Christianity

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The Christian Today website reports somewhat breathlessly that the creationist school proposed by the Everyday Champions Church in Newark has got the go-ahead from our somewhat underwhelming Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove (Evangelical school gets the go ahead in Nottingham | Christian News on Christian Today).  This appears to be another of the hopefully over-optimistic articles from the christian lobbies.  It begins

A school that will teach that God created the world has been given approval to open in Nottinghamshire.

An application by the Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, has been accepted by the Department for Education.

But then later in the article says:

Now it has emerged that a panel of civil servants interviewed Everyday Champions Church leaders last week after their initial application was approved. It is not known if they agreed to drop plans to teach creationism.

So what gives?  If Michael Gove has approved an application from these nutters, where will it end?  Why should the nation fund schools run by idiots who say

“Creationism will be embodied as a belief at the Everyday Champions Academy but will not be taught in the sciences. Similarly, evolution will be taught as a theory.”

Doesn’t our foolish Secretary of State for Education realise this is creationist code?  I do wonder whether they will teach some alternative to the Theory of Gravity – perhaps while the teachers are all bouncing off the ceiling.  To hand education of our nation’s children to evangelical buffoons could be seen as sanctioning child abuse.

Update:  Visiting the Everyday Champions Academy website, one can see the following text in big bold letters:

Contrary to press coverage ECA has NOT been given approval to open by the DfE and will not receive an update on its progress to pre-opening stage until late September/early October. If the proposal is successful the Academy will NOT be teaching ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ in any science lesson in line with national curriculum guidelines.

So there is hope yet…

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A slightly confused story at the Daily Mail online (Evangelical church application to set up new free school where it will teach creationism is approved) seems to suggest that the ridiculous idea that a bunch of evangelical christians are responsible enough to the trusted to run a school has been accepted by the Government.

An evangelical church with creationism at the heart of its belief system has been given outline approval to run a free school.

An application by the Everyday Champions Church, based in Newark, Nottinghamshire, has been accepted by the Department for Education.

The church intends to teach the biblical belief that God created the world in six days, but evolution will only be taught as a ‘theory’.

That isn’t education, it’s teaching stupidity.

Anyway, it may be that the article is being a bit premature – accepting an application isn’t the same as approving an application, and the article goes on to say:

Now it has emerged that a panel of civil servants interviewed Everyday Champions Church leaders last week after their initial application was approved. It is not known if they agreed to drop plans to teach creationism.

Officials told the Daily Telegraph they could not comment on the application but each one would be treated with ‘due diligence.’

Meanwhile the church’s leader, is quoted as saying:

‘Creationism will be embodied as a belief at the Everyday Champions Academy but will not be taught in the sciences. Similarly, evolution will be taught as a theory.’

Clearly the typical ignorant and scientifically illiterate creationist then.  Will the kids be taught alternatives to theories such as the Theory of Gravity?

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Hot on the heels of a Church of England faith school inviting a young earth creationist to present an alternative view of the origins of life and it’s diversity (which kick-started CrISIS), we have another example of a religious group with rather extreme views using a faith school to gain access to children (Schoolboy made to write ‘Sorry’ on piece of paper – then eat it – Parentdish).

This is pretty scary stuff – members of an evangelical church (the New Life Baptist Church) visited Ainderby Steeple  primary school, which is a Church of England school, for some sort of bizarre cultish event known as ‘Kidzone Roadshow’.  It’s reported that at least one child has been pretty seriously disturbed by the aggressive tosh being pushed by the evangelicals and, as in the case of the Exeter school, his parent got very little helpful response from the school’s head teacher when she complained:

[…] she complained to headteacher Fiona Sharp. She claims that when she confronted Miss Sharp over ­making pupils eat their ‘apologies to God’, written on rice paper, she was told: ‘That is what we do.’

Appallingly it seems that this isn’t a solitary example of such abuse of vulnerable children: the child was transferred to another school only to find the same religious crazies have a foothold there too.

