Stephen Lawrence Centre Vandalised

We'd been planning to write something this week about the opening of the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford.

Sadly, before we've even had time to get around to it, the Centre's been vandalised, with the suspicion that the attacks were racially motivated.

We went to school with Stephen and he was a really decent guy (the disgusting attempt by the BNP to say otherwise was one of the lowest points in their long and shameful history). The Centre in his memory is a wonderful idea that deserves to flourish and, despite this setback, it will.

We will find a quieter time to write in more detail about the Stephen Lawrence Centre.


Hugh said...

That is bad news, although the place has taken about two years to build and must be far behind schedule. I wonder who's responsible for managing the project.

ElijahBailey said...

Hmmmmm I think the quick branding of racism could be jumping the gun a bit. Right now there is no evidence of that.

Still it is a shit thing to happen no matter what the motivation.

ElijahBailey said...

Didn't even know this centre existed today.

Here is a link to their launch brochure:

Some depressingly divisive language in there. They keep flitting between saying they want to help young people and young 'black and ethnic minority people', because it really is that simple isn't it? You have the whites and black and ethnics-minoritys. FFS.

andrewkbrown said...

The police are treating it as racist.

Whatever the motivation it was pretty shocking to see the place smashed up this morning.

JPM said...

I think it's unwise to brand it as racist, until we know a bit more.

I heard mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, a former senior policeman, say this on radio. I thought then that it was rather premature.

Monkeyboy said...

I saw the chairwoman (chairperson, lets not get gender specific) on the London news. When asked if she thought it was racially motivated she said she didn't know but given other info she thought it was fair that the police were treating it as such for the moment - can't argue with that. Stephen Lawrence's memorial has been racially vandalised before so it's not daft to make the link.

Remember the BNP used to have it's 'bookshop' (I find the idea of a BNP bookshop weird for some reason) in SE london and I've had the occasional nationalist leaflet through the door so there is that element around here.

Actually the leaflet was for an 'English Nationalist' party, he didn't trust those ginger haired celts - honestly it would worry me but I doubt anyone so stupid could ever really get into a position of power.

The papers I've seen have been balanced so far ( at least the grown up ones have), obviously politicians like to jump on any available bandwagon.

I doubt it'll change the investigation greatly, lets wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Elijahbailey - No evidence of racism- apart from the fact that it's the STEPHEN LAWRENCE centre. I personally think the clue is in the name.

I don't think it's 'unwise' to treat it as racist - why is it unwise??
I think the police's default setting on this case should be to treat it as racist until they know it's not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe Brockers, I'll take your advice.

ElijahBailey said...

"Elijahbailey - No evidence of racism- apart from the fact that it's the STEPHEN LAWRENCE centre. I personally think the clue is in the name."

It is also a big shiny building, with big shiny windows in a not so shiny part of town.

There may be grounds to suspect a racist motivation but that does not automatically make it a racist attack. I personally suspect it was due to fact that the NF still have followers in this part of town (not many but enough to field a candidate), however I think certain polticians and sections of the media are unwise to declare is so definately as such so early into the investigation.

ross said...

"I heard mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, a former senior policeman, say this on radio. I thought then that it was rather premature."

i think it's less than helpful as well, this default position for this (and other things) before any evidence or information is obtained doesn't really help the overall situation and underlying tensions

however given paddick's decision to march in the same (front) row with barnbrook in the police pay protest march the other week, i think his position regarding anything like this has been well and truly diminished by his shameless prioritisation of mayoral photo opportunities over principles

Tamsin said...

It's a sad indictment of something but I'm afraid my unarticulate and my husband's articulated reaction was "what did they expect". Large expanses of emminently smashable glass. Just look at the fortress made out of Addey & Stanhope school for comparison.

My feeling is that if the attack had been racially motivated rather than pure (if the word is appropriate) vandalism it would have been fire.

I note that it did not make the evening local news (but then very little "news" - unless it is something affecting thousands of communters - ever does).

Anonymous said...

My friend works on a new Catholic school which is being built in Shadwell called Bishop Challoner. Frequently the windows get smashed at night and damage done to the new building. The Police have identified the culprits as non-Catholic Asians teenagers living in the area who are anti-Christian.

This coupled with this awful attack on the Stephen Lawrence centre makes me wonder what this country is coming to. Politicians need to realize that something needs to be done to integrate newcomers to this land before the whole situation blows up.

Badgeman said...

''non-Catholic Asians teenagers living in the area who are anti-Christian.''
Do you mean Muslims? If so just say it!

Doh! said...

Absolutly, faith based schooling does nothing to integrate anyone. I'm an atheiest would I be allowed to attend or perhaps opt out of praying?

I'm being provocative, but faith should be something left to the individual. To set up schools specifically on the grounds of which mythical tooth fairy your parents choose to believe is odd to say the least.

Brockley Nick said...

Anon - what a bizarre leap of logic. If the attack on the Stephen Lawrence centre was racially motivated, then it won't have been "newcomers" who did it, it will have been moronic natives, motivated by more extreme versions of the sentiments you've just expressed.

Hugh said...

Pity the building is so ugly in the first place.

Pete said...

If it was just a case of a pretty building in a rough area getting vandalised I might agree that coming to the conclusion of a racist motive might be a bit premature. However the laban centre has not had any problems of this kind and the Stephen Lawrence centre is bound to be a target for the far right.

Badgeman said...

Interestingly, when the old Thames Water building (which was due to be converted into the Stephen Lawrence Centre)burned down in 2003, there were no crys of racism, although the incident was treated as suspicious. I don't know if the fire investigation later showed an accident , or something else.;jsessionid=SvW0H1YHNZmLKdSNYRhWkBnmhLBQLbFQ295hP7JHJHMkPgrDh115!943271470!-1407319345!7101!7102

Anonymous said...

