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"I've never really met any Christians" - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

It's amazing how often, when I make my perennial argument against labelling children as, say, "Christian children" or "Muslim children", religious apologists will flat-out deny that they have ever heard of children being so labelled.

"I've never really met any Christians" is the headline used in the paper version of this article, by the way, not the on-line version.

Richard

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:22:14 UTC | #614423

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 2 by SaganTheCat

well done to the catholic and muslim communities. after carefully seperating their children form each other they put them in a room together for a photo call.

brings a tear to the eye doesn't it?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:30:46 UTC | #614424

skeelo's Avatar Comment 3 by skeelo

Something Sarfraz Manoor wrote several years ago has always stayed with me.

In my documentary I met a young Pakistani girl who attended a multi-faith girls' grammar school and I asked her what she thought of faith schools. Here, she said, she had friends from many different cultures. 'In faith schools you learn about how you are meant to get on with everyone,' she explained 'but at this school you don't just learn it, you live it.'

That little girl's comment is still one of the best arguments against the madness of faith schools that I have ever heard.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:42:00 UTC | #614431

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 4 by Alan4discussion

No doubt in a (state) community school down the road, children don't need special introductions, as they start playing together as infants and then work together in class as they grow.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:47:22 UTC | #614436

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 5 by Rich Wiltshir

To what degree have the kids been told to show themselves as better than the other lot?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:48:15 UTC | #614437

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 6 by God fearing Atheist

Good.

With just £1,000 of funding, the Schools Linking Network is a relatively small scheme,

Cheapskate Govt.

St Joseph's, a Catholic junior school located close to William Austin

Why allow divisions on religious grounds in the first place?

Because the RCC pays a fraction of the bill? Cheapskate Govt.

I suppose recent immigrants will cluster in communities/ghettos, so there will be ethnic/religious/cultural clusters in local schools and therefore always the need for this type of scheme to integrate the next generation, but I can't help think the "faith school menace" helps create this problem in the first place.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:49:32 UTC | #614438

The Plc's Avatar Comment 7 by The Plc

How is this allowed to happen today in England of all places? One of the more secular and areligious societies in the world. This is exactly the type of Christopher Hitchens often talks about, the absurdities and damage that occurs when you start regarding the sensibilities and beliefs of religious people with any modicum of respect. Giving minority religions public money to run their own institutionalised, sectarian schools to indoctrinate innocent children is nothing less than a national scandal. The stupidly ill-thoughtout, psuedo-liberal move to actually increase these types of schools by the New Labour government may indeed prove to be their most disastrous domestic legacy. Even Thatcher's idelogical vision of a society of selfish individuals seems more palatable and realistic than a society of different religions at each others throats.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:55:53 UTC | #614439

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 8 by Cartomancer

The fact that initiatives such as this exist highlights the very real, very dangerous problem of segregated schools and religious indoctrination. By applauding such initiatives the people who support faith schooling are implicitly recognising that it is a problem and does cause segregation.

Obviously the easiest, cheapest and best way to solve that problem is to abolish faith schools and put everyone together in the same schools (I would go further and abolish fee-paying schools too, but that's a separate argument). The only way we could justify the continued existence of faith schools, and hence sticking-plaster-on-a-severe-wound palliatives like this scheme, is if there were some obvious and tangible benefit to faith schooling - if faith schools actually did something positive and beneficial that normal schools did not.

They don't.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:56:00 UTC | #614440

danconquer's Avatar Comment 9 by danconquer

Perhaps the most powerful and damning criticism that secularists make - and the one which tends to carry the most weight with the general population - is the way in which supernatural schools, irrespective of the quality of their curriculum, amount to a de facto form of segregation which we would never tolerate in any other form. For children to grow up and be educated in an environment which consists exclusively of people from the same religio-ethnic background renders them psychologically ill-equipped to deal with the real, and increasingly globalised, world. This is sectarianism, and no amount of superficially benign posturing will change that fact.

So I see this initiative as simply a cynical attempt to try to fend off this particular criticism by being able to say "Oh, no, but look! We DO mix the children with others from different backgrounds!"

In any case, is it not possible that "introducing" children to each other in such a contrived and formal way, as if they were bacteria in petri dishes, will serve only to emphasise their apparently fundamental difference from each other?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:57:04 UTC | #614442

UncleVanya's Avatar Comment 10 by UncleVanya

I'm with God Fearing Atheist on this one.

