Sunday, 22 April 2007

WASP Summary of the speech of noble Lord Lord Harrison in the House of Lords 19th April 2007

WASP Summary of the speech of noble Lord Lord Harrison in the House of Lords 19th April 2007. Full text of speech here in Hansard (or with WASP highlights here)
WASP highlights Main Points & Key Points.

TheyWorkForYou entry, Wikipedia mentions Lord Harrison in the BHA page.

Action: WASP will send a message of suport to Lord Harrison

Lord Harrison rose to call attention to the position in British society of those who profess no religion.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, all my life, religion has all too frequently meant division and separation.

It is time to speak up, especially as a more strident note is now sounding. The Anglicanism of my youth, more sedative than stimulant, now gives way to the harsher tones of those like the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, who describes us as “illiberal atheists” and “aggressive secularists”

I invite our religious colleagues to debate how we can find common ground to establish a new consensus.

On state occasions such as Remembrance Day why is there no representative from the non-religious community invited to attend the Cenotaph?

Would a Christian be content with a humanist funeral if that was all that was on offer?

the chaplaincy services found in the armed services, in NHS hospitals and the Prison Service—important services offering comfort and advice—are provided exclusively by the church. Why should they not be extended beyond that?

the Government is devolving community services to religiously motivated groups but this may further erode the clear principle that public funds should be disbursed in a non-discriminatory manner.

A further discomfort is the fact that humanist marriage ceremonies are not recognised as a legal marriage.

public service broadcasting: “Thought for the Day” is a dusty desert in the oasis of political and current affairs reporting on the “Today” programme, but these days the even earlier “Prayer for the Day”strays beyond the bounds.

The Government must redouble their efforts to ring-fence moneys provided for education in schools and other institutions. I still believe in the principle of schools being charged with the clear task of imparting knowledge, skills and the ability to reason and think.

Religion should be confined to the Sunday school. At the very least, religious education should restrict itself to the disciplines of history and the study of ideas. Neither school, hospital, prison nor public or community services should be metamorphosed into the vessels of promoting religion.

The Queen has done an outstanding job as our head of state, but is it not an unfair burden to place on her—or on her successors—that she should combine being head of state with the role of titular head of the church.? I join those in the Anglican communion who believe that the Church of England should be disestablished. The Government should canvass views widely about the desirability and practicality of that.

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