Inoculate the young

Mr Justice Warby fired a shot across the bows in a High Court judgment in November when he said that schools should put secular humanism and other non-religious beliefs into the Religious Studies curriculum. This, unsurprisingly, caused a fuss. But the ruling did not apply to faith schools. Sigh of relief? No, of course not. Catholic schools should study non-religious beliefs, and in some detail. Secular humanism as presented by the British Humanist Association, or its informal counterparts, surrounds us in our society. Indeed, in 2008 the Catholic Herald gave Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, a feature page to express his uncensored views.

It is really a matter of conscience. The philosopher John Stuart Mill tells us that the best title to maintain an opinion is that it has been exposed to every objection that can be thrown at it, and survived. But there are practical reasons too. Until we have listened to the best case from those who disagree, we will always be vulnerable to our secular culture. It means that considering and discussing these questions at secondary school is an important part of Catholic education. In that way we may hope to promote our moral grasp from obedience to an internal understanding of the good.

I recall a conversation with a young lady in Year 10 (14 to 15 years old) at an excellent convent school. She was bright, and she had a good grasp of Catholic moral teaching. But she appeared to keep this in a mental box. Outside was real life – and that was what she was living. She had not had the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of morality under the guidance of a teacher. She knew what the Church taught. She could even trot out the reasons. But she had never internalised them.

I am not naïve about this. I remember, back in 1972, when my wife and I wrote a little book titled Choices in Sex. It was born from our experience of working with young people. It had been no surprise to us that laying down the law to adolescents, pulsating with new hormones, was received with mute indifference. But they did react positively to discussion that looked at all the issues in a thoughtful and constructive way. Although the book was very well received, and sold out speedily, we ended up being accused of forging the imprimatur, and were styled as “corrupters of youth”. Our critics made no bones about quoting out of context, or inventing a quotation when necessary. The Catholic Herald carried the story, from accusations to retractions, over three issues.

I choose abortion as an example of a subject that might be studied at secondary level, since it is a relatively clear-cut issue and because various surveys tell us that a substantial minority of Catholics do not support the orthodox doctrine. The Church’s teaching is clear but, in view of my last paragraph, I should say that I accept it wholeheartedly. Yet there are issues to consider.

The first is to establish at what point the conceptus becomes human. Is it at the moment of DNA exchange or at some future point of development? A second would be the rights of the mother over her own body. Then come issues such as rape or a damaged foetus. And there are cases when the presence or position of the foetus endangers the mother’s life. I am not going to discuss these here, but we know that our young people will meet such issues in the public forum, so it is better that they think these things through with teachers who are ready to listen, and know their stuff. Even if pupils do not accept the teaching at that time, they will hold in their minds the possibility of a better way.

So I return to secular humanism. In looking at the best case, pupils will recognise many excellent values, and they will understand how these were inherited from centuries of Christian humanistic culture. The similarities and differences in Catholic social teaching can be examined. They will spot some misunderstandings of religion, as well as criticisms which may have weight. They might perhaps debate whether such values are on the brink of a slippery slope in a wholly secular society, and attempt to visualise what effects the removal of religious values from public life would have on freedoms of religion and conscience. Examples might be Catholic adoption societies, and the increasing campaign against faith schools.

An analogy with inoculation is pertinent here. Inoculation introduces infection at a reduced level which stimulates the immune system to recognise the attacker and to strengthen defences against a more dangerous version. Helping the young to explore moral issues critically, and against a background of facts and opposing views, protects them from the idle thinking and the self-serving influences they meet everywhere today.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Catholic Herald columns, Church and Society, Moral judgment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

84 Responses to Inoculate the young

  1. Barrie Machin says:

    I found the discussion surrounding Quentins recent blog well argued and sound as they always are but I found myself wondering just how much youngsters would profit from the methodology suggested when they actually have to face up to the problems life and all its facets presents itself daily. Does the understanding of the morality of abortion (say) help you cope with the attendant problems of an unwanted pregnancy?
    Similarly we may preach against war whilst still training our young men and women to fight and yet we have all seen and read the accounts of the horrors our troops face daily in today’s battle filelds.
    I think my main thought is that life itself is the great propounder of truth that ican only be fully appreciated when it’s varied opportunities and hardships are encountered. I feel that at best we can only hope to teach our youngsters how to cope with these two extremes when they come up against them and I dont think they will find much to hang on to by recalling a cogent argument no matter how well put across when faced with reality as we have all had to do at some stage of our lives -.and coped.

    • Vincent says:

      Barrie, I agree that the testing time comes when an individual encounters a moral decision rather than at the point of academic study. But that surely is true of most education — it’s preparation for the adult world through which we learn how to cope. And, in these examples surely one objective is to teach the young good methods of moral thinking.

      As it happens, teenagers at secondary school may already be facing such problems. They will certainly have heard humanist views; abortion is by no means irrelevant to the 16 year old. And there is also the issue of the availability of corrupting form of pornography.

  2. tim says:

    Quentin, absolutely.
    However, what we may regard as clearly desirable may not be agreed to be so. Can we (some will say) allow freedom of conscience to interfere with other important goods? For example – are doctors and nurses to be allowed to deny such ‘human rights’ as ‘euthanasia’ and ‘abortion’? Can we continue to allow ‘freedom of speech’ when it may be used to challenge the ‘incontrovertible truth’ of catastrophic climate change?

    • Quentin says:

      These are not clearcut issues. By and large our society believes that freedom of speech, however uncomfortable it may be, is preferable to censorship. There are exceptions such as espousing terrorism, and of course the normal rules of libel and slander.

      Interestingly, in the light of the 2008 Act which repealed the common-law offence of blasphemy, there are those who now attack free speech on doctrinaire grounds. For example, student unions who seek to ban public discussion on matters like abortion.

      Perhaps more serious are the attempts to prevent actions motivated by conscience. For instance to wear a religious symbol at work, or to refuse to let a room to a homosexual couple.

      • St.Joseph says:

        My late husband and I had a Guest and Public House.
        No condoms in our gents toilets!!¬!
        If two men or two ladies shared a room. they would be in twin beds!!.
        They came as Mr and Mrs, I wonder what married homosexuals would sign in as. Mr or Mrs!

        With regards to asking those of other faiths to discuss with us what they believe-
        I don’t really wish to know. If they wish to know what I believe in I would tell them if they asked . Actions speak louder than words!!
        I would openly speak about Fertility Awareness to anyone.

    • Alan says:

      There are some acts that people would essentially say were motivated by conscience or religious conviction that I would strongly want to prevent. Does the motivation make a difference to how accepting we should be of them if we conclude that they are otherwise wrong/harmful/unjust?

