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Humanists launch guides promoting avoidance of religious education

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A humanistic guide has been produced for parents in Scotland giving advice on how to avoid and complain about religious observance in schools.

Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) has published 'A Guide for Non-Religious Parents' and 'A Guide for Non-Religious Young People' to "empower the two-thirds of non-religious young people in Scotland to have a greater say over their own education."

Copies of each guide have been sent to all of Scotland's 32 Directors of Education with a letter urging them to make sure that parents and pupils are made aware of their right to withdraw from religious observance.

Enlighten Up

The guides were released as part of HSS's Enlighten Up initiative, which is campaigning for the removal of unelected religious representatives on local authority education committees.

Currently, each local authority education committee must reserve three places for religious representatives: one from the Roman Catholic Church, one from the Church of Scotland and another from an alternative religious group.

UN Report

The UK has recently come under fire from the United Nations (UN), which argues the UK has undermined the human rights of children by making them attend school assemblies with collective acts of worship.

A UN Committee report, published in June, expressed concern that religious observance and collective acts of worship are "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character", and claim they hinder a child's "freedom of thought, conscience and religion".

HSS claims they regularly receive complaints from parents and pupils who are troubled by religious teaching in their schools, and has accused the Scottish Government of "dragging its feet" over the issue.

Senior pupils in England and Wales have been allowed to withdraw from religious education lessons since 2006, and HSS wants to see this right extended to Scotland.

However, the SNP has made it clear it has no plans to change the law in Scotland, which requires schools hold six religious observation sessions per year.

'Sheer hypocrisy'

In February 2015, HSS were successful in securing a ban on a Christian book described as a "fun and friendly guide to moving to secondary school". The society said that Scripture Union's 'It's your move' book could "cause distress" for some children. 

The previous Free Church of Scotland Moderator, David Robertson described the move as "petty and vindictive". A few months later he accused ‘humanists’ of "sheer hypocrisy" after it emerged that they would be distributing books promoting atheism to every secondary school in Scotland.

The British Humanist Association who seek to work closely with HSS distributed the book 'The Young Atheists Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God'.

Related Links: 
Christian school assemblies breach children's rights, says UN  
Humanists' hypocrisy after sending atheist manuals to every Scottish secondary following Christian book ban 
HSS Launch Guide Books for Non-Religious Parents & Pupils (HSS) 
Humanist society advises pupils on classroom rights (The National)
Minister says Perthshire school has given into Humanist Society's 'bullying and intimidation' (Courier)
Humanists step up campaign for axing of religious representatives on council education committees (Herald Scotland)