Australian state bans external religious organisations from running prayer groups in schools


All Christians are liars, Birmingham pupils told


UK Government bans all existing and future Academies and Free Schools from teaching creationism as science


The Government has changed the rules to preclude all Academies and Free Schools, both those that already exist and those that will open in the future, from teaching pseudoscientific ideas such as creationism as scientifically valid. The changes have been made through extending an explicit ban to all future Academies and Free Schools, but also by clarifying that it believes the requirement to teach a broad and balanced curriculum means no existing Academies and Free Schools can teach pseudoscience either. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the news as representing a significant step towards achieving one of its longstanding policy goals.

AWESOME. FOUR FOR YOU, SOMETHING TO ACTUALLY BE HAPPY ABOUT.

“While it is important that pupils be taught about religion - all religion - and, if their parents prefer it, instruction in it, there is no room in class for proselytising. Pupils are there to learn, not to be converted.”

Editorial, Melbourne Age

Missouri schools may have to "alert" parents when evolution is taught


Gove urged to strip 'creationist' zoo of educational award - Education - TES News


Read more above

Church takeover of community school blocked by local authority


GOOD.

Jesus christ, the UK does NOT need more fucking religious schools. 

Faith schools blasted on admissions


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"It reveals that they not only further segregate children on religious and ethnic grounds, but also are skewed towards serving the affluent at the expense of the deprived.

"Crucially, the research also shows that the more a school is permitted to select children by faith, the greater the extent to which it is likely to socio-economically segregate.

"The data poses some very awkward questions for the state-funded faith school sector, especially as many people of faith are appalled that schools that should focus on the poor have become so elitist."

Faith in schools: The dismantling of Australia's secular public education system


The Separation of Church and State Schools was the theme of a conference hosted in Brisbane by the Humanist Society of Queensland on the weekend of 13-14 October 2012.

With conference speakers including academics and representatives of teacher and parent groups, the conference focused on four key areas of concern:

  1. Religious instruction classes conducted during school hours
  2. Chaplains in state schools
  3. State funding for religious schools
  4. The teaching of creationism and/or intelligent design as “science” in the science classroom

After Christian School Suppresses News Story About Pedophile Professor, a Brave Student Tells the World


You don’t always see student journalists take big risks and break stories but Alex Green, the editor-in-chief of Bryan College’s student newspaper in Dayton, Tennessee, did just that on Monday and it’s really an incredible story.

Bryan College is a Christian school founded in the wake of the local Scopes Monkey Trial and David Morgan was a professor of Biblical Studies there.

Anti-LGBT “Julea Ward Freedom Of Conscience Act” Passes House in Michigan. (SSA Blogathon)


“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”  – Christopher Hitchens

Julea Ward, in case you are wondering, was a student at Eastern Michigan University who was kicked out of a school counseling graduate program after she refused, on religious grounds, to affirm homosexual behavior when serving clients. Judge George Caram Steeh of the U.S. District Court in Detroit dismissed the suit, saying that the university “had a right and duty to enforce compliance” with professional ethics rules that bars counselors from discrimination, and ruled in favor of the university.

We’ll Have None Of THAT…!

ThinkProgress reports that the Michigan House passed HB 5040 (Julea Ward Freedom Of Conscience Act). This bill transcends Christian colleges and will, if passed, also effect non-Christian (read: real) colleges that will allow students to refuse to provide any counseling that compromises their religious beliefs. Including those pesky gays…

According to HB 5040, this bill is,

“A public degree or certificate granting college, university, junior college, or community college of this state shall not discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.”

Legislation should dictate ethical standards in a university setting, but this bill seeks to dodge it.

Wayne, Manners…

ThinkProgress closes their article by reporting that activist Wayne Besen said,

“Counseling should be about the client, not the self-serving needs of the therapist.”

Michigan’s distaste for their LGBT community was solidified when they banned all domestic partnerships, and again when they attempted to create a “license to bully” in schools. Their illustrious Governor, Rick Snyder (R), as expected wouldn’t even meet with anyone from the LGBT press.

The Michigan State Motto should be changed from “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice” (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you) to “Si vos peto bigotry , vos mos reperio is hic” (If you seek bigotry, you will find it here)

Freethought blogs

Richard Dawkins: evolution will be ‘the new classics’: Evolution should be considered “the new classics”, Richard Dawkins has claimed, arguing that a university course in the subject would produce the most academically polished students.


Whereas employers traditionally fought over classicists because they were seen as the most rounded graduates, students with degrees in evolution would soon gain a similar reputation, the author and renowned atheist said.

