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Ed West (“journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture” – and believe me his article is ‘low’ all right) writes in the Telegraph thus:
The Richard Dawkins-led anti-religious movement in many way resembles the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, on both Left and Right, which hated religion as rival sources of loyalties, and sought to drive it out.
Ohhhh, he went there. Never mind that Hitler did use religion when it suited; never mind that Dawkins has never advocated any kind of genocidal Solution; never mind that the very making of this comparison utterly over-exaggerates the message and most importantly, that it offensively downplays the true horrors that occured under actual 20th century totalitarian regimes. Never mind all that, Ed West went there anyway. Reductio ad Hitlerum. Godwin’s law holds true again.
This teen atheist blogger (that’s a self-description, obviously!) should be given Ed West’s job. Or Ed West’s editor’s job.
Who could possibly find anything to complain about in such a message?
Well, Ed West did in this profoundly stupid article at the Telegraph, where he makes any number of dumbass errors and assumptions in between being a general twit in his November 18 article, entitled ‘Stay away from my kids, Richard Dawkins’. … Barely a single paragraph in, and already the equating of a peaceful message about not unfairly labeling kids to fascism has begun. Talk about getting to the point – and saying something stupid – in record time.
Go Joé! Read his piece here.
A bit more of the BHA’s campaigning work paid off today. Here’s the BBC’s top Education story, featuring the BHA as having led the campaign to include evolution in the pimary science curriculum and quoting our Director of Education and Public Affairs, Andrew Copson.
It shows what precision lobbying can do so we’re patting ourselves on the back.
Remember if you support the sentiments of the Please Don’t Label Me campaign then you can donate now to www.justgiving.com/nofaithschools to support the BHA’s work on children’s rights, education, reform of RE and against faith schools and compulsory worship. Spread the word!
“Humanist poster stirs up religious storm” says the Belfast Telegraph. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they did find a Free Presbyterian Church minister (Rev McIlveen) and a Muslim “father-of-four” to say a few angry things.
Frothing only slightly, the good Reverend says:
I would totally reject the [Don't Label Me billboard] advertisement. It is reprehensible and so typical of the hypocrisy of the British Humanist Association today. They have a defeatist attitude and are just trying to draw attention to themselves. I think it is totally arrogant, presumptuous and sparks of total hypocrisy. I believe this doesn’t deserve a counter campaign. I will be expressing my public position on it in my own church on Sunday.
David McIlveen "And here's my proof"
That should get the punters in.
This is the same Reverend David McIlveen, by the way, implicated in the Advertising Standards Authority decision to ban his church’s anti-gay advert in December last year. The newspaper advertisement had said that “sodomy” is an “abomination” and “God’s judgment upon a sin.” It is apparently “a cause for regret that a section of the community desires to be known for a perverted form of sexuality.”
To be fair, in his defence, McIlveen said, “It has never been our intention to deliberately offend anyone,” – (wait for it there’s always a ‘but’) – “but we cannot deny that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will by its very nature be a source of offence to those who rebel against its message and in turn despise its messengers. … It is totally unacceptable for any church to look to an outside body for their approval to print gospel tracts that are based on the word of God. This we cannot and will not do.”
Translation: Wider social consensus on what counts as hateful and discriminatory language is irrelevant to me and my church.
It’s been a great first day for the billboard campaign. At the BHA we’ve received huge numbers of emails, it’s great to see people tweeting away again, and we’re currently 28% of the way toward our funding target. Let us know your view on the posters in the comments – good or bad.
You can hear the BHA discussing the campaign on Radio Five Live at about 10.30pm tonight (GMT).
Those useful links again:
From the BBC news piece:
Graham Coyle, a teacher and national team leader at the Christian Schools Trust, which represents 43 independent schools, questioned what the BHA was asking parents to do.
“They seem to be saying that they don’t want parents to pass on to their children their fundamental beliefs – about what is right and wrong, about respect for other people and living in harmony,” he said.
“If that is what they are saying then they are asking parents to abrogate their responsibilities. And if parents don’t pass on these beliefs who is going to fill the vacuum?
“To say that we are labelling our children by passing on our fundamental values is mistaken.”
He added: “If a humanist says to his child ‘I don’t believe in God’ then he is making a statement and passing on that belief.”
Of course it’s not true that the Don’t Label Me campaign says you can’t pass on any kind of moral education! It’s only about labelling children and other kinds of really tight constraint on the development of their “worldview” – whatever it may end up being. Far from being about abrogating responsibilities, parental open-mindedness – allowing children the space to explore different ideas from your own for themselves – is a very worthwhile and virtuous responsibility to undertake!
Anyway, the BHA loves critical thinking, of course! So we’ve answered the questions raised here in the Billboards Critical Thinking FAQ. For example see after the jump.
How are religious parents supposed to bring up their children if they’re not allowed to practice their faith with them?
The posters are about the practice of labelling children and “claiming them” for a faith. The posters are not about parents expressing their own religious, philosophical, moral or political views or even involving their children in their religious rituals. However we do hope they will raise awareness about what it does to someone’s self-image when others presume a particular view of them, especially young and impressionable people. Such presumption gives them less choice to freely develop a worldview for themselves.
How does one instil morals without inculcating children into a specific religion?!
You do not have to be religious to be moral. Right and wrong can be found within society and by discussing responsibilities and the effects of your actions on others. We are certainly not against the discussion of morality – indeed we support the right of children to be free to explore their moral and philosophical beliefs. You can find more information and guidance at: