Speaking of religion in Britain, here is some news that’s been widely reported on secular sites, so I won’t dwell on it long. But it does show how ridiculous the British school system is when it comes to religion. Not only are there faith-based schools—an offense to an enlightened democracy—but there are also state-run “council” schools like North Primary School, in Southall, that do ridiculous things to coddle believers. In this case, the school banned its kids from watching yesterday’s solar eclipse—on religious grounds! The Torygraph reports:
A London primary school was criticised for banning children from watching the eclipse for “religious and cultural reasons.”
Pupils at North Primary School in Southall were stopped from watching the solareclipse directly and had to observe it on screens instead.
Sometimes known as Little India, Southall is a diverse community in west London with a large Hindi population.
Although headteacher Ivor Johnstone would not comment on what the ‘religious and cultural’ reasons were, some Hindu scriptures say that an eclipse makes believers impure.
And fundamentalists believe that they need to bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.
. . . [The head teacher] Mr Johnstone, said: “The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly.
“Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms.
“However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.”
Yeah, isn’t Johnstone lucky that it was overcast? Needless to say, some non-Hindu parents were upset. I have bolded the funny (and sad) bit below:
Phil Belman, whose seven year old daughter goes to the school, told The Evening Standard: “I am extremely upset about it.
“My child went in having spent an hour preparing and making up her pinhole camera. This is an issue about scientific matters versus religious superstition.
“I am outraged – is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid America.”
No, not mid America: southern America (and a lot of other places as well). But this is still outrageous. It really irks me that a 7 year old girl gets all set to learn some science, and then gets told that she can’t watch the eclipse on her pinhole camera. Total eclipses don’t happen all that often.
Come on, you Britons, stop your schools from pulling this kind of crap, and get rid of those faith schools!
h/t: Grania, Frits