UK: British atheists try to block new Catholic schools

From the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald comes this dreadful tale:

Humanists to mount legal challenge against new schools
By MADELEINE TEAHAN on Thursday, 12 April 2012

A legal challenge will be launched against the building of two new Catholic schools in southwest London.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) are planning to mount a legal challenge against Richmond Council, following an application by the Diocese of Westminster to build a Catholic primary and secondary school.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster defended the application stating: “The Diocese of Westminster believe that Richmond Council have acted entirely properly in respect of proposals for the establishment of new Voluntary Aided Catholic primary and secondary schools in the borough.

“The proposed court case being brought by RISC and the British Humanist Association, a national organisation that campaigns against the existence of all schools with a religious character, seeks to use procedural arguments to prevent an entirely legitimate proposal to increase the educational choices available for parents and children in Richmond.”


It is useful for people in the USA to keep track of what is going on in the UK.  Their Kulturkampf is farther along than ours.

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  1. Yikes. All I can say is, God help us all. I could see a scenario in a the future wherein the Catholic Church is facing a new “Rome is burning” scenario in the West, and once again rebuild from the wreckage. That wouldn’t come without tremendous bloodshed for the Church, in my opinion.

  2. jflare says:

    In case the folks at the Herald miss it:
    Why does a Diocese need to apply for a permit to build a school?
    If they have some land, some money to build with, and appropriate staff getting ready, seems to me they need to get to building and let the humanists gnash their teeth all they like.
    I can’t imagine the government having need to be involved past the building permit.

  3. Clinton says:

    I’ll start to believe that these atheists/humanists are as loving and humane and rational as
    they claim when I see them sacrifice their own time, effort and money to build and
    maintain a vast network of atheist-sponsored charities and hospitals and schools, serving
    the entire society. Catholic institutions are commonplace, thank God. Where are all the
    hospitals the atheists have built? When was the last time you saw a group of humanists
    run a soup kitchen?

    Blocking the founding of schools is an odd occupation for a group that accuses the Church of
    wanting to keep people ignorant and poor. I re-read the article, looking for a mention
    of the myriad of atheist and humanist groups that were offering to build schools to serve
    those children instead …

  4. Legisperitus says:

    Atheists and humanists don’t need to fund their own schools. They use our tax money.

    First the state gets involved in education, which was always a traditional religious and parental function. Then it takes over the field and sets standards for everybody. Now it demands that the Church and homeschooling parents get out. Talk about bullying in schools…

  5. lizzy17 says:

    I don’t know if this is of interest to you, Father Z, or to your readers, but I wrote a guest post for Priest’s Wife on her blog about life in the UK for Catholics. If anyone is interested, it may give you some flavour for how the situation is shaping up over here.

  6. ContraMundum says:

    It can’t hurt to watch what’s happening elsewhere, but the UK is a different place with a different culture and its own set of problems. We have too much tendency to think that they’re “just like us” because they speak the same language.

  7. anilwang says:

    Ah, yes the new tolerance.


  8. Iowander says:

    The operating costs, and even most of the capital costs, are funded with tax dollars for voluntary aided schools (i.e. the status they’re applying for). Frankly, it’s a pretty sweet deal compared to what we have in the US. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the government could stop them if they wanted to set up a US-style tuition/donation-supported Catholic school.

  9. jaykay says:

    Iowander: independent schools have actually been in existence in the UK for centuries! They’re called “public schools”, which is directly opposite in meaning to what the term means in the U.S. These schools are independently-funded from the fees charged the pupils, which could be up to $40K if a pupil is boarding. The majority of these would be in the Anglican tradition but notable Catholic public schools are: Ampleforth and Downside (Benedictine) and Stoneyhurst (Jesuit).

  10. irishgirl says:

    What’s going on here, no spine among Catholics in the UK?
    Why don’t they tell the atheists to ‘naff off’ and mind their own business?
    Why do Catholics knuckle under to the atheist agenda?
    Why should Catholics care what the atheists think?
    Buzz off, BHA and RISC!

  11. Supertradmum says:

    Same thing is about to happen in Ireland, with the possible stopping of funding for Catholic schools. The anti-Catholicism in Great Britain is old and coming to a head under secular humanism gone mad. Sadly, there are not enough Catholic leaders to deal with the problem. There is a severe leadership crisis here in GB not only among the laity, but among the bishops.

    Planning permission is also done in the United States, not merely in Great Britain. Any local government could deny planning permission for Catholic schools in the States.

    As to no spine, as I have mentioned on my blog, there is still a Recusant attitude among Catholics here. Religion was private for so long, hundreds of years, it is hard to mobilize support.

  12. jflare says:

    So in other words, the humanists are throwing the fit we usually see regarding school vouchers. ..And they demonstrate the usual “tolerance” that their counterparts here in the US display.

