Secular Schooling in South Africa…

Originally posted on : South African Secular Society

primary school kids

South Africa is a declared secular state, meaning that there is a legal separation of “church” and state, made up of law, policy and legislative practices enforcing that no governmental institution (including schools) are either affiliated, or influenced by any religion. Even so, the current level of religious involvement in South African Public schools is at an epidemic level. In a predominantly Christian society, the number of schools proclaiming a Christian “ethos” and practising various ‘flavours’ of their religion as part of normal school operation is alarming; despite this being expressively illegal and unconstitutional.

The Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie (OGOD) has undertaken legal action against six public schools in South Africa, with the aim of removing religion from their official school practices, policy and documentation. OGOD promotes factual education about religious and democratic values – They advocate for secularity in schools and aim to ensure public schools are not used to advance sectarian or the religious interests of particular groups. With their legal action against these six schools, OGOD doesn’t aim to create new law, but rather enforce what is already ascribed in the National Education policy and Constitution of South Africa. But, as this is a contentious issue, the response has been less than reasoned. Christians and various Christian organisations have come out in public framing this as an attack on their beliefs and freedom of religion.

The reality is, though Christianity is seen as a religion as a whole, it is divided into thousands of disparate denominations with many varied practices; some distinctly opposed to each other. As many schools proclaim their religious “ethos”, the question of which denomination, is more important than the specific religion. Would Seven Day Adventist parents really feel comfortable with their children attending a public school practising according to the Roman Catholic church? If that meant in every way adhering to Catholic dogma? Or as a Muslim parent having your children excluded from certain classes or activities?

This is not an issue for only the non-religious in South Africa, this affects all citizens and every child’s right to not be discriminated against for anything. When exclusionary practices are phrased as if they respect someone’s rights, like – “You don’t have to participate, you can leave the classroom while we do bible study”, it reminds us all too well of the days of apartheid and segregation.

Secularism isn’t about attacking religion, it’s aim is to see that everyone can enjoy their rights without creating exclusionary practices where the no group can impose their views.

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A Son’s Letter to another Mother

Life After 40

worried-mother

My oldest son (who started my journey) shared the following letter that was written by a sympathetic friend to a mother who was heart-broken over her son’s change of belief and loss of faith. It’s a thoughtful post from an atheist trying to help explain to a Christian mother who asked how to handle the fact that her son turned away from faith. I think it deserves a read:

Hi Unsure-mother, First off, though I am an atheist myself, I want to empathize a little: this must be difficult for you and your family. Your faith commitment is an important part of your life and it is bewildering to have your own child turn away from this. I don’t know exactly what you believe, but you might be worried about his soul in the next life, or his behavior in this one. If you don’t believe in God, how do…

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Gender Equality… a humanist view

Christianity, and many other religions express a great disdain for women, that they are less than men, or are to blame for the arbitrary idea of ‘sins’ existence. I don’t want my daughters ever to think of themselves by the christian definition. I don’t want any woman to be defined by it!

I am opposed to the message and the sentiment that the bible promotes for women!

I am opposed to the message and the sentiment that the bible promotes for men!

Watching Emma Watson’s speech moved me deeply, almost bringing me to tears. As a male human being, society has demanded I be a hard, cold and an ultra-rational creature, born to be a utility for the economy, or to be a slave in submission to a god.

I publicly reject this idea being imposed on me!

I feel. I hurt. And have a right to express my emotions. I desire touch – from my lover and my friends and my family. I don’t need to earn love, or beg for it. I am not filthy or made of puppy dog tails and snails…

And neither is any other male human being…

This is not about being a man, it’s about being human. We must create a new ideal of what is means to be a human being in our modern age, and understand that “sameness” is not equality.

Join me and help create that new ideal, where men and women are truly equal. Not just in the economy, where we all would become utilities, but expressive, whole and free.
http://www.heforshe.org/

Atheist Perspective: Driving Backward

Killing curiosity will only lead is to the destruction of what makes us human.

Rdxdave's Weblog

Aristotle opens the Metaphysics with the idea that what people desire most is to know. It is inherent in our nature to want to know what we do not. In seeking the answers to all of the questions we are not doing something novel or unique but fulfilling what is inherent to our very being. The quest for what is unknown can never truly be fulfilled but still the search is what makes it worth it. The search can only move forward if we do not have to start over each time we begin.

There are those people that claim to have the ultimate knowledge, perfect knowledge of all things. A claim like this should always be met with skepticism and a demand for evidence. We should always distrust those saying that they know the unknowable. As Cicero once put it, “for what is more unbecoming than ill-considered haste? and…

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I don’t want to understand!

This post is a little follow on from Explosing my mom’s religion…

The request I made for a verse from the bible demonstrating an god’s love, resulted in only this :

god_sacrifice_to_himself

 

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

After experiencing the “christian logic” of validating someone’s brutal torture, and having to repeatedly explain – YES! ACTUALLY EXPLAIN – how someone being tortured and murdered isn’t an act of love, I was loosing my restraint. The debate shifted to validating that Jesus was in fact god, and all his works should be considered as god’s in every way… I refused to accept that logic because then it would invalidate the very point of Jesus’ existence.

The debate went on with all these verses about ‘god is love’ but nothing showing any act of love, at least nothing a rational and moral person would consider a way of showing love to another human being. The repeat of John 3:16, and again the reasons why it isn’t an act of love to kill yourself for yourself so that you can forgive those you created.

A commenter stated that the New Testament over rides and effectively nullifies the Old Testament, which lead me to this final closing remark.

“Steven, you’re talking out of your ASS! Jesus himself says he isn’t here to change the old ways. In fact, nothing changes after he dies-comes back-floats away… except they he hasn’t come back, not even for his dear friends, and that your god no longer speaks at all to any living human and is silent of the horrors that your people have and still do perpetuate in “his” name, under the soiled cloak of righteousness.

I don’t want to understand! Not after today. I feel such sadness for you all. That you would continue to portray such a monstrous demon of your own creation as loving and kind – and that your god’s kindness and love is built and drenched in so much blood and human on human hatred and violence… and worse still you accept that as truth. But still you wish it upon me, a person who is revolted by the very idea of murder, torture and making someone suffer.

Your religion is one designed by the very same people who committed that poor man/demi-god/god-himself to a painful execution. And then, through some poorly veiled remorse, they now revel and celebrate the brutal death of an innocent, while cheering ‘he has died for US so that WE can be as Kings’.

I will not succumb to the vile and compassionless, self-aggrandising and simultaneous self-loathing that Christianity demands of me. I would rather be wrong than live a life of such disdain that my very being and existence are sickened to the core by.

Go dance and clap and sing the praise of gloom and murder, while showing such unadulterated gratitude to that savage act of violence; so much so that one can know you are filled with ecstasy at the thought – ‘Jesus was crucified for me!’. The joy Christians express about such an event is enough to make me swear on my mortal life – “I will never pray to the god of Abraham, for he is the bringer of darkness and pain and suffering!”

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