Indeed, this may be quite widespread – the National Secular Society says it’s received several similar reports (Evangelical group made children “eat their sins”).  The vulnerability of faith schools to incursions from religious extremists seeking to indoctrinate children at an impressionable age is clear, and one further argument for the elimination of faith schools.

 

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Here’s a detailed overview from the National Secular Society about the latest claims of victimisation of Christians (Christian Legal Centre goes into bully mode as doctor claims religious persecution) that I blogged about recently.  Apparently the doctor’s practice requires to to actively opt-out from their evangelising.  This is even openly stated on an NHS website.  Isn’t that in itself something for the GMC to investigate?

 

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The Telegraph outlines a case where a Kent GP pushes christianity at his patients (Doctors can be Christians, too) – the mother or one of his patients objected to his pushing his religion:

All he did was to share his conviction that a commitment to the Christian religion could be one element that contributed to a recovery from illness (my emphasis). If the patients objected, or made it clear that they did not like the turn of the conversation, he dropped the topic.

The dear old Telegraph appears to think this complaint is unreasonable – at least if the GMC plan to take action, which they appear to.  It isn’t, the actions of this GP seem to me to be unreasonable – at least if the Telegraph’s report is in any way accurate.  Any road, (according to the Freethinker) the GP is apparently refusing to accept censure by the GMC and is taking the case to the Christian Legal Centre (the people who appear to have inexhaustible funds to support unwinnable cases on behalf of aggrieved christians) – though there’s no mention of their website.  That’ll be the end of that, I guess.

It doesn’t stop the Telegraph from spouting the irritating old canard that christians are unfairly treated in comparison to other religions.

Yawn.  This isn’t a case of someone professing a faith and being punished for it.  It’s actually a case of someone acting unprofessionally – to claim that a commitment to christianity (and presumably not any of the other odd belief systems in the world) aids recovery is, it seems to me, most unwise as medical advice!

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Season’s greetings to the victimised former Archbishop

The Rev Dr Peter Hearty of the excellent ‘Platitude of the Day‘ website is clearly concerned that former Archbish Carey is rather upset at the (supposed) continued victimisation of christians in the UK*.  He thinks we should send Christmas cards to the poor old soul.

It’s been suggested that Lord Carey deserves a response to his Not Ashamed campaign. He’s obviously feeling a bit down, what with all this Christian persecution that’s going on. I think the idea of sending him a Season’s Greetings card, perhaps with a picture of some jolly penguins or some reindeer on the front, is an excellent way of cheering the old chap up.

Click over to Platitude of the day for more…and don’t be mean!

I think I may well just do the same…and I’m sure Lord Carey, ensconced in the House of Lords with the others who are there merely because they are senior figures of the Church of England will enjoy all those seasonal sentiments and images.

*Of course, not everyone agrees that there is any persecution.  The Bishop of Croydon disagrees (Bishop bashes Christian persecution complex).

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More grumblings from Christian Concern for Our Nation (More registrars under pressure due to homosexual civil partnerships – CCFON.org – Christian Concern For Our Nation), who seem to suffer from the delusion that their religious beliefs entitle them to discriminate against specific sectors of our population (thereby breaking the law).  Unfortunately the CCfON website doesn’t have a commenting facility.  CCfON write (my emphasis):

The investigation follows the case of Lillian Ladele, a registrar working for Islington Council who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies because they were against her Christian beliefs. She had also tried to change her rotas but homosexual colleagues complained and she later had to resign. She lost her claim for discrimination last December when the Court of Appeal ruled that her refusal to conduct civil partnership ceremonies breached equality laws

Of course this is taken as a “religious bar to office” by the Christian Legal Centre.  I say being Christian doesn’t bring with it the right to discriminate. I guess it’s all part of the “victim culture” that seems to be UK christians’ main plank in the argument that they should continue to receive favoured status in society.

