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The Littlest Homo

£35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

From The Telegraph

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The British Humanist Association, which is running a campaign get rid of faith schools and wants to end the Church of England's position as the established religion, was given the grant by the Government's equality watchdog and is using it to stage a series of debates about the place of religion in public life.

The four events will include speakers from faith groups but one of the keynote addresses is being delivered by the prominent atheist Professor AC Grayling, who claims "religious belief shares the same intellectual respectability and rationality as belief in the existence of fairies".

Critics say it is wrong for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to give taxpayers' money to a controversial organisation whose stance would be found objectionable by many members of the public.

Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.

"There's nothing wrong with the British Humanist Association organising seminars, but it's the fact that they're getting public money.

"There is the question of whether this is what Government money should be going for, particularly in a time of recession.

"If we're having a debate on religion, should we be paying one side of the argument to hold it, especially with public money?"

The BHA says it is dedicated to bringing about "a world without religious privilege or discrimination" and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs".

As well as lobbying the Government for the disestablishment of the Church and the scrapping of faith schools and religious assemblies, it registers "officiants" who hold weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies with no religious content.

The BHA is also the "official campaign partner" of the atheist bus campaign, launched earlier this year, which seeks to place on London bendy-buses a series of adverts declaring: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life".

It is administering donations to the cause, which was set up in response to religious adverts on public transport linked to a website "threatening hellfire for unbelievers".

Using the public money it has been given by the equality watchdog, the BHA has planned four conferences on "religion or belief" between now and February which will question whether it is right for the devout to be given special treatment in the workplace.

The first, held earlier this month, was addressed by the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, who has been dubbed "Dr Death" for his campaign to liberalise abortion laws.

The other keynote speeches will be delivered by Angela Mason, a former gay rights activist who became a senior civil servant; Prof Grayling, who will discuss whether religious groups should be exempt from discrimination laws; and Brian Gibbons, a former GP who is now a Welsh Assembly minister.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission confirmed that it had given a £35,000 grant to the atheist group this year, but pointed out that it also funds 285 other organisations that campaign for an end to discrimination in race, gender, age and sexual orientation.

Hanne Stinson, the BHA's executive director, was on the Government task force that led to the creation of the equalities watchdog.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission confirmed that it had given a £35,000 grant to the group, but pointed out that it also funds 285 other organisations that work to tackle discrimination and promote community cohesion.

It said: “The list includes nine organisations specifically focused on religion and belief from different perspectives, as well numerous other organisations that have an element of religion and belief in the work they do


Where do you start with the ridiculous criticisms?!

Its alright for churches to be tax-exempt, but they kick off when the BHA gets a handout  :roll:

Another bloody stupid comment from yet another bloody stupid Catholic (surprise, surprise!) :

Quote:
Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.


Wtf? The RCC can condemn people to hell, but heaven forbid giving money to a organisation that wants to see the end of indoctrination in faith schools. Don't they are ones to be able to talk about peoples rights, when they are so happy to take away everyone elses!
david_geoffrey

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

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Where do you start with the ridiculous criticisms?!
Indeed

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Its alright for churches to be tax-exempt, but they kick off when the BHA gets a handout  :roll:
You are not comparing like with like there.

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Another bloody stupid comment from yet another bloody stupid Catholic (surprise, surprise!) :

Quote:
Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.


Wtf? The RCC can condemn people to hell,
Christians can't condemn anyone to hell
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but heaven forbid giving money to a organisation that wants to see the end of indoctrination in faith schools.
Well to be fair they are not exactly going to be happy are they..what do you expect?
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Don't they are ones to be able to talk about peoples rights, when they are so happy to take away everyone elses!
Are they? Where do they talk about rights? I don't quite follow your argument here
The Littlest Homo

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

david_geoffrey wrote:
You are not comparing like with like there.
Oh and why is that?

Quote:
Christians can't condemn anyone to hell

Well I'm afraid they do. I have been on the end of the forked tongue of Christians condemning me for being gay, yet it was okay for them to follow the teachings of the world biggest paedophile ring. So, it does happen!

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Well to be fair they are not exactly going to be happy are they..what do you expect?

Nothing less from the church to be honest - the usual condemnation of groups who don't follow their cultish behaviour.

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Are they? Where do they talk about rights? I don't quite follow your argument here

Well read it again and come back then you can follow the argument
Lexilogio

Churches are not tax exempt.

Churches no longer get to claim tax back on donations or on offerings. And we haven't been able to for 2 years.
david_geoffrey

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

The Littlest Homo wrote:
david_geoffrey wrote:
You are not comparing like with like there.
Oh and why is that?
Well i think there is a difference between a charity being able to claim tax's back and giving a grant to someone.

