More About Me

Religion and Philosophy

The Happy Human, the symbol of Humanism Religion has never played a very big part in my life. This might surprise you considering my main hobby is church bell ringing, but I feel that there is a clear distinction between religion itself and many of the things that are normally associated with it, such as religious buildings and festivals. Indeed, until the 16th Century cathedrals and parish churches were very much community facilities, providing venues for such diverse activities as meetings, celebrations and sheltering cattle. It was then only at specific times – often announced by the ringing of a bell – that they were devoted to divine service.

The obvious place to start a page like this is with a little background about my own beliefs. Although I have been christened – two months before my first birthday – and spent a considerable part of my childhood praying and attending church and Sunday School, I was at that time too young to really think about such things and make my own informed decisions. Also, even though I would pray and understood its apparent purpose, it was simply part of the daily routine and not something I would necessarily have chosen to do by myself. Consequently, I have no qualms about not following Christianity now.

Following my transition from primary to secondary school and the consequent end to daily prayer during assembly, I found I was free to start questioning my own beliefs and eventually decided to stop attending church and Sunday School. For a while I continued to see myself as a Christian, but gradually my opinions changed to agnosticism, and finally atheism. I continued to participate fully in church bell ringing throughout this time, calling others to worship even when I chose not to stay and attend the services myself, and I still regularly ring for two or more services every Sunday, often at more than one church. But rather than seeing the ringing of bells as an expression of worship in itself, today I simply welcome the many opportunities to ring and thereby keep the sound of bells prominent within the lives of the general public.

My present philosophy

Accord
A wide coalition of organisations, including religious groups, Humanists, trade unions and human rights campaigners, which share a common view on many issues to do with state-funded schools and believe that the current legislation on faith schools in particular is counter-productive. Accord takes no position on the desirability or undesirability of state-funded faith schools per se but is a coalition with specific aims for legislative reform. The campaign launched on 1st September 2008 and aims to promote inclusive schools through local and national campaigns.
British Humanist Association
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. The BHA promotes Humanism, supports and represents the non-religious, and promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
National Secular Society
Britain's only organisation working exclusively towards a secular society. Founded in 1866, the NSS campaigns from a non-religious perspective for the separation of religion and state and promotes secularism as the best means to create a society in which people of all religions or none can live together fairly and cohesively. The NSS sees secularism – the position that the state should be separate from religion – as an essential element in promoting equality between all citizens.
Teach Evolution, Not Creationism!
A joint statement on creationism and evolution in schools; specifically, that there should be enforceable statutory guidance that creationism and "intelligent design" may not be presented as scientific theories in any publicly-funded school of whatever type, and that the teaching of evolution should be included at both primary and secondary levels in the National Curriculum and in all schools.

My own views on faith schools in fact go further than the aims of Accord. I am opposed to ALL faith schools – whether state- or privately-funded – as providers of formal education, primarily because I don't believe they would ever be willing to follow an objective, fair and balanced syllabus for education about religious and non-religious beliefs, or to provide their pupils with inclusive, inspiring and stimulating assemblies in place of compulsory acts of worship; but also because in my opinion, religious instruction should be kept entirely separate from formal education. If a parent would like their child to attend some sort of extra-curricular religious class – or, preferably, if a child makes his or her own choice to attend such a class – that is of course their prerogative, but I firmly believe that schools should teach children HOW to think rather than WHAT to think.