should aspire to live and to hold ourselves to those high standards. But just as important to our way of thinking is realism: and it is the tragic truth that we do not have the power to make ourselves perfectly safe from harm. We have no platitudes to offer, and at this tragic time we only offer one thought: life is short. Life is far, far too short. These are both words of caution and also a reminder of why it is we value freedom. For the humanist, there is only this life, and it is a life imbued with ultimate importance. So, please, remain vigilant. Do your best to stay safe. But just as importantly, remember that it is essential, that it is imperative, to stay true to who you are and hold tightly to those values of reason and kindness that we cherish.

The Moral Maze

Still available on BBCiPlayer for thirty days following its broadcast on 21st July is an episode of the Moral Maze entitled ‘The Morality of Faith Schools’. C&WH member Mark Sperry comments, ‘An interesting programme that asked more questions than it answered, got some religionists trapped in a corner and managed to expose the ‘sex guilt’ of religionists.’

Church to gain influence over nine secular schools in Northumberland

Concerns have been raised over plans for nine community schools in Northumberland to join with one Church of England faith school to form the new Tynedale Community Learning Trust – a mixed multi academy trust (MAT) that will have a majority of church appointed members.An ex-parent governor at one of the schools involved, who resigned over the plans told the NSS: ” this=”” is=”” nothing=”” short=”” of=”” a=”” church=”” takeover=”” nine=”” non-church=”” schools,=”” and=”” any=”” parents=”” wishing=”” to=”” guard=”” against=”” influence=”” in=”” their=”” children’s=”” education=”” should=”” be=”” rightly=”” worried.=”” addition,=”” the=”” rsc=”” has=”” confirmed=”” that=”” option=”” chosen=”” case=”” represents=”” deviation=”” from=”” current=”” government=”” policy=”” for=”” mixed=”” mats.=”” safeguards=”” schools=”” with=”” arrangement=”” are=”” woefully=”” inadequate.”

According to letters to parents, the funding agreement will stipulate that the community school ethos of the schools should be protected by the trustees and local governing bodies of the community schools.

Alastair Lichten, NSS campaigns officer, said “Concerns about academisation and through it religious takeovers of community schools, form a significant part of our casework. Despite the reassuring noises of the consultation documents, parents and governors are right to raise concerns. If trustees are to be appointed on the basis of their skills, rather than their faith – as all trustees of state schools should be – then what possible justification is there for the Church appointing three out of the five people who will decide on these appointments?

“We see no reason or justification for a ‘Church director’ – even if only one of eleven, the same proportion of foundation governors at the faith school involved – to be appointed to make decisions on the governance of nine community schools.

“Assurances over protecting the community ethos of schools are welcome, but we have seen them before and it is clear that there are a range of soft options for the Church to promote – as is their stated intention – their ethos in community schools which they have a role in running. There is no clear inspection standard or oversight in protecting a community school ethos. Ultimately the extent to which these nine schools truly remain secular is up to the efforts of the parents and staff.”

Describing the plans as “huge” and “mammoth”, the Hexham Courant reported that “talks between heads and governors are at a very advanced stage”.

The schools are running a consultation process which will close at 5pm on Wednesday 7th July 2017. The basic requirements for a public body carrying out a consultation are:

Consultation must be at a time when proposals are at a formative stage.

The proposer must give sufficient reasons for its proposals to allow consultees to understand them and respond to them properly.

Consulters must give sufficient time for responses to be made and considered. Responses must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising the decision.

53% of Britons are non-religious, says latest British Social Atittudes Survey

The 34th annual British Social Attitudes Survey has shown that non-religious people represent a clear majority of British people in 2017, accounting for 53% of the population. This is a new high for the non-religious population, which was previously estimated at 51% in 2014.

The result is consistent with other recent polls which ask the questions ‘Do you consider yourself to have a religion?’ and ‘If so, which one?’, which will typically find that non religious Britons represent roughly half the population. The strength of the British Social Attitudes Survey’s result, in particular, is that it has asked the same question every year for several decades, creating a real-time picture of how attitudes to religion in Britain have changed with demographic shifts.

Most noticeable is the distinction between the views of younger age cohorts and older age cohorts; a majority of older Britons have strong religious identities that are not widely shared by their children and grandchildren. The result of this has been the rapid decline in the popularity of religion as people from older generations die.

An even stronger result was found in the related Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which found that 58% of Scots consider themselves non-religious, including 74% of Scots aged 18-34. The only generation where religious belief was in the majority was Scots aged 65+, of whom only 34% were non-religious, compared to 57% of Scots aged 50-64.

In contrast, polls like the UK national census which use the leading question ‘What is your religion?’ tend to over-estimate religious belief in Britain by encouraging identification with a cultural or ethnic religious identity. The next census is scheduled for 2021 and Humanists UK has been campaigning, as it did 10 years previously, to see the question changed to the much more statistically valid and sound model used by the social attitudes surveys.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented that ‘For some time now, Prime Ministers, First Ministers, and senior politicians in every part of the country have made special claims for this being a “Christian country” as a means of justifying privileges given to religious institutions in our politics and in our public life. But the evidence again shows that the UK cannot be seen as a Christian country in anything but a narrow constitutional sense. We are simply not a nation of believing, practising Christians. We are a diverse, plural country made up of people from a range of beliefs and backgrounds, united not by a single creed but by common values such as empathy, compassion, and kindness, which predate the major religions.