      • tim says:

        Alan, interesting question. Certainly ‘religious conviction’ cannot be a free pass to ignoring the criminal law. Examples: claimed obligation of an Islamic sect to kill infidels; of Baal worshippers to sacrifice their firstborn. Today, most agree with allowing ‘conscientious objection’ to serving in the Armed Forces. But the Supreme Court (the ci-devant House of Lords) has refused midwives the right to decline to assist with abortions. And Quentin gives the example of hotel-keeping. I think you have to look at the nature, quality and effect of that conviction: disagreements will be inevitable. Sometimes (perhaps) ‘religious conviction’ may aggravate an offence (as making remorse and reform less likely).

      • Alan says:

        Tim – “Certainly ‘religious conviction’ cannot be a free pass to ignoring the criminal law.”

        This is exactly what I was thinking.

        “I think you have to look at the nature, quality and effect of that conviction”

        But there is something to be said for a “buffer zone” between the law and a religious objection to it? For example, there should – initially at least – perhaps be some tolerance of what is legally determined to be unjust or harmful business practices where they conflict with a religious (or personal) conviction? A difficult compromise for both sides to accept I would guess.

        “Today, most agree with allowing ‘conscientious objection’ to serving in the Armed Forces.”

        I have sometimes wondered how an individual without affiliation to a particular faith or group would make their case for being a conscientious objector. The conviction might be just as strong, but it would be hard to prove.

  3. Iona says:

    Barrie – if a young person – boy or girl – has been provoked into giving careful consideration to the morality or otherwise of abortion, there is a chance that s/he will take some care not to get into the situation of having to cope with an unwanted pregnancy, rather than not giving the subject a thought until the pregnancy is established.

  4. Brendan says:

    Nothing wrong with dissemination of all knowledge. It just depends on the context and the age at which it is imbibed…. and who’s doing the disseminating. Using the ‘ guide book ‘ of my Christian ( Catholic ) Faith I’ve been imbibing avidly all my life at various stages of maturity…. being a ‘ humanist ‘ all my life ! Religious instruction/ education is specific to an individual/group of individuals.
    Frankly, I’ve never accepted secular humanism as a ‘ religion’ and it should not be confused as such. Logically, It would be more akin to treating it as a comparative section in a ‘ citizenship curriculum’ and should be taught as such in the realm of the material and not the ‘ supernatural ‘.

  5. Nektarios says:

    We have been around these issues so many times, and still we are not making much headway in our understanding it seems.
    The world as the N T describes it, is a wicked and evil generation. Apart from the four main Gospels, the Epistles are written only for believers in Christ, not for the the world at large.

    The humanist, the liberal minded, the secularist of course will not agree with the Christian biblical position on practically any matter.

    Why say should we, they say, believe in all your myths, stories and doctrines of 2000 years ago, we have no need of your Scriptures and myths and Saviour or your Church, today, we have Science, Philosophy. Psychology. You Christians are living in the past, not facing up to the world today.It is a totally different place.

    Is the world a totally different place concerning man today? I assert the modern man who is not a Christian is in exactly the same as their forebears of old. They were ignorant, the reason being, we all inherited a fallen nature and are blind to God and what says.

    Read in Acts 7 for example as Stephen lays out his case before the Sanhedrin. He informed them
    concerning Christ, and more importantly, about themselves who based there confidence and hid behind certain historical matters, We are the children of Abraham, we have the Law, unlike those
    pesky Gentiles. What need we of Christ or his doctrines and teaching. Little has changed has it?
    Tragically, they were not only blind who Christ really was because they were blind on account of their fallen sinful nature,they were wrong in their understanding about Abraham, the Law, about the prophets and their message, they were wrong about their own history and most of all, they were totally wrong about themselves having their confidence in their own wrong ideas and assumptions, but too blind, too biased to see. That is this sad old world since the Fall
    So what has changed?

  6. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    I am so nostalgic that I come back from time to time to see how this website is faring. And, perhaps for the first time, I find myself agreeing. Teaching the young about humanism, and making the best case for it, is an excellent move. Young people nowadays are not stupid – and they are increasingly aware not only of the irrelevance of religion but its actual dangers. With any luck they’ll go home and convert their parents to rationality!

    Actual dangers? Look at ISIL – a bunch of religious fanatics who not only take pleasure in murder and torture, but believe it’s a virtuous way of bringing about the will and intentions of their god. What is their inspiration? Religious belief of course ,which, because there’s no need of evidence, can be directed at whatever target suits them.

    Of course Christians are the opposite of that.

    Are they? Think of that great bundle of nonsense: the First Crusade. When they finally reached Jerusalem, their blood lust for Muslims and Jews was such that they literally waded in it. They took pleasure in murder and torture, but believed it was virtuous way of bringing about the will and intentions of their god. What was their inspiration? Religious belief of course ,which, because there’s no need of evidence, can be directed at whatever target suits them. And the whole affair was under the auspices of an infallible pope.

    Tell me the difference.

  7. Nektarios says:

    A D

    One may be religious, one can be brought up religious, one can be indoctrinated into some quasi-religious group. Anyone can be religious if they so choose.

    So tell you the difference A D. – One cannot make oneself, or others make one truly into a Christian, for that is the work of God. Why did God go to such lengths to redeem us simple enough to understand – we could not do it ourselves, though many have been the attempts, which just amounted to our old nature modified religiously.
    A Christian is a child of God, not a patch up of this old nature, but something entirely different.

    Whilst a Christian has yet to reach perfection, may even fall into sin for a time, they will not stay there or be happy in it, he has a new nature, He sees things though Gods eyes, Looks to God, learns of Him and His divine will for us, by which one learns and is aware the Christian has a totally different destiny than what he had previously and a view of this life now takes in something of an Eternal view, understanding and destiny.

    Think it is right and good to pay attention to what this world is saying and doing with all its wars, corruption and rapes and murders and try to avoid those things, or if in a situation whereby we can influence others not to do those and other sinful acts, that would be alright.

    But what you are advocating amounts to little more than indoctrination of our little ones in humanism, secularism, liberalism sex education and the like.
    If a child who is born with a Fallen nature, prone to sin, then teaching little one will only excite them to the execution of it in practice.
    I cannot advocate it

    • Advocatus Diaboli says:

      Dear Nektarios, with opponents like you who needs friends? You start off with a mysterious story which there is no point in my trying to falsify because you have no evidence other than traditions based on a few old books and manuscripts going back more than some 3000 years. Yes, of course, primitive people wanted stories to explain the human condition precisely because they had no evidence. We have come on just a teeny weeny little bit since then. So we’ve abandoned Buddhism, and Hinduism, and all the other superstitions – including the various, and contradictory, revelations of all manner of people – most of whom would be much helped by a psychiatrist today. Still no evidence.