I dont think the police checked their religion to see if they were Muslim/Hindu or otherwise, but the culprits were Asian youths with an anti-Christian grudge.

Brockley Nick I was not implying that the motives of those attacking the Catholic school and the Stephen Lawrence Centre were the same. It is purely an example of another silly act of vandalism motivated by race or religion.

...also is there suddenly something wrong with using the word newcomer?

Brockley Nick said...

I didn't say there was anything wrong with the term newcomer, but you said:

"This coupled with this awful attack on the Stephen Lawrence centre makes me wonder what this country is coming to. Politicians need to realize that something needs to be done to integrate newcomers to this land before the whole situation blows up."

The clear logical inference is that in order to reduce the number of attacks like this, you need to deal with "newcomers". The problem in this case is not newcomers, it's incumbents.

mumsmyname said...

Very sad.

Was there CCTV?

Nothing is sacred anymore.

Bea said...


Yours is a sweeping statement based on ignorance!

The Ofsted report for a local catholic school wrote:

“Pupils are also learning positive attitudes towards living in a multicultural society by learning to respect and celebrate the range of cultures represented in the school community. Pupils’ understanding of different cultures is promoted across the curriculum whenever there is an appropriate opportunity. For example, music lessons include songs from a wide variety of cultures and after-school activities include African drumming classes. An annual multi-cultural week enables pupils to learn about the food, clothes, customs and traditions of other cultures and celebrates the culture of many pupils from minority ethnic groups represented in school such as Irish, Polish, Black African, Black Caribbean and Chinese. Displays around the school help pupils to be aware of and respect different cultures.”

And yes, you would be allowed to attend and opt out of prayer but may question why you would want to attend a faith based school if you actively chose not to participate in its ethos. They may feel that a student with more interest in participation deserve to attend instead. After all, many Catholic schools are oversubscribed due to the quality of their education.

Furthermore, the majority of Christian, Muslim and Buddhist communities abhor this kind of senseless vandalism and look to live in harmony with their neighbours whatever faith, creed or colour!

Doh! said...

..and off course that would be impossible in a school run on secular grounds? I went to a school that had no religious affiliations and did all of the above. All off what you say happens should be encouraged and congratulated, just don't see what what promoting Chritianity over other myths has to do with it?

Why not educate all faiths in one school? surley thats better. If parents want to inflict their particular brand of superstition on their kids after hours then fine.

Religion does not equal morality - look around the world it's not a good example

Brockley Nick said...


People who aren't catholics often want to get their children in to catholic schools because these schools are allowed to be selective. The barriers to entry ensure that only children with motivated parents with an active interest in their children's education (eg: ones who are willing to show up to church at the weekend, take part in school events, etc) get in. Kids from less fortunate backgrounds don't. This means that academic standards and standards of behaviour are often higher, which makes competition for places even greater. And so it goes. That's why they do better and that's why people pretend to be Catholic. There's no magic in it.

I agree that they do pay respect to other cultures, but nonetheless, they do indoctrinate their pupils in the catholic faith.

ElijahBailey said...

'Multi-culturism week' is exactly the kind of divisive dross that is causing so many problems in our society.

We should teaching kids that they belong to the same community as each other, not that they are from different communities. How the hell are we ever go solve the problems of integration if we promote the idea of homogenous self contained communities? How are we ever going to afford people, vulnerable people, within those communities the same rights and protection as everyone else in society if we keep allowing groups to act so seperately from the rest of society?

Multi-culturist ideology has caused immense damage to the social harmony within this country and it is about time with we moved away from it.

Anonymous said...

In early accounts of this incident that I read on BBC news, the implication was that the police were obliged to investigate this as a racially motivated incident because someone had suggested that it might be. I take from this, that if anyone says to the police, "I think that window-smashing / graffiti / stone-throwing / etc is racially motivated", that they are OBLIGATED to take that remark seriously. The implication in the article I read was that they did not, in fact, necessarily think that it was racially-motivated. But since someone had alledged it might be, they have to look into it. That doesn't seem wrong to me; it might be overkill, in some cases, but I'd rather that, than under-investigating incidents which may have been racially motivated. Surely that's part of the legacy of the Lawrence enquiry. Shame the media have gone to town with it. Treatment of this on BBC News 24 late last night was far less balanced, and Mayor Ken was also very quick to jump on the "i deplore racism" bandwagon. Opportunists, the lot of them.

Tom said...

Nick makes a good point when he points at some of the less spiritual reasons for the quality of church schools.

It can end up being a kind of selection by another name, with the selection linked partly to how organised the parents are with regard to their children's education.

Anonymous said...

that area has a history of vandalism, lots of graffiti and the burning down of the Thanes Water building. I've had stones thrown at me by the local kids.

....the huge glass windows must have been quite a tempting target. Whether the kids involved really knew or cared what the building was supposed to be for, I doubt.

For the past couple of years I watched that building being built, not really knowing what it was going to be. Thought it was another set of yuppie flats or something. Though it did look odd, as if an architect had let rip.

My theory is that the vandalism was inspired by a rival group of architects jealous of the commission, incited a gang of feral children to brick the windows.

Based on the evidence avaliable (none) this seems just as plausible a theory as any.

Tom said...

Sadly, it is a truism that any time a national newspaper (broadsheet or tabloid) writes about something you know, they get it wrong.

This incident will be remembered as a racist incident even though no evidence has been proffered to support the suggestion. Whilst it may be a sensible inference, it is still an inference, not evidence, and should be framed as such, not "racists attack Stephen Lawrence Centre" as the Guardian re-imagined it yesterday.

mumsmyname said...

