Scottish Humanists: 'Rid us of these unelected religious reps'

Scottish Humanists: 'Rid us of these unelected religious reps' March 8, 2016

A report published by the Humanist Society of Scotland reveals that 88 religious representatives have been appointed to education committees without a vote, and the HSS has launched a campaign calling for their removal.
The Enlighten Up campaign calls on Holyrood to ensure every member of local authority education committees is accountable through the ballot box, and asks the public for support via this petition.
Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive, said:

The presence of unelected religious representatives is anti-democratic and out of step with modern Scotland. Parents should not be left guessing who has a right to make decisions over their children’s education. Every full voting member of local education committees should be accountable through the ballot box.

MacRae points out the Act that compels councils to appoint religious representatives was brought in under the Conservatives in 1973.

As we look to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections we hope Scotland’s politicians will agree that it is time to end it once and for all.

The Enlighten Up campaign exposes worrying details of current religious representatives.
The Society, which has over 14,000 members across Scotland, has published details of the 88 religious representatives who have been appointed to local authority education committees without a vote, and exposes several worrying examples of religious appointees who have full voting rights without ever seeking a mandate from the electorate.
In Clackmannanshire, for example, ‘third representative’ Pastor David Fraser, believes that Satan is to blame for the death of a five-year-old child last year, and that Noah’s Ark has been found.
In East Dunbartonshire Church of Scotland representative, Mrs Barbara Jarvie, believes that the Kirk’s role is justified and that unelected church reps work in “conjunction” with elected councillors; and the Roman Catholic education rep is a priest who was found guilty of “unwanted harassment” and making sexual advances towards males in his house.
Falkirk Council’s “third representative”, Rev Michael Rollo (who is also a chaplain in Larbert High), believes in faith healing, while
Catholic representative Jack Nellaney, a member of Renfrewshire Council says Catholic schools are important because:

Faith is not something young people think about day in, day out, so it’s important to give them a chance to reflect on faith in action.

Dr Nagy Iskander
Dr Nagy Iskander
South Lanarkshire council’s “Third representative” Dr Nagy Iskander is one of  “Europe’s most active creationists”, according to high-profile American anti-science campaigner Ken Ham.
Speaking in support of the campaign Dame Anne Glover, Professor of Biology, and former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government, said:

A vibrant and engaged modern Scotland needs an education policy that reflects the reality of modern Scottish society. That is why I support the Enlighten Up campaign for education reform in Scotland.

Councillor Jonathan Wills, of Shetland Island Council, added:

Local councillors have to seek a mandate from their community, and they remain accountable to the local community. Having unelected religious representatives on local education committees is outdated and has to change. That is why I support the Enlighten Up campaign for education reform in Scotland.

Hat tip: Ernest Jackson

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  • Stephen Mynett

    I vaguely know Rollo, he offered to help my best friend with prayer. The success of which can be gauged by the fact I gave the eulogy at a humanist service for my friend a few months ago.
    Religionists like Rollo worry me a lot, he comes across as a quiet and friendly man, wears normal clothes and does not immediately strike you as a faith-headed bampot. Closer scrutiny though, shows him to be a Biblical literalist, his church website states the Bible is the inerrant word of God and anyone starting from that premise has to be worrying.
    He is a Pentatcostalist, his church part of the Assemblies of God, a group whose London churches caused the death of several HIV sufferers by persuading them to give up their medicines and rely on faith.
    Here is a bit from his Larbert church:

  • L.Long

    Religion has shown over the last 2000yrs to be about hate, fear, bigotry, & intolerance, no matter what they say! I’ve read their books o’BS and have seen what they actually did. They have nothing positive to add to anything about anything. They are about as useful as any other stuff held over from the midevil age!

  • Stuart H.

    Clergy as school governors is another one to watch.
    Not much you can do in church schools – where you expect the vicar to chair and it’s laid down in education legislation. But being a parent who actually gives a flying one, and having once stood for election as a school governor and lost ( though quite fairly to a fine and energetic parent who did all I could have and more), I get a bit miffed when some dozy cleric can just stroll into a state school without mandate.
    I’ve noticed small town and village primary schools automatically include clergy as governors, even though there’s no legal basis. Some vicars I know even carry keys to school buildings and make free use of them to save turning on the parish hall heating. When you question this with teachers or the local squierarchy they seem unable to grasp the problem. Just a side-effect of choosing to live in a quaint rural area, I suppose.

  • barriejohn

    “Faith in action”; what the bloody hell is THAT supposed to mean?
    Stephen Mynett: I knew Christians who attended “healing crusades” at the Elim (Pentecostal) Church in Swindon, many of them conducted by Melvin Banks, whom I have mentioned here before (“He pastored ‘The Church where no-one ever died, where no-one ever had a funeral.’ One of Great Britians [sic] greatest.”) , where they were encouraged to “throw their medication down the toilet”. A new, state-of-the-art, hospital has been opened in the town now, which is rather puzzling. I read reports even now of evangelists belonging to the Plymouth Brethren being invited into schools to address assemblies and even take RE lessons. Are the head teachers mad or totally ignorant?
    Re Melvin Banks quote:

  • barriejohn
  • melvin polatnick

    Popes and Cardinal’s have always pushed their weight around. They can drown any politician that doesn’t donate suitcases full of dollars. This wont stop as long as people depend on the words of religious leaders. The US is an example of a nation where a Rev. Al Sharpton has tremendous political power.

  • Cali Ron

    Stephen Mynett: I see the British counterparts to my old church, the Assemblies of God are continuing to cause physical harm and even death as well as religious delusion. Well they no longer have a hold on me because I’m free at last, free at last, thank logic and clear thinking, I’m free at last. Apologies to MLK for plagiarizing his quote, but I fixed it.
    barriejohn: Did Newsweek get bought out by Murdoch? They were always a bit tawdry and biased, but they seem to have completely given up on any semblance to real journalism. The “Noah’s Ark Found” article should out any day now.

  • barriejohn

    Stephen Mynett: I believe Newsweek is owned by International Business Times. It’s difficult to know whom to trust nowadays. We used to have a proudly independent, if somewhat quirky, provincial press in the UK, but most local papers are now published by companies like Newsquest, as a quick glance at their websites is enough to confirm. Scary!

  • AgentCormac

    Petition duly signed. Even if I am from the wrong side of the border.

  • Brian Jordan

    To make matters worse, in a lot of authorities in Scotland these religious appointees like Iskander hold the balance of power on the education committees.