Friday, June 12, 2015

Cousin Wounda

19th century etching of a chimpanzee

In the Congo the name Wounda means 'close to dying', which is what she was when she was rescued and taken to the Jane Goodall Institute's Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, where she was nursed back to health. Eventually, she was well enough to be released back into the wild, a sanctuary on Tchindzoulou Island in the nearby Kouilou River. When her crate was open and she was free to go, Wounda hesitated and took stock of the strange situation, then embraced Dr Rebeca Atencia, who'd cared for her, and world-famous primatologist Jane Goodall, before venturing into the forest to explore her new home. The video had me in tears.

And why have I called her Cousin Wounda? As the Jane Goodall Institute says, "Biologically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to another species of great apes—gorillas. In fact, humans and chimpanzees share about 95 percent to 98 percent of the same DNA." To think that hungry but ignorant people eat them as "bush meat" - it's like cannibalism. One way or another, humans are responsible for the apes' destruction, loss of habitat being the main problem. Action to save all the great apes - chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans - will also help to save all the other species that share their forest habitats. Click here to find out about action to save them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thank you, Mr Pickles

Tiverton town councillors have voted to include prayers in council meetings. As the National Secular Society has said, holding prayers in council meetings is divisive, wrong and completely inappropriate. I've been exchanging emails with Tiverton's Town Clerk:
I was interested to read that Tiverton Town Councillors have voted to include prayers on the agenda of their meetings. It may be true that this is legally acceptable, thanks to Mr Pickles, but it isn't morally acceptable. Rather than expecting atheist councillors, or councillors of other faiths, to leave the chamber while prayers are said, it would be more acceptable to have prayers 10 or 15 minutes before a meeting starts. Members should opt in, not opt out. Anything else is sheer bad manners, as it forces religion on non-Christians. Imagine being expected to say prayers from any of the other faiths practised in the UK, such as Paganism?

Other councils have prayers before meetings, making them optional, and it works well.

Town Clerk:
Thank you for your views.
The recommendation to full Council was made after receiving advise from the Legal Officer from the National Association of Local Councils. The decision will be made by Full Council as per our standing orders and constitution.

I understand that in the larger councils provision is made to recognise other faiths.

As noted in the legislation anyone has the option of leaving the room prior to the prayers being said if they wish to.

But why should they leave the room? This places the onus on those who aren't Christian, which is unfair. No matter what your advice, the legal position is essentially wrong as it favours Christians.

Christians are now a minority in the UK. They're no more entitled to foist their beliefs on other people than football fans are entitled to force others to sing football songs with them.

You're no more likely to find me singing with these lads than you are to find me praying.