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thundril wrote:
Much as I am unfond of Cameron, at least we don't have to put up with This kind of shite
:sick:

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December 18th, 2011, 12:23 am
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Maybe it's just me, but does it strike you as strange that anyone should base a discussion on God on whether it is good for society? How about whether God exists? Surely that's more important....? Nope. Apparently not.


December 18th, 2011, 12:29 am
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If I might just observe, when Alan H posted:

Quote:
What a self-serving load of Tory shite.


He was referring to the content of what was being said.

The response:

Quote:
"one-eyed Scottish idiot"


Is just an ad hominem attack, which manages to get a wee dose of racism and disablism in there for good measure.

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December 18th, 2011, 12:53 am
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Lifelinking wrote:
If I might just observe, when Alan H posted:

Quote:
What a self-serving load of Tory shite.


He was referring to the content of what was being said.

The response:

Quote:
"one-eyed Scottish idiot"


Is just an ad hominem attack, which manages to get a wee dose of racism and disablism in there for good measure.

Hmmm... That's partly what I meant to highlight, Lifey. "One-eyed idiot" isn't nice, but I don't really agree that describing something as "self-serving Tory shite" is not an ad hom. I think it is pretty offensive, and not very illuminating. "Self-serving" is an accusation, "Tory" started off as an insult, and is surely not meant affectionately here, and "shite", well, there are nicer words. And all are intended to stick to a certain group of politicians.

On the other hand, I think the idea of treating "Scottish" as a racist jibe is just daft. And if we can't chose to describe our own personal bete noires as idiots, then we are in trouble, wouldn't you say? So the left will stop calling Cameron a "toff", or Eric Pickles "fat", or Boris Johnson...well just about anything? I doubt it.


December 18th, 2011, 1:33 am
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Meh, this sounds like special pleading Nick. I would have thought that someone describing something as 'self serving Tory Shite' or for that matter 'self serving leftie shite' is pretty clearly a reference to an ideological position and the content of the related arguments. But, I do muse over the way that our adversarial system of politics does sometimes lead us to a sort of 'ya boo' shouting match that generates a great deal more heat than light. For the record, I do not think for a minute that you are a racist person Nick, but I did find the use of such a phrase surprising and a little disappointing for a place like TH.

As I am sure I have written before, context is crucial with regards to the way language is used, therefore words like Scottish or English or Polish or whatever are not inherently racist but can be used in a racist way. For example individuals have found themselves facing racially aggravated charges in front of a Sheriff in Scotland because they made reference to the victim's nationality (or perceived nationality) during an offence.

At the end of the day I personally prefer to err on the side of free speech whenever possible Nick, so if you choose to use terms such as this, so be it. I will continue to choose not to.

Thoughtfully,

LL

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December 18th, 2011, 2:31 am
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Did anyone hear the radio programme the other night about morals or something. Radio 4, I was in the car and I can't find it on listen again. The defence for Faith schools from some reverand was that such schools indoctrinate our children into moral standards ets. No-one took him up on the fact that we non-believers have moral standards too, and I think I have left it too late to do so myself even if I knew how to get my point across. Any out there heard/ remember it.


December 18th, 2011, 10:18 pm
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Val wrote:
Did anyone hear the radio programme the other night about morals or something. Radio 4, I was in the car and I can't find it on listen again. The defence for Faith schools from some reverand was that such schools indoctrinate our children into moral standards ets. No-one took him up on the fact that we non-believers have moral standards too, and I think I have left it too late to do so myself even if I knew how to get my point across. Any out there heard/ remember it.
The trouble is, Val, in the context you reported he can be right.

Yes, "non-believers" (but I believe in the precepts of Humanism) have moral values, unfortunately most of our non-faith schools are pretty bloody awful at instilling these in the kids. I have said before that most faith schools have a unified ethos - the instilling of morals is part of what they are; unfortunately they also attach a whole load of other baggage!

When "Ethics and Morals, their origin, value and applications in everyday life" (or something like that) is a required subject for all pupils in all schools and a pass is given a high value by employers and universities we may on the way to winning this battle.

It did occur to me the other day to wonder how kids that go to faith schools from families who are practising religious types, none-religious types and those that go to secular first schools compare later in life in terms of behaviour.

Dunno where the prog is, sounds like something from The Moral Maze, but that does seem to be running at the moment.

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December 18th, 2011, 10:38 pm
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Instilling of morals? By this do you mean passing on fixed ideas of what is 'right and wrong', or helping kids develop the ability to understand and figure out answers to difficult ethical questions for themselves.