I was going to say more or less the same thing.

I defy ANYONE to build anything new, paint anything afresh, leave plantpots or hanging baskets unsecured nowadays. It's like a red flag to a bull - irresistable.

Respect for property - anyone's - doesn't seem to exist anymore REGARDLESS of race or creed.

Brockley Nick said...

@Tom - agreed, I hope I have included the necessary caveats.

ElijahBailey said...

@ Tom

I note looking at the Guardian website they are not even putting the word 'racist' the the headline in inverted commas. They are just treating it as is on next to no evidence.

They are also following it on with a a Newsblog entitled "How racist is Britain?" with some predictable comments (both hand wringing and backlash).

Anonymous said...

Given that the St Lawrence affair was a cause clebre that laid bare the institutional racism endemic within the police force as well as leaving their competence open to question.

Anything associated with it will be treat with caution and sensitivity by the police, be used for point scoring by politicians and be stirred up by the press.

Whether it was anything more than the local kids misbehaving remains to be seen.
It would have hardly merited any comment if was a regular building being vandalized by regular kids.

Monkeyboy said... on analysis there.

By the way pepole...learn to read a newspaper. They all have their opinions, learn to pull out the facts from the opinions and you'll be fine.

(by the way doh! was me. Faith schools? what are they good for? well I guess you do get a nice nativity play at the end of the year and some sexual represion to rebel against later on?)

Monkeyboy said... on analysis there.

By the way pepole...learn to read a newspaper. They all have their opinions, learn to pull out the facts from the opinions and you'll be fine.

(by the way doh! was me. Faith schools? what are they good for? well I guess you do get a nice nativity play at the end of the year and some sexual represion to rebel against later on?)

Bea said...

Doh! No, of course it isn’t impossible to run a school on secular grounds. Many do so very successfully.

What “Christianity over other myths has to do with it” is faith for Christians is not only believing in the more controversial aspects of Christianity but, far more importantly, following Jesus' teachings on how his followers should live i.e. loving God and our neighbour. Everything else is a means to that end.

It is these teachings that form the heart of Christian life and parents believe that their faith should be incorporated into every aspect of their daily life (not just Sundays). As such they would like to raise their children to hold the same values as they do and what better place than at a faith school.

Nick: Christian children are not indoctrinated. They are provided with the means (i.e. the Ten Commandments) by which to live life, love God and others. It is not joining a cult and Christians are free to leave the faith and return as they wish.

Of course, Christians have doubts and question their beliefs from time to time in particular some of the tenants set down by the authorities i.e. the Pope (the Roman Catholics position on homosexuality, contraception to name just a couple) but that does not mean that Christians who question are not Christians.

The reason Catholic schools do well is because they emphasis self-discipline and Christian behaviour. Students are expected to accept responsibility for their actions and to respect others. This reverence for people permeates all aspects of school life. Furthermore, teachers have high expectations of their students and encourage them to do their best.

With regard to selection and the statement that “Kids from less fortunate backgrounds don't” get into Catholic schools. I’ll quote from the same Ofsted report as mentioned in my other post:

“Pupils come from a wide range of backgrounds, although the area served by the school is relatively disadvantaged with a mixture of local housing estates and some privately owned housing. The proportion of pupils entitled to free meals is broadly average. Pupils come from a variety of ethnic background: 40 per cent Black African, mostly Nigerian, 17 per cent Black Caribbean; 17 per cent mixed heritage and 16 percent White British or Irish. The proportion of pupils with English as an additional language is very high, currently 37 per cent of the school population. ... The attainment of many pupils on entry to the school is below that typically found nationally.”

These children don’t strike me as coming from a “privileged” back ground!

And finally to quote Wikipedia:

“Freedom of religion is freedom of belief for individuals and freedom of worship for individuals and groups. It is generally recognized to also include the freedom not to follow any religion. Freedom of religion is considered by many in many nations and people to be a fundamental human right.”

Amanda said...

I would want my child to have a religious dimension to their education as I had. It's about the humane values it engenders more so than the supernatural elements. I'm at the stage in my life, where I'm starting to see that a lot things that my parents said have more than just an element of truth.

Bea thank you for defending the rights of existence of religious schools and not sounding like a freak.

ElijahBailey said...

So there can be no morality without religion?

JPM said...

The Police cannot be blamed for the assumption that this attack was racist...but newspapers can.

Ironically, it was following the death of Stephen Lawrence that the Inquiry, chaired by Sir William McPherson, came up with a number of recommendations. These were to dictate how racially motivated crime was recorded in Great Britain.

Amongst the 70 recommendations by McPherson were: "(Definition of racist incident)

12. That the definition should be: "A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person."

13. That the term "racist incident" must be understood to include crimes and non-crimes in policing terms. Both must be reported, recorded and investigated with equal commitment."

14. That this definition should be universally adopted by the police, local government and other relevant agencies.

(Reporting and recording of racist incidents and crimes.)

15. That codes of practice be established by the Home Office, in consultation with police services, local government and relevant agencies, to create a comprehensive system of reporting and recording of all racist incidents and crimes.

So, in the current climate, even though this attack against a building may not have been racist, the Police will probe until they can discount it due to 'perception'. If they didn't they would be sacked.

The problem is in the reporting of the expectation, and its following abuse by well-meaning or self-interest parties.

If proven incidentally, a person or persons so convicted, will receive a much harsher prison sentence. (Which is why a lot of racists who do find themselves in the dock squirm to distance themselves from the 'racist' noose. As do people not so motivated.)

Monkeyboy said...

...lets not talk about the rules governing slave ownership. You'll find them just after the 10 commandments. And tolerance? the old testament that you quote is full of God whiping out those who do not recognise his cosmic lovleyness.