      Ideologies like Communism and the Nazis are just the same – no evidence. And like all ‘world’ beliefs without evidence they almost always end in fundamentalism and hostility to non believers.

      You even take fundamentalism a stage further. You believe in ignorance – at least for others. So you would deny the little ones the exercise of their reason and their search for evidence (humanism and secularism); you would deny them using their wills (liberalism); and you would deny them education in the use of one of the most perilous human instincts in what is effectively a jungle (sex education).

      And what is this fallen nature? You see what happens when you ignore the evidence. Man has a risen nature. His ancestors in evolution, admirable though many of them are, lacked the use of intellectual intelligence and the ability to make choices. We have both of those — although you appear to be arguing that we should abandon these as quickly as possible, and hand them over to the shamans, whom I expect you would call priests or prophets. Perhaps you are one such?

      • Nektarios says:

        A D.

        By way of a reply to your and sadly so many other people’s views I will seek to answer
        most, if not all your extreme reading of what I posted earlier.

        You say there is no evidence, apart from a few old dusty manuscripts going back 3000 years ago. Well, A D., lets look at the evidence.

        If you say there is no evidence of God at all, then it is clear what I wrote earlier is true.
        Man is not only on account of the Fall dead in trespasses and sin before God,but is both blind and deaf to hearing or seeing Him, nor indeed relating to Him.

        It was for this very reason God raised up a people, the Jews, Now the Jews were very meticulous and wrote everything down. So first see these dusty old manuscripts you talk of is not an invention, but a living history of the Jews over many centuries.

        Despite all that happened to them, they got practically everything wrong in their understanding. Is it not the same today?

        Anyway, into this scene of Time, prophesied so many times throughout the OT the Messiah would come and deliver them from their sins and the effects of their sins – damnation.
        If you read Ephesians chapter 1: 1-14 you will read God’s plan of Salvation, pre-determined by Him from before the foundations of the world. Please note: this all became history, a living history of a people, the people chosen by God.

        This Jesus, is part of the history of mankind. What was prophesied about His coming into this world, where He would be born, how He would be born. At 12 years of age he was found in the temple discussing with the theologians of the day and doctors of the Law. They were amazed at his understanding that was way beyond theirs.
        It was also prophesied how He would talk with people and why. also how He would die on a cross and how He would rise from the dead.
        All this is meticulous Jewish prophecies and History talking place in Time and in this world – No evidence? Really, there is so much evidence, man is without excuse.

        It does not therefore surprise me, that this world is in the trouble that it is in. The answer to all mans basic problems of his nature, his sin and being governed by them, the passions,
        is all there in those dusty manuscripts OT and NT.

        I do not read anything by humanists, and secularists and a host of others concerning man’s problem with sin, nor how to deal with it, or how to live a truly spiritual holy life,
        nor anything that resembles truth concerning man’s life of the soul and that life in Eternity.
        Yes, A D. there is indeed plenty of evidence, but blindness and prejudice is a terrible thing
        leading nowhere but into eternal darkness.

      • Advocatus Diaboli says:

        Thank you Nektarios. The fact that you effectively repeat yourself is very consoling. I could not wish for a stronger confirmation of my views. I do hope that one of your fellow Christians can do better,

      • Vincent says:

        AD, you ask for evidence. You will know very well that you can only rationally ask for evidence appropriate to the topic. For example, we cannot absolutely prove that Caesar crossed the Rubicon but we can judge the reliability of the accounts, and see how well the history which followed was consistent with this. Without that we would have no history at all!

        So, how about Jesus rising from the dead? Unless you start by ruling it out as an impossibility irrespective of evidence, you might like to look at This is a very straightforward evaluation of the evidence. You may still maintain that you do not accept the conclusion, but you will no longer think that there is no good evidence to support the story.

      • Alan says:


        I’m not in a position to judge the quality of the piece you linked to myself. I’ve never had much of an interest in history and my education in modern history was average and endured without enthusiasm. How can I assess the evidence on offer? Argument from authority doesn’t make the case, but I feel compelled to rely on it in the absence of a practical alternative. I can spot some very poor (non!) evidence offered in support of certain subjects, but not in subjects like this. What is the view of historians the world over on Caesar having crossed the Rubicon? What is their view on Jesus having risen from the dead? My impression is that he is almost unanimously accepted as a very influential figure in our history. No need at all to rule out the miraculous to decide the case for much more than this isn’t nearly so compelling. The same standard can and is applied to even perfectly natural if curious/extraordinary claims.

      • Vincent says:

        Alan, my link here was in answer to AD. I assume that he is after scientific evidence rather than historical evidence. And I am not claiming that historical evidence constitutes proof. Rightly or wrongly I think that Nektarios’s affirmations show what he believes — which may be interesting, but don’t get me any further.

        AD has made a case that the cruel activities of Isil have been paralleled by Christians. He tactfully doesn’t mention that Christianity from the very first claimed that its essence lay in the love of God and man. Isil has never claimed that — so Christianity must add hypocrisy to its faults.

        I think there is a case to answer — AD deserves that.

      • Nektarios says:

        A D.
        This is really a footnote to my other postings to you on this.
        I did a study sometime ago into why it was all the religious (Christian in particular) became hard in their hearts, hard in their fundamentalism &c. It became clear that this was in no way just confined to the religious but also to the political secular world, not to mention the academic world.
        Among the religious Jews it was around 200-300 years before the hardened up in their hearts.The same thing happened with the early Christian Church over much the same period of time.

        The Nazis and Isil don’t start with a conservative open position but start with a hardline ideology.

        Second footnote: I do not believe apart from some that man is ignorant, I believe all are ignorant including myself on so many points.
        What do the teachers of the young really understand about God, truth, about secularism or humanism or liberalism. Even in universities I find something truly appalling, not only a tremendous ignorance of their subjects but worse bias and prejudice and worse still, an agenda for humanism, secularism and liberalism.
        Man is ignorant alright, especially about himself. Ah, enter the specialists eh? They suffer from the same problems.

        Last footnote: You say, ‘And what is this fallen nature? You see what happens when you ignore the evidence. Man has a risen nature. His ancestors in evolution, admirable though many of them are, lacked the use of intellectual intelligence and the ability to make choices. We have both of those — although you appear to be arguing that we should abandon these as quickly as possible, and hand them over to the shamans, whom I expect you would call priests or prophets….

        What is this fallen nature? something so profound, catastrophic and and affecting all aspects of man, including is inability to understand himself of God or indeed his actions
        and though man was not meant to die, at the end death awaits. His intellectual capacities have become corrupted, his intelligence the same, and as all tend towards sin in the end
        in one form or another he is miserable sad, beset with problems wars killing, fear, anxieties and so on. Behind all that in the darkness the enemy of our souls, the devil himself. The liar, the murderer, the deceiver the tempter of us all.
        So we have tasted of pleasure, or pride, of sin in all its horribleness, and worse, man is not only helpless in himself, he lies it!

