This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
What price secularism?
The president of Leicester Secular Society, Mr Hayes (Mailbox, March 15), invites me to think again following my comments on his society's objection to faith schools following their tenets in relation to sex education.
Mr Hayes quotes the education Bill's passage that faith schools have been offered derogation. I will not contest the wording of that passage as it makes literary sense; how it is interpreted by non-faith schools is another debate.
As our society continues to move further away from religious tolerances and practices and further into a secular lifestyle, the spectre of disrespect, drunkenness and violence seems to fill the void so that "Broken Britain" is now a description used by politicians of our own country.
The issue of sex education has been on the education agenda for many years. For all of those years schools have taught pupils sex education, yet we face a situation of unprecedented promiscuity inherent in this country's younger citizens that leaves me and many of my fellow citizens, religious and agnostics alike, saddened. So, what price secularism, Mr Hayes?
As you asked, I have thought again and not surprisingly I cannot agree the decadence and selfishness that many years of secularism seems to have spawned is good for this, or any other country's people.
Some Mercury readers who are following this exchange may form the view that secularists believe religion equals bible thumping, oppressive ministers or priests and a rigid Victorian strictness of personal behaviour.
If that is the case, how very wrong it is. If society was to develop a sudden, but welcome, mass return to faith, the modern user-friendly moral guidance, citizenship, fun and humanist input a faith has to offer a family must go some way to improve general behaviour. I am not suggesting utopia would result, but it would reverse the decline of respect. Have faith, it would!
Stephen A Warden, Wigston