Tag Archives: nuns

Tristram Hunt And Nuns On Question Time


Tristram Hunt, the shadow Education Secretary, has been accused of making derogatory remarks about nuns and faith, when remarking about the education of another panelist on BBC Question Time.

If you watch the video, you can see that Tristram Hunt was making the point that qualified teachers in the state system were preferable to non qualified teachers. He however agrees that nuns, and faith schools, may have an ethos that can coexist with state system. His suggestion, “they were nuns”, is suggesting being a nun they were better than most unqualified teachers.

This however has become for some a discussion about Labour being anti-faith rather than promoting qualified people who know how to teach children in the state classroom. Context is everything – Labour have recently announced making LGBT inclusive in sex education for state schools. Also, Tristram Hunt has said Ofsted should be able to scrutinise and review faith schools just as they do in the state system. For religious school supporters, fearful of what the aftermath to the Trojan horse affair may mean when British values go against religious claims, the axe was already sharpened to swing at a whiff of provocation.

Tristram has a belief in faith schools. It is shocking that nuns are automatically assumed to be better than most non qualified teachers. Any more than Mother Teresa being held up as a model of palliative “spiritual suffering” care over medicine and health care. This due reverence for clerics I was shocked out of at an early age. Reading Hitchens meticulously researched book should break the spell for others.

I have mentioned before about nuns providing respite for my disabled brother when we were kids. To give some details of their care, his fingertips were bloodied when cutting his finger nails. He was allowed to get into a scalding hot bath that terrified him for about ten years getting into another. He was chastised when displaying his mannerisms of uncontrollable movement.

As the only respite centre in the vicinity, there was no where else for my sleep deprived mother to use.

The change in my brother when social services kicked the Sisters out and placed professional carers in was immense. Not having untrained inexperienced amateurs, always out of their depth with the most challenging of children, made a difference.

Watch the video again. Tristram, like myself, is stressing the point that trained qualified staff are key for children – I would go further and say nuns need it too. Perhaps a supposed sneering manner detracts from what should be a universal point. I only wish a party would stand on a platform of secular education for all children. That will be a generational change. It is not for a close run election this year. Another reason for hyping this story.

My anecdote is not an end of the discussion anymore than someone having a great education at a faith school. (Read here for essay on secular versus faith schooling).

The people looking after your children and educating them should be trained, professional, and know what they are doing. It is no use just relying on a wing and a prayer. A child’s education takes precedence over religious instruction. The difference in grades are more to do with socio economic backgrounds, which faith schools can select for.

Whether teachers should be supplemented by experts, or educational motivators (imagine Stephen Fry talking about Shakespeare for a class) in their field who lack teacher training is a different point. For that, head teachers should be able to make a call based on what improves the educational experience of their students.

Here is a snap shot of how Tristram’s remarks have played out on twitter.

For once I am sparing you the tweet puns – breaking the habit of a lifetime.

However, this outspoken secular blogger suggests Tristram was not attacking religious faith schools. Labour policy may be reducing the exemptions religious schools have enjoyed. That is enough to blow this all out of proportion.

Ninety days to polling day. For God’s sake publish your manifestos quickly so we can talk about something substantive.


Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under British Politics, British Society, Culture, politics, Religion, secular

God Created Suffering For Our Salvation


Let me make clear – I do not think there is a God that created this state of the world, as a first cause only (deist) or as theists would contend involved in the affairs of the world right now. I am not a misotheist that is angry at Him – I find ideas about God a product of human imagination hence my being an atheist. The following rant is squarely aimed at Homo sapiens that believe, as “All Things Bright and Beautiful” put it in a verse more commonly omitted:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The notion that God deliberately ordains suffering as a chance for piety and salvation by good works. This message was brought to my attention further as a child when picking up my younger brother from a respite run by nuns. On the wall was a poster which stated that God looked down from heaven, and chose a special couple to have a special needs child.

My blood boiled every time I saw that poster. People tell me religion is a great source of comfort. I fail to see the comfort that God deliberately chose you to be specifically tested with a child that will suffer more than any benign parent would ever desire.

Please spare me from such obvious fault in intelligent design being claimed beneficial for my soul – that even in the suffering of people “God saw that it was good” as a chance for people to possibly receive the gift of salvation.

If you truly believe God does this, and you love Him for it as it brings you that step closer to being One with the Almighty then you are in an abusive relationship where you blame yourself for not measuring up to the high standards that God clearly had for you.

I bring up the “God created Suffering for our salvation” idea because Tim Stanley briefly mentions it while defending Father Ray’s post. Father Ray, in nauseating detail, mentions the challenges he faces serving the community – and despite what he may wish they are to be met however unsettling as “… I have grown complacent in my lifestyle, I don’t want it changed, the message of the Gospels seem to be let the poor into it to mess it up a little.”

Tim mentions that:

“The point of Fr Ray’s post was to remind us that we have a duty to suffer, and that the poor might actually be sent by God to test us as Christians.”

Maybe the mindset helps to deal with the troubles in this world – that a loving God sends the unwashed, the poor, the desperate, to test your faith. Ordains that you will have from birth learning difficulties, mental health issues, live in abject poverty. That newborns with bone cancer are given to specially deserving parents. This is not just a duty – it is a command. How do you buy into this, without immediately wanting a refund? Think before you buy.

Even when it comes to doing something good – respite for family carers, soup kitchens, finding shelter for homeless people, giving people the non spiritual help they need when knocking at the door at all hours – religion will find a way of devaluing the people involved, reducing others as a means in the cosmic hub for constant approval of a higher power for the next life.

Yet how much better would it be:

If compassion is your drive, not your duty. If empathy with your fellow Homo sapiens not a sacred text drove you to act. If you recognise the natural lottery is arbitrary and we as a society and as individuals do our darnedest to correct as best we can, that it is not consciously ordained to be thus by dimensional beings.

Then your acts of generosity, kindness and love have a meaning in this life.

Update 1:55PM latest twitter conversation between the journalist whose article here sparked Tim’s defence:


Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under atheism, Religion