Letters: Secular segregation is another step backwards

Religious Observance in schools is under debate. Picture: PA
Religious Observance in schools is under debate. Picture: PA
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Advocates of religious observance, which goes beyond comparative religious education in teaching children to believe in one religion, have suggested that the answer to growing concerns about Christian indoctrination in state schools is to have what they call state “Secular Schools”.

They argue that secular schools could then teach “their values”, leaving separate religious schools to do the same. There is already enough sectarianism being nursed in our education system and this idea for further segregation is a backward step.

Not for the first time religious defenders wrongly conflate humanism and atheism with secularism and conclude somehow that this is a rival “belief” system. Secularism has no metaphysical position at all and wishes only for religion to be a private matter for families. Our schools must be religiously neutral and inclusive of all. It is not the job of the state to facilitate preaching to children by any outside group.

The notion that secularists are trying to impose secularism in place of religion is absurd and comparable to the noisy neighbour who, on receiving a complaint, turns and says: “You just want to impose your silence in place of my noise.”

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Betting machines not to blame for madness

The incident at the Dalkeith betting shop (Gambler given life sentence for scissor stabbing, News, June 12) was horrific and we welcome the conviction and sentence for such a horrendous crime.

The attack was not caused by a betting shop nor was it caused by a gaming machine – it was a mindless act of violence by a criminal.

It is not another example of “crime and disorder perpetuated by fixed odds betting terminals” as is claimed by Adrian Parkinson (Comment, June 12). There is no empirical evidence that shows betting shops or gaming machines are the cause of crime – this case shows clearly that shops and their staff are the victims of crime. For the Fairer Gambling organisation to exploit this horrific incident to further its campaign against betting shops is sickening and an insult to the victims of this crime.

The safety and security of customers and staff is of paramount importance. That is why betting shops introduced the Safe Bet Alliance, a national set of guidelines and best practice that has been adopted across the entire industry.

The scheme has been so successful that it has received a Tilley Award from the Home Office and been praised by the Association of Chief Police Officers. Operators have invested in a great number of measures including cutting edge CCTV cameras to protect shop staff and ensure people who commit crimes are caught, and brought to justice.

Dirk Vennix, chief executive, Association of British Bookmakers

Bumblebee work is giving pupils a buzz

Over the past few months I have been involved in a very fruitful collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association in three primary schools to help highlight the plight and importance of bumblebees and honeybees.

The other day I attended a celebration of a range of projects involving schools from across the city, organised by the council’s parks service.

The service’s staff and the teachers in the various schools should be congratulated on the inspiring work they are doing in fostering an appreciation of Edinburgh’s precious amenity and wildlife in a range of imaginative and creative ways.

Our particular bee project will culminate in a Concert for Bees in Edinburgh in October, to include creative writing and artwork from the three primary schools involved.

Alastair Guild, Edinburgh

Station must offer platform for disabled

The response to my letter about more help being needed for the disabled at Waverley (Help is available if you look for it, Letters, June 13) is missing the fact that my mother doesn’t normally need assistance as I always take her in my taxi.

As there is ongoing work at Waverley, New Street car park is the only place I can park legally, giving me the time to take my 85-year-old mum to her King’s Cross train on platform two.

Network Rail must know this and have not made suitable arrangements for special needs or other people who need assistance, in my opinion.

As mentioned previously, it’s approximately 300 yards to the platforms from the car park lift. Network Rail should know this.

A porter should be designated to this area, preferably with a wheelchair, to assist people who find the 300 yards a struggle like my mum did.

I have to mention that on my journey I met a taxi driver with two suitcases and two elderly passengers assisting them to their platform.

He had left his taxi in Market Street, where you only get a five-minute allowance for drop off, and was sweating that he wouldn’t get a ticket by the time he got back.

Surely not the taxi driver’s job?

Ian Marinello, Prospect Bank Place, Edinburgh

Shining the light on jewel’s background

In response to Harry D Watson’s query (Letters, June 10) regarding the Darnley Jewel – it was made for James VI’s other grandmother, Margaret Douglas, mother of Henry, Lord Darnley.

She commissioned it as a memorial to her murdered son, Lord Darnley, and her husband, Regent Lennox, killed in 1571. It is also known as the Lennox Jewel because of this.

Pat Dishon, Edinburgh