Again, morality and Chritianity/Islam/Buddism/Scientology are not linked.

I suggest you read 'God Is Not Great, The Case Against Religion'

Christopher hitchens puts it better than I could.

ElijahBailey said...

On a side note I wouldn't be quite so bothered with people sending their kids to a religious schools if it wasn't for the fact that they expected the state to pay for it.

JPM said...

Christian schools receive a lot of tax from athiests too. Why shouldn't an athiest send his or her children to such a school and opt out at Religious 'instruction'?

No child is born into a religion... only to parents who enforce their will onto it. Which is why it is best left until that child reaches an age when its very impressionable mind cannot be guided by the delusions of others.

I'm certain in any future time many will look back agog and wonder why such people were never arrested for child abuse.

However, I understand that many people may also be motivated to send their child to a faith school in order to get a better education, and so pretend to be religious. It's a trade off in a sense... and one that they may come to regret as their child later attempts to convince them that a Man with a white beard spoke through a burning bush to another man with a white beard and convinced him that he was a supernatural being who had formed Man in his image. (The dinosaurs if they had the tongues of men might have something to say about that one.) Dream on.

Brockley Nick said...

@Bea, my oldest son goes to a Catholic school (his mother is Catholic) so I am not trying to attack Catholic schools.

But the fact remains, regardless of their socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds, the children's parents are far more engaged with their children's education than average - because the school can select on the basis of how often parents turn up to mass and help out at fetes. That gives them an advantage over other local schools and it's why my son's mother forbids me from mentioning that I am an atheist.

As for indoctrination, I never said anything about cults, but much of their schoolwork revolves around the bible (eg: art, creative writing, not to mention cultural activities. It's for this reason that he has gone from being an avid fan of Walking with Dinosaurs to telling me that evolution didn't really happen because God created the world in seven days. He's young, he'll learn better eventually, but I'd call that indoctrination, wouldn't you?

Monkeyboy said...

My priamry school was run by French Nuns. Apparently Mary appeared at the well on Musswell hill at some point!

Can't say they fitted the sterotype of being vicious sadists. They we're fine, the education was OK. But I did have a bit of guilt about erm....stuff that boys do as they enter their teens. wouldn't say it was a big issue but you can see why it could lead to all sorts of problems in more vunerable souls. Lucally by then I went to a Comprehensive school (multicultural/black/white/greek/asian/a few gingers) and made up my own mind! Am a happy atheiest now.

Hairy palms are great in the winter though.

JPM said...

Yes, and a sad indictment of the Church it is too, Nick.

On a clear night point up at the sky to a distant star and ask your son how far he thinks the light has travelled to get here. It would be interesting to see his expression when you tell him it wase there before this supernatural being created Man, and his tiny and fragile planet.

But who was there to see it, dad?

Son, it is His wway. (I know you won't say that.)

Sad that your belief system is also not tolerated by a faith that is said to be inclusive.

My wife has also told me to keep quiet but I'm certainly not going to join in the game, which I think is a highly morale stance actually. Something that the followers of this bizarre collection of proverbs and factless based stories should applaud.

ElijahBailey said...

I think this is the problem. A free society should give everyone the space and chance to go beyond the constrains of their background. The state should not be complicit in strengthening that hold of trying to keep people within their backgrounds.

Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu etc. children should be able to go to school, together, and receive a secular education. If the parents want their child to be religious then that is up to them. The state should not have hand in helping them though.

And if they don't like what the schools teach their kids then they can withdraw them and use their own money to send them somewhere which meets with their approval.

badgeman said...

Latest news: suspects described as follows 'Two of the suspects are described as white males aged around 16 to 18-years-old, wearing plain dark hooded tops.

The third person is described as a light skinned black man in his late teens or early 20s and shorter than the other two.''

JPM said...

Unfortunately, Elijah, there is no such conditon as a 'free society'. It all comes at a price. Two world wars and a war on (religiously corrupted)terror have shown that.

The latter serving to strengthen my belief that the promotion of religious indoctrination in young minds is diabolical. (I even have an issue with parents doing this but there is little I can do about that.)

I certainly don't believe that, in a secular society (which Britain really is) any parent should be allowed to take a child out of school in order to conduct what amounts to brainwashing mumbojumbo.

In fact, many of the so-called Christian believers do not conduct themselves in line with their faith, seeking merely to shake-an'-match.

My chid has started to ask me about Jesus and I am eager to know where this question has coome from. (I hope it's not school, but then Christmas is always going to be an issue.)

That said, I do try to temper my own lack of 'faith' (actually I have lots of faith so don't lack any) with gentle guidance in favour of her finding the answers herself... later.

As for 'morality'? That's buried deep in Mankind's past, long before the Good Books (? there were many) were ever written. But that's a discussion for another thread as I believe we were talking about Stephen Lawrence.

ElijahBailey said...

We were and it looks like it was kids that did it. What a surprise...

ElijahBailey said...

Hmmmm interesting. It seems to have dissapeared from the front pages of the Beeb, The Guardian and The Times.

JPM said...

Because they know that children cannot be convicted of a racially motivated offence.

Presumably because their parents or peers may have 'indoctrinated' them into such 'beliefs' of racial superiority in the first place. (It's all about indoctrination you see.)

Bea said...

Atheist schools also receive money from tax payers who believe in a faith. It works both ways.

Morality is loaded word and what one person considers moral another may not. What a Saudi Arabian considers moral is different again to a Japanese person and different again to a European. Morality does not belong exclusively to one faith or another. However, so long as we are living by the laws of the country, and fortunately in Britain we a free to chose our morals, then that is fine by me.