To my mind this is, although not explicitly acknowledged as such, a really clear, official recognition of the harm that is done by faith schools. This isn't just advertised as a horizon-broadening morning out for the kids - the background of inter-group mistrust, hatred and violence in Luton is obviously the reason for this project being in place. It is implicitly admitted that the segregation of children into their respective faith schools contributes to this mistrust, hatred and violence.

Despite the casual labelling in the article my feeling is that this is a good thing, but it's going to take a lot more than the odd morning chatting about football teams to make a difference for these kids.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 11:59:23 UTC | #614443

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 11 by sunbeamforjeebus

Here we are children all happy together after our successive,half-witted craven governments said that we should go to schools where we are separated and encouraged to believe different sets of myths and stories our parents were forced to believe.Play nicely now and try not to let the respective different sets of myths and stories get in the way.If you do let them get in the way in a relatively short time you will be killing each other! Aren't our governments and clerics wonderful?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 12:01:17 UTC | #614444

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by irate_atheist

This country is run by fuckwits. That is the only possible explanation.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 12:20:22 UTC | #614451

PurplePanda's Avatar Comment 13 by PurplePanda

So mixing kids from different schools is good, but faith schools are also good. Ok.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 12:25:00 UTC | #614452

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 14 by Nunbeliever

But is there a danger that if children are attending a school that is overwhelmingly Muslim it may be harder to foster a collective British identity? Not at all, says William Austin's head, Dominic Hughes, who is careful not to suggest that his pupils' worldview is reduced by attending a school that is in effect monocultural.

Then why on earth do we need events like this one if separate schools are in no way an obstacle for integration and mutual understanding? Then why would these children be suprised to find out that muslim children are just like christian children? It just does not make sense. Don't get me wrong. This initiative is wonderful. Ironically though it highlights why separate schools is such a bad idea in first place.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 12:39:06 UTC | #614458

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 15 by aquilacane

That they have to be brought together is the problem. They should already be together.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 12:52:04 UTC | #614467

GPWC's Avatar Comment 16 by GPWC

So William Austin (2.4% white British) is linked with St Joseph's (49% white British). Does this mean there are no schools in Luton where half the children are white British, and yet there is a school which is 97.6% non white British?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:03:09 UTC | #614474

Simon Templar's Avatar Comment 17 by Simon Templar

I'm surprised Richard can still walk the number number of times he shoots himself in the foot. (I'm eagerly awaiting another Scottish story to appear)

This is not a religious issue but a cultural one. William Austin is not a faith school but happens to be predominently Asian whilst St Joseph's close to it geographically happens to be Catholic but as the article points out the vast majority of pupils are white.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:04:23 UTC | #614476

Cinaed's Avatar Comment 18 by Cinaed

I can't believe the country I'm living in sometimes. Are there any serious politicians out there who want to ban faith schools? I know Jack McConnell wanted to but the fucktards in this country never voted for him.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:04:45 UTC | #614477

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

This is not a religious issue but a cultural one.

Hassan from William Austin admits he was a bit nervous at the start of the day because he has "never really met any Christians".

Tell that to the Children.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:14:33 UTC | #614481

andersemil's Avatar Comment 20 by andersemil

Excellent news! I'm sure the more time they spend together, the less bullshit they will believe from the fundies. Perhaps some of them might even turn atheist, even if they won't admit it to their peers for the next umpteen years...

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:27:44 UTC | #614484

Simon Templar's Avatar Comment 21 by Simon Templar

Hassan from William Austin admits he was a bit nervous at the start of the day because he has "never really met any Christians".

Tell that to the Children.

No, tell that to the parents.

If you lived in that area and the two choices of school you had were those, which one would you send your white english kid to ? (or if you're asian which school then ?) If they'd chosen a non denominational school instead of Catholic but with the same pupil demographic which would be your first choice of school ?

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:28:49 UTC | #614486

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 22 by BanJoIvie

Comment 17 by Simon Templar

I'm surprised Richard can still walk the number number of times he shoots himself in the foot. (I'm eagerly awaiting another Scottish story to appear)

This is not a religious issue but a cultural one. William Austin is not a faith school but happens to be predominently Asian whilst St Joseph's close to it geographically happens to be Catholic but as the article points out the vast majority of pupils are white.