        Many a man would have liked to abandon sin in what ever form as it has affected their lives, ruined the life, health, their marriages, caused anguish and pain to their children
        he would love to give his sins up, but the trouble is A D., the natural man cannot of himself give them up.

        The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only dusty old manuscripts that shows us and tells us of how we can be changed, be given a new nature, a spiritual life in Christ. That is it! There is no otherway available to man, no matter what he does. Without this new nature, one remains governed by the old nature. It is irrelevant if one is religious. But the person who has this life will truly be religious, have divine intelligence and intellect.

      • Alan says:

        Vincent – “Alan, my link here was in answer to AD. I assume that he is after scientific evidence rather than historical evidence. And I am not claiming that historical evidence constitutes proof.”

        Absolutely. I was just jumping into the exchange to explain what that sort of information means to me and how I feel about the “Unless you start by ruling it out ” suggestion.

  8. St.Joseph says:

    Maybe we have gone too far with evangelisation. Perhaps the true Spirit is to begin by teaching our children that which offends God as taught by the Catholic Church in our faith.
    The world is corrupt and will always be corrupt!
    Live by our conscience that Holy Mother Church believes us to live by and understand what sin is
    The prodigal son is an example of a Father waiting for his son to return.
    Jesus said ‘all will not be saved’ so maybe we ought to be just looking after our own within our Catholic Church and our Catholic schools and leave the rest in Our Lord and His Blessed Mother’s hands.
    God is not dead yet!

    • Nektarios says:

      A D.
      The line should have read:
      So we have tasted of pleasure, or pride, of sin in all its horribleness, and worse, man is not only helpless in himself, he likes it!

  9. Brendan says:

    Alas St.Joseph , we live in strange times ! ” Be not afraid ”, echoes through our times from St.John Paul ii. He and Emeritus Pope Benedict warned us against the rising tide of secular relativism , adroitly fashioned by secular ( atheistic ) humanism . Remembering the basic reality that ultimately, there can be no contradiction between good science and Gods Creation – as The Church has and continues to demonstrate – anchors believers ‘ faith ‘ , in our world. In itself we need not be afraid of the power of the ‘ engine of knowledge ‘ in the raging headwinds that life throws in our path – to at least try to answer the many critics of our Faith . Because in ‘ faith ‘, and therefore cognisant that the ” victory is ours ”, we gain courage from the Spirit in this respect – OUR Advocate with the Father. What better moral high-ground than that ?
    Referring to my previous post ; for us and for our children, we really do have the tools and the ‘weapons ‘ always to live in the path of righteousness in the light of Gods eternal love and mercy for His world. The ‘ fortress Rome ‘ proposition – although tempting ( the Devils work ) – is tantamount to a heresy in itself and anathema to Christian resolve.

  10. St.Joseph says:

    You are so right. ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ for I have Redeemed You ,I have called you by your name , you are Mine. what joy that brings to those who love God,with their whole heart, their whole soul and their whole mind, through His Son Our Lord Jesus Christ! Who can we fear?

  11. Brendan says:

    While we’ve been distracted by our own line of thinking , Advocatus Diaboli seems to have some unfinished business with Nektarios. I’ll have to go for a while , but I’ll try and get back later and fathom what he is feeling so triumphant about .

    • Nektarios says:


      AD seems to be agreeing with me in his last posting, but cannot resist a little putdown.

      What I was driving at in my postings was this: It seems the Sanhedrin were wrong on every point as Stephen shows in his historical account in Acts 7. The point I was making was several really on the topic under discussion.

      Like the Sanhedrin they trusted in themselves, in their knowledge of the Law of Moses,
      In tradition, they were the Children of Abraham. They were doctors of the Law of Moses,
      but really did not understand it or how it worked or why God gave it in the first place.

      The trusted in their cleverness, they became proud and arrogant. they depended on their wits and safeguarding their position in their society. But in all their vaunted knowledge and understanding, their reasoning powers did not rise to the spiritual level far enough if at all,
      and so they who proclaimed they could see, were in fact not only wrong, but blind too.

      Now trusting the lives of our Children or ourselves in the modern day context, humanism, secularism, liberalism who have no answer to the problems in the world or man, is rather foolish. For that, as I was pointing out to A D., one has to read and study, interrogate, ask questions of those dusty old manuscripts of the OT and NT which we call the Bible.

      Perhaps then we will have not what humanists, secularists, psychologists or philosophers think, but what God thinks on world events, local events, personal issues, sin, salvation,
      our soul, on bringing up our children, educating our children eternity and so on, but sadly so few consult God’s word – dismissing it as out of date, just dusty old manuscripts as A D thinks, but they are the Living Word of God to all generations.

    • RAHNER says:

      “and fathom what he is feeling so triumphant about .”

      Perhaps he finds the ignorance of some believers amusing and entertaining?

  12. John Candido says:

    Including everyone and not just theists of any major belief system; the narrow-minded can be found everywhere. Almost everyone is guilty of some form of narrowness be it faith based, ideological or in any academic discipline. It is better for any community to learn about and accept the inevitable differences between people at our workplaces, in our schools and in our neighbourhoods.

    The ruling by the High Court against Education Secretary Morgan’s omission of secular humanism in a religious subject seems to be the latest iteration of some degree of inadvertent or deliberate narrowness. Mr. Justice Warby has rightly ruled that secular humanism has a place in the curriculum of all schools and this was well supported by teachers, academics and religious leaders in the UK, even before this case begun. It is obvious why this would be so. Think of the disaster awaiting any society if the religious education of children is the provenance of any secular or religious fundamentalism.

    I am not a teacher, but one of several fundamental premises of a contemporary education system is an acceptance of the overwhelming complexity and plurality of the world that we live in. I think that any form of singularity in any milieu runs counter-intuitively against the values of modernity. Pluralism and a secular society are highly esteemed by most citizens, be they religious or nonreligious, and this is how it should be. The same can be said for freedom of religion, the right to be areligious and the inviolacy of the human conscience.

    ‘In one form or another religion is humanly universal, but it is also essentially multifarious.’ (Professor John Gray)

    ‘I think that secularism is as sacred as religion.’ (Fr. Bob Maguire, PP (retired), AM)

    ‘Religion becomes a problem when you stop asking questions about it.’ (Fr. Bob Maguire, AM)

    ‘Truth is to be found at the place that the three roads meet: the road of paradox, the road of ambiguity and the road of contradiction.’ (Quentin de la Bedoyere)

    ‘A religious tradition is never a single, unchanging essence that compels people to act in a uniform way. It is a template that can be modified and altered radically to serve a variety of ends.’ (Karen Armstrong)

  13. Nektarios says:

    John Candido

    In your second paragraph you write, ‘Mr. Justice Warby has rightly ruled that secular humanism has a place in the curriculum of all schools and this was well supported by teachers, academics and religious leaders in the UK.’