If indoctrination is distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned then Roman Catholics are absolutely free to question and critically examine their religion ergo they are not indoctrinated.

Regarding evolution, the position of the Catholic Church on the theory of evolution has “moved over the last two centuries from a large period of no official mention, to a statement of neutrality in the 1950s, to a more explicit acceptance in recent years”. Nick – the school your son attends should have no problem with you telling your son that Genesis is a story and not fact! There are, of course, anti-evolutionist Christian faiths (largely in the States) who believe the Bible word-for-word.

“Children's parents are far more engaged with their children's education than average” – surely that it a good thing and should be commended. Maybe the vast majority are “engaged” because of their faith and because they want their child to have a happy and fulfilled life which is something they think they will get from a Catholic school.

Anonymous said...

The Independent seems to have been doing the rounds asking for comment.

Our Dear Leader, Ken Livingstone senses a conspiracy. "this outrageous act of racism follows several others over the past few months" and "it also comes on the anniversary of the inquest into Stephen Lawrences death"

Dr Richard Stone, adviser to the Stephen Lawrence family said "this seems to have been a premeditated attack aimed at causeing distress to the Lawrence family because they are black"

'sources' said the attack was "sustained and planned"

Apparently it was the fourth time the centre has been targetted by vandals.

Well, with this head of steam I expect nothing less than a crack team of the Mets finest to swing into action and track down those responible for this conspiracy. It they bring the little toe rags that lobbed rocks at me in the process I will be very pleased.

I suspect the official reaction to this will be sprouting of Cctv cameras.

JPM said...

Bea, there is no such thing as an 'atheist school', so it doesn't, as you state, 'work both ways'. Your child could go to a school that doesn't teach a faith but that's different.

At least we now accept that the Bible is not responsible for my morals. But in Britain we are not 'free' to chose our morals'. If we were then our jalis would be empty.

Indoctrination is not were a person is expected 'not to question or critically examine the doctrine,' rather, a very slow erosion of dissention contrary to facts that stand up to the challenge. That branch of the 'faith' having undergone several authors is Roman Catholic, and that should tell you something about its faltering position, which iteslf came many centuries after the 'faith' was established.

Now, it follower are so brainwashed they are not free to examine anything 'ergo' they are indoctrinated.

The position of the Catholic Church on the theory (sic) of evolution has “moved - 'over the last two centuries' - because its position was untenable.” T

he fact that it's taken the RC Church nearly 1800 years to inform Nick's son of this speaks volumes, as does the ingorance of some of its followers in calling evolution a theory. If so, it is one that has been and will be put to the test. Unlike blind faith.

Brockley Nick said...

@Bea, I wasn't actually criticising Catholic schools - although I disagree in principle with faith schools. However, if you send your child to one, having their heads filled with bible stories is the price you pay. I doubt the school is teaching them that evolution wasn't fact, I'd be surprised if they are teaching infant school kids anything about evolution. But in the mean time, he hears bible stories presented as fact from authority figures, which can obviously cause some confusion. It doesn't massively concern me at this stage - he also believes in the tooth fairy.

Nor was I saying that parents being motivated was a bad thing. But I do disagree that their motivation is caused by their faith, particularly since many of them aren't religious. I am simply saying that that is why non-Catholic parents want to get in to Catholic schools.

Monkeyboy said...

Atheiest schools? didn't know such a thing existed? Do you mean schools that do not promote any particular religion? A secular school - quiet different.

And yes the church moved TOWARD rationality and knowledge, not the other way round. The increasingly desperate attempt by the church to back peddle and modify their absolute beliefs to fit with the mass mutually suporting evidence of biology, geology, paleontology, arcehology, zoology, antropology would be efunny if it wasn't so tragic.

Don't think any of the big three religions mentions all the weird and wonderful things that happened before man came on to the scene. Either god didn't think it was relevent or the stories were written by men based on the little patch of the middle east they called home. I know what I choose.

Again, morals? religion? One is not required for the other.

Of course we now say that the bible is all metafore and you shouldn't take it litrally. Thats a very recent idea, it enables the those too scared to let go of their comfort blanket a bit of space so that they don't have to follow some of the more bizzare pronouncements in the good book.

Amanda said...

Many people inspite of all the anomalies that modern life throws up, want and choose to believe in God. And they want that tradition that their particular religion offers.
Tolerance and love is the essential message from Christianity, much of the law of the land is based on these principles. It is why we get so offended by racism in whatever forms it takes and why it has no place in our society.
Of course you can have morality without religion, but often for whatever reason it doesn't happen and that is a problem. We get neither.

It is hard for a politician for talk about morality in action, he/she will be viewed with suspicision, it's seen as lecturing preaching, the nanny state gone mad etc, etc.
But really it's more about the leader of the country giving vision to the type of society we want.

Faith schools that are based on the principles mentioned are not a threat to this society. And I find it worrying that people resent public funding of such institutions.

Tom said...

Amanda, I think the concern over taxpayers funding religious schools is that it undermines several important principles, most pertinently equality of access.

Why can't someone's kids go to the local school if their tax money has paid for it?

The onus - particularly in a largely secular country - is on those that support faith schools to clarify why they should receive such special treatment.

In addition, it gets the state involved in the business (and I mean that literally) of religion, which is difficult to say the least.

It also throws up the thorny issue of: if one religion receives state support, why not two, three, four etc? Where do you stop?

And the argument that "atheists have their schools why can't church-goers" is logically poor. Non-believers can't (or are limited) at church schools whereas anyone can go to a non-faith school. The two are not comparable.

In the US, the state simply does not involve itself in religion - a position that both is consistent and often cited as a reason for that country's religosity, paradoxically enough.

