News Archive 2015

Religious Education banished from classes

21 Aug 2015 – Victorian schools will scrap special religious instruction [SRI] from class time, with changes to the state’s curriculum throwing the future of the controversial program in doubt. The Andrews government has ordered that the weekly 30-minute program move to lunchtime and be­fore and after school in 2016 to make way for new content on world histories, cultures, faiths and ethics. The state government said stu­dents were missing out on essential learning while SRI took place. Read Full News Item …

International protest against Bangladeshi blogger murders

19 Aug 2015 – Bloggers, free speech campaigners, humanist associations, religious and ex-Muslim groups, all unite to protest Bangladeshi blogger murders. Following a string of brutal “machete” murders of Bangladeshi writers, all of whom had blogged about humanism, secularism, and atheist critiques of religion, a groundbreaking open letter today (Wednesday) calls on the Bangladeshi government to stop “victim-blaming” the bloggers, and instead focus on catching the extremists who are murdering them. Read Full News Item …

Community of Ethical Inquiry update

12 Aug 2015 – We can report the following latest news on CoI:

  • Dates for the next VAPS level 1 course are August 2, 16 and 30. If you know of anybody that might be interested in doing the course and volunteering in our schools, please let me know.
  • Classes continue with 3 × grade 3/4s at Brunswick NW. The regular classroom teachers are running ethics classes with the grade 5/6s.
  • Classes also continue at Toorak with 2 × grade 5/6s.
  • We had a meeting of facilitators at the beginning of the month. We talked about what is working and agreed that facilitators are working well together as a team, there is good communication with schools, the Dropbox resources are improved and the students are involved and engaged. We discussed strategies to improve engagement of quieter students and to make written reflections more effective.
  • Dr Patrick Stokes, Senior Lecturer in philosophy at Deakin University, visited a class at Brunswick NW last week and was hugely impressed, both by how insightful their (the children’s) responses were and how much they were clearly getting out of the session. Patrick will be writing a preface for our report.

Report by Cathy Warburton, Co-ordinator, Community of Ethical Inquiry

Humanist news from the USA

20 Jul 2015 – Here is the latest news from USA:

  • Concerns about domestic violence, sexual abuse of children by clergy and debates on climate change parallel the level of coverage found in Australia. Radical-right groups of hatemongers cause violence inspired by racism and neo-Nazi tenets.
  • The American Family Association is designated as a hate group because of the lies it uses to demonise the LGBT community.
  • Following a court case won by a gay student who was vilified at school, Mississippi schools agreed to adopt and implement policies and procedures to prohibit bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation.
  • The Freedom from Religion Foundation monitors cases where separation of state and religion fail. Their members continue their billboard campaign with statements of their non-belief, e.g. ‘Free of faith, fear and superstition’ and ‘I believe in reason and logic’ next to their name and photo.

Report by Halina Strnad, courtesy of Mira Peck

Christians in Australia approach minority status

19 Jul 2015 – Christians in Australia approach minority status as religious affiliation declines sharply since 2011. If the current downward trend continues, Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia, research from Roy Morgan shows. In late 2011, Christians outnumbered the non-religious by over two to one: 60.9% of Australians [aged] 14+ (11.4 million) said they belonged to a Christian denomination compared with 29.2% (5.5 million) who said they had no religious affiliation – each near their respective proportional averages since 2009. Read Full News Item …

Council of ex-Muslims in need of support

9 May 2015 – We received the following letter from Maryam Namazie.

Dear friend

As you know, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain was established in 2007 to break the taboo that comes with leaving Islam and religion. We have done this by challenging apostasy and blasphemy laws and facilitating a public renunciation of Islam and a rise in atheism. We have also been there for many ex-Muslims facing persecution by Islamists or family members – around 300 a year – including one-on-one support. Our web-forum has given thousands a network to rely on, including threads in Arabic and Urdu. The ex-Muslim movement has grown tremendously since our establishment with affiliated councils in a number of countries such as France, Turkey and Morocco. Read Full News Item …

Celebrating a diverse Australia

30 Apr 2015 – The Humanist Society of Victoria celebrates the culturally and linguistically diverse mix within our nation. We note that Australia enjoys the continuing legacy of the world’s oldest cultures, combined with a variety of newer arrivals. Each of those voices contributes a unique and exciting variation to our complex, pluralist society. Victorian Humanists respect the dignity of all individuals. We reject philosophies that promote intolerance or xenophobia. Public debate should not target people on the basis of their race or nationality, religious or secular beliefs, gender identity or sexuality, or mode of arrival to Australia.

Our society faces many complex challenges. In response, education and human empathy are vital to ensuring a harmonious and cohesive society. We call for educational campaigns to promote human rights and to challenge the rhetoric of fear and mistrust. Australians should be encouraged to welcome and learn from others, and build an inclusive society which upholds a fair go for everyone. Victorian Humanists propose that the only thing Australia needs to ‘reclaim’ is an understanding of our common humanity and our shared responsibilities to help others.

Report by Stephen Stuart (on behalf of the Committee)

Vale Ben Leeman

13 Apr 2015 – Bernard Henry Leeman (1941–2015)
Ben Leeman had been a member of the Humanist Society of Victoria for more than 20 years. He was most active in the 1990s when he edited the Victorian Humanist and assisted with the Australian Humanist production for several years. In 2013 he rejoined the committee and was intending to become more active, until his wife Jean fell ill. Ben nursed Jean until she died in October last year. Read Full News Item …

Vale Ray Dahlitz

10 Apr 2015 – Raymond Alfred Dahlitz (1926–2015)
Ray Dahlitz played a key role in organising the meeting that set up the Humanist Society of Victoria on 1961. This inaugural meeting was sponsored by the Rationalist Society of Victoria (RSV) and Melbourne Unitarians. Read Full News Item …

How not to mock Christians

15 Mar 2015 – The Iona Institute for Religion and Society released a report titled, ‘British Christians fear ridicule for declaring their faith openly’. In it, the report stated the following: “Christians in the UK are afraid to speak openly in work about their faith for fear of ridicule by colleagues, a study by the country’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found.” Read Full News Item …