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Thursday, April 26, 2012

'Losing my religion?'

The title of this post is based on an REM song rather than a statement of fact. Nevertheless, it seems pertinent given the action of the Catholic Church, reported in yesterday's Guardian of writing to every state-funded Catholic secondary school in England and Wales asking them to encourage pupils to sign a petition against gay marriage.

There is no debate, no discussion, just an absolute moral stance that pupils are being asked to sign up to irrespective of their own sexuality. And what happens if a pupil refuses? Will they be persecuted by their peers as 'queer'?

In the face of this one can only feel pride for those pupils who have stood up to this moral bullying and shown that they understand better than the Church the issues around gay marriage, and who have rejected prejudice and discrimination:

A pupil at St Philomena's Catholic high school for girls in Carshalton, in the south London borough of Sutton, told the website PinkNews.co.uk that children aged 11 to 18 had been encouraged to sign the anti-equality pledge by their headteacher.

She said: "In our assembly for the whole sixth form you could feel people bristling as she explained parts of the letter and encouraged us to sign the petition. It was just a really outdated, misjudged and heavily biased presentation."

She said some pupils had responded by buying Gay Pride badges to pin to their uniforms. "There are several people in my year who aren't heterosexual – myself included – and I for one was appalled and actually disgusted by what they were encouraging," she said. "After all, that's discrimination they were urging impressionable people to engage in, which is unacceptable."
The president of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson is absolutely right when he says: "It is disgraceful that children are being encouraged into bigotry when they are attending a state school paid for by taxpayers."
But how a child's education is provided is immaterial. The disgrace is trying to draw children into a campaign of this nature in the first place, irrespective of what school they attend or who pays for it.
I went to Catholic School, made me into the free-thinking atheist I am today.
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