Time to End Religious Apartheid in Scotland – and England 278

In all the wringing of hands about the violence at the end of the Hibs/Rangers Scottish cup final, there is a reluctance to tackle the root of the question. The debate has in recent weeks been reinvigorated over the Scottish law banning sectarian songs and displays at football matches, with speculation that the Scottish Parliament will now have a majority for lifting it. Public mass displays of hate speech do not to me come under freedom of speech. My guide as usual is the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who stated that to argue that corn merchants are parasites who thrive on the misery of the poor is freedom of speech. To yell the same thing to an armed mob outside a corn merchant’s house at night is not. That seems a precise analogy to sectarian songs in football grounds and Mill – whose father was from Montrose – is right.

But sensible as the ban is, it does nothing to tackle the cause of sectarian hatred. The greatest cause is segregated education. It is difficult to hate people when you grow up amongst them, share your earliest friendships and experiences with them, and learn together. It is easy to hate people when you are taught from your most innocent youth that they are different, and are forcibly segregated from them by the state for all the time you spend outside the family environment in young childhood. They are the other, different, rivals, the enemy. Name-calling, stone throwing, hostile chanting, sectarian singing and your football banner and scarf all ensue in obvious and logical succession.

I find the fact that the state routinely segregates Catholic and Protestant children in school, as the norm in much of Scotland, deeply shocking. The lack of intellectual honesty in facing up to the open consequences is pathetic. It behoves me as someone whose family is Scots-Italian and Hibs supporting to say that the Catholic Church bears a major share of the blame. So do Scottish politicians, who are in large majority too scared of voter reaction to take a firm stand on the issue.

The Catholic/Protestant divide is particularly acute in Scotland, but England has precisely the same problem with faith schools. If you filter out the substantial degree of Islamophobia in many reports, it is still plain that there is a problem with “Islamic” schools which teach values which have no place in modern education. (I would argue they are also a deviation from Islam, but that is a different argument for another day). I recently highlighted the interview by Mark Wallis Simons about education at a Jewish Orthodox school in England where pro-Israel propaganda was such that the pupils would fight for Israel against Britain. Thanks to Tony Blair, the leader who believes God wanted him to start war in Iraq, England has actually seen a growth in state schools which are a strong feature of the neo-cons’ “Academy system”. This has led to state schools being run by all shades of religious nutter including creationists.

Finally I would add to this sorry mix my experience in Blackburn, where with the active connivance of a Labour council there were apparently normal state schools under local authority control, within a couple of hundred yards of each other, which were 99% Muslim or 99% non-Muslim.

The answer to this problem is not to cherry-pick which faith is acceptable and which faith is not. The answer is simple. It has been accepted for centuries that the state has the right and duty to prescribe and provide education for children. There must be no segregated religious education in the UK. Children should attend school in a mixed environment and there learn a broad educational curriculum in which shade of religious belief has no place. Outside of school the religious life of the family is no business of the state. The children’s education is no business of the religion.

Private schools are a further different question. Quite simply I would abolish them, irrespective of the faith question, as they entrench the networks of growing social inequality.

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278 thoughts on “Time to End Religious Apartheid in Scotland – and England

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  • fwl

    There are those keen on faith schools only because they have no faith or values left themselves but they vainly imagine the school will inculcate some values and all will be okay.

    The essential purpose of education is for children to learn how to solve problems how to quickly acquire skills including but by no means limited to behavioural and social skills.

    • Alcyone: End every cliche

      And now that you have enounced so clearly for us Fowl (or is it Fool?), what the purpose of education is, perhaps you’ll also tell us what is the purpose of life?

      Btw, while you are explaining, perhaps you will also tell us what is it, that you have ‘faith’ in?

  • Gordon Stoun

    “Private schools…l would abolish them”. More credible when none of your children have been through the private school system.

    • CanSpeccy

      So its OK to piss yer money away on bingo, trips to Hawaii, porn, junk food, whatever, but not on your children’s education, or presumably, healthcare.