    It is relatively clear that unwittingly you are saying the vast majority of those engaged in teaching
    are secular humanists, and not Christian at all. Are you equally saying religious leaders in the UK are equally liberal, secular humanists?

    Secondly, I hate to cross Fr. Bob Maguire, but religion per se is not sacred, and secularism certainly isn’t.

    Perhaps confuses Truth itself with where man finds his life and living: a road of paradox, a road of ambiguity, and full of contradiction as he/she walks the road of ambiguity.

    Karen Armstrong would have religious tradition to mean what anyone, or group of people have in mind, to serve what ever end they have in mind.
    This is liberalism in extreme and demonstrates she has only an academic understanding of religious tradition. but before you jump in to defend her, she is also demonstrating apart from a certain amount of ignorance, a very real bias and prejudice.
    Thank God for his His Word when we have characters like this running around.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘It is relatively clear that unwittingly you are saying the vast majority of those engaged in teaching are secular humanists, and not Christian at all. Are you equally saying religious leaders in the UK are equally liberal, secular humanists?’ (Nektarios)

      Nektarios, I am not saying that at all. Kindly do not ascribe these thoughts in your questions as mine because they are not mine.

      ‘Karen Armstrong would have religious tradition to mean what anyone, or group of people have in mind, to serve whatever end they have in mind.’ (Nektarios)

      She is not talking about a behavioural free-for-all in her book ‘Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence’. Major world Religions supply a ‘template’ or ‘moral code’ of correct behaviour but humans have found many ways of reinterpreting this basic ‘template’ in a multitude of ways, with beneficial as well as destructive outcomes.

      In a defence against secularists saying religion is at the root cause of war throughout history, Armstrong repeatedly points to human nature as the cause of war, not religion. She provides us with many historical examples of how a religious ‘template’ becomes ‘modified and altered’ to cater to nobler or baser ‘ends’.

      This is what she meant by,

      ‘A religious tradition is never a single, unchanging essence that compels people to act in a uniform way. It is a template that can be modified and altered radically to serve a variety of ends.’

      It pays to understand a secular humanist’s point of view when assessing the canard of religion being the fault of most wars.

  14. Nektarios says:


    You say, ‘ so Christianity must add hypocrisy to its faults.’

    If you really want to get into that, then we must have a biblical view of what is Christianity. Yes?

    Much has been said, written, on the failings of Christianity. Well I say this is ignorance. Such failings equal and more to Isil, may be religious pursuit of power, dominion, money, influence, but that is not Christianity though it was done in the name of Christianity, much the same as Isil is trying to gain a Caliphate using a corrupted form of Islam.
    This is why I say to confuse the two is ignorance.

  15. Vincent says:

    The situation is complex. Isil claims that they are a movement which takes Islam back to its original form at the time of Mohamed. It is, therefore, the true Islam. Thus their evil actions are in fact virtuous since they bring about the dominance of the world by Islam. There’s no hypocrisy here: the theology and the policy are in harmony. Christians from the beginning, and today, claim that their ultimate value is love. To promote that value by hatred and murder is hypocrisy. You will not want to deny, I think, that under a cloak of respectability Christians have done some very wicked things,

  16. Nektarios says:


    I would remind you that the religion brought in my their leader, Mohammed, was done at the point of a sword.
    I can disagree with the idea that their evil actions in their minds are virtuous and their theology and policy are in harmony. This is to call that which is evil, good, it is totally untenable.

    When it comes to Christianity, as I said earlier, know what that is, what a biblical view of it really is.
    When we see this clearly, then the wicked, evil actions down through the centuries to the present day shows it has nothing to do with Christianity per se at all, no more than Isis is a true Islam.

    So what are we looking at? Enemies in the camp, yes, they are both full of enemies. It was St Augustine who said, I went looking for the Church in the world, and lo, I found the world in the Church.
    Yes, I agree with your last comment, ‘I think, that under a cloak of respectability Christians have done some very wicked things.’ They did such terrible deeds in the past and do so in the present appearing respectable. It is so incongruous is it not, but such is the poor state of man in his fallen nature. Behind all that is the devil, and his commonly used device is deceit. What is poor mankind to do? I only know this, the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution, there is no other way out for mankind.
    If man in his sorry state will not believe the Gospel, then expect more sorrows, miseries, corruptions, murders and hypocrisy.
    God calls us to be holy even as He is holy. But is the Church these days concerned in the slightest
    about what God thinks?

    • St.Joseph says:

      You say ‘God calls us to be holy even as He is holy. But is the Church theses days concerned in the slightest about what God thinks?

      Explain please?

  17. Nektarios says:

    St Joseph

    It is a question, it is not accusing, but the question asks one to think, and think seriously about it.
    To read the Scriptures so we all know what God thinks.

  18. St.Joseph says:

    Thank you.
    But when you asked the question you must have wished to know the answer.
    So I presumed you were in doubt or else why ask?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Let me just make a casing point. There is nothing in Scripture that teaches us that the contraceptive pill is an abortafacient.
      The Church interprets Scripture from the readings etc and from the Wisdom.of the Holy Spirit. When man makes their own ‘scripture’ which is against what Gods ‘thinks’!

  19. Nektarios says:

    St. Joseph
    I know what God thinks of His Church, that is, those who truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and all that that implies. Read Titus 2 11:15.
    I was in fact answering Vincent’s charges against the church.

    Your first sentence, is covered with Thou shalt not kill. that is your fellow human beings.

    Men making their own Scriptures or interpretations are usually heretics, or poor deluded souls. Sadly, with regards to man making his own interpretations of Scripture has only led to upsetting the Church and causing confusion with the man in the street.
    It is one of reasons I have banged on against Humanism. secularism and liberalism.