‘Yet as religion’s popularity declines, its disproportionate influence in our politics continues to grow. 26 bishops from the Anglican church sit and vote in the UK Parliament. A generation of young people are compelled by law to take part in Christian worship during assemblies. Over a third of our schools are ‘faith’ schools, most of which use religiously selective admissions criteria that discriminate against poorer families and families with no religion. And legal loopholes mean that religious institutions carrying out council contracts cannot be challenged for homophobic and sectarian discrimination. Surely all of this needs to be looked at again, and with some urgency, if we truly want to live in a fair society ensuring freedom of choice for everyone, regardless of religion or belief.’

The British Social Attitudes Survey is a robust national survey of British people’s beliefs and attitudes published each year by NatCen. Its 34th edition, published in June 2017, found that 52.8% of the population were non-religious, while 15% identify as Anglican, 8.5% as Roman Catholic, and 17% as other sorts of Christian. Just 6.3% of of people in Britain belong to the smaller religions (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and others grouped together).

Monthly bible contradiction:

Matthew xxii, v14. For many are called but few are chosen.

Romans xiv. V11. For it is written, As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Diary Dates

Summer Social

There will be a Social at The Cottage in Kenilworth on Thursday 27th July, 7pm for 7:30pm. Please email CWHumanists at if you’d like to make a reservation.

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 meeting Wednesday 2nd August. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782

June 2017

Thought for the Day

The National Secular Society has criticised the BBC for allowing the Today programme’s first Thought for the Day slot of June to be used to promote Church of England as a platform for its latest evangelism initiative campaign.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke on Radio 4 about the Church’s ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ campaign, which invites “more people to come to know Jesus Christ”.

NSS campaigns director Stephen Evans said, “It’s bad enough that the BBC dedicates part of its flagship news programme to offer an unchallenged platform for religion, but allowing Thought for the Day to be used as free advertising slot for the Church of England really takes the biscuit. It further calls into question the appropriateness of this anachronistic and discriminatory slot.”

In February, the BBC slapped down the new Today programme editor after she suggested Thought for the Day should be opened up to humanists.

Shortly after her appointment, the NSS wrote to Sarah Sands, urging her to use her influence as editor to rethink the slot.

Despite sitting within the Today programme, Thought for the Day is produced by the BBC’s religious affairs department – and the BBC has repeatedly insulated Thought for the Day from any reform.

The slot’s editorial policy explicitly discriminates against the non-religious as they are the only group barred from contributing.

In its letter to Ms Sands, the NSS suggested that Thought for the Day should be opened up to non-religious contributors, turning the daily segment into an “ethical current affairs reflection slot.”

Otherwise, the discriminatory slot should be renamed ‘Religious thought for the day’ and moved away from Radio 4’s flagship news programme and into a more suitable timeslot reflecting its niche status, the NSS said.

NSS campaigns director Stephen Evans said: “It’s bad enough that the BBC dedicates part of its flagship news programme to offer an unchallenged platform for religion, but allowing Thought for the Day to be used as free advertising slot for the Church of England really takes the biscuit. It further calls into question the appropriateness of this anachronistic and discriminatory slot.” Despite sitting within the Today programme, TFTD is produced by the BBC’s Religious Affairs department – and the BBC has repeatedly insulated TFTD from any reform.

The slot’s editorial policy explicitly discriminates against the non-religious as they are the only group barred from contributing. Otherwise, the discriminatory slot should be renamed ‘Religious thought for the day’ and moved away from Radio 4’s flagship news programme and into a more suitable time-slot reflecting its niche status, the NSS said.

The National Secular Society has backed calls for TFTD to be converted into a “philosophy slot”, open to non-believers and believers alike.

The NSS has objected numerous times over the past half century to the exclusion of non-believers from TFTD, but it now seems as though the BBC will not even consider objections to the programme, raising questions about how it handles criticism.

The BBC has announced that it will not “revisit” the issue of non-religious voices on TFTD.

Humanists for Science

More than a million people in over 600 cities across the globe took part in April in an international March For Science to celebrate science and the role it plays in everyday lives.

Robert N Proctor, a historian of science at Stanford University, stated that the March for Science was “pretty unprecedented in terms of the scale and breadth of the scientific community that’s involved” and was rooted in “a broader perception of a massive attack on sacred notions of truth that are sacred to the scientific community”.

That event reminded me that, a while back, I became a member of Humanists4Science, via its Facebook page, and I would urge you to join too. Science needs defending more than ever, and groups such as these are deserving of all the support they can get.

Established in 2007, H4S is for humanists with an active interest in science. It believes that science is a fundamental part of humanism but also that it should be directed to humane and ethical ends.

Humanists4Science’s mission is “to promote, within the humanist community, the application of the scientific method to issues of concern to broader society” and its vision is “a world in which important decisions are made by applying the scientific method to evidence rather than according to superstition.”

H4S take a naturalistic view and believe, like 62 percent of the UK population, “that science, the scientific method and other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe.”

H4S are affiliated to the British Humanist Association, and In 2011 H4S achieved its aim of including “science’ & ‘scientific evidence” in the BHA Strategy and ‘scientific method’ in the BHA definition of Humanism.

Barry Duke – Editor, the Freethinker

From The NSS Newsline

The Manchester bombing will not be the last Islamist atrocity in this country, to say nothing of the rest of the world. The struggle against the warped ideology which sustains extremism will likely consume generations of effort. There are, therefore, no easy answers. At the very least we offer our thoughts and solidarity to the victims and their families, and those who woke up in hospitals on Tuesday morning with life-altering injuries or to the news that their children or parents were dead.

Many have said that the attack, and the decision to target young children, was ‘incomprehensible’. But it was not. There is no excuse for thinking that. Anybody who has been paying attention to Islamic extremism should know exactly why they do this. They are motivated by the worst possible interpretation of Islam, but it is Islamic.