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Quote:
Christians can't condemn anyone to hell

Well I'm afraid they do. I have been on the end of the forked tongue of Christians condemning me for being gay, yet it was okay for them to follow the teachings of the world biggest paedophile ring. So, it does happen!
What they say cannot change what they can do.

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Well to be fair they are not exactly going to be happy are they..what do you expect?

Nothing less from the church to be honest - the usual condemnation of groups who don't follow their cultish behaviour.
Hang on, you are not by any chance condemning them are you?

Quote:
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Are they? Where do they talk about rights? I don't quite follow your argument here

Well read it again and come back then you can follow the argument
Nope, read it again and I still don't understand what you mean. Tell you what, why don't you pretend I am a bit slow on the uptake and reword what you said to make it clearer for me?
david_geoffrey

Lexilogio wrote:
Churches are not tax exempt.

Churches no longer get to claim tax back on donations or on offerings. And we haven't been able to for 2 years.
We can claim gift-aid though can't we? Like any other charity?
The Littlest Homo

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

david_geoffrey wrote:
Well i think there is a difference between a charity being able to claim tax's back and giving a grant to someone.

Yes, I suppose you are right there. I also wasn't aware that churches were no longer tax-exempt, which is a good thing. I would also add that I am sure the C of E has had a lot more government funding over the years than many charities, such as the BHA.

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What they say cannot change what they can do.
Yet they still try!

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Hang on, you are not by any chance condemning them are you?

Nope. Just making an observation.

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Nope, read it again and I still don't understand what you mean. Tell you what, why don't you pretend I am a bit slow on the uptake and reword what you said to make it clearer for me?


Pretend? :roll:

In the article, rights are mentioned here :

Quote:
Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.
david_geoffrey

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

The Littlest Homo wrote:
david_geoffrey wrote:
Well i think there is a difference between a charity being able to claim tax's back and giving a grant to someone.

Yes, I suppose you are right there. I also wasn't aware that churches were no longer tax-exempt, which is a good thing. I would also add that I am sure the C of E has had a lot more government funding over the years than many charities, such as the BHA.
What funding are you thinking of? The only money that comes to the church is probably for building maintenance through English Heritage / Lottery Fund - so yes I am sure that they have had more money that way than the BHA, but then they do have to look after around 10000 Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings
Quote:
Quote:
What they say cannot change what they can do.
Yet they still try!
And they would be wrong to

Quote:
Quote:
Hang on, you are not by any chance condemning them are you?

Nope. Just making an observation.
Phew

Quote:
Quote:
Nope, read it again and I still don't understand what you mean. Tell you what, why don't you pretend I am a bit slow on the uptake and reword what you said to make it clearer for me?


Pretend? :roll:

In the article, rights are mentioned here :

Quote:
Neil Addison, a Roman Catholic barrister who specialises in religious discrimination, said: "It's a bit like paying the Taliban to lecture on women's rights.
Yes I noticed that analogy, but didn't think and still cannot think how it tied in with your comment. Please try again
The Littlest Homo

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

david_geoffrey wrote:
Yes I noticed that analogy, but didn't think and still cannot think how it tied in with your comment. Please try again


OMG. I can't keep going over it. Its not difficult! Come on I am sure you can work it out!
david_geoffrey

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

The Littlest Homo wrote:
david_geoffrey wrote:
Yes I noticed that analogy, but didn't think and still cannot think how it tied in with your comment. Please try again


OMG. I can't keep going over it. Its not difficult! Come on I am sure you can work it out!
You haven't gone over it, you have made a comment once.

OK this is my confusion - where do they talk about people's rights, apart from in that analogy, and where do you think they are taking away people's rights?
Shaker

david_geoffrey

admin. wrote:
Point of order Mr Admin, is this a comment from you as the great and glorious administrator of this fine discussion board condemning the adversarial knockabout nature that this thread is slowly descending into, and therefore I should "knock it off" or merely a lighthearted reponse as a private individual that I can take however I like?
Shaker

Yes, that one  
david_geoffrey

Ah, good.
The Littlest Homo

Re: £35,000 of taxpayers' cash given to 'atheist bus' group

Further to the story about the small grant given to the BHA, the National Secular Society has shown what grants are given to the religious communities and it certainly outweighs this small contribution :