      You might as well declare your commitment to Communism, with K to 12 brainwashing under the guise of education.

        • CanSpeccy

          What is it, Phil, exactly that you don’t like about a free society? That people won’t be properly brainwashed by the state, or what?

          • Phil the ex frog

            Free? Canspeccy wants to be a free Englander. I’m way ahead of you sunshine, fuck the state. But fuck racist scum like you first.

  • fwl

    The French secular model has its merits, but of course does it really work and is it ultimately a reflection of the republic’s ideals and lacking in plurality. Should the state fund any secular schools? If so should it be permitted to exercise some discrimination? If state funded schools are to be secular should the state tolerate private faith schools?

    Anyway what is religion? We don’t really know do we? We might think we do but there is no consensus? In my view, one of many and not a static view, religion is largely a private matter, but public when it provides rites for birth marriage and death (war and coronations too!) and it offers some training for a few who are interested in developing concentration and compassion. Some may feel that it can not but touch every moment of our lives and so demand a bigger role, but inevitably it is the ego that grows. Keep it simple. Avoid encouraging religion to function as a tribal badge, but tolerate the diversity of religion. By and large religion should be as private as possible. “Be a passer by” “let your heart be in your seeing but not in what you see” “the world is a bridge do not build your house on a bridge – travel lightly”.

    • Alcyone: End every cliche

      Personally, I think being a fool should also be a private matter. Are you going to be sharing St Watchamacallit’s Gospel here again, as you were at Easter? Passerby and other non-sense?!

      You can’t live, really live, without the conditioning of your cliches can you?

      • fwl

        One of those quotes was from St Thomas, but the others are Islamic quotes of Jesus’ teaching.

        • Alcyone: The Universe blesses Universality, but not the way of Organised 'Religions' ;-)

          Second-hand human being, nevertheles?

  • Usman

    “I would argue they are a deviation of Islam” obviously because they are not doing things the ‘western way’ so it must be the wrong way.

    as far as I understood the word Islam means ( words to effect) “following the will of God”. I newer knew it meant following the will of a certain geographical location or a certain era (ref modern education). European civilisation has taken a lot from Isamic civilisation in its hey days.

  • Cynicus

    “Private schools are a further different question. Quite simply I would abolish them…”

    “My guide as usual is the philosopher John Stuart Mill”

    Were does Mill guide you to the position on private schools?

  • fwl

    Sorry off topic.

    Congrats to Reuters for leading on this and even more congratulations to former Isreali PM Erhud Barak for his bravery.

  • fwl


    A military affairs commentator interrupts his broadcast to deliver a monologue: I’m alarmed by what’s happening in Israel, he says, I think my children should leave.

    “Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns of “the seeds of fascism”. Moshe Arens, who served as defense minister three times, sees it as a turning point in Israeli politics and expects it to cause a “political earthquake”.

    The past five days have produced tumult in Israeli politics, since conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unexpectedly turned his back on a deal to bring the center-left into his coalition and instead joined hands with far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, one of his most virulent critics.”

    • fwl

      It is unfortunate that Reuters has forgotten how to spell defence, but leaving that aside a few weeks ago we had an Israeli Deputy Chief of Staff say the same thing even referring to the Nazis (something which could never be said here) and although he was promptly shut up we now have a former Israeli PM waring of the seeds of fascism in Israel. It will be interesting to see how the BBC report this and how labour MPs deal with it.

      This remains me that many Israelis are good people with intelligence, guts and consciences.

  • fwl

    Reuters mobile leads on Seeds of Fascism.

    BBC: Man U & then boobs on facebook.

    • fwl

      Hidden away you find a story on the BBC whether Israel has lost its moral compass. Tame stuff compared to Reuters.

    • RobG

      Reuters remain quite good at honest reporting (for instance, when it comes to what’s going on at Fukushima) but don’t forget that they are still part of the biggest propaganda machine ever seen on this Earth.