Although no such course exists in Britain, with the subject principally being confined to biology programmes, Prof Dawkins said degrees in evolution were sure to appear in future and their students would achieve “polymathic status”.

Reading evolution would broaden scholars’ horizons by giving them a better understanding of economics, social science, philosophy, engineering, medicine, agriculture, linguistics, physics, cosmology and the history of science, he argued.

The author of The God Delusion was speaking as he accepted an award for Distinguished Services to Humanism from the British Humanists Association last weekend.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “I think evolution would do a good job of uniting not just biology and geology and the obvious scientific subjects, but also philosophy, history, economics.

"Rather like classics it gives you the skills of debating, a perspective on life … it would do what classics has always done, which is just teach people how to think."

Prof Dawkins, who is employed by Oxford University but is also affiliated with A.C. Grayling’s New College of the Humanities, added that he would happily lecture on such a course.

Explaining the common ground shared by evolution and behavioural economics in his speech last weekend, he said: “Everything has to be paid for, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You have to pay for whatever you do now in the form of lost opportunities to do other things in the future.”

The evolutionary subject of sexual selection, the relationship between parents and their children and the significance of sex ratios are “rife” within economic thinking, he added, according to a Guardian blog.

Engineering principles such as the refinement of designs to make them more efficient and effective are “central to evolutionary theory” while the modern-day study of molecular genetics is effectively “digital information technology”, he said.

All doctors should be followers of Darwin, he continued, saying that “If doctors had been wise to natural selection we wouldn’t have the problem we have now with antibiotic resistance evolving by natural selection by bacteria”.

Creationists triumph in South Korea, as references to evolution excised from school textbooks


Yesterday I blogged about a new Gallup poll revealing that 46 per cent of Americans hold creationist views, but today attention shifts around the globe to South Korea, following news that school textbook publishers are to remove several references to evolution from future editions as a result of a successful petition by a creationist organisation.

According to a report in the latest issue of Nature, the Society for Textbook Revise, an offshoot of the Korea Association for Creation Research, launched a petition calling on the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to ask publishers to remove examples concerning the evolution of the horse and Archaeopteryx, a winged Late Jurassic creature believed to be an ancestor of modern birds. After the Ministry passed on the petition to textbook publishers, several took the decision to remove the examples from their books.

The focus on the specific example of Archaeopteryx represents a common creationist tactic, whereby genuine disputes among evolutionary biologists are exploited in an attempt to undermine the science as a whole. Archaeopteryx has long been believed to have been an ancient ancestor of birds, but more recent studies have suggested the connection to modern birds may not be as clear as was previously thought. Having successfully taken advantage of that particular scientific debate, the Society for Textbook Revise are apparently now aiming to persuade publishers to remove references to “the evolution of humans”.

Figures for those not believing in evolution in South Korea are relatively high, with almost one-third of those surveyed in a 2009 poll saying they did not. Considering that only 26 per cent of Koreans are Christian, it is possible that the problem lies with science education rather than religion – 41 per cent of those disputing evolution in the 2009 survey cited “insufficient scientific evidence”, compared with 39 per cent who cited religious beliefs. Speaking to Nature Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University, suggests evolution is not taught widely enough in the country’s universities, with “only 5–10 evolutionary scientists” teaching the theory to students across the entire university system.

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New Humanist

This doesn’t surprise me. This is my neck of the woods right now, and the sheer amount of crosses I see, on every damn street, flashing neon from roof-tops, Religious Iconography in windows and store-fronts…I swear, it’s worse than America.

~Mooglets

The church school paradox: Do faith schools have an unfair advantage in Britain today?


A report issued by the Church of England last month declared that its schools were “at the centre of its mission” to society. There’s a technical sense (which the report acknowledged) in which that statement is quite accurate: there are more children in the church’s schools than there are worshippers in its pews every Sunday. There are millions of people in this country whose main or only contact with institutional religion comes through education. You could almost say that the C of E is now principally an education provider with a small but lucrative sideline in weddings and funerals.

Leading national organisations unite to ask Gove to prevent anti-abortion groups making false claims in schools


Leading sexual health groups, unions and religion and belief organisations have together written to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, to ask that he issues guidance to prevent groups making false claims about abortion and contraception in schools. The letter particularly focuses on the behaviour of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), Lovewise and Life, and was coordinated by Education For Choice (EFC) and the British Humanist Association (BHA). EFC and the BHA recently uncovered falsehoods spread by SPUC in schools through secret recordings, and are aware of similar inaccurate claims made by the other two groups.