  20. Brendan says:

    In answer to Nektarios – 2.00pm.
    I can’t add anything constructive to your discussions with AD other than conclude that evidence cannot be conclusive either way rationally to an age-old discussion , however entertaining . I can only say at present that we agree that the believer in ‘ faith ‘. has received something that the non-believer will/can never understand . If AD permits nothing but rational thinking … so be it ! But there is much that – if we are honest – that rationality cannot explain in our world, let alone beyond. That is the perennial clash of true ‘ religion ‘ against the ‘world ‘. For the Christian and the world since we are redeemed – from our presence of interminable sin, and the despair which this world of our own making diffuses in us – ‘ faith ‘ gives an insight into an horizon with ‘ the promise ‘ through our history , that the non-believer may yearn for ; but being ‘ world-bound ‘ can never experience . This surely is the point of ‘ happiness ‘ now…. ” If you love me keep my Commandments .” John 14:15
    It is from this standpoint then , in the life of the Christian who testifies to his/her ‘faith ‘.- as St. Paul say in Cor.2;5-6 – that one can meet secular ( atheistic ) humanism head-on . To that extent we must fight on the humanists ground – the world – the knowledge that our Faith gives us and the tools to persuade in an ever-skeptical ,over-rationalistic world.
    It is noticeable that Pope Francis while seeking dialogue with the ‘ atheist ‘ world , I’m sure is mindful of Christs cautionary saying to all believers.. ” Let the wheat grow among’st the chaff……”Matt. 13:30’…..that while some may be ‘ changed ‘…….. there is the final reckoning.

    • Nektarios says:

      I can but agree with most of what you say in your posting.
      In addition to that, the concern I have is primarily for the church and the state that it finds itself these days.
      It may speak about faith outwardly, bemoan the state of the world, but here is the rub, it is lacking spiritual power and faith inwardly. What accounts for this? It this why Church leaders are advocating and bowing down to the gods of this world of humanism, secularism and liberal philosophy? The need of the present time is great for the church.
      The church has gone through many times aridity and spiritual declension but the way out of it for the church has always been revival. Now revival is a stirring up of the church and is solely a work of the Holy Spirit.

  21. Horace says:

    As I see it at a very simple level :-
    Obviously young people should be taught the anatomy and physiology of sexual activity. This is equally applicable to both Catholic teaching and to the teaching of secular humanism.

    a) Catholic teaching is that sex is about having children (babies). Sex should only be undertaken in a context (marriage) when any children that may result will be properly cared for.
    b) Secular humanism teaches that sex is about ‘having fun’ – babies are an irrelevant byproduct:- perhaps desired, perhaps unwanted.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I was never given sex lessons in school, although I left school at 14 and a half, returning back to the UK after a few years in Ireland,
      Started work at 15.
      Common sense must come into it and knowing what is right and wrong and what is sacred and what is not. What God thinks of us.
      In those days it was just ‘some girls do and some girls don’t! And we did not mix with the ones that did!

  22. Hock says:

    There seems to be a lot of time and effort in making the terms secular and humanism into something they are not. They are both negative terms and have only a kind of ‘anti’ religion philosophy that is open to any sort of fad that comes to mind.
    For secular we should read ’empty.’
    Quentin makes reference to an article in a Catholic newspaper about ten years ago that had as its ‘guest ‘ Terry Sanderson, President of the Secular Society.

    If I remember correctly the full page article was one where in fact Terry Sanderson was also the guest of Quentin who questioned him in the article and I have to say that Quentin fell victim to a charm offensive where Terry Sanderson was allowed to go unchallenged for the most part and in particular when he said that Christians could find a home in the secular society!
    It is a pity Quentin had not carried out the most basic research of the secular society or he would have seen from their web page that there is no welcome for Christians there. Indeed it is it full of invective and the often repeated charge that all religion is the cause of all wars.
    It is a plain fact that a secular view of the world has also given rise to many wars of recent times. Could it be that the main cause of all wars is the human one of greed.

    • Alan says:

      Hock – “or he would have seen from their web page that there is no welcome for Christians there. Indeed it is it full of invective and the often repeated charge that all religion is the cause of all wars.”

      Can you point me to that webpage?

    • Quentin says:

      Hock, for the record, the date of the article was 15 Feb 2008. I explained in my introduction that I wanted Sanderson to provide his best case for secularism. I deliberately made no critical comments, but I asked CH readers to comment. I had some 60 pages of comments, and I summarised these on 28 March. Ironically, it included the following: “Consult, it was suggested, the National Secular Society’s website and there you will see the ‘snarl’ behind Sanderson’s smile.” The episode was in fact a living example of the approach I was advocating in this post. Of course, you are free, and so is everyone else, to criticise this approach – which is why this Blog encourages free discussion.

  23. G.D. says:

    Advocatus Diaboli (et al),

    The above discussion sparked by your post caused me to look at ‘The Enemy Without’ and my post on Nov 27 2015 ……………

    ‘ The anti-theist is a fanatic disguised as beneficent towards humanity. Unfortunately, as all fanatical groups … ( i now including all fanatical ‘religious’ groups too ) … fuelled by hatred, (… and insecurity! ) … they will always need an enemy … when in fact the enemy is within! ‘ ………….

    The anti-theist does not speak for humanitarianism. The religious fanatic doesn’t speak for the religion(s).
    No matter what they call their secular or religious societies & systems.
    True humanitarians are not against people having disparate beliefs.
    True religious people are not against people having disparate beliefs.

    The only criteria for judgement against such as ‘opponents’ ( as is plain as far as i can see) is the intent to damage or destroy, via overt or covert means, others who hold differing views. Including ‘intent to damage’ the other’s beliefs.

    ‘Thou shall not kill’ applies to other means and ways of ‘killing’ apart from mortal death.

    Yes there are shades of grey in everything, and all of us, to varying degrees ‘kill’ each other in many many ways. But, any DESIRE for denying or prohibiting the other’s belief, and turning it into ‘as I believe’ is a form of killing. Not humanitarian nor religious.

    Witness with conviction freely given, AND freedom extended to the other’s conscience is enough. This, for the true religious is the love of God ; for the true humanist the love of man.
    ( ‘Genuine Social Concern’ for the Anarchist even, without the disorder & mayhem of course? ).

    Unfortunately to following this path in self sacrifice can lead to death – as many secular and religious have proven throughout the ages.Including the founder of Christianity.

    Any form of overt attack or covert coercion is, at foundation, devious; and trying to ‘kill’ the other to the greater extent.

    • Nektarios says:

      I am at a loss with what you have posted above. I wonder where you are coming from intellectually or religiously or spiritually?
      Let me first ask you,what is Christianity? What in truth is a Christian?

      When on Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached the Gospel message to the Jews, was he out kill them by covert or devious means?
      Was Stephen, the martyr when he stood up and gave his defence before the Sanhedrin
      in Acts 7, was he out to destroy them or what?

      It seems from what you have said, that anyone who opposes. is out to kill them in some form or other.

      It also seems to me that you seem to equate the whole Gospel as just an opinion equal among other opinions that should be accepted. Therefore G.D I ask you, what then is the Gospel actually, is it the word or opinion of mere men, or the word of God to man?

  24. Brendan says:

    Responding to Nektarios , yesterday.
    ” ..lacking spiritual power and faith inwardly…It is why Church leaders are advocating and bowing down to the Gods of this world…. ” etc.

