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pbrichardson99

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello,
I've been looking at the list of campaigns that the NSS is coordinating and wondered whether how far we have got with establishing whether local councils (parish, district, city etc) hold prayers at council meetings,
Perhaps we could divide and conquer? I'm happy to take on Linton and South Cambs. Any other takers.
We could share tips on how we've gone about establishing the facts.
The NSS take up the reigns once we've established what's happening locally, so it's quite a quick win (potentially).

graham

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Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi PB

Excellent suggestion. As this is a local (regional?) issue do you think that an enquiry should come from this society rather than individual members? As you say the NSS will be collating results.
pbrichardson99

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Graham,
What would it mean for it 'to come from the society'? What did you have in mind? A letter using CSS letterhead? Be signed by a number of us?
I'm neither strongly for or against what you suggest. I think the decision comes down to whether the effort centrally organising it is worth the extra clout gained that might result in a response.
My half-house suggestion would be that we individually take on responsibility for our most local councils but we sign-off as members of CSS, i.e.

"Yours,
Paul Richardson
Cambridge Secular Society"


Interestingly, as I was thinking about your suggestion and was thinking about what a CSS letterhead might look like, I took a closer look at the logo and strap line of the site, and I, humbly as a new joiner, have to say that I'm quite uncomfortable with both.
The logo picks out Christianity as its principle target whereas I think it's always much easier to defend our position if we can declare that we are against all religious interference.
The strap line is going to inflame religious people, partly because it's a characterisation, they do of course ask questions even if they have God on their side, they just ask fewer questions, and sometimes arrive at the wrong answers. Also, I just don't find it helpful to advancing the cause to poke and inflame religious people - it shifts the ground on which discussions happen away from the rational and on to emotive issues of their credibility and identity, and also, in my opinion, doesn't paint the right picture of the secular brand to those who are not religious or are moderate. It says that we're reactionary and provocative rather than constructive.

Ooh, I feel like I've said far too much and too strongly for what is only my 2nd post, but I guess from the responses I will soon find out how like-minded we all are! Please see this as a constructive comment.

Regards,
Paul


graham

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Posts: 64
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Paul

Thanks for you comments. Regarding prayers in local councils, I guess the main reason for asking this question is in order to feed the results back to the NSS research so it doesn’t matter how it is done. However in order to have an effect as a local/regional group the more we can sign off as CSS the more our profile will be increased and perhaps then the folks that we wish to influence will feel obliged to take notice of us.

As regards the logo, strapline and general tenor of the debate to advance secularism, from a campaigning perspective a measured approach is clearly required. In founding this society my intention was to associate with generally likeminded people who would band together and advance the secular agenda rather than embark on a personal ego trip (see reply to your other post).

However my personal approach is less compromising, in my experience people with strongly held religious beliefs will not change them. However this doesn’t stop me from challenging them robustly as these exchanges on the Cranmer blog reveal
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=25291932&postID=74210584434226261&isPopup=true
pbrichardson99

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Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #5 
Hello Graham,
I agree with your objective of raising the profile of CSS in the region and I think that signing off as a member of CSS in our communications with councils is a good way of doing that.

I'd be quite keen (and this links to my other comments) to suggest an alternative to councils instead of prayers. I think that some form of reflection on the nature of public service and the responsibilities and duties involved with being on a council is a really good thing. I wonder if the NSS has come up with anything?

I have much the same personal views as you do and burn with a deep anger at the effects of religion on our world, from the obvious effects of religious-based conflicts to the more subtle influence on debates such as assisted suicide.

My own feeling is achieving a secular society is a step towards a world in which fewer people are infected by religion. Ironically I think the best way to roll back religious influence is to appeal to a sense of fairness towards all faiths represented in this country, including no faith. To do this, we might have to enlist the support of non-Christian faiths.

I can see that we're going to have a fascinating first meeting.
Godfree

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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #6 
None of the meeting notes for South Cambs (my local council) mention prayers which doesn't mean that they don't have them.

East Cambs minutes do though. - Links to pdfs:-

http://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/docs/agendas/fcplan.pdf

http://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/docs/minutes/fullcouncil/fc210502min.pdf

I presume they would have to be your local council to make a complaint...


__________________
The most preposterous notion that homo sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.
-Robert A. Heinlein
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