We are not afraid of naming and confronting Islamist ideology, and we have no sympathy for those who obfuscate or deny the roots of jihadist terror. Our allies in this are many, and they include Muslim reformers and secularists. But there can be no denying the scale of the challenge. Terrorism is far from being the only problem Islamist ideology poses to our way of life and our values. Surveys of Muslim opinion both around the world, and here at home, bring disturbing results, on everything from women’s rights to suicide bombing. It is this entire spectrum of belief and behaviour that the secularist movement must confront.

Parliamentary candidates offer support for faith schools, non-stun animal slaughter and circumcision

The National Secular Society has criticised prospective MPs for offering their support to non-therapeutic male circumcision, religious slaughter of animals without stunning, and faith schools.

Many former MPs seeking re-election have signed up to a document, called ‘The Ten Commitments’, produced by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Board of Deputies is asking MPs to “Defend the right to a Jewish way of life” by allowing the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning and defending the medically unnecessary circumcision of young boys.

The document also asks MPs to affirm “the importance of faith schools within the education system.”

The Society said, “Religious freedom is not a totally unlimited and unqualified right. Religious freedom should not override the rights of young children to be free from unnecessary and potentially harmful surgery, and it should not override animal welfare standards that have overwhelming support in society. We urge candidates to consider these issues and the widespread public opposition to allowing religious animal slaughter without pre-stunning.”

Conservative PPCs Bob Blackman and Jonathan Reynolds, as well as Labour candidates Kate Osamor, David Lammy, Ann Coffey, Mike Katz, Karen Buck, Mike Gapes, Jonathan Reynolds and Blair McDougall have all signed the Ten Commitments pledge so far.

Belgium’s Wallooon region to end slaughter of animals without pre-stunning

A committee of the Walloon Parliament has voted to ban the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning, a move welcomed by secularists and animal rights campaigners.

The Parliament’s environment committee voted unanimously to end non-stun animal slaughter, following a recommendation by Piet Vanthemsche, a leading veterinary surgeon. The full parliament will vote on the proposal later this month.

If approved, the ban would come into effect in September 2019.

EU law requires animals to be “stunned (made unconscious) prior to killing, so that death should be painless.”

In Belgium, as in the UK, the only exceptions to this requirement are for religious communities, in order to meet Jewish and Muslim religious requirements.

All kosher and some halal food is prepared without stunning of animals prior to slaughter.

The European Jewish Congress has reacted angrily to the decision and described it as “scandalous”.

Dr Moshe Kantor, president of the congress, said, “We call on legislators to step back from the brink of the greatest assault on Jewish religious rights in Belgium since the Nazi occupation of the country in WWII.

He said that the decision “sends a terrible message to Jewish communities throughout our continent that Jews are unwanted.”

Dr Kantor vowed to “not rest until this ban is overturned and Jews in Europe are able to practice their most basic religious rights.”

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said it was “disappointing to see religious leaders deploying such alarmist rhetoric in order to influence animal welfare policy.

“In 21st Century Europe, there’s no good reason why animal welfare should be subservient to religious dietary rules. Requiring all animals to be effectively stunned before slaughter would remove unnecessary suffering – and is therefore the humane thing to do.”

Casework focus: community schools and religious takeovers

Parents and staff regularly contact the NSS over concerns related to religious influence in their schools. Campaigns officer Alastair Lichten looks at a typical example of the casework we receive and what lessons can be learned.

A small rural primary school near Bath looks set to become the latest of hundreds of community schools to be taken over by a Church of England Multi-Academy Trust (MATs). Bathampton Primary is moving to join the Bath and Wells Multi-Academy Trust – a MAT run by the diocese, which promotes a “distinctly Christian ethos”.

These ‘mixed’ trusts, containing a combination of religious and non-religious schools, allow religious groups to take over community schools, and there are few meaningful ways to protect the non-religious ethos of these schools once they are absorbed.

The school has co-opted as a community governor who just so happens to be local priest – said by one parent at the school to be “particularly evangelical”. He regularly leads assemblies and the school website says “in particular he wants to maintain and strengthen good links between the church and school”.

Priests and religious leaders may have all sorts of skills which would allow them to be competent community or parent governors. But how confident can we be about their commitment to preserving a school’s community, secular ethos, when a governor is a member of a religious organisation (e.g. a diocese) which wants to take over the school.

The National Governors’ Association model code of conduct suggests that governors should “declare any conflict of loyalty at the start of any meeting should the situation arise” and should always “act in the best interests of the school as a whole and not as a representative of any group”.

A parent who raised concerns with us said they had “been concerned about the schools links with the church for some time”. The school does not have a large enough hall for whole school assemblies so relies on the local church to provide adequate space for various events. An act of generosity that we might welcome, as long as it wasn’t leveraged by the church for improper access to the school.

Bathampton Primary School is the only non-faith school of nine primaries within three miles, with the nearest being twenty minutes’ drive away. Parents who wish their children to be taught in a secular environment free from the influence of one particular religion will now have no choice whatsoever.

While the school won’t officially become a faith school or acquire a religious ethos/designation upon conversion – something the current governing body stress they are opposed to – this could change in future. The MAT claim to have no such plans and have made the right noises about protecting the school’s community ethos. However it is established CofE policy to treat such non-faith schools under their control as part of their ‘mission’.

Parents concerned about similar takeovers and wishing to challenge them can basically have three aims:

Stopping the takeover; possible but very difficult to achieve, unless there is a non-faith based MAT willing to take over the school or significant opposition to academisation.

Drawing enough attention to the problems so that the religious MAT is limited in its ability to impose its agenda on the school, and more of its community ethos is protected.

Drawing attention to the wider issues with academisation/religious taking over community schools.

In this case, parents contacting the NSS decided to focus on aim number 2. The school is under a lot of pressure to academise, and joining the religious MAT would be their only option; something one concerned parent called a “tragedy”. The situation on the ground always matters, and the best way to protect a community school’s ethos is vigilance and good communications.

In the case of Bathampton, parents told us that, whilst they do still have concerns over what influence the MAT may try to exert in the long term, they do not believe that this is an attempt by the board to extend religious influence over the school.

The governors seem genuinely concerned, and even passionate, about preserving the community school ethos of the school. In the words of one parent: “Following the consultations I have at least some confidence that the school board is fully aware of the vocal parents who will hold them to account if the community ethos of the school is negatively impacted by joining the religious MAT.”

The earlier you can get involved in the consultation process the better. Although it doesn’t always feel that way, consultation processes must be “substantively fair and have the appearance of fairness”. David Wolfe QC gives a very clear definition of what that means on his ‘A can of worms’ blog – detailing some of the problems with academisation.

If your school is being academised, and you have concerns about it being taken over by a religious group, some options you might want to consider are:

Speak to the governing body. We always recommend good communications with the school. It is usually better to assume that the schools is acting in good faith (if a bit naïvely) rather than assuming any nefarious reasoning. Because those schools are under a lot of pressure to academies that is likely to be their main motivating factor.

Look out for a consultation and ask as many questions as possible. Decide on your aims, what you can hope for and what you might reasonably achieve.

Speak to local parents. It can sometimes feel like the school is trying to hide or downplay the involvement of a faith group in the proposed MAT. So don’t assume that everyone who may be concerned is aware of this, or that someone sharing the faith of the proposed Trust won’t also be concerned.

Contact your local paper and write to your MP and local education authority about your concerns.

Write to your local regional schools commissioner asking them to oppose the setting up of the trust or to impose stricter requirements to protect the community school ethos.

Provide us with any additional information that we can use to raise concerns/add to our research. Joining or supporting the NSS will increase our resources to advocate for a fair secular and inclusive education system.

Alastair Litchen, Campaigns Officer, NSS

Anonymous post spotted by Deborah Mc Taggart

Religious Quote: “Atheists are like fishes that deny the existence of water.”

Secular response: “Theists are like fish that are offered the ocean but refuse to leave their bowl.”

Bible Contradiction

KILLING COMMANDED BY GOD. Exodus 32 : v27 ; Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and SLAY every man his brother , and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

KILLING FORBIDDEN BY GOD. Exodus 20 : v13 Thou shalt not kill.

Intolerance and malevolence in the Koran and likewise in the Bible:

Don’t bother warning the disbelievers. Allah has made it impossible for them to believe so that he can torture them forever after they die. THE COW 2:6-7

Unto them that are without, all these things are said in parables: that seeing they may see and not perceive; that hearing they may hear and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins be forgiven them. {Jesus’ parable of the sower}: MARK ch4, v 11&12.

Here Jesus deliberately talks in unintelligible parables so that outsiders will not understand and be saved from the hellfire and brimstone he has waiting for them. Wot a nice chappie Tim Fallon’s buddy is.

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 meeting Wednesday 5th July. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

May 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin

Tel: 01926 258413



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

freedom / happiness / virtue


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:


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)


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 or phone 01926 857782

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

April 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists,

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin
Tel: 01926 258413

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

freedom / happiness / virtue


An article this month published on our FB page concerns the 405th anniversary, April 11th 2017, of the execution of Edward Wightman who was the last person in Britain to be burnt at the stake for heresy.

However, throughout the rest of Europe these Christian sponsored barbecues took place after this date. His death warrant was signed by the then Bishop of Coventry, who apparently was also the Bishop of Litchfield, on the orders of King James 1st [sponsor of the King James Bible.] His execution [Artist’s impression on our FB page from the Burton Mail] took place in the market square in Burton on Trent on April 11th 1612.

This drew an interesting response from Mr David Damron:

“Thank you. He was my 12th great grandfather. I found this through Ancestry.”

David also sent a copy of his death warrant, fully illustrated on our FB page, signed by King James I.

“Bear in mind this claim could be considered objective. With 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 Great grandparents, 16 GG grandparents, 32 GGG grandparents, 64 GGGG grandparents, 128 GGGGG grandparents, 256 GGGGGG grandparents, 512 GGGGGGG grandparents, 1024 GGGGGGGG grandparents, 2048 GGGGGGGGG grandparents, 4096 GGGGGGGGGG grandparents, 8192 GGGGGGGGGGG grandparents and, taking approximately 25 years as a generation, and going back 300 years 16,384 GGGGGGGGGGGG grandparents. If we were to calculate back a further 100 years we would possibly exceed, at that time, the population of the country. Going back 350 years it’s possible I could be related to Benjamin Franklin but I can’t be bothered to find out because even if he was an ancestor of mine his contribution to my physical make up or DNA would simply be a drop in the ocean and totally irrelevant.

“However this is all concrete proof that we were NOT created by an invisible omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god who lives among the clouds but through an enormous abundance of leg-over.”
Storm in an Egg Cup

The following letter was published as the lead letter on Wednesday 14th April in the Courier series of newspapers in Warwickshire.

“I am writing as a Humanist about the ludicrous story widely covered by the media, concerning Easter eggs. 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 publicly 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 beheadings, stonings and floggings, to name just a few.”