    One cannot deny that the proceedings leading up to , during, and following the end of the recent Synods display in coming to a head , a certain crisis in The Catholic Church; which can only be described as one of ‘faith’. It has left The Holy Father with the onerous task of confirming the whole Body of Christ, faithful to each other in one Church. But for he being ‘ Peter ‘ , an impossible task. Just take a look at the present Anglican Communion !
    For ourselves ; Emeritus Pope Benedict in his profound trilogy ‘ Jesus of Nazareth ‘ declared that his aim was simply to ” seek the face of The Lord ”. This gave us a backdrop to his stated, growing belief that the decline in Church worship was due to poor liturgical practice at the basic level of Catholic Divine Worship – The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The basic matrix of Catholic living is to acquire ‘ grace ‘ in this singular way of worship which until recent decades was enthused through attention to ‘ contemplative awe and reverence ‘ for the Divine presence in the Mass. Fromm there generations have taken on our World !
    Pope Benedict left us with a fine legacy in this regard ; for from Bishops down to laity we must take up the challenge posed by a secular world – soulmates unwittingly or otherwise of Satan’s grip on current world events.
    The story of Martha and Mary in Holy Scripture is a paradigm of Catholic disparity of action today. Both accepting the Lord ; but Mary exhibiting the ” better way ” by her devotion and attentiveness to the Lord . I feel privileged to belong now to a parish community that reflects from our Pastor down, such a ‘ matrix ‘ that allows the full measure of Catholic Faith and Worship.

    • Nektarios says:


      I wonder, Brendan if you realise, that one does not acquire ‘grace’ in the singular way of worship of God. You will admit I am sure, that our whole spiritual life here on earth and what happens in eternity for the Christian, all of grace. Yes?

      Grace does not come to us because we worship God, rather the other way around. It is because we have received grace, we can truly worship God.

  25. John Nolan says:

    It used to be said that one of the benefits of a classical education was that it taught that you could have ethics without Christianity. I can’t see why secular humanists would want their views lumped under the heading RE which as taught in most schools is more or less an exercise in comparative mythology.

    At the time of the 1944 Education Act RE was RI – children were required by law to be instructed in the fundamentals of Christianity. It is open to argument as to what extent this is still relevant. It could be argued that in a post-Christian society it is more important than ever, if only for cultural/historical reasons.

  26. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    Well, we can all see where classical education with all the benefits of Latin, Greek with its pagan myths, logic, history, ethics and morality have taken the modern man, hmmm?

    Although things were slipping even in 1944, one could still relatively call this a Christian country.
    Today the situation in the world is dire, the only message and answer to man’s problems is the message of the Gospel.
    I wonder when people speak of cultural / historical they appreciate just how short a time we live on earth, but after death, the judgement.
    I don’t want to scare you into a reaction, but simply to think about it for now.

  27. G.D. says:

    Nektarios, I have no idea where i am ‘coming from intellectually or religiously or spiritually?’ ……… I merely witness to God existance, as an imperfect creature, as best i can.

    Christianity is the collective religion of those who seek to embody the spiritual teachings of Jesus. (God made man ; Son of man).
    A true Christian is one who sincerely ATTEMPTS to live, & allow, the incarnation of the Holy Spirit.

    I also said …. ‘ Witness with conviction freely given, AND freedom extended to the other’s conscience ‘. This is what Peter did & Stephen did is it not? For the love of God. They were not opposed to anyone.
    ( I use the word ‘oppose’ as in meaning ‘hostile to’ ; not as ‘different from’).
    They stated their belief and left it up to the people to do what they would with the message given …. That is the Christian (Christ like!) thing to do. That is what Jesus did.

    The Gospel is two fold,
    1. It is the Word that was God, and the Word that was with God in the beginning, made Alive and Active in Creation
    2. A written record of 1. ( Including the O.T. ).

  28. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – Just quickly, for I’ll be done at my Diocesan Cathedral and elsewhere all day.
    ‘ Grace ‘ is a difficult subject to understand and of course as we know varies in understanding from one Christiain denomination to another . As a Catholic Christian and endowed with the supernatural gift ( grace unmerited ) of our Lord and Saviour through Baptism ; I therefore avail myself in the daily life of a Christian in the actual/habitual graces arising from the fount of mercy offered through Christ from the Father in the Spirit…. to which for example ,I avail myself of the opportunity in this Jubilee Year of Mercy ( arising from the Judaic period of Gods faithful people ) of the ‘ graces ‘ delivered direct from The Father continued through The Church.
    Apologies for rushing , but I have to go !

  29. John de Waal says:

    I realise that I have joined this discussion a little bit late but may I offer a comment or two from one who taught RE in Catholic schools for 35 years until retirement in 2008?

    I always taught both sides to any argument regarding moral questions. It makes complete sense. You cannot expect young people to accept what you want them to believe without giving them the pros and cons. So it was with abortion. I used material from pro-life and pro-abortion sources. I was confident that the pro-life case was always the stronger.

    Also, having both sides to an argument makes for a more interesting lesson. There is nothing so dull as a teacher expounding a point with little or no interaction from the pupils. I considered it a God-send when a pupil took a strong stance against my position. It made everyone sit up and take notice.

    Like anything else, however, it’s not what you say but the way that you say it that counts. Context is always so important.

    Some have commented that dealing with moral questions in the classroom is artificial and removed from ordinary life. That may be so but it is important to allow young people to consider moral dilemmas in a theoretical context so that if and when they face them in real life they have some moral reference to fall back on.

    Our biggest enemy in religious and moral education is indifference.

    • Brendan says:

      Well put John , and I totally agree . But do you agree that in our largely ‘relativistic ‘ climate we now live in ; that confusion can arise among’st the young when lazily mixing a non-religious subject such as humanism with a subjective / objective religion religion ? Is that of singular importance any way ? I respect your experience and opinion in this area.

      • John de Waal says:

        I agree there could be confusion if presented the wrong way. For example, I don’t think humanism should be given its own particular space in the curriculum – but simply used as a source of alternative theories.

        As a matter of interest, GCSE Religious Studies exams require candidates to give opposing views.

    • Nektarios says:

      John de Waal

      Indifference is not the biggest enemy, but the inward movement of sin.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Also I would suggest if young people were taught the Wonders of God and Eternal Life for those who fear and love Him and the Kingdom of Heaven for all Eternity..
        Also the other option!!

    • Quentin says:

      John, I very much agree with your views, particularly since they are based on long teaching experience. But I do have a question. Would you use your approach in sexual matters? I ask this because Catholic ‘sensitivity’ appears often to result in emotional responses. For example, parents, hearing or misinterpreting a child’s report of a class, could well cause a fuss.

      I have in mind issues like sex outside marriage or contraception. Possibly even pornography.