I think I'll leave our squad of militant atheists to tackle the rather curious claims about the source of law in this country!

Andy said...

I appreciate that this thread is not specifically about the merits of faith schools. However, seeing as it has wandered in this direction I thought I'd throw in my two pennies worth.

All schools teach or push a particular world view/faith/belief system. By definition a school teaching 'no faith' or secularism is teaching a particular world view.

When will the atheistic and secular fundamentalists realise that their beliefs are far more of a 'faith' that Christianity? One belief system is based on fact and firm evidence and one is unprovable - you can't PROVE that God doesn't exist!

ElijahBailey said...

"Tolerance and love is the essential message from Christianity, much of the law of the land is based on these principles." Much of the law of this land is to do with property rights.

You do realise that up until very recently the vast majority of Christians here and abroad were trying to wipe each other out? Lots of violence? Ring any bells?

max said...

I don't resent fundings for church schools but I believe that with the money comes the obligation to be inclusive and that means not selecting by religion and if they want to accept only children of people that go to their church then maybe they should give the money back.

I claim my right of not going to any church and my right to send my daughter to the best possible school available without having to lie to the local vicar.

Amanda, you say that much of the law of the land is based upon Christianity, well, this aforementioned right has been achieved in spite of christianity.

max said...

By the way, to believe that men were expelled from Eden from eating at the tree of knowledge doesn't sound like a good start for a school.

ElijahBailey said...


A belief based on a 2000 year old book and a belief in a system based on rationality and empiricism are really, really not equatable.

Bea said...

JPM – apologies I should have put atheist in inverted commas to make my point. I meant of course “non-faith based schools” or even more accurately “community schools” but I think my point stands. Community schools as well as faith based schools receive money from tax payers whether those tax payers believe in a faith or not.

But in Britain we are indeed 'free to chose our morals' as long as they do not break the laws of the country – as I stated previously. And we are very lucky that we can – I don’t think the internet in China would allow this debate for example.

Sorry – I don’t follow your definition of indoctrination – could you expand, please?

Nick – I guess at this stage we’ll just have to agree to differ. And, yes at a young age kids believe in Father Christmas, the tooth fairy and even Barbie in “Mermaidia” but as they grow older they learn to make their own minds up. Many of the Old Testament stories are just that stories but then there are the parables in the New Testament which also provide a good foundation for respecting and loving God and your neighbours.

Amanda said...

I see faith schools, much in the same way as other state funded specialist schools, such as music, technology, languages schools. I think that is where the argument hinges. Do you believe our society has a place for specialist schools? If yes, then accept the presence and public funding of religious schools (specialist schools with theological/religious bent). If not, no public funding for any.

Anonymous said...


Your statement that the Christian belief system is based on fact is highly questionable. If nothing else, you cannot ignore that the belief system has changed and modified over the centuries in line with our greater understanding of the world, rather indicating the facts on which it is based are shifting.

Regardless, you said "you can't PROVE god doesn't exist". Well it all depends on which God we're talking about. If we're talking about the Christian god then it all depends on which version of Christianity the believer subscribes to. If we're talking about the recently re-fashionable biblically literalist interpretation of the Christian god then you can prove he doesn't exist due to the mass of internal contradictions and logical failings that exist within that viewpoint.

.... said...

No problem with learning ABOUT religion. You couldn't make sense of our history, art, music without it.

And yes some nice stories and some horrible ones about children being killed by a vengeful god. Just goes to show that it's a collection of writing by us rather talented apes.

I've been a christian, been confirmed and never went near a church again. Just find the whole thing a waste of intellectual energy.

Tom said...

Amanda, I don't agree you can make an analogy between specialist schools and faith schools.

I didn't think specialist schools were selecting by aptitude to their specialisms. If they are then I would disagree with them also because they break the principle of equality of access.

Moreover, having a specialist school, such as music or sport, is simply not the same as religion. One form specialism is open to all, the other is not.

B L Zeebub said...

Amanda, tolerance and love? I'm glad you do. I'll even go so far as to say I expect most Christians do.

Would a Roman Catholic school employ an openly gay teacher?

The law says they have to. The pope says no, Rowan Williams would stoke his chin and try to accommodate all his flock.

I actually think he's a closet atheist - come out Rowan. It's great in 21st century?

B L Zeebub said...

That was supposed to be am exclamation mark!!!

Tom said...

And Andy, you repeat the fallacious argument that science and religion are both world views.

This is simply a misunderstanding of what science is.

Science is an approach, one that relies upon hypotheses supported by evidence.

It doesn't proffer a 'world view'. It is simply a toolkit. Your toolkit at home doesn't have a 'world view'; neither does science.

That some scientists show concern about the lack of evidence-based thinking amongst certain religious types is hardly surprising. We do live in the post-enlightenment age after all (though sometimes I wonder ...).

max said...

Amanda, you said:

"I see faith schools, much in the same way as other state funded specialist schools, such as music, technology, languages schools. I think that is where the argument hinges."

Maybe you see it like that, I don't see it at all, children can be accepted into a specialist school even if their parents have no inclination towards the speciality.
Special schools are publicly funded because they teach an extension of the national curriculum, not because they have an ethos based on a religion.
The particular "speciality" that is religion is taught at church.

Then you go on saying that if faith schools must not be funded than all specialst schools should not.
That is of course one of those conclusions that that you get when you start with the wrong assumptions.

Danja said...

The "can't prove a negative argument" is balls.

It is entirely rational not to believe that something exists unless there is evidence that it does exist.

I do not believe that rocks have the capacity to talk. I can't prove that they don't.

