Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

ARK schools are not secular but non-denominational.

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on February 17, 2011

Here is an email I got from ARK the people who want to run Bolingbroke Academy in response to my questioning their description of their schools as non-denominational rather than secular.

Dear Ms Rathbone

Thank-you for your email. Funnily enough we had a very similar discussion in the office yesterday. I agree with your point about the different definitions but stick to the phrase we use to describe our schools which are “of no specific religion” (except where they are, having inherited and maintained a previous religious affiliation) rather than “non-religious” or secular.

Rightly or wrongly “secular” is interpreted by many people as meaning “of or relating to the doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations “ (this is the first definition that pops up on google) which goes considerably further than we would wish to.  We welcome children of all faiths and none in our schools and seek to respect their differing views and allow them space to uphold them. Our schools celebrate the religious festivals of the principal religions followed by their pupils so that pupils get a flavour of each other’s faiths.

I hope this helps

Kind regards

Lesley Smith

ARK

65 Kingsway

London

WC2B 6TD

0203 116 0715

07702 684323

It seems we are back to the multi-cultural defintion of religious festivals and flavours –  all very multi-coloured.

Here is my response.

Dear Lesley Smith,
Thank you for your email in response to  my questioning your description of your schools as non-denominational rather than secular. The definition of secular as in secularism from wikipedia is; Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.
Humanists, secularists and ACCORD believe that the state should not endorse/support any religious institutions or schools.  ACCORD includes religious leaders but acknowledge that any apartheid /segregation in schools is wrong and not in the interest of community cohesion.

I am merely asserting my ‘muscular liberalism’ as recommended by David Cameron by challenging all religions as they are based on supernatural entities and its followers belief that their GOD SPEAKS.  This is scary and extremist and so is the existence of religious schools – Catholic, Church of England, Muslim, Hindu etc. as well as the ridiculous law that forces children to engage in a daily ‘corporate act of worhip of a mainly Christian character’. This is an insult and an abuse of children’s rights for those who do not have any belief in a deity or any other supernatural entities.
How does ARK respect the views of atheist/Humanist children if it you insist on celebrating the religious festivals of the principal religions and presumably forcing them to partake. I would be interseted to know how you respect the views of non-believing children and allow them space to uphold them and to challenge the imposition of religious festivals and the views of the various religions on women, fertility control, sexuality etc.

For instance, I have been invited into schools to give a ‘Humanist perspective on Morality’ and asked to speak specifically on homosexuality because the teacher could not get anyone from the any religious perspective to put their views! It seems that they are too cowardly to express their bigoted views in schools and aware of the reaction they would get.

I look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Jeanne Rathbone
Humanist Celebrant and Humanist chaplain to Kings College Hospital.

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