      • Martha says:

        Quentin, if the teaching programme and full information is given to parents with opportunities for them to see films etc. and talk about the issues beforehand, maybe contribute if they have particular knowledge and a suitable approach, then the fuss you mention could be avoided. This is an area which is especially important for school and home to cooperate.

  30. Brendan says:

    John , can you enlighten me as to the position /status at present of teaching ‘ secular humanism ‘in Catholic Schools , if any ?

    • John de Waal says:

      I hope I have not misled you. I am not saying there is or should be an official status given to secular humanism in Catholic schools. What I am saying is that – in my opinion – good teaching of the Catholic Faith should include looking at the counter arguments such as secular humanism in order to equip our young people to know and understand their Catholic Faith all the better. This is good old fashioned apologetics.

      • Brendan says:

        Fine , thank you.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John de Waal.
        Do our catholic children need to study secular humanism in order to know and understand their faith better?
        I am speaking about something I will admit that I don’t know anything about.
        However did our saints of the past and those who gave up their lives in the Reformation and all our Religious Priests and Nuns study secular humanism before they became holy?
        I am asking these questions so that I can understand the quandary as I don’t know.
        I have read about secular humanism and I am not impressed!

  31. Brendan says:

    I remember that in about 1975 when I embarked on a career ( ill-fated as it turned out ) in Nursing, when confronted in ‘ school ‘ with a human ‘foetus ‘ preserved in a specimen jar with some derivative of formic acid; I was stunned at the sight of what I saw given my ‘ comfortable ‘ Catholic upbringing. More so that no one in the room including my tutor seemed to ‘ bat an eyelid’.Two years later I joined SPUC like thousands of others and when married , my wife and I did the usual protest marches in London etc.; usually as a Catholic parish group led by a priest. Along with my ‘ Faith ‘ , I armed myself with the medical , soicio-anthropological issues surrounding the killing of the unborn child from conception , overtime reinforcing what science has always understood as ‘ the human being with potential.’
    It is vital that future generations understand the issues fully from both sides of the argument so that the culture of death which holds sway as a ‘ moral argument ‘ in society can be met head on and exposed at every turn as being a counterfeit force to our mutual human existence on our planet.

  32. John de Waal says:

    St Joseph. As Brendan has pointed out we live in a world where our children will be challenged regarding their Catholic Faith. They need to be armed to meet this challenge – and we should be confident that our beliefs stand up to any scrutiny. Faith builds on reason and we must show our children that this is so, otherwise they are in danger of thinking only Science is rational and thereby rejecting Catholicism.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John de Waal.
      I am very aware that our faith will be challenged, there has never been a time even within the Church that mine has not been challenged since the early 50s up to now !
      If our faith is understood properly and practiced with the knowledge that we have a’ duty to Worship God first’ before any other false subject that the wind blows in to introduce error where young people will be susceptible to make a wrong choice.
      That is why we have catholic schools.

      • Brendan says:

        But St. Joseph , our children will be the next parents and as you, I’m sure will accept , have a duty to present Gods world to them ‘ as it as ‘ as well as ‘ how it should be ‘ ; which means ensuring that with knowledge they are at least able to ” inoculate ” and at best ‘ confront ‘ the evils that are besetting Western Culture in our times and probably future times . By doing so , making sure that the light of God does not go out in their OWN children’s lives….. a merciful God will do the rest !

  33. St.Joseph says:

    I would much prefer that our children are taught the faith.
    We seem to be looking at this two-ways. I don’t see why we should put doubts in our children’s mind and give them an option or a choice to decide what is right and wrong.
    Are you saying that our faith is not capable on its own to challenge the Western Culture.
    One would think that our Catholic Faith is something that can not be explained in Truth, that it is all ‘fairy tale’!
    We have the Grace from our Baptism and we ought to be bringing our children up by practicing what the church teaches. Those who don’t do this will be in a rather sad position to go along with the crowd.
    That is where I see the danger!!
    Also one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is ‘Fear of the Lord’. What has happened to that gift then?

  34. Alasdair says:

    A yes – Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society (ref Quentin’s intro)!
    I remember, around that time, 2008, I emailed a short list of questions to the NSS on behalf of some teenage members of an extra-curricular group. I received a reply from Terry which was fairly dismissive and did not address the questions. When I reworded the questions and urged a reply to the actual questions rather than pat secular-dogma (I didn’t phrase it that way) I received the following – begin quote: – “Go away” – end quote.
    So I concluded that this was the extent of the NSS’s willingness or ability to engage with intelligent young minds on their terms.
    (I should explain that at the time we encouraged students to access the NSS site but not to have direct correspondence. That was until a link appeared on the site advertising an “debaptism” certificate. This caused floods of tears from at least 2 students and brought about the demise of the NSS as a credible source – around these parts at least!).

    • Alasdair says:

      I notice that the National Secular Society has been awarded the Aikenhead Award for services to secularism by the Scottish Secular Society. Presumably the NSS emerged as victors amongst a plethora of other worthy candidates for this prestigious award. Respects to the SSS for thinking outside the box to come up with this bold choice. (And I’m all for cross-border love-ins).
      Similarly I would imagine that SecondSight Blog might be in the running for a prestigious award from ThirdSight Blog for their outstanding contribution to OrdinalNumberSight blogging. Then maybe we’d finally get a hi-resolution picture of Quentin.
      The related SSS web article includes a picture of the Nss president Terry Sanderson – yes he’s still there. In his presidency he’s seen the rise and fall of pope’s, archbishops, prime ministers, and national presidents – except that is, for presidents of several secular states who’ve also managed to hold on for a long time in spite of the fierce competition.
      With all humility though I should say that I’ve never even been in the running for the presidency of anything.

  35. Nektarios says:


    The NSS are not the only group that set themselves up as authorities, but do not like to be challenged in any way whatsoever.
    The questions and scenarios are limited to the NSS view of things.
    The claim to be oh so modern, but in fact are biased and prejudiced.
    Such is the problem with corruption its root. It is at the root one has to axe.

  36. Alasdair says:

    “do not like to be challenged in any way whatsoever.
    The questions and scenarios are limited to (their) view of things.
    They claim to be oh so modern, but in fact are biased and prejudiced”.
    Couldn’t agree more. Indeed these words of yours could be used as a working definition of “liberal”.

  37. Vincent says:

    Sanderson is surely prejudiced. He approaches questions from his assumption that God and religion are figments of the imagination. Do you think that he would hold that our assumption that God and religion are a reality is prejudiced?

  38. Nektarios says:

    There is agreement with you both, Alasdair and Vincent.
    But we cannot leave this issue or topic on corruption there can we? What can be done about it?
    Please read I Peter 1-23 first if you will.

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