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Leicester Secular Society

(January–March & May & July & October–December)

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January to March 2003
All talks begin at 6.30 p.m. and are followed by a question and answer session with the speaker.
All are welcome whether members or not — and refreshments are available

Sunday 19th January 2003: — The Welcome Project in Leicester - Asylum Seekers in Britain
by Mehdi Barghchi

He dispels some of the current myths about asylum seekers. Mehdi Barghchi also covers some basic facts about Asylum seekers, reviews government policies and gives some new statistical data.

Sunday 26th January 2003: — Barbuda, Power and Environment
by Richard Bicknell

Richard has wanderlust and a taste for adventure. He cares for the world and recently undertook a study of energy in this small Caribbean paradise. However energy efficiency is more than just cost effectiveness he found out.

Sunday 2nd February 2003: — Creationism and Science
by Peter Thompson

It seems there really is a bunch of scientists near here who believe this junk – and they disseminate it as well. Peter explains the problem.

Sunday 9th February 2003: — Ghaddafhi’s Green Book and the Democracy of the People’s Congresses of Libya by Dave Roberts
We do not hear much about Libya in the news; except when the USA condemns it for something or other. Dave Roberts explains the main features that make the place tick.

Sunday 16th February 2003: — Discussion: What to do about Iraq/USA? Can we? Should we?
An Open Discussion

Coventry and Warwick Humanists are playing a part: should we also?

Sunday 23rd February 2003: — The New Age of Reason
by Wilfred Gaunt

Mr Gaunt proposes to set up a new organisation to unite all those who do not follow a religion. “Hear the manifesto from the author's own mouth. Be in at the beginning of something great.”

Sunday 2th March 2003: — Faith Schools
by Peter Flack with Freda Hussein and Satish Kapur

With the arrival of several new faith schools in Leicester this discussion has become of immediate relevance. Peter Flack (Trades Council & National Union of Teachers) leads the evening with contributions from Freda Hussein (Head Teacher at Moat Community College) and Satish Kapur (retired teacher) and, of course members of the secular society and the public.

Sunday 9nd March 2003: — Playing on the Playa that didn’t Costa lot
by Sue Barton

Sue has examined British holidaymakers in Spain who were there in the 1960's. She examines the myth of the hedonism of these people who took their pleasure in fascist Spain.

Sunday 16th March 2003: — Against Religiosity in Politics
A talk and discussion led by Ross Longhurst

Religious beliefs and practices in Britain today appear to be in sharp decline. Yet religious attitudes live on in less obvious ways. Many of the adherents of apparently secular doctrines such as Marxism and environmentalism treat them as substitute religions. This sort of religiosity is perhaps more insidious than the more manifest varieties and needs to be combated.

Sunday 23rd March 2003: — Anniversary Lecture: The Doctor, The Physio and The Footballer
by Ivan Waddington

Ivan Waddington is Director of Research into Sport and Society at Leicester University. He reveals malpractices in the sport. Is your favourite player really fit to play?

Sunday 30th March 2003: — 'Half' AGM
This is for members of the Society. Ensure your subscription is of good standing or pay on the day. Motions and topics for discussion should be submitted to the Committee at least two weeks before this date. Wine, cheese and soft drinks provided.

Michael Gerard – Meetings Secretary
0116 210 9027

SPECIAL MEETING Sunday 11th May 2003:
The New Age of Reason

Following on from his talk on 23rd February 2003 Wilfred Gaunt invites you to the inaugural meeting of the New Age of Reason.

“Wine, cheese, music, and a fairly constant supply of fresh baked pancakes will be served. Decorations will adorn the hall; and it is hoped that a good time will be had by one and all. Good fellowship will be the order of the day, miserable sods can stay away.”

“Points can be made, opinions expressed, and questions answered: during the course of which we will endeavour to inveigle you into supporting this organisation.”

“Remember the following points:

  • The MAJORITY of people in this country do not follow a religion, yet they have litle influence with the establishment.
  • The New Age of Reason is for ALL those who do not follow a religion – not just for agnostics and atheists – it is inclusive rather than exclusive.
  • We aim to fill the social vacuum left by church and mosque: thereby giving the majority its rightful voice in the affairs of state.
  • If we don't fill the vacuum, the churches stand ready to try: and they have all the instruments of tradition, persuasion and power in their hands.
  • You won't bring about the demise of religious influence by being merely the member of a comfortable social club. Put your actions where your beliefs are supposed to be, and cure your cognitive dissonance.”

Saturday 5th July 2003:
Faith in Schools?

Since the meeting advertised for Sunday 2nd March on Faith Schools was affected by the illness of the principal speaker, Peter Flack (Trades Council & National Union of Teachers), and in view of the impending decisions by Leicester City Council on proposals for an Islamic Academy and a Church of England City Academy, Leicester Secular Society has decided to provide a forum for wide-ranging discussion of these developments in the form of a one-day conference, at which it is intended to attract speakers on all sides of the issues involved.

The Society is concerned that these schools would be divisive and would limit the experience of children. If they are approved more such will surely follow, with serious consequences for community relations. There are serious questions, for example, relating to the controlled intake and religiously biased ethos of these schools, and on the use of public funds to promote religious evangelism.