Well...er...actualy...

...St Joseph's, a faith school that is 49% white British,...

Last time I checked, 49% is a minority, but maybe you have a different definition of "vast majority" than most.

Oh, and how do you suppose a school can "just happen" to be Catholic? It's not like it was an accident or spontaneous occurrence while no one was looking. Come to think of it- I wonder if William Austin's "predominantly Asian" demographic was more than happenstance as well? But surely the shared religion of that community has nothing to do with their isolation. Must just be a cultural happenstance.

Or just maybe you are straining a tad too hard to squeeze this story into a cultural box rather than a religious one?!

Perhaps Richard isn't the one who should be checking his feet for bullet wounds here.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:31:43 UTC | #614487

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 23 by AtheistEgbert

I could go on and on and on about the absurdity of religious apartheid but everyone else has pointed that out anyway.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:36:44 UTC | #614491

Simon Templar's Avatar Comment 24 by Simon Templar

Or just maybe you are straining a tad too hard to squeeze this story into a cultural box rather than a religious one?!

Quite the opposite actually, if you look at the background to the story within the article and the angle from which its coming from, you would see that clearly.

And yes whether you are prepared to admit it or not whilst shared religion might be a factor in community isolation culture is the overriding factor, If I moved abroad I'd naturally gravitate to areas where other Brits live and join their community.

These children are pupils at St Joseph's, a Catholic junior school located close to William Austin, but where the vast majority of the pupils are white.

Obviously conflicting info in the article then or bad use of 'vast majority'

Maybe 51% classed as non white but several different ethnic groups with the white group having the vast majority rather than being the vast majority. I'm not splitting hairs anyway

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:01:01 UTC | #614496

zengardener's Avatar Comment 25 by zengardener

Sectarian violence begins with sectarian schools.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:08:11 UTC | #614501

RW Millam's Avatar Comment 26 by RW Millam

"I've never really met any Christians"

If by "Christians" they mean people who adhere to the Christian Bible as though it were the holy text of their religion, then I'd have to say that I've never met one either. And I live in Missouri (central USA, biblebelt). And I was raised Southern Baptist.

Oh, I suppose they exist. Maybe I'd put Fred Phelps (the "thank God for dead soldiers" fella) in that category. But since he's over in Kansas I never get the chance to bump into him. Or the sects that say "turn your back on modern science and pray that God will cure your cancer." But I've never met one of them, either.

I wonder how the parents of the children mentioned in this article would react if they were introduced to one of MY "Christians."

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:34:18 UTC | #614514

Baron Scarpia's Avatar Comment 27 by Baron Scarpia

If you lived in that area and the two choices of school you had were those, which one would you send your white english kid to?

The one where I thought my child would be happiest. Which does not hinge on racial background.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:57:11 UTC | #614526

Simon Templar's Avatar Comment 28 by Simon Templar

The one where I thought my child would be happiest. Which does not hinge on racial background.

Good answer but your first sentence negated the need for a second.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 15:06:40 UTC | #614532

yesnomaybe's Avatar Comment 29 by yesnomaybe

Child who lives in Luton: "I've never really met any Christians".

Penny Lasham (the projects Operating Manager) "dismisses the idea that Luton is a divided town as "rubbish".

You couldn't make it up!

The article, as well as the entirely cosmetic initiative itself, pretends that there are not the most entrenched theological and cultural reasons for the divisions, and that once people realise that "both communities" like football and eat pizza, all will be well. It won't. It's not a lack of contact and familiarity that causes the division, this is to invert cause and effect. The divisions result largely from an act of will, from a consciously made choice by those who clearly want self-segregation. It's got nothing to do with misunderstanding one another, on the contrary, increased understanding only reinforces the divisions.

I don't see this as an attempt at integration, I see it as just the opposite: to persuade children that differences must be maintained and respected. A recipe for disaster if ever I heard it.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 16:26:39 UTC | #614556

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 30 by Cartomancer

This is not a religious issue but a cultural one.

A religious issue IS a cultural issue, since religions are nothing more than specific cultural products. There is no difference to draw.

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 16:28:50 UTC | #614558