  13. Gail F says:

    Read the comments at the Telegraph, pretty eye-opening. There is one that I find really chilling — the poster says that parents who want the best school for their children are being “selfish” because they are not thinking of what is best for society — which would be for all kids to go to their neighborhood school, presumably. And that, folks, is what’s going on in the UK today. If you want anything better for yourself or your kids, you are selfish.
    I used to think something similar to that, until I had children in an urban public school system (American). You know what? The presence of motivated kids with strong families does NOT make schools better — not unless you get a critical mass of them. Numbers prevail, and if most of the kids are undisciplined and think school is stupid, you don’t get a lot of honor students out of that school. And if a school teaches moral relativism and dumbed-down versions of “character education,” your kids think that’s correct because “my teacher said so.” My kids go to Catholic school now and it’s a tremendous sacrifice for us, but it’s well worth it.
    Enforced mediocrity is not better for society, but a lot of people think what matters is that everyone is equal. I teach my children to take a good, hard look at what they are expected to be equal TO.

  14. Dirichlet says:

    I wonder if they would mount a similar attack if it were a Muslim school… I suspect not. London’s mayor Ken Livingstone is a member of the BHA and recently said that he wants to make London “a beacon of Islam.”

    Being the easy target isn’t fun.

  15. PostCatholic says:

    The key to the objection lies with the term “Voluntary Aided.”

  16. Trad Tom says:

    It continues to baffle me as to why PostCatholic skulks about good, true, orthodox Catholic websites.

  17. Kathleen10 says:

    It matters because for as long as I can remember, Americans have typically had a “Europe is better” mentality. One of the worst barbs most Americans seem to fear is the old European insult “Americans are repressed Puritans”. Ouch! One could see that silliness working on television, where the walls have been pecked at forever, and now we have almost nothing but nudity and forced vulgarity, on kiddie shows! So Americans have always have “Europe envy” and long to be accepted. And we ALL know the French are better than we….(sniff)…..

    London has a huge problem alright, and it is called Islam. They are being eaten alive, like a parasite does in it’s host, and worst of all, not many have the courage to say so, which means no one can address it. Not that there is much to do, the horse is out of the barn. Many of the people who are troublemakers are native Brits now! But the dislike of all things religious is not restricted to extremists these days, there are the atheists who are coming on strong. They see their day is here, and they mean to take advantage of it. The homosexual scandals in the church (with clergy molesting post-adolescent boys predominantly) were, in my opinion, the gasoline on this fire. It gave hatred a reason, and now we have to live with it.

    Unrelated to this topic. I attended the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration in Stockbridge, Massachusetts yesterday. Awesome day! But here’s what really threw me, the demographics! Out of 20,000 plus people (so many I couldn’t SEE the Mass, but only hear it, which was enough), there has been a huge shift in cultural populations attending Catholic events! This is a “Polish” event, or devotion, with St. Faustina, Pope John Paul II, etc., and if I had to guess the demographics of the 20,000, I’d say 30% Phillipino attendees, 40% Latino, 20% people of African descent-Haitian, etc., and 10% Caucasians. I couldn’t help but wonder, where were the Polish? Geez Louise, has everybody died??
    It was a super day, filled with families, happy people, prayer, singing, and all. I was by myself and had an awesome time. The shrine was lovely and it was just super.

  18. Kathleen10 says:

    I mean to say, it was ORIGINALLY a Polish event. Of course Divine Mercy is for EVERYONE, always has been, but when one thinks of St. Faustina, and the nature of some devotions which are often geographic or culturally related, it was a surprise to see the actual demographics have changed. I encourage all to attend if they can, at the Divine Mercy Shrine. It really was a very uplifting spiritual activity, and just a really happy and fun day. It felt like heaven, being with people of all colors and backgrounds. Everyone was so happy and enjoying themselves. It was a wonderful family day. I took 168 pictures, and purchased THE most beautiful picture of the Black Madonna, whom I love.

  19. Rachel K says:

    I think it is really important for us to keep an eye on what is happening in our respective countries: firstly because we are brothers and sisters in Christ’s mystical body and when one part is suffering we all suffer.We need to pray for each other, and for each other’s situations, especially where God is mocked in our societies.
    Remember, the UK had “legal” abortion before the US, so we have an unpleasant tendency to “lead the way” in immoral legislation. We have also had several very near misses with legalising euthanasia and that attack continues. All legislation here comes country wide and quickly- it can take just months for an odious bill to be rushed through Parliament- we have to act very quickly here and be very aware of what is going on in government. The fact that we get whole state legislation over, for example, “civil unions” sends a very bad message to other countries and governments- particularly those of the Commonwealth, which are many, who look to GB for a lead in these things. In other words, we are often a malign influence when we should be giving good example. May God have mercy on us.
    May I also say that it is difficult to understand the culture of anti-Catholicism that exists here. It is an ingrained, unspoken and subtle sidelining of all things Catholic. Interestingly, it is also a class thing (tricky one this, as not comparable in the US). I find that most sympathy for the Catholic culture comes from the upper classes, small aristocracy. Country Life, for example, regularly runs articles on, for example, the architecture of Catholic churches, the experience of a TLM, the refurbishing of Pugin’s masterpiece church in Ramsgate- these things are all overlooked by the secular press, but it is not considered poor taste to speak of them freely in this publication, which is for the “landed gentry”!

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Dirichlet, Boris Johnson is mayor still.

  21. PostCatholic says:

    How does one skulk? And why the plural of websites? It continues to baffle me as to why good, true, orthodox Catholics fear my gentle presence. Surely I can’t shake their faith?

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