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Petition Tag - secularism
The Catholic Church has recently asked all of its state funded schools in Britain to ask their pupils to sign a petition banning gay marriage by holding school assemblies to promote this petition.
This is intolerable for multiple reasons.
The purpose of education is to teach children how to think, or rather, it is to develop their critical skills by exposing them to complex issues and give them the capacity to form an opinion on these issues independently. This is why students are taught history, religion, and literature. Teaching students what to think however, does not exercise their critical thinking skills. Therefore this assembly clearly does not serve an educational purpose. It does serve however, to promote intolerance and injustice towards the LGBT community of the school.
With the recent instances of violence against this community, it would be unethical to further perpetuate the possibly of violence through the incitement of hatred. However, in a democratic society, the public would have to tolerate the right of for a private organization such as the Catholic Church to promote these views simply because they have the same right to free speech that all other private organizations are entitled to. However the church has chosen to express its opinion at the expense of the British taxpayer.
In a democratic society, the educational system should never propagate an opinion on a political issue. The greatest strength of a democratic society is its ability to change course. While a policy may be correct in one point in history, it might become harmful in the future. This is what makes democratic societies more prosperous than dictatorships. By upholding the sanctity of a law against the tide of the history, a civilization will inevitably suffer the same decline suffered by the fallen empires of history. However if an opinion is to be expressed in the educational system, which should never happen, then it should be the opinion of the majority of taxpaying people
Because participation in a government is an involuntary but necessary, there is an implied social contract between the citizen and the state that gives the government the legitimacy it needs to justify its existence. According to the social contract, the state ought to act in the interest of the tax payer without violating the rights of the people and it ought to act according to the majority of the taxpayers by the simple principle that while the state can't act with the consent of the entire population, it should try to avoid violating the wishes of as many people as possible.
The state, by sponsoring these catholic schools, has not acted in accordance with that principle. They have claimed in their defense that their view of marriage is a religious view and not a political view. This is false.
A political view is a view that wishes to be imposed on others. A religious view is a view that wishes to impose it's self on the religious. It is perfectly alright that the Catholic Church opposes homosexuality, as long as the opposition to homosexuality is only to the homosexuality of Catholic; opposing homosexuality in the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu, and the freethinker, and arguing that this belief ought to be made law, is a political belief. Therefore, it cannot be allowed in the context of a public school.
The Catholic Church is using involuntarily collected taxpayer money to impose an unpopular law upon the people. This law will strip the LGBT community of the essential right to marriage that is guaranteed to the straight community without question. Yet this is not even the worst evil of the Catholic Church. The worst evil of the Catholic Church is that it is using taxpayer dollars to promote a religion that is not shared by the majority of British Citizens, who involuntarily sponsor these schools.
While it’s easy to say that the parent has the right to choose what sort of education their children should get, its also just as easy to forget that the children themselves are individuals who have rights of their own. It is the right of every child of every nation to receive a secular education. No person should have to choose their personal beliefs while having the beliefs of others forced upon them, especially students who often lack the ability to articulate themselves. The child should be educated on all belief systems equally without discrimination or favoritism so the child himself can chose what to believe; by the same principle that the education should teach how the political system of the country works and why the country chose to adapt that system while also introducing the student to other systems of government without any bias for or against those forms of government.
It is the duty of the British Citizen to express petition the government to show the world that the majority of the British people do not condone the actions of these faith schools. Faith schools, which violate the democratic rights of the people must be abolished, and the right to marriage, must be defended at all cost.
As Sue Blackmore wrote recently in The Guardian, "Morality is not the sole prerogative of the religious – there are even reasons to think that the irreligious are more moral," but the BBC continues to refuse to allow secular thinkers to contribute to ‘Thought For The Day’ on the Radio 4 news programme Today.
In February 2008, the UN Special Rapporteur on Religion & Belief published a report claiming that the 2001 census findings can no longer be regarded as accurate and that two thirds of British people do not admit to any religious affiliation.
As the BBC has a charter obligation to reflect and represent its audience, we believe that it should invite secular contributors to join the pool of Thought for Day presenters and offer moral and ethical insights that will resonate with an increasing proportion of the British Population.
Until such time as they do, The Humanist Society of Scotland, supported by The British Humanist Association will launch a campaign on Monday 9th February 2009 called 'Thought for the World' where alternative, secular thoughts for the day will be made available as podcasts. The podcasts can be also downloaded at the Guardian's Comment is Free website.