Assemblies for all: A new inclusive alternative to collective worship

I’m pleased to see Humanists UK take this common sense approach to challenge religious based collective worship which is supposed to be followed by schools – Yes I realise that many of them don’t/find a way around it.

Humanists UK say – Schools wanting to deliver inclusive assemblies instead of collective religious worship can now access a groundbreaking new resource featuring hundreds of inclusive assemblies.
Assemblies for All is a brand-new project by Humanists UK providing schools and teachers access to more than 200 high-quality, inclusive assemblies which welcome all pupils regardless of their religious or non-religious background.

The assemblies have been developed by organisations such as Amnesty International, WaterAid, and the BBC, covering themes such as the environment, physical and mental health, arts and culture, and religious and secular holidays.

Teachers can now draw upon hundreds of assemblies that are not acts of collective worship and which do not seek to promote one particular religion or belief, offering truly inclusive and welcoming assemblies to their pupils.

I hope the resource offered above will be of interest to teachers and that they will want to follow it up.

Religion in Schools – Time for a fundamental change

I can’t be doing with religious teaching in schools of whatever kind.

Surely we are grown up enough in 2016 to leave youngsters to decide for themselves, when they are old enough, if they want to be religious and if so what religion they want to follow.

Schools are for teaching children life and employability skills not for indoctrinating them to believe whatever religious beliefs their parents may hold.

By all means, as part of broadening the minds of young people, teach them what the major religions of the world believe in and why, but also teach them about Humanism and Atheism too. That way they can go out into the world with clear and open minds adopting or not adopting a religion as they see fit.

Today is World Humanist Day

Today is World Humanist Day, a day of celebration set up in the 1990s. Humanism is not a religion. It is a world view based on secular values, common to any person regardless of nationality, race, culture, sexuality, gender or background. Its ethos is captured in the phrase – nothing to die for, everything to live for.

Humanism is growing across the world and often people lead a humanist life without realising it. The Guardian reported last month that, for the first time, in England and Wales those who identify as non-religious now outnumber Christians.

Sadly, many people still suffer stigma and discrimination for rejecting religion. In some countries atheism is illegal with secularists abused and killed for their lack of belief. Even in more moderate nations like the UK it can still be very difficult for atheists to ‘come out’ for fear of rejection by religious family members or colleagues.

Humanism looks to build a more humane society based on ethical values in a spirit of equality, enquiry and human achievement. Answers are found through science and human rendezvous not the supernatural. At its heart is the recognition that we get one life and everyone should be able to live it in peace.

So all of us atheists are humanists I presume whether we realise it or not. I have been an atheist for 40 years now and should you want to find out more about how one man lost his religion try reading Ludovic Kennedy’s book All in the Mind: A farewell to God.

Religious teaching row

The Church of England has recently criticised the government over limited resources being devoted to training religious education teachers, branding it as a scandal that is affecting “an essential part” of every child’s studies. The criticism comes as a Ofsted report finds that more than half of all schools have been failing pupils in their religious education, a subject which the watchdog claims is increasingly important “in an ever more globalised and multicultural 21st century” because of the way it promotes respect and empathy. Ofsted added that children are leaving school with a “very limited understanding” of Christianity.

I picked this up from a Local Government Information Unit briefing and it made me think about my religious education at school. To be honest I can’t really recall any of it at all! What I knew about religions on leaving school I had picked up from my C of E church going (St Andrews – Maghull & St Helens – Sefton Village) and things I had read myself. On that basis the criticism above goes back around 40 years and probably more! Evan as an atheist I can see the value of youngsters gaining some insight into major world religions as what you may call ‘useful information for life’.

By now you will have realised that I walked away from religion, many years ago I would add, but I guess that I did so not because of what I did or did not learn about it all at school but because of my own reading and discussion with friends.

The big test for our society is not what religion we follow (or not) but how tolerant we are of those with differing views and beliefs, how we embrace the diversity of differing views and whether as free thinking individuals we close to take up a religion or not. Other than providing useful information about the value systems of various major religions I see no other need for this to be a part of a youngster’s education; it certainly was not a part of mine but maybe religious readers of this posting would say that contributed towards me becoming an atheist. Now there’s a thought……….