George Broadhead”

Continuing in the same vane, on 8th April this letter was sent in an email to my MP. I have yet to receive a response.
“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 publicly 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?”
Bible contradiction

Exodus 31:17; God (The omnipotent) is tired and rests. Isiah 40:28; God is never tired and never rests.
News from the USA
Woman Files Lawsuit Claiming Company Fired Her for Not Being Christian Enough
Since 2009, Dee Anne Thomson was an employee at Gulf Winds International, a Houston-based logistics company subject to all relevant laws against religious discrimination.
In a lawsuit filed this week, she claims she was illegally fired for not being Christian enough for the owner’s liking.
On September 22, 2014, the president of the company took Plaintiff to lunch and told her in an inference that she was not Christian enough and that she needed to examine her walk with Jesus. He also told her, in a further religious reference, that she needed to witness to them to touch their lives, in reference to her reports.
She was later demoted, with her job going to a younger man with no experience in her area.
It’s not just about a personal situation. Christianity was routinely promoted at the company and those who didn’t follow suit were dismissed.
Gulf Winds’ executives and managers also held meetings for C12, “an organisation that holds itself out as America’s leading Christian CEO forum and a cutting edge Christian business leadership grounded in timeless Biblical wisdom,” according to the complaint. Thomson claims upper management conducted these meetings during business hours.
According to the lawsuit, Gulf Winds stopped doing business with a supply vendor after they failed to attend C12 meetings.
Thomson claims she was not the only employee fired on religious grounds. According to the complaint, Gulf Winds “fired an employee solely because she had a rainbow sticker on her car,” which it assumed to mean that the employee was gay.
It’s hard to imagine all of these things happened for other reasons not related to the faith of the owners.
Thomson is asking for monetary relief between $200,000 and $1,000,000, in addition to attorney’s fees. A Gulf Winds spokesperson didn’t comment on the lawsuit, but told Courthouse News Service that they were “committed to defending our good name and reputation.”
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 one is therefore Wednesday May 3rd. Look forward to seeing you. In case this next event has been re-arranged and any other queries contact Tracey Drew or on her land line phone 01926 857782.

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

March 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists,

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin

Tel: 01926 258413


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

freedom / happiness / virtue


Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education

The teaching of personal, social, health and economics education (PHE) and sex and relationships education (SRE) in English schools is being ‘fatally neglected’ by inspector, a major new report by the British Humanist Association (BHA) has revealed – with the subject receiving much less attention than any other.

The Government has recently resisted making PSHE and SRE compulsory, arguing in part that it is unnecessary because Ofsted picks up any inadequate teaching in its inspections. Today’s report has been described by the BHA as ‘completely undermining’ that claim.

Healthy, happy, safe? An investigation into how PSHE and SRE are inspected in English schools analyses over 2000 primary and secondary school inspection reports for 2015/16.

It finds SRE was mentioned by inspectors in less than 1% of reports and PSHE in just 14% of reports, fewer than almost all other established subjects, including history (36%), geography (26%), music (31%), and art (31%).

Ofsted introduced a new inspection framework and handbook in September 2015 which placed greater emphasis on the importance of the personal development, behaviour, and welfare of pupils. At that time, Ofsted’s lead inspector on PSHE stated that ‘the evidence schools provide regarding the effectiveness of their PSHE…is more crucial than ever to informing the judgements inspectors make’.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘One of the many ways in which the Government has sought to excuse its failure to make PSHE and SRE compulsory in schools is by insisting that Ofsted is effectively guaranteeing the subject is taught through its inspections. Unfortunately, as this report demonstrates, that is very clearly not the case.

‘To lay the blame at the feet of Ofsted and its inspectors would be wrong, however. The fact is that the attention given to PSHE by inspectors is entirely commensurate with the importance ascribed to it by government. Ofsted certainly has an important role to play when it comes to PSHE, as it does in other subjects, but the only way that PSHE and SRE will meaningfully improve is if the subject is afforded the statutory status it deserves. Only then can we properly ensure that children are being equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to stay healthy, happy, and safe.’

The report’s other main findings are as follows:

Mentions of sexual health, safe sex, and related topics were almost entirely absent from inspectors’ reports, with only 1% of reports referring to these issues. Only 1% of reports mentioned issues related to gender, such as gender discrimination, gender stereotyping, or sexism. There were no mentions of sexual harassment or sexual violence at all, despite a recent Women and Equalities Committee report revealing the ‘shocking scale’ of such incidents in schools

Consent was mentioned in just two of the more than 2000 reports. Pornography, online or otherwise, was mentioned in just a single report, while ‘sexting’ was mentioned in less than 1% of reports, despite having been recently and repeatedly identified as a major area of concern by the Government

Homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic (HBT) bullying was addressed in just 14% of reports. This is despite renewed focus by Ofsted on HBT bullying, and a 2016 Stonewall survey finding that 86% of secondary teachers had identified homophobic bullying in their schools. There was only one mention of HIV/AIDS in all the reports. It referred to content on ‘emerging economies’ in a ‘geography lesson’

In addition, less than 1% of reports criticised a school’s coverage of PSHE and SRE in any way. This is entirely at odds with the findings of Ofsted’s 2013 report into PSHE, which revealed that the subject’s provision was inadequate in 40% of schools.

In light of the findings, the BHA has called once again for PSHE and SRE to be made compulsory in schools, a move that was previously ruled out by the Department for Education, but now appears to be being revisited.

Take action! The Government is currently reviewing its position on making PSHE and SRE compulsory in schools, so now is the time to increase the pressure on MPs to support statutory status and ensure that every child and young person has the information they need to be healthy, happy, and safe. The BHA is encouraging people to email their MPs calling for high-quality, comprehensive, and age-appropriate PSHE and SRE in schools, and have provided a helpful facility through which it’s possible to do so. Click here to see more details of how to help.

Bible contradiction

Exodus 31:17; God (The omnipotent) is tired and rests. Isiah 40:28; God is never tired and never rests.