I still regard my judgment that they aren't talking to each other as less based on faith, than it would be if I believed that they must be talking to each other at frequencies I can't hear because some bloke said so way back when because it suited his purposes and roughly fitted in with the belief system of that day.

Faith schools should not be funded by the state. Secular doesn't mean atheist, it means not ramming a particular view down children's throats.

Amanda said...

Clearly we differ in our viewpoints.

I want to repeat a point made earlier significant proportion (though obviously not all) of certain faith schools funding comes from the Diocese, this collection, from people who have attended church and the summer fayres.
Thatis why church schools favour parents who attend mass, because they are in addition to their taxes contributing to the school.

It may not be to your liking but it does appear to be fair.

Monkeyboy said...

..and science progresses and is strengthened by being challenged. Disproving a theory is as valuable as proving one. Whereas religion has to adapt itself to the continual onslaught of new evidence - or face extinction.

That's why not so long ago people actually BELIEVED that the earth was created in 7 days. No room for metaphor, only a fool would try and hang on to that one now.

By the way a current theory is that religion is just another ’Meme’

Another book for your reading list AP&P

B L Zeebub said...

so a sikh would be accepted into a CofE school if he bought enough fairy cakes at the summer fayre? Would he be forced to pray or be expelled? many questions...

max said...

Well Amanda, if they make so much money out of church collections and summer fayres than they don't need the money.

Because to say that you favour admission to the children of those that give you money is just as bad as saying that you discriminate on faith.
Unless it is a clever way of saying that you do discriminate on faith.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

How can the Chrsitian faith be based on fact? It's widely documented that over the years parts of the church have 'edited' the bible, including additional references to 'angels' and such like. There have been many different versions of the bible over the years...

It is very possible to have a strong sense of morals without being religious. It defines us as individuals, and we as individuals should not be confined to what a specific text says we should behave like.

I'm against the principle of 'religious schools' but I am completely in favour of promoting an agenda of good morals. Let the parents decide what is good moral, not a remote religous institution.

And BTW, Congrats on making a epic thread... *ahem* time to make a controversial comment.....

....not! :o)

JPM said...

Amanda, please do not hijack 'tolerance and love' as Christianity's essential theme. These are principles that many hold dear in spite of their lack of religion.

The religion itself grew from earlier teachings, in which the racism you speak of was not only employed but, indeed, necessary, by all godly accounts. (Consult early manual on pre-Christian religion(s) known as 'The Bible. This foretold of your God's coming too, apparently.)

No, Amanda, you've had 2000 years in which to present your argument and it's still floundering in the winds of an ancient desert. (When is that Second Coming by the way?)

Morality preceeded religion... rest assured.

How do I know? Because a big white rabbit appeared to me one day and told me so. Don't belive me? Prove it.

I call my new faith Rabbitology, anyone can join. You don't need no ticket (or facts) just get on board.

No doubt there are many amongst you who doubt. Think I'm delusional. However, as I write this, on a cyber stone slab, Harvey is standing looking over my shoulder guiding me.

Let's get back on subject as these faith without fact debates get nowhere. How can they?

Anonymous said...

The attraction of faith schools is that they provide a moral framework for children. Teaching children right from wrong, teaching them to be good, to respect others, to be civil. Faith schools tend to be good at this, it comes as part of the religion.

It is also true that they do not have a monopoly on this. Secular schools run on humanist principles can just as good.

The important thing is we get schools that can take on part of this moral education. Otherwise we end up with a lot of kids who are driven only by their animal insticts and end up causing mayhem.

The involvement of religion raises all kinds of political issues, but many faith schools are well run. A fact that does not go unnoticed by ambitious middle class parents who would sell their souls to the devil as long as the kids get a leg up to university and the professions.

JPM said...

The vast majority of the Christians I have met are poor examples of the faith. As far as 'values' go they fall far behind my own. (So much for Faith, and value of it.)

In one instance I had the misfortune to cross swords with a local vicar (NW London not here), who was by far the most contradictory example of the priesthood. A true disciple of a religion in meltdown.

