ESS letter : Ozzie atheists say stop ticking Jedi in the census.

Symbol of the Jedi Order

Symbol of the Jedi Order

Seems that the ongoing joke of putting “Jedi” as a religious affiliation in a census is being campaigned against by The Atheist Foundation of Australia.

Their concerns are that the government gets a false impression of the general religiousness of its citizens which misdirects civic spending and how they allocate time slots on public radio and television.

That minority of Scottish citizens who do hold religious beliefs are quite rightly represented in a census but I wonder why people casually tick religious boxes when they have no real religious beliefs or lifestyle.

Maybe it’s through a sense of family or cultural loyalty or maybe it’s to cover their “fire insurance” as my Granny’s old joke used to go. I still keep my Granny’s rosary beads but if you don’t want religious ideas to be disproportionately represented in your name, for God’s sake tick the “none” box.

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Edinburgh Evening News 24th August 2016

ESS Letter : Christian faith in public life

Anthony Horan writes on Christian faith in public life.

To his credit he acknowledges that a recent Scottish Social Attitudes survey shows more than half of Scots do not identify with any religion : Christianity is now a subset of a minority.

We agree that all have the “right to a voice in the public square” if it is from a platform of equality, but Mr. Horan’s argument is compromised when he says that religious ideas should be “welcomed without fear or favour.”

There is huge favour still enjoyed by religions : unelected clerics on council education committees; statutory Religious Observance in state school; bishops in The House of Lords etc.

An “overwhelming majority” of Scots may identify as “spiritual” but that does not mean they tacitly endorse the privileging of minority Christian groups.

He says “Faith and belief in a constant and ever-loving God can guide us.” Faith is a “guide” for you Mr Horan, and long may it continue to be, but as one of many voices in the public square you must get over the belief that you speak for “us.”

Published Scotsman newspaper 4th August 2016

ESS Letter: Catholic school name change

catholic-schools

We were aghast to hear that the Roman Catholic section of Edinburgh’s Fox Covert Primary is trying to change its name to make it “sound more Catholic.” (your report 7th June)

We cannot understand what Roman Catholic doctrine has to do with primary education or why the head teacher wishes further to segregate local children according to the beliefs of their parents.

However if she presses on with this divisive initiative might we suggest Sainty McSaintface ?

 Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Edinburgh Evening News 10th June 2016

ESS Letter: Kirk ‘overstated’

Kirk

Ruth Davidson is a little overstated when she suggests that “civic society would completely collapse without the Church of Scotland.” (your report 1st June)

Religious groups must be entitled to voice opinions as long as it is not from a platform of privilege, but is it cynical to suggest that for a Conservative politician the religious block vote is too hard to ignore ?

We may applaud The Church of Scotland’s support for foodbanks and sometimes agree with its “challenging of politicians” but remember its challenge to several liberal initiatives including marriage equality which happily Ms. Davidson herself is soon to enjoy.

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Scotsman newspaper 3rd June 2016

ESS Letter: Remove Christian symbols

Crematorium

With Mortonhall Crematorium being closed for five months to allow for repairs following fire damage, this might be a good time to remove the Christian symbols from the chapels and the Garden of Remembrance to reflect what should be the religiously neutral nature of a publicly funded building.

Those who wish a religious funeral must of course be free to employ a chaplain and the religious accessories of their choice but we know that Christianity is now a minority belief, does not represent everyone’s sense of spirituality and should not be the default design of crematoria.

At a difficult and poignant time no mourner should have to screen out, or quite literally dodge around the symbols and icons of someone else’s religion.

 Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Scotsman newspaper 31st May 2016

ESS Letter: Secularism

Church and State

Richard Lucas despairs about the modernising of The Church of Scotland over sexuality and relationships and their opposition to smacking children. (letters 26th May)

He laments that these are “secular values.” Mr Lucas should remember that Secularism is concerned only to separate church and state makes no judgement of religious ideas per se.

I imagine that if asked, many secularists would applaud The Kirk or any organisation finding its way towards liberalism and decency but the internal ideological struggle of a private religious group has nothing to do with Secularism.

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published in Scotsman newspaper 27th May 2016

ESS Letter: Secular Time

Kirking

This week saw the pageant known as The Kirking of the Parliament and much is being made of its new “inter-faith” credentials including a contribution from Humanist Society Scotland.

Is this a step in the right direction? We know that all religious groups combined now amount to fewer than half of all Scots.

The solution to the privilege of one minority religion proclaiming its affiliation with our democratically elected parliament is surely not to shoe-horn in a whole bunch of other religions.

Pageantry and ceremony add value to our lives but could we not have a secular event which represents all Scottish voters?

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published in the Scotsman newspaper 13th May 2016

Edinburgh Secular Society – Annual General Meeting 2016

AGM1

Edinburgh Secular Society – Notice of Annual General Meeting 2016

All members are welcome to attend.

Time: 12;45pm
Day:  Sunday
Date; 24th April 2016
Venue: Royal Over-Seas League (Stevenson Room), 100 Princes Street, Edinburgh.

ESS Letter: Rights of Children V Religious Rights

Relgion v Child rights

We were heartened to hear that a court in England has ruled against a Muslim father who wished for his sons aged six and four to have their genitals surgically altered in keeping with his religious beliefs.

The boys’ mother had argued that they should be allowed to decide for themselves when they are old enough.

Adult religious belief must be respected but it does not trump the rights of children who are too young to understand or consent to such a procedure.

Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published Edinburgh Evening News 22nd April 2016

ESS Letter: Bible-based morality

Bible

To its credit the SNP government is to amend gender recognition laws to promote the freedoms and rights of transgender Scots.

This welcome initiative is of course opposed by David Robertson of The Free Church who has blustered about “the destruction of traditional Christian ideas of sexuality and marriage” and how it will mean “the destruction of humanity and cause chaos.”

Religious groups must be free to campaign on any issue so long as it is not from a platform of privilege: we might, for example, support their opposition to poverty or homelessness so we have no right to deny them a voice simply because we might disagree on this occasion.

However if bible-based morality creates ungenerous attitudes of such naivety, intolerance and gracelessness, is it any wonder that the vast majority of Scots aged under-thirty are now having nothing to do with Christianity ?

 Neil Barber – Communications Officer – Edinburgh Secular Society

Published in Edinburgh Evening News 4th April 2016

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