What is Humanism? A new book and fundraising effort

The British Humanist Association and the Humanist Society Scotland want to send the new children’s book What is Humanism? How do you live a good life without a god? And Other Big Questions for Kids to every primary school in the UK. It’s a fantastic book from the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young which they think every young person should have a chance to read. It’s important that young people, whatever their background, have a decent grasp of what Humanism is and how many people today live their lives – ethically and fulfillingly, without religion.

What is Humanism? is full of familiar faces, with contributions from humanists like Stephen Fry, Philip Pullman, Jim Al-Khalili, Natalie Haynes, and Shappi Khorsandi, who explain their own approaches to life, based on empathy and without gods.

Please click here to visit the Just Giving page and make a donation.

ARE WE BOVVERED? An opinion piece on the almost total irrelevance of the Church of England, by Alison Rowland

It’s not often now that the Church of England (CoE) hits the big headlines in mainstream media. Two news items – one on the historic physical child abuse known to the Church hierarchy for many years but only just revealed to the general public, and the other on the debate on the status of LGBTI believers, have both briefly hit the headlines recently. But both stories faded away very quickly, with little comment from outside the church itself.

The first issue is horrific and at the very least should result in prosecutions, not only of those directly involved, but potentially those aware for years of criminal offences who failed to report them – the very governance of the CoE. The second issue makes you wonder what decade the Church is operating in – the 1940s or 1950s? Any other major organisation with open discrimination against people’s sexuality would be challenged in the courts in high-profile cases. But in the CoE just a few dedicated Christian LGBTI groups seem to be pursuing this.

My point is – who really cares now about what happens inside the CoE? Even ‘big’ stories about their actions and their policies barely register in the media, and few outside the church seem minded to pursue them. The church never seems to comment on social policy anymore, or if it does, no-one cares much what it says. Even the CoE’s early involvement in food banks has been overshadowed now by corporate enterprises. World attention on religion is most definitely focussed elsewhere.

The CoE is still guilty of many crimes of morality, but in terms of influence I would suggest it’s largely an anachronism, an out-dated organisation run by elderly white men with a dwindling congregation of predominantly elderly parishioners. It is destined to fade away, I think, particularly in the UK, even if it maintains more influence in other parts of the globe. It’s still a scandal against democracy that Bishops sit in the House of Lords, but they are a small number in an unelected second house now packed with Tory appointees – the whole thing a bastion of privilege and cronyism in which the Bishops are just a little part of a very big problem. The Church still owns some enviable real estate. But did you know there is an organisation, the Friends of Friendless Churches, looking after a growing number of historic buildings that the CoE can not be bothered to conserve, let alone revive as vibrant centres of worship? What more poignant symbol of decline is there than churches disused and falling down.

Who could have predicted that the once great force of Anglicanism would die with a whimper rather than a bang, focussed on fighting internal battles which no-one outside of its walls really notices? How should Humanists respond? Can we look forward to the demise of the CoE without putting much effort in to help that process? I think so, and there will be little need for dancing on that grave, after what looks to be a slow but largely painless fading away. So maybe Humanists can now look elsewhere to fight more current and important challenges to enlightened secularism.

Diary dates

The. Blackham Lecture 2017. ‘Will Hate and fear trump hope and acceptance?’ By Ted Cantle. Friday 31st March, 7PM, Birmingham. Click here for full details.

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 one is therefore Wednesday 5th April.. Look forward to seeing you. Any queries, contact Tracey Drew 01926 857782.

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

February 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists,

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin
Tel: 01926 258413

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

freedom / happiness / virtue


Humanist Opinion

This has been published in the Courier Series of newspapers in Warwickshire on Jan 17th 2017

In my mid-eighties myself I was interested to read in Alan Bennett’s diary in the London Review of Books that as an octogenarian he is always conscious of his age with its infirmities and ‘the only end of age’ as Larkin put it. In his case as well as many others the personal situation is acerbated by the visibly worsening of society in many respects nationally and internationally. We can see the pressures on young people setting out on adulthood and on the poor in our own society and the conflicts abroad leading to the miseries of loss of home and livelihood leading many to become refugees.

We can see that our cherished western liberal, humane society that we believe in as the beacon for the future, is beset on all sides. Ironically ‘the enemy within’ turns out to be what we thought of as one of its central pillars namely democracy itself. Large numbers of people have become conscious of their power to bring about change. The change voted for unfortunately is in favour not of greater equalisation of wealth and social opportunities and away from rampant capitalism but is to turn inward to become nationalistic and chauvinistic.

We have turned away from a united Europe once the great post war dream of peace and co-operation. In America they have elected to replace an intelligent, civilised and well-intentioned President with one who is the opposite and whose many shortcomings are overlooked in favour of his appeal exclusively to self-interest.

Alan Bennett finds consolation in the fact that he has no children or grandchildren to feel sorrow and guilt about the future that our generation is bequeathing. I know what he means. Those of us who have staked our hopes for the gradual improvement of mankind in the potential of people to work together cooperatively with good will and kindliness to all, can only take a deep breath and hope that the present situation is just a blip on the upward climb.

Dr Brian Nicol, Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists


Success! Gwynedd Council rethinks plan to impose church school on community

Plans for a new ‘super school’ in Bala to have a religious designation have been shelved following widespread opposition to the proposal.

In January the National Secular Society wrote to Gwynedd Council, urging it to protect community school provision and respect the wishes of non-religious parents.

At a meeting of Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday the decision was made to restart the consultation process with the governing bodies of local schools over abandoning the proposal to establish a Church in Wales school in the town of Bala. The decision to rethink the religious status of the school follows strong local opposition from councilors, parents and governors of existing schools that would be closed to make way for the new school.