It is fair to say that this self-interested heart, fashioned by a religion to suit his own tastes, one in particular was hugely frowned upon, will one day be found out, and then 'forgiven'.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a fascinating debate that is unravelling on these pages. The sad vandalism of the Stephen Laurence Centre, has sparked an exchange between “secularists” and “Christians” on the role of faith-based schools. Both arguments are very compelling. On the one had, you have “secularists” – aka those who feel that it is perfectly possible to live a moral life without a religion and “Christians” who find much comfort, strength and morality in the teachings of their faith. The “secularists” who argue that our existence is a purely “rational” equation and the “Christians” who do not. The “Christians” who believe that sending their children to a faith-based school is the only way for their children to learn love and respect for others through the teaching of Jesus. The “Secularists” who consider the faith-schools elitist and discriminatory and who believe, given that they pay tax payers money, that they have a open right to access a successful school. The “secularists” who view “Christianity” as another hocus-pocus religion not unlike believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden, or ghosts who spook the house at midnight. In between you have a large swathe of people who don’t particularly care either way they just want to get their children into the best school possible.
I should probably come clean at this point and state what side of the argument I am on: I am a committed Christian. I was brought up a catholic, went to a catholic school and was forced to attend mass every Sunday - even though like most kids until the age of about 16 I was bored out of my head and couldn’t wait for church to finish. I did, however, have the benefit of a broad education and had access to many books and many ideas. I later attended a very secularist University, had a crush and briefly dated an American who came from a Jewish family and who once told me “At the age of six I was surprised my mother expected me to believe in the bible stories?”. My very clever, quite attractive political theory Professor, explained the ideas of scientific rigour and falsafiability in a series of seminars. We started with Hobbes and went through to Marx – all thinkers who set out “to prove” their theories were the absolute truth because they were based on the laws of scientific rigour. Hobbes, if I remember correctly compared his theory to the perfect functioning of a clockwork So, being impressionable I was impressed by all these characters and, for a while, I too did a bit of a Richard Dawkin and Phillip Pullman on everyone. I believed that I was of an intellect superior to those who believed in the myths of the religion in which I had been brought up.
During my secularists phase I felt clever but I also felt quite empty and I began to ponder what my Professor was saying about scientific rigour and falsafiability and realised that it was tosh. There is so much in this life which we can’t understand and for which science will never know the answer. If “life” can be explained according to rational equations then there is no room for argument. There should be no room for debate. Not even the one being discussed here. This, however, is not the case, which led me to believe that whilst rationalism explains a lot and that the age of enlightenment has opened huge opportunities for the good, it is not the complete picture. Therefore, I concluded there must be something in existence that is beyond reason. It is ironic, is it not, that I found my spirituality through what was, I consider, a rational thought process? Having decided that I wasn’t going to turn my back on spiritualism I decided to go shopping. Which spiritualism, mysticism should I choose. I have to confess that I didn’t change course and begin to study the world’s religions in great detail. I was quite attracted to the idea of being a free-roaming new age hippie who welcomed the sun on summer and winter solstices. I also felt that Buddhism was a very attractive religion. At the end of the day, though, I decided to follow the religion in which I had been brought up and the more I though about it the more Catholicism had a lot to offer. It positively embraced, accepted and promoted the mystic element that, at the end of the day, is essential to any religion. The teachings of Christ are very appealing and inoffensive – how can one argue that loving one’s neighbour is a bad thing? Above all attending mass at least once a week keeps me morally fulfilled and reminds me of the need to find a happy balance between “taking” and “giving”. It is these values that Catholics would like to pass on to their children.
On the matter of Catholic Schools or, indeed, any faith-based school being discriminatory I would have to disagree. If the country offered faith-based schools and faith-based schools only then as a secularist you would indeed be discriminated against. Alternatives do exist though - often equally successful if not more so than catholic schools.
Why disagree with something that is successful. Successful schools should be promoted and learned from. As @Bea pointed out, the statistics speak for themselves. The local catholic school draws children from a wide ethnic and socially diverse backgrounds. The catholic church is an all-inclusive one. Their only requirement is that you agree with the ethos of its teachings. If not then alternatives are available.


Anonymous said...

BORING, BORING, BORING> Can we get back to Brockley issues please?

..... said...

KJG....unless you're gay. The Christian church teaches that it's an abomination and you will burn in hell.

I love my neighbour, hardly ever murder, do not steal, and am an atheist... I could go on?

you don't need god....grow up.

Anonymous said...

The extent of this debate is annoying me so much (because it has veered away from Brockley issues and is now trying to solve a debate that can never be solved, therefore everyone is just wasting their time on this one) that I am now imploring you to get us back on track and give us some spurious rumour about a new cafe/deli/anything about to open to bring in some light relief.

JPM said...

I don't know about 'committed' Christian, more a person who should be committed for the length of his 'sermon' alone.

What's Stephen Lawrence done to deserve this? Get off his thread!

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Erm... did I mention that a cafe hero will be opening? (just kidding) :o)

I've been quite busy lately with my day job so havn't really had a chance to catch up with friends so no gossip i'm afraid.

I did hear a rumour that TM2 was going to appeal against its hygiene rating but I think i mentioned that a while ago.

I'm still in the process of setting up a neighbourhood watch scheme so if anyone could help with that then please let me know.

The Little Cheese said...

Just to get back to Stephen Lawrence..!

As a local hack in Eltham, the first I thought is that kids there are sick to the back teeth of Stephen Lawrence. Not because they are racist but because they are consistently looked down on for living in Eltham or going to school there. It is not brilliant for people who weren't even born when SL was killed to be branded as racist thugs just because of where they live. So I can understand why there is anger.

I don't believe we should forget what happened, far from it, but to jump the gun and intensify the assumption that everyone is SE9 is a BNP member, which some national newspapers do, just doesn't help.

Having said that, I heard on the radio last night that they are looking for three kids - two white and one black - in relation to the incident... so I am not sure what that says.

By the way, love the blog. New to it but not to Brockley... keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Where will the boundaries be of the neighbourhood watch scheme/what roads covered?

ross said...

"Not because they are racist but because they are consistently looked down on for living in Eltham or going to school there."

the one remaining acceptable bigotry today is that directed against the white working class

Anonymous said...

There is no shortage of bigotries that are accepted. If we ever run short, we will invent some more. Asylum seekers -it did not take long to turn those words into an object of derision. Prostitution - always gets a bad press. Drug addiction - lots of prejudice against people with addictive illness.

The white working class has the benefit of large numbers, so politicians cannot ignore their voting power. When they have they can get a shock.

Councils that concoct misguided and divisive policies in the name of multiculturism can have a rude awakening come election day.

Anonymous said...

...that sounds like a meritocracy.
Just a touch too radical a concept for many of the organisations that provide us with public services where ticks in boxes are what count.

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

Yeah, you have a point there. It's shaeme, as it means taxpayers are not getting value for money as things couild be done with greater efficiency.

ross said...

"The white working class has the benefit of large numbers, so politicians cannot ignore their voting power. When they have they can get a shock.

Councils that concoct misguided and divisive policies in the name of multiculturism can have a rude awakening come election "

a wee bit too much faith in our 'representative' democracy system there i'd say

Anonymous said...

How odd - I just logged in and the recent comments had nocked this thread and all of andy's replies up to the top

Headhunter said...

What's happened to recent comments? They all seem to be comments on articles from a year ago!

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