Quote:
The modest grant, of course, pales into insignificance besides the hundreds of millions that the Government pours into the pockets of religious groups every year. Take the Government’s “Faith Group Capacity Building Fund” – a mere £5million to help “faith groups” to ...well, “capacity build”, which seems to mean acquire the skills to ask for even more money. Or this £7.5million handout which is for other vague purposes. Or the recent grant of £950,000 to “Faithworks” which seems to be an organisation whose sole purpose is to advise other “faith groups” how to get money out of the Government – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Almost every week there is some new massive payout to “the faith communities” with little sign of any substantive return on the investment. Now the Government is being asked to take on the whole responsibility for the upkeep of churches  that no-one wants.
Sprocket

Well, I'm an anglican, and it's fine by me.  Charities are tax-exempt, and churches, either individually or groups, should be allowed to have charitable status if they can demonstrate that they do practical good for the community, but it shouldn't be automatic.  The same applies to groups like the BHA.  Is it a charity?
The Littlest Homo

Genial Harry Grout wrote:
Well, I'm an anglican, and it's fine by me.  Charities are tax-exempt, and churches, either individually or groups, should be allowed to have charitable status if they can demonstrate that they do practical good for the community, but it shouldn't be automatic.


Well quite, but they didn't seem to mind in the past taking advantage of this. Now that that right has been taken away from them, they have to show that they are benefitting society and the local community.

I don't see why the churches can't pay for themselves and pay taxes anyway. It should stop having any privileges, which it has enjoyed in the past also.

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The same applies to groups like the BHA.  Is it a charity?


Yes it sure is.
Sprocket

Well, quite right too, but if the BMA is allowed charitqble status, why shouldn't churches that provide a tangible benefit to the community?
The Littlest Homo

Genial Harry Grout wrote:
Well, quite right too, but if the BMA is allowed charitqble status, why shouldn't churches that provide a tangible benefit to the community?


Well I don't think the British Medical Association need charitable status somehow.

The BHA and churches are, unfortunately, treated differently, by the Charities Commission with significant bias being shown towards religion, which is evidently wrong. I would say that there are many churches and religions that don't have any benefit to the community, so should have their charitable status taken away and they can fund themselves, especially with the decrease in followers (so the rest of us don't have to fund them!)

I would say that the BHA not only benefits community, but society at large.
Sprocket

Depends on the church.  Mine certainly benefits the local community in all sorts of ways - breakfast club and after-school club for kids, stuff for pensioners, and links with a local homeless charity.
Lexilogio

david_geoffrey wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
Churches are not tax exempt.

Churches no longer get to claim tax back on donations or on offerings. And we haven't been able to for 2 years.
We can claim gift-aid though can't we? Like any other charity?


No David, we can't claim gift aid any more.
The Littlest Homo

Genial Harry Grout wrote:
Depends on the church.  Mine certainly benefits the local community in all sorts of ways - breakfast club and after-school club for kids, stuff for pensioners, and links with a local homeless charity.


It sure does depend. You are right. I am glad that they do these things. If only they all did it.
david_geoffrey

Lexilogio wrote:
david_geoffrey wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
Churches are not tax exempt.

Churches no longer get to claim tax back on donations or on offerings. And we haven't been able to for 2 years.
We can claim gift-aid though can't we? Like any other charity?


No David, we can't claim gift aid any more.
This is all very odd, I am quite convinced that our church is still claiming gift aid and if you go to the CofE website then you will find that they think it is still valid

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/funding/giftaid.html

I think you are in Scotland though aren't you Lexi - perhaps different tax rules??
david_geoffrey

The Littlest Homo wrote:
Genial Harry Grout wrote:
Depends on the church.  Mine certainly benefits the local community in all sorts of ways - breakfast club and after-school club for kids, stuff for pensioners, and links with a local homeless charity.


It sure does depend. You are right. I am glad that they do these things. If only they all did it.
I suspect that more do than don't. Certainly our church does, and most if not all the ones around us have community links and help for those less fortunate than ourselves.
SusanDoris

Very interesting OP, TLH. Thak you for quoting the article, as I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. I would very much like to hear A C Grayling speak, but that won't be possible, I'm afraid.
The Littlest Homo

SusanDoris wrote:
Very interesting OP, TLH. Thak you for quoting the article, as I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. I would very much like to hear A C Grayling speak, but that won't be possible, I'm afraid.


Well, Susan, I will keep my eye out on YouTube to see if it is filmed, or might even get a podcast/mp3 about it. If I find them, I will post the links here for you, if you like?
SusanDoris

The Littlest Homo wrote:
Well, Susan, I will keep my eye out on YouTube to see if it is filmed, or might even get a podcast/mp3 about it. If I find them, I will post the links here for you, if you like?

Yes, that would be very kind of you, thank you.

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