In a report to Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet ahead of the meeting it was made clear that the Actions of the Church in Wales during the consultation process has led to a “lack of confidence” in the partnership between the Diocese and the Governing Bodies. The report cited unease amongst Governors and Local Members that the Church was “mainly motivated by safeguarding the interests of Church resources”.

A majority of governors at one local school, Ysgol Y Berwyn, refused to support any governing body established if it serves a church school and called on the Council to “review the status of the new school with the desire to have a community school that is not formally connected to any specific religious body.”

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Gareth Thomas said a “loss of trust between church and community” represented a substantial change that meant the Council needed to rethink their plans. Gwynedd Council chairman and Bala Cllr Dilwyn Morgan welcomed the Council’s decision.

“I cannot of course pre-empt the outcome of that consultation but considering a petition of 1,022 was organised asking for a new consultation then hopefully the voice of the community will be loud enough. Hopefully now we can make the education of our children a priority”, he said.    Cllr Morgan had previously called on Church in Wales to “step back gracefully” and allow a new school to have a community status rather than be given any religious status.

Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns director, commented. “Schools are at the centre of our communities and it’s totally inappropriate to impose church schools, paid for from public funds, on communities that don’t want them. We hope Gwynedd will now move forward with a truly inclusive community school that everyone can get behind, irrespective of their religious outlook”. “In this day and age religious schools simply aren’t able to serve religiously diverse and increasing non-religious local communities”.

Bible contradiction

Genesis C1, v25-27. Man was created after other animals.

Genesis C2, v18-19, Man was created before other animals.

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 one is therefore Wednesday March 1st.  Look forward to seeing you.  Any queries, contact Tracey Drew 01926 857782.

Government should put human rights before profit 

The following Humanist Viewpoint was published on Friday 17th February in the Courier Series of newspapers in Warwickshire.

Humanists are deeply concerned about issues which effect the welfare of humankind. These include discrimination, climate change, freedom of expression, and especially human rights. This is why Humanists often lend their support to the campaigns of organisations like Amnesty International (AI) and in particular its latest one which calls on the UK Government to stop selling arms to a coalition of Islamic states led by Saudi Arabia. As AI points out, these arms are having a devastating effect on the people of Yemen. According to the UN, more than 11,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the conflict began, with up to 21 million in need of humanitarian assistance. Hunger among children has reached an all-time high, with almost half a million suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Despite all the damning evidence, the UK is still licensing arms worth billions of pounds to Saudi Arabia. Our government must no longer ignore images of women, men and children devastated by the atrocities they have witnessed, knowing full well that it is the UK fuelling this bloody conflict.

Humanists agree and urge the Government to put human rights before profit. They also think it is important to draw attention to the appalling human rights violations which take place in the Islamic theocracy of Saud Arabia where, under Sharia Law, medieval punishments are regularly meted out to those who dare to criticise Islam or contravene its teachings. Such punishments include public beheadings, hangings and floggings, hardly less barbaric than the acts of the Islamic State which are so widely condemned.

George Broadhead, Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists


Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

January 2017

Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists,

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin
Tel: 01926 258413

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

freedom / happiness / virtue


Letter to my MP
With regard to the government’s proposal to scrap the 50% admissions rule for new faith based schools, including religious free schools I wrote this letter to Ken Clarke who since my move to the Nottingham area is now my MP.
Friday 16 December 2016
Dear Kenneth Clarke,
The UK Government has announced plans to change many of the rules surrounding admissions to, and the opening of new faith based free schools and academies. These proposals include allowing new and existing faith based free schools to religiously select 100% of their pupil intake up from the current 50%.

Religious selection in schools is discriminatory, entrenches religious segregation in wider society, and often leads to ethnic and socio-economic segregation too.

In a society as diverse as ours, rather than facilitating segregation along religious lines, the Government should be doing everything it can to ensure that children of all faiths and none are educated together in inclusive schools.

The Government says that these proposals are intended [but apparently not necessarily achieve] to “promote inclusivity”, but it should be obvious to everyone that facilitating a new generation of 100% religiously selective schools is, by definition, inimical to this aim.

The proposals are intended to generate a new wave of faith-based schools. A proliferation of faith schools will impede the integration of religious minorities, harm social cohesion, increase levels of discrimination in state funded schools, undermine children and young people’s religious freedoms and further disenfranchise the GROWING non-religious majority in this country who are increasingly seeing their options for a non-faith-based education for their child limited.

The time has come to end religious discrimination and segregation in our schools – not extend it. Blair’s religious discrimination act didn’t end it, it created discrimination where before there wasn’t any and your lot are making it worse. I urge you as my MP to oppose these proposals and encourage the Government to instead call for schools to be open and inclusive, catering for all local children regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs.

You have previously intimated to me that you yourself are non-religious so I would expect a favourable response concerning this matter. More than 50% of the population of this country, according to recent BSA surveys, has been found to be non-religious so where is the democracy? Non-religious parents and pupils are increasingly being marginalised and disenfranchised by this Governments education policies. If this kind of discrimination was directed at a religious group there would be strong protests.

I’d also be interested to know where the Westminster’s all party humanist group stand on this issue and what they are doing about it. Did you know that 93% of convicted American child molesters identify themselves as Christian? Also that 74% of America’s prison inmates identify themselves as either Catholic or Protestant but only 0.2% identifies themselves as Atheists? There can be no doubt that UK prisons would yield a similar result so if this discrimination is based on the Christian ideal that atheists can’t have any morals why doesn’t these kind of surveys reflect that? Why is it that the minority C of E, whose church attendances are about 2% and in terminal decline, are running state schools at least 50% funded by non-religious tax payers?

