BY Daniel Harkins | February 9 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5-KEENAN

Bishop to meet humanists after criticising ‘anti-religion society’

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley will meet with the Humanist Society Scotland after criticising the group as ‘anti-religion.’

The Bishop of Paisley has agreed to meet the humanist society’s campaigns and communications manager Fraser Sutherland.

In a letter agreeing the meeting, the bishop said he feels ‘routinely in the position of having to defend our Church frankly from what I would say are lazy and quite gratuitous attacks on Catholics in Scotland and their beliefs from members of the HSS.’

“The context of all of this is the general experience of Catholics fairly broadly that the HSS feels some kind of need to ‘take a pop’ at religion in many of its outputs,” he said. “In that sense we naturally conclude that you are as exercised to do away with the place of religion in Scottish civic society as you are to advance the cause of authentic humanism. I, more than anyone, would be very encouraged if the HSS were considering a fairer and more positive appraisal of the contribution of faith communities to Scottish civic society and so open up a new chapter of their due respect for religions in Scotland.”

Mr Sutherland recently criticised the role of religious representatives on local authority education boards.

He called the system ‘outdated, undemocratic and archaic,’ and spoke of bigoted anti-LGBT activists’ on education committees.

Bishop Keenan challenged the humanist society to provide evidence that Church representatives are ‘bigots and anti-science fundamentalists.’

“Our diocesan reps are distinguished former head and depute headteachers, highly respected in our civic and Church society,” he said, asking if the humanists ‘aren’t really a tiny group who exists only in the pages of newspapers?’

“In that sense are they really entitled to lecture on what is or is not real public representation? Have they asked Catholic citizens up and down the country, as well as officials in local government who work well and effectively together with Church reps, if they would prefer their boards to have no input from Catholic schools reps?”

The bishop added: “When you look at the substance of their agenda and output should they really not be called the ‘anti-religion society’ and, would it not be more honest to the general public, and to ­themselves, to just call themselves that?”

Under the 1973 and 1994 Local Government Acts, most local authority education bodies must appoint a representative from the Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church and a third from a church body or denomination with ‘duly constituted charges or other regularly appointed places of worship.’

Fraser Sutherland said he was ‘disappointed’ with the bishop’s criticism but was looking forward to meeting him and discussing ‘both our views on educational governance and also hopefully give him an opportunity to reflect on his understanding of who humanists are.’

He said his original comments where in reference to a Sunday Herald article on the appointment of a Christian Evangelical to a South Lanarkshire education committee rather than to the Catholic Church.

“Campaigning for a secular state and the removal of privileges in law for certain religious institutions is not ‘anti-religious,”’ he said. “Humanists seek a country, and indeed a world, where all individuals, no matter their faith, belief or none, have their human right to freedom of religion and belief equally respected in the eyes of the law.

“Humanism is also significantly more than just advocating a separation of church and state. It is a legally recognised belief, or as some of our members would refer to an ethical life stance, that has a core set of values based around reason, compassion and community.”

Leave a Reply

latest news

Jesus our Teacher Icon is welcomed to Motherwell Diocese by its creator

October 19th, 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

The Icon of Jesus Our Teacher was officially passed over...


Three designs proposed for Great Hunger memorial at Glasgow church

October 19th, 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

A Catholic Church in Glasgow has hosted three designs for...


Scotland hails canonisation of St Romero as relic heads to Edinburgh

October 19th, 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

The canonisation of Oscar Romero was celebrated in Scotland with...


Bishop Keenan to pray the Rosary live on Facebook

October 17th, 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

BISHOP John Keenan of Paisley Diocese is to pray the...




Social media

Latest edition

P1-OCT-19-2018

exclusively in the paper

  • Vocations week hears inspiring stories of Faith
  • Trinity pupils roar for pro-life cause with annual fun run
  • Example of Romero brings together Scottish Christians
  • Aid agencies ‘undermining African values’ with abortion
  • Recreating the gardens of Scripture in life and art, by Dr Harry Schnitker

Previous editions

Previous editions of the Scottish Catholic Observer newspaper are only available to subscribed Members. To download previous editions of the paper, please subscribe.

note: registered members only.

Read the SCO