      I would hazard a guess that the powers that be allow Reuters some leeway because it exists mainly to provide business people with news (and so the news has to be reasonably accurate), whereas the general public don’t go directly to the likes of Reuters for news.

      • fwl

        Yes, as if it were in Latin. The WSJ is also often astonishingly frank.Be grateful for small mercies financial news in some powerhouses eg both Japan and China is far more restricted.

      • lysias

        The Financial Times has a reputation as the most reliable English-language newspaper. I stopped reading the Wall Street Journal because of its support of Bush’s Iraq war (which the FT opposed; unfortunately, the FT is now also supporting more recent Western interventions).

        • RobG

          Lysias, I agree with you about the FT, but it’s behind a paywall and the vast majority of people won’t read it.

          Reuters is still the only open news source that anyone can read, if they feel so inclined.

          The fact that what’s really going on in France at the moment is totally unknown to most people in USUK might tell you everything.

  • Martinned

    John Stuart Mill, who stated that to argue that corn merchants are parasites who thrive on the misery of the poor is freedom of speech. To yell the same thing to an armed mob outside a corn merchant’s house at night is not. That seems a precise analogy to sectarian songs in football grounds

    I don’t think Mill would have agreed that speech that is incitement to violence and hate speech are the same thing/analogous.

    • Jimbo

      Nowhere does it say that it should be free at point of access or provided by the State.

  • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

    “Private schools sustain the privilege of the ruling classes. They should all be closed.”

    I wonder whether the following would not be a more profitable approach and avoid a likely infringement of European human rights legislation:

    The real stranglehold on jobs in many professional fields (including, increasingly, on politics) is held by Oxbridge graduates (and Oxbridge undergrad places are still taken up disproportionately by the alumni of public schools – which is probably one of the main reasons parents send their children to public schools).

    Possible solution : oblige Oxbridge to restrict the percentage of entrants from public schools to the percentage of A level school leavers from the public schools in the general A level school leaving population.

    In this way much of the incentive for parents to send their offspring to public schools would vanish.

    • Alcyone: End every cliche

      Habby, thank you for adding so pertinently to the spirit of what Craig was saying.

    • fwl

      I think Craig should clarify that he does not mean to close private schools, but merely take their private status and convert them into Academies in which case presumably if your already in you stay there but the state then pays? That would be interesting from a selfish point of view.

      Sadly, what may happen is that all education becomes quasi-private. I hope not.

  • Martinned


    Art. 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights:

    3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

    4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.


  • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

    In all this excitement about the appointment of Mr Lieberman to the Defence Ministry, let us not forget two things:

    1/. this is not the first time he has held high ministerial office

    2/. Cabinet government is still the modus operandi in Israel. To predict any radical shift in Israeli defence policy or policy towards the Palestinians as a result of this appointment might be premature, even unwise

    • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

      BTW, did I get his name right? If not, you know whom I mean.

    • Martinned

      It sure makes me nervous. By all accounts, the Israeli army is at the brink of being taken over by religious zealots. For now, the army leadership is holding out, insisting on it being “an army for all Israelis”, but I’m not optimistic about their long-term chances if they have to serve under a defence minister who is actively trying to do the opposite.

      • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

        If things get that far, Martinned, I would not bet too many of my shekels on the final outcome of any such confrontation.

        At the risk of being mistaken for Ambassador Regev, keep calm is what I would recommend.

        • Martinned

          The Orthodox are joining the army in masses – which they never used to do before. So the army leadership is under attack from below and from the government. How do you imagine they’d survive such a confrontation?

          Meanwhile, it’s a miracle that the Israeli Supreme Court is still as independent as it is, given that the government was going after it like a Polish Prime Minister with an axe to grind, and given that Israel’s constitution is as dodgy as Britain’s.

          • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

            I’m not sure what you mean by Orthodox Jews joining the army in masses. Military service in Israel is