Humanist weddings in Scotland are more popular than that of any religious group but your party in Government has rendered them illegal. You can’t use the excuse that there would be sham marriages to get round our immigration laws like alien religious groups do and get away with it so the motive has to be some kind of irrational discrimination. From where I’m standing it seems your Government is trying to bring about the return of The Dark Ages.
Yours sincerely,
Derek Franklin

I received this reply from Mr. Clarke’s secretary on the 21st Dec.
I am writing on Mr. Clarke’s behalf in his absence for the Xmas recess to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the subject of new faith based schools. You will be pleased to know that Mr. Clarke agrees with you on the 50% rule. He said so in the Chamber of the House Of Commons in response to Justine Greening’s announcement that the Gov’t were considering making a change.

He will continue to follow the debate and to share your general opinion.

You raise further points about religion as a part of school life in general and Mr. Clarke will take these comments on board when he sees your letter on his return to his office in January. He may write to you then if there is anything he wishes to add.

I have received no further communication from Mr. Clarke or his secretary Mrs. Charlotte Wallis.

Continuing on the same school’s admission subject:
Ireland to consider banning schools from using religion in admissions
The Irish Minister for Education and Skills has set out plans to tackle the religious discrimination endemic in the Irish education system, hitting out at the unfairness of a baptism requirement for school places.

But the proposals to reduce religious discrimination in the Irish education system have been described as “deeply flawed” by Irish secularists.

90% of primary schools in Ireland are under the control of the Catholic Church, with a further 6% controlled by other religious groups including Protestants.

In his speech, education minister Richard Bruton said religious parents’ wishes to educate their children in their faith should be respected but that non-Christian parents should not be unfairly disadvantaged.
The requirement for parents to baptise their children to gain a school place was unfair, he added.
The minister set out four options aimed at removing discrimination against families who don’t share a school’s faith, but secular campaigners have criticised all of them as inadequate.

The four options include a proposal to stop schools discriminating against local non-religious families in favour of more distant religious ones, or an option of allowing priority on religious grounds, but only when children already live within a school’s catchment area.

Mr Bruton also set out how a quota system could work, with a “limited proportion of places” reserved on religious grounds.

The last option mooted is an “outright prohibition on religious schools using religion as a factor in admissions”.

Education Equality welcomed the Irish Government’s acknowledgement that reform was needed, but said that three of the four proposals would “continue some form of religious discrimination.” Only an outright ban on using religion in admissions would remove discrimination in that area, they said.

However Education Equality spokesperson Sarah Lennon said that the public consultation was “nothing more than a delay”.

Without more fundamental reform to the religious ethos of Irish schools and “a workable approach to opting out of religious instruction and faith formation, then 4 and 5 year old children will still experience segregation and exclusion during the school day,” she added.
Atheist Ireland warned that the proposals could actually be counter-productive and could expand the ability of the Catholic Church to evangelise within the state-education system.

They said that mandating Catholic schools accept non-religious and non-Catholic pupils was not a solution: “Some in the Church would prefer to only teach already committed Catholics, but the Church officially sees schools as a way of evangelising minorities.”

Atheist Ireland cited a Vatican document urging schools to “seize” the opportunity of a “large non-Christian presence” as part of a “tradition of [the] Church’s missionary activity.”

From The Twittersphere

‘Pres. Trump says, “Most importantly, we will be protected by God.” Wrong. We must rely on our reason and our compassion.’  Centre for Inquiry

Re-watching Jacob Bronowski’s incomparable Ascent of Man. He should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. No scientist ever has. Why not?’ Richard Dawkins

‘Religions have been using alternative facts for hundreds of years, unfortunately there are people uncurious enough to believe them.’ Horsham Humanists

‘I’ll be 65 on 25 Jan. I’ve survived 300 violent assaults, 200 arrests, 3 arson attempts & 50 bricks through my windows. Still fighting!’ Peter Tatchel

Bible contradiction
(Gen 32:30) “For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.”
(Ex 33:20) “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

New Research
A recent global survey conducted by National Geographic shows that the worlds fastest growing religion is not Islam or Christianity, but no religion at all – atheism. The study comes in conjunction with Nat. Geo’s new television series “The Story of God” starring Morgan Freeman which travels the world chronicling religious beliefs practiced by different cultures. With the global headlines dominated by the Islamic State, Islamic immigration throughout Europe/Africa and recent religious freedom laws passed in the United States, to the untrained eye it would appear that religion is as strong as ever – but you would be mistaken. In fact just the opposite is occurring and the age old paradigm of piety is quickly shifting.

The study refers to atheists as “religious nones” or people who do not follow or identify with any religion. According to the results, atheism is now the second largest religious affiliation in North America and the majority of Europe. In the United States alone approximately 22.8% of the population now identifies as atheist, up 6.7% from 2007. Furthermore, U.S. atheists now represent a larger portion of the population than Catholics, Protestants, and all other followers of non Christian faiths – such as Islam and Buddhism. This was not the case only a decade ago.

The study finds that France, New Zealand and the Netherlands are world leaders in secularism (the belief that people should be free from religious teachings) and these countries will soon have a higher population of atheists than any other religious affiliation. If the statistics continue to trend in the current direction, the study finds the United Kingdom and Australia will soon be joining these countries. As it stands presently, Australia and the UK are already on the brink of losing their Christian majorities. With the exception of Buddhism, China rounds out the list of world leaders hosting secular beliefs.

On the other side of the spectrum, no where on Earth is religion growing faster than it is in Sub-Sahara Africa. This portion of the world is simultaneously experiencing the highest levels birth rates and when you forecast the long term population boom expected from this region over the next 25 years, the research indicates the number of religious people coming out of this region may be enough to overtake the number of atheists produced around the world over the same period.