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It transpires (see for example the Not-So-Friendly-Humanist, Freethinker, and Pharyngula blogs) that a student christian union has started an attempt to have bibles placed in each student room at the Edinburgh University Pollock Halls of Residence.

Apart from the sheer arrogance of this approach, this does fill me with amusement.  Back in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was a student at Edinburgh, Pollock Halls appeared to double its occupancy on Friday and Saturday nights following the dread discos (usually closing with the rousing sing-along anthem Hi Ho Silver Lining).  Indeed such frequently carnal activity was reflected in amused comments from University accommodation officers concerning the single beds provided at Pollock Halls.

So, I suppose if passed, the distribution of bibles will be followed with a multitude of other holy books.  Will it extend to the works of L. Ron Hubbard, who’s flights of fancy came a cropper in French courts recently?  After all, Hubbard’s bonkers beliefs aren’t especially unusual in comparison to the tosh found in the bible.

I particularly liked Barry Duke’s (Freethinker blog) suggestion of a warning label that should be affixed to each copy:

I have an upcoming trip to the US – I imagine there will be Gideon bibles in each hotel room I will stay in.  The temptation to affix such labels would be severe…

On the other hand, perhaps the kindly souls at the christian union would consider Robert Crumb’s illustrated version of Genesis.  At least that would amusingly illustrate (probably in a nice earthy sort of way) several elements of the warning label.

Good luck to those who seek to prevent this absurdity.  Students don’t need extra doorstops in their tiny Pollock Halls bedrooms.

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There’s been an admirable atheist bus advert campaign in DesMoines, Iowa.  Firstly, the advert is a bit more “atheist” than the British bus adverts that kicked off the international trend for atheist publicity (the text reads “Don’t believe in God? Your not alone”.  Of course the initial response of the Transit Authority responsible for the buses was to refuse to carry the ads – this decision was quite rightly overturned.

Now, however, and in a parallel to the events in the UK, a bus driver has refused to drive a bus on the grounds that it offends their religious beliefs.  Or something.  Back in January, a Hampshire bus driver was suspended for refusing to drive a bus with the original atheist advert:

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming “There’s probably no God”.

Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with “shock” and “horror” at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest. (BBC – Man refuses to drive ‘No God’ bus)

Exactly the same thing has happened in Iowa.  According to a report in a local news service (DART Bus Driver Suspended Over Atheist Ad),

The Des Moines Regional Transit Authority has suspended a driver who refused to drive a bus bearing an ad for an atheist group.  Angela Shiel was suspended on Monday after she refused to drive a bus with an Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers ad on its side. The ad reads “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

Oh, and amusingly there’s an online poll (Vote: DART Driver’s Suspension)!  At the moment, the results are in favour of the driver’s suspension.  Perhaps the poll’s been Pharyngulated…

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There has been an outpouring of blog posts about a visit to the Creation Museum by around three hundred delegates from a Secular Student conference – publicised by PZ Myers in his Pharyngula blog.  Rather than try and list them, I will point you to Pharyngula, which features a good few posts on the visit (e.g. Tales of the 300 … more accounts of the Creation “Museum”).

Platitude of the Day, which ordinarily “interprets” the usually rather vacuous Radio 4 religious slot Thought for the Day, presents their interpretation of a contribution by Mark Looy, the man who evicted a student for daring to wear a T-shirt that proclaimed there wasn’t a god.

There are several reports out there on the web, including a bunch of videos (which I’ve not yet waded through), see for example this compilation of links at Pharyngula (The whole experience).

Interestingly, the Answers in Genesis blog (Can University of Minnesota Professors’ Research Be Trusted? beware, this links to Answers In Genesis, one of the most stupid sites on the web) flails around trying to evade some of Myers’ accusations.  Doesn’t succeed in my opinion.  And it’s notable that the AIG blog doesn’t permit commenting…shame…  AIG’s very own Ken Ham appears to be doing the rounds trying to mitigate the damage caused by the exposure of the displays in the “museum”.

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