And if I may ask regarding your assertion that:

Quote:
most of our non-faith schools are pretty bloody awful at instilling these in the kids


how you measure how good or bad a school is at 'instilling morals' and the evidence you have to back up your statement?

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December 19th, 2011, 12:10 am
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Lifelinking wrote:
Instilling of morals? By this do you mean passing on fixed ideas of what is 'right and wrong', or helping kids develop the ability to understand and figure out answers to difficult ethical questions for themselves.

And if I may ask regarding your assertion that:

Quote:
most of our non-faith schools are pretty bloody awful at instilling these in the kids


how you measure how good or bad a school is at 'instilling morals' and the evidence you have to back up your statement?
I was quoting a teacher acquaintance of line who teaches at state schools - her experience seems to be that a lot of stuff is taught by "quoting" from the books rather than asking the kids to work out things for themselves through examples in their own lives. She did teach in mainly inner city schools and other schools may be better.

I understand that, from a friend's son, not a lot of notice was taken of such things by the kids at hos local school. He was interested because, though the son of a now atheist, he has a strong sense of ethics and justice. The local faith school is about the only one within walking distance of where he lived, all other primary schools were a bus ride away, not viable for a 5 year old with two working parents who also needed to bus to work.

So Gile's was not "converted" by his experience, he is still referred to (in a friendly manner) as "The Atheist" by his partner's ex-High Court Judge Grandfather. But he says that the (otherwise excellent) secondary school did not make much impression along the moral education line. Perhaps it is partly my age and own experience, but they kids from the that secondary school are often disrespectful it has a fairly bad reputation in terms of teen pregnancy and drug use. And this is by no means an "inner city" school and draws from a selection of primary schools.

I agree that I was feeling a bit grumpy at the time and perhaps the strength of my termination was a little OTT! I should also have checked on the national picture.

I should have made it more clear that the "strength" of teaching in faith schools, even if it does produce good moral kids (and I am a bit sceptical about that I admit, the example the parents give can also be a powerful factor in the kid's development) the secular sector, and humanists in particular, might not agree to. But, without some sort of education/example/guidance, the spread of human nature if going to produce every variety from kids you might want to know through to the guns and knife wielding gang members.

I agree there are more factors involved than moral education, but that is one of the factors that is more addressable, but needs a fairly definite form of addressing to make much difference IMHO. We have at least one generation of politicians mucking about with the education system and other factors (the behaviour of those politicians and the bankers and media etc.) that do not exactly encourage encouraging good citizenship to contend with.

Grumping does not help I know, but there does not seem to be a lot more that I can do - writing to one's MP has little effect. Anyone know of an epetition along these lines?

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December 19th, 2011, 10:52 am
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Hi Dave, thanks for the really thoughtful reply. My question was out of a very genuine interest. I have worked in denominational and non denominational schools in Scotland and seen some good and some pretty mediocre schools in both categories. I am still not altogether sure about how we might effectively measure the 'instilling of moral values'. For example in Scotland right now we have senior Roman Catholic clerics blethering on about sex marriage and civil partnerships, and claiming some sort of moral high ground on the issue that I would argue is entirely unsound. To me, their arguments are unsustainable and profoundly unethical. Where teachers in Catholic schools are speaking to kids about this and related subjects I am pretty certain that they will be influenced and restricted by church dogma. The church would undoubtedly claim that they are giving moral direction to children. I would argue that they are perpetuating an unfounded and reprehensible prejudice.

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December 19th, 2011, 12:30 pm
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LL, this is partly why I said it would be good to have a comparative survey of the adolescent social and moral behaviour of kids from all kinds of schools and all kinds of family backgrounds in all kinds of areas.

The whole picture must be an incredibly complex one.

I hear people say that our kids are worse than those on the continent - but are they, I have yet to find a completely objective comparative account of such. The "globalisation" effect on this of the Internet must be a muddling factor as well.

True, the idea of enforcing any kind of behaviour is anathema. Required lessons in ethics, morals and the citizen's responsibilities does sound a bit Big Brotherish I agree, it would take a very careful and unified effort to achieve. The family environment would, of course, be a positive, neutral or negative influence on this. My teacher friend said that in the attempt her last school made they had to be very careful not to say anything that might be taken as criticism of the parents of the kids - both unethical and tending to encourage visits by aggressive parents! "Think for yourself, you must decide whether this is right or wrong and accept the responsibility either way, don't be a sheep," was about the strongest admonition that could be offered.

