Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Pointless Article in The Times

Recently, I tweeted about a particularly pointless article I read in The Times related the Opposition's contact with Sir Christopher Kelly after the Queen's speech this week. Then today I caught sight of the following headline in The Times on-line:

Public faces of Richard Dawkins' atheism campaign were ... devout Christian children

The article starts off describing how the British Humanist Association campaign, backed by Richard Dawkins, is fronted by two young children (aged 7 and 8) who "could not look more free of the misery with which he associates religious baggage".

It then goes on to "reveal" that in fact...shock horror... the children come from a devout Christian family! Apparently the father is a drummer for the "popular Christian musician Noel Richards". So, the belief system of the father is well established, at least.

It's not until the article reports the BHA's response that the message of the campaign is described. The message being "don't label children with the religion or philosophies of their parents, allow them to make their own minds up".

Whether you agree with this message or not, the stories angle is completely undermined. It doesn't matter a toss whether the parents of the models used by the ad agency have religious parents or not. That's the whole point of the campaign. In fact, the very fact they do and The Times chooses to point this out, describing the children as "devout Christians", rather highlights the issue the campaign is addressing.

I have to say I agree with the campaign. For most of my life (until relativity recently anyway) I've described myself as C of E when asked by officialdom to fill in forms, even though I have never had any strong religious belief (my rather splendid parents never forced religion on me). So, even those of us that don't align ourselves with any religion still sometimes consider the religion label as a vital part of our identity, akin to our race or nationality. If there is, in fact, no cultural significance to us it's of no significance whatsoever and it's about time we stopped labelling our children and encouraged them to make their own minds up when they have the intellectual capacity to do so.

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