Details of times and speakers to be announced here as they become known.


Some follow-up meetings on related matters are planned for later in the year in the current programme of events.

Here are some links to relevant sites.
Leicester Mercury - type "City Academy" or "Islamic Academy" in the search box top right and click arrow - this should lead to news items and copies of letters to the editor.
Leicester City Council - follow the links on "Meetings" for minutes, agendas and documents.
The Dearing Report - The Way Ahead - about Church of England policy on faith schools.
Learning Together - Resources for the campaign against faith-based schools.
Humanism - British Humanist Association - Education Policy.

The conference and two "first person" columns in the Leicester Mercury by Allan Hayes and Ross Willmott generated a considerable amount correspondence in the local press.

Incidentally, to send an e-mail letter to the Editor of Leicester Mercury the address is: - remember to include your full name and postal address.

é FREE LECTURE SERIES October to December 2003

Sunday 5th October 2003. U3A. Professor John Cook: U3A stands for "University of the Third Age" but it is not like any normal university as there are no qualifications demanded on entry and none given on exit. All that is required is enthusiasm and interest. It all started in France in 1972, and now it has thousands of members and has spread to 18 countries. There are 500 groups in the UK with over 123000 people – and growing. It is open to people over 55 and post-work. John Cook an activist in the U3A describes how this network for self-help in Culture and Education functions.

Sunday 12th October 2003. Guatemala – Tourist Paradise or Mass Graveyard? Helen Pearson: Helen gave a talk about Guatemala last year. The few who attended were adamant that she should talk again, but to a larger audience. Helen has years of experience working with Central American countries: first Nicaragua, and now Guatemala. She knows the area intimately, and can tell us what goes on in this important area, which resurfaces on the media screens only when a natural disaster carries away a town or village. The presentation will be illustrated by slides taken by our Secretary Michael Gerard who was also in Guatemala just recently in August 2003. He e-mailed from Guatemala: It is a magically beautiful country, but has a history, especially during the eighties of unparalleled violence – especially against the workers and the indigenous population. The language school I am attending is full of information about this conflict. We are glad to be returning home well before the elections here – I am not at all sure that they will be peaceful.

Sunday 19th October 2003. Environmental Change and Human Responsibility. The History of Farming the Desert in Libya. David Mattingly: David Mattingly is Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Leicester, and has worked extensively in the Libyan Desert on the archaeology of early farming systems. His lecture will focus on two projects that have thrown up impressive evidence of human populations successfully mastering the desert environment for a period before collapsing. A key question to ask of such studies is whether the seeds of the decline were sown in the manner of the initial success?

Sunday 26th October 2003. Esperanto – the Language of Freedom, the Voice of Internationalism. Rob Blow: Rob Blow, from the Workers' Esperanto Movement, puts the case for the International Language, outlines its history, and looks at the progressive role of Esperanto and its speakers.

Sunday 2nd November 2003. Why is Nicaragua so Poor? Claire Plumb and Ed Brown: This will focus attention on Nicaragua. One of whose cities is twinned with Leicester. But more generally why should the countries of the South be so poor when they often have plentiful natural resources?

Sunday 9th November 2003. Taking Health Care to the Homeless. Dr Nigel Hewett: After qualifying in 1980 Nigel Hewett trained and practised in Leicester. He then spent 2½ years as a volunteer in the Amazon jungle in Northern Peru. Then he practised as a doctor in Oadby and Stoneygate. In 1997 he started to use two sessions per week working with the homeless. In 1990 he set up a full-time Homeless Service. He explains how this group face particular problems, and approaches to help.

SPECIALLY ARRANGED EXTRA MEETING: Friday 14th November 2003 at 7:30pm. Talk and Discussion on: Secularism, Humanism, Religion and Society: what can we do? with Marylin Mason, Education Officer, British Humanist Association.

Sunday 16th November 2003. Annual General Meeting. Members may submit motions at least two weeks in advance. Members and intending members are welcome. There should be time for wine and cheese and general discussion of current issues.

Sunday 23rd November 2003. Faith Schools – the Current Situation. Alan Hayes: Alan Hayes has been watching the development of campaigns for religious schools with growing alarm and meticulous care. He charts the ethical, social and political issues with particular reference to the decisions to be made locally on proposals for two faith schools.

Sunday 30th November 2003. The Multi-Cultural, Multi-Faith Comprehensive School Frieda Hussein: Frieda Hussein is an expert on this subject: she is in charge of Moat Community College, a school which answers the description of being a Multi-Cultural Multi-Faith Comprehensive School. This is the voice of Reason and Experience.

Sunday 7th December 2003. The Ramblers Association – Reclaiming the Right to Roam: 100 Years of Progress! Alan Loasby: Mr Loasby acted for many years as Footpaths Secretary for the Leicestershire Ramblers Association, and has had to make over 8,000 complaints of abuses to the footpath system. In his talk he explains how the system originated, and the recent gains made under the CROW (Rights of Way) Act.

Sunday 14th December 2003. General Discussion: to be arranged. The discussion continued our debate on Religion and Education.

Wednesday 31st December 2003. New Years Eve Gig: Socialise or dance the evening away with Greenshoots Ceilidh Orchestra. Members free: small charge for guests.

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