Rights or wrongs

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Perhaps you will allow me to answer the rather strange accusations of Alistair McBay of the National Secular Society (Letters, 26 June) that I campaign to restrict the human rights of women and LGBTI people and for religious apartheid in education. These accusations are simply false – I challenge Mr McBay to demonstrate one right from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR)which I campaign against.

On the other hand, the National Secular Society and the Humanist Society actively campaign against the UNDHR article 26 which states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”.

To argue for choice in education is not to argue for “religious apartheid” – Catholic and other Christian schools are open to all.

Mr McBay thinks those of us who don’t agree with the atheistic secularist position are opposed to human rights, but the trouble is he wants those rights to be based solely on the National Secular Society’s atheistic philosophy. It is an authoritarian and intolerant position.

DAVID A ROBERTSON

Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland

St Peters Street

Dundee

David Robertson (Letters, 26 June) claims my definition of universal virtues worth promoting in schools is “relatively meaningless” and asks who decides the necessary definitions of suffering and benefit. As we already all agree on the immorality of robbery, assault and other behaviours I used as examples, his question does not need to be applied to them: their wrongness can be impressed on all children without parental demur.

This is not the case with more divisive views. If the state education system promotes belief or disbelief in God, it is partial, and if it promotes both, it is conflicted, inevitably wrong on one side, and wasting public money, so the sensible solution is for neither to be promoted. Parents who wish their children to believe or not believe can exert their own influence at home.

ROBERT CANNING

Vice chair, The Scottish Secular Society

Broughton Street

Edinburgh