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December 19th, 2011, 12:50 pm
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Cameron's statements do slightly worry me. As the the top statesman I think it would be fine for him to say these things within the confines of his local C of E which he 'vaguely' attends as a C of E worshipper, but to make these comments as Prime-Minister is crossing a line, the fact this this speech is available on the official PM website (#10 website) is a statement that the separation of Church & State which we have never enjoyed here is not to be found anywhere within the vision of the current 'rulers.'

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January 1st, 2012, 11:51 am
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Watching the Conservative Political Action Committee yesterday and today, I have come to the conclusion that any effort to work for an American Civil Liberties movement is a waste of time. Since President Bush 43 announced federal grants for the churches, America became a Christian nation.

In order for Barak Obama to win the election in November he will have to declare himself a Born Again Christian and more Catholic laws will need to be made part of the government. I really do not want to live here any more. I am not a Christian and have never been and I'm sick of the subject.

Let the whole damn continent become filled with Christians,

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February 10th, 2012, 6:33 pm
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This may be considered :offtopic: , but it is not a joke, yet, sort of, is - er . . .

I decided to see what "fascist America" would offer me in terms of what was being thought and said. I found a couple of articles then the ubiquitous "whatever-they-are-looking-for-let's-try-to-sell-it-to-them" robot got in:


Image


So, Sandra, let your countrymen know they do not have to settle for any old Fascist America, they have the right to compare and chose, and there is a website on which they can do so!


Oh, the websites were: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps and Obama's Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps. The first is by Naomi Wolf and the second seeks to prove that it is Obama rather than Bush who has brought fascism to the states.

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February 10th, 2012, 7:38 pm
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Keep varying my search stream on themes containing "totalitarian" "fascist" "theocracy" "fiction" and "America" looking for a story I read many years ago.

The only common thing that comes up is "The Handmaid's Tale" (Margaret Atwood), excellent book, but not the one I seem to remember.

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February 10th, 2012, 10:04 pm
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Sandra Price wrote:
... I really do not want to live here any more. I am not a Christian and have never been and I'm sick of the subject.
Let the whole damn continent become filled with Christians,


{{Sandra}} I understand your angst. But from my perspective from this side of the pond most N Americans I know are atheists. They are all left of centre politicly. Do you really think Obama can only win again if he kowtows to the religionists? If that's true I think indeed you are probably doomed, as many will not vote wanting a 'none of the above' option and those not registering to vote. But there are growing and thriving atheist grassroots such as can be seen inthis thread I think there is hope for the US...


February 10th, 2012, 11:59 pm
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Sandra, I am one of those atheists and I most definitely live in NA. Here's a blog I came across. Check out the pictures. I can see why you feel as you do. http://monicks.net/2012/01/18/when-peop ... -religion/

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February 11th, 2012, 1:43 am
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In America we have only two parties. Both are under the control of the Vatican due to the size of our Congress. Some here mentioned a party of atheists who swing to the left. Does this indicate that Conservatives are always Christian? Atheists then are classified as Socialists?

This division might be prevalent in Europe but not supposed to be the way our American government operates. Before the Republican Party bought the religious right, we were basically Capitalists with an open free enterprise form of economy. Bush changed that by handing federal grants to the churches on one hand and allowing the free enterprise system get mired in corruption on the other. Christians have a long history of adding corruption into everything they do. All Christians are sinners so why fight it? Bush took it a large step further and wanted his chance at killing off Islam. Sure he needed the Jews and with the foreign aid he bought them too. My own family is now equally divided into Humanists and Jews and we get alone just fine.

My sanity snapped yesterday when I saw a level of evil enter the Republican Party that may have been there all along but hit me squarely in the eye when Theocracy became the answer to all our American problems. America is a Republic heading into a Vatican-shaped Theocracy based under a group of Conservatives who make no bones about being corrupt. A quick trip to Mass cleans them up.

Every culture on this planet has fallen into a religion based on human sacrifices. America is a little different in this because our minorities will be disgraced by white supremacy leaders who could not shut up about African Americans needing to be tested for drugs. A life time of brain washing has created a bunch of brain-dead white Americans who can't find their butts with both hands.

Islam will be the next and last war and Americans will send their sons onto war grinning like a bunch of brain-dead Christian soldiers. Not a single Catholic leader will be required to send a son off to die for Jesus H. Christ.

I wake up every morning to catch MSNBC's Morning Joe and for the first time I saw the fear in the eyes of the cast of that show being judged by an unseen sky daddy. Even Mika who speaks up for women. The Vatican was watching her and she was visibly shaken. The fear is her eyes for the protection of her darling daughters was very strong. How dare that Son of a bitch in the Vatican have this kind of power.........

Okay, MSNBC speaks for the Catholics and will never speak for an old Atheist like me.

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February 11th, 2012, 3:49 pm
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Hi Sandra. I do sympathise with you, and with many other atheist friends in the US. Not sure about the focus on Catholics, though.
Agreed the Catholic church is a sinister outfit. (I was brought up within it, and dread the possibility of ever having to live under it's evil influence again.) but my impression of the Xian right in the US is that it's mostly composed of evangelical protestants?
I have been spending a lot of time lately on a (mostly US) Christian website called Theologica. There are a couple of Catholics on the site, but the scariest people, (in my limited, UK atheist view) are the Calvinists, with their belief in a pre-ordained 'elect' who will go to heaven, and the rest of us, who will go to hell. AFAICS, it is these people who are discussing the Republican primaries in terms like 'Which candidate is the most Biblical?' (They were mostly going for Bachman, but now she's out, they're all for Santorum)
Of course, there is a mormon alternative, if you're looking for real credibility! :hilarity:
I do get the impression that the grip of the fundies is slipping over there, and hope our contributions on the 'net are helping in this regard. As more atheists begin to realise you're not alone, some seem to be coming blinking out into the daylight. This process will probably entail an even more desperate WASP backlash, but, as any African-American, or any outspoken women can testify, that's always going to a part of the struggle. In the end though, a kind of religion-tolerant secularism should emerge, as Americans rediscover the real meaning of your excellent Constitution. The alternative is too ugly for me to think about much.
all best. Jax.


February 11th, 2012, 4:21 pm
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A very timely press release from the BHA:

Quote:
No prayers, no god, no Jesus, no church: beliefs of UK 'Christians'

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed today’s release of new Ipsos MORI research, commissioned by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK (RDFRS UK). The data analyses the beliefs and practices of people who ticked ‘Christian’ on the national Census, and shows that many of them have no religious beliefs, and no habits of religious practice.

The research, carried out in the week following the 2011 Census, confirms the findings of research conducted in the previous week by YouGov for the BHA. That research found that:

• 65% of ‘census Christians’ said they were not religious
• Only 6% of ‘census Christians’ had attended a church in the last week
• Only 48% of ‘census Christians’ believed Jesus was a real person who was the son of god, died and came back to life.

Among other findings, the new research has shown:

• Only 30% of ‘census Christians’ say they have strong religious beliefs
• 60% of ‘census Christians’ have not read the Bible from choice in the last year
• Only 10% of ‘census Christians’ say they seek most guidance on questions of right and wrong from religious teachings or beliefs, with over 50% preferring to draw upon their own inner moral sense
• Only 28% of ‘census Christians’ say that it is a belief in the teachings of Christianity which makes them tick the Christian box, with over 72% saying it is because they were christened and 38% because it was their parents’ religion.

This data supports work done by academic demographers in the UK such as Abby Day and David Voas as well as the data from other surveys and polls, which have demonstrated repeatedly that the self-definition of ‘Christian’ says little about personal religious belief or practice.

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented:

‘There are many who wish to pretend that the decline of religiosity and increase in non-religious beliefs is other than what it is – a long-established and still-continuing trend. In doing so, they often resort to the argument that, although they do not attend churches or participate in worship, most people still believe in Christianity, even if they no longer belong to churches. This pretence was given a boost by the 2001 Census and the surprise result that over 70% of people ticked the Christian box.

‘Unfortunately for the ideologues, much research ever since that result has shown that many if not most of the “census Christians” are not Christians in any meaningful religious sense. Most don’t see themselves as religious and many have no Christian religious beliefs. Their approach to moral decision-making is more akin to a humanist ethic than a mainstream religious one.

‘Many in public life, not least our current Prime Minister, express the sentiment that the UK is a “Christian country”. Today’s data helps us to further demolish that specious claim by showing that not only are most people in Britain not Christian in any religious sense, but even most “Christians” aren’t.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson, Chief Executive at [email protected] or on 07855 380 633, or Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at [email protected] or on 0773 843 5059, or the RDFRS UK at [email protected].

The BHA ran the Census Campaign, encouraging non-religious people to tick ‘No religion’ in the 2011 Census. The BHA argued that the census data on religion produced by the 2001 Census gave a wholly misleading picture of the religiosity of the UK. The BHA campaigned for an improved question on religion; however, once the same flawed question was approved again for use in the 2011 Census, the BHA’s objective was to raise awareness of the importance of responding carefully, to give an accurate picture of religious affiliation in the UK. Visit the Census Campaign website: http://census-campaign.org.uk/

Read more surveys and statistics related to religion and belief: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/re ... statistics

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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February 14th, 2012, 1:11 am
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