Education Newspaper Letters

Tolerant Christianity vs Intolerant Atheistic Secularism – Courier Debate Continues

Letter: Misrepresenting secularist views

The Courier & Advertiser 25 Sep 2015

Sir,- In his letter of September 19, Rev David Robertson seeks to misguide readers regarding the Scottish Secular Society (SSS), secularists in general and the public funding of religion. Four paragraphs after posing as innocent of “slurs against atheists” he claims that “the atheistic secularists want to use the state school system to indoctrinate children into their philosophy”.

What the SSS actually wants is for state schools to be neutral on religion, promoting neither religion nor atheism and leaving such influence to parents. He claims Christians do not use state schools to indoctrinate children, yet Christian indoctrination takes place daily in state schools all over the country, as children not known to be from Christian families are enrolled in mandatory religious observance, told to sing praises and offer prayers to a Christian God and presented with Christian supernatural beliefs as if they were fact. Thus public funds are used to promote religious doctrine to the young, especially in faith schools.

He claims that “the Scottish Secular Society continually campaign against religion in general and Christianity in particular” but offers no examples This is not surprising, since our campaigns have been only against intrusions of religion into the lives of non-followers, such as default enrolment in religious observance and the teaching of young earth creationism in schools.

He suggests that there is reason to regard our secularism as a guise for hatred of religion. Though it is true that comments expressing dislike of religion can be found on our open Facebook forum, Secular Scotland, these are merely the permitted views of individuals and not of the group.

Robert Canning, Vice Chairman, Scottish Secular Society, 58a Broughton Street, Edinburgh

Letter: Creationism not taught at school
The Courier & Advertiser 29 Sep 2015

Sir, – Robert Canning asserts that the atheistic secularists are neutral on religion and just want parents to have their say.That is good news but I wonder why they oppose the United Nations Charter on Human Rights which states that parents have a right to have their children educated according to their religion and beliefs?

It is of course impossible to be neutral in this respect; every school has a philosophy and ethos.There are those of us who would much prefer a tolerant Christian approach, rather than the intolerance of atheistic secularism.

He should also be aware that, despite his claim to the contrary, there is no mandatory religious observance in any Scottish school.By law parents are able to opt their children out of religious observance.

He objects to public funds being used for faith schools, thereby attacking the aforementioned basic human right and forgetting that the majority of people in Scotland who profess to be religious pay their taxes too.

I have no objection to Mr Canning having his children raised in atheistic secularist schools. Why does he object to my children getting a Christian education?

The Scottish Secular Society did campaign to petition the Scottish Government on the teaching of young Earth creationism, a petition which failed because the SSS were unable to offer any evidence of young Earth creationism being taught.It appears that evidence-based reasoning is not the forte of the more militant secularists.

Meanwhile, Mr Canning says that posts expressing dislike of religion only appear in their open Facebook forum, yet when I go on to their official page today I find several threads attacking the Pope, Islam and any politician who dares to express a Christian viewpoint, as well as the usual vitriolic abuse on their open page.

David A. Robertson. St Peter’s Free Church, 4 St Peter Street, Dundee.
Letter: Anti-Christian secularist stance
The Courier & Advertiser 29 Sep 2015

Sir, – Robert Canning (September 25) fails to deal with the charge that the Scottish Secular Society is an anti-Christian lobby group albeit pretending to pursue purely secularist (separation of church and state) goals.

Yet his own letter, as a leading member of the group, betrays his view when he states: “Christian supernatural beliefs presented as if they were fact” and his own strong atheistic standpoint.Similarly, other leading members of his society have made plain their atheism.

Apart from the views of leading members of this tiny group, we know that its founder/secretary wants to see churches in Scotland “sidelined”.He has made disparaging remarks about the faith of politician Jim Murphy and the group’s founder can be seen on his own Twitter feed apparently wrestling with or manhandling a cross- shaped memorial stone.

Mr Canning insists his is not an anti-Christian group. Try explaining away some of the above.Is Mr Canning willing to distance himself from the views of the founder of his group and what many see as his expressions of intolerance?

Gus Logan. 2 York Road, North Berwick.

You can get the earlier correspondence here:


  1. Yes – I find it amusing now. I find, I can’t take SSS seriously any more. In a way this is sad, because they may be some valid points that they make that I might be overlooking with coming to the point I have.

    The accusation that “Christian indoctrination takes place daily in state schools all over the country” is easily and humourously refuted by stating a simple fact that “there is no mandatory religious observance in any Scottish school”. The rest of the exchange is similar and a theme that has become familiar.

    When Alex Salmond has got involved with his comment you posted a while back questioning the approach of SSS, it would seem that the fear expressed by one of the leaders of being “marginalised as an extreme anti-faith atheist group” may be not without merit.

  2. Being based in England I am slightly removed from the exact specifics of this very lengthy debate but it is increasingly familiar for me to find secular atheists who have a dogmatic, hatred of what they perceive to be Christians. I myself regularly get mauled online by one or two colleagues I work with when I make a Christian post – I assume this is because of what these folks have come across in the past which they believe is “Christian”.
    I think the replies that Dave Robertson et al have posted are excellent, incredibly well informed and well thought out, really great work! But we also need to find out why secular atheists such as Robert Canning seem to dislike Christians so intensely.I’m reminded of Proverbs 26 v5 and 4 ….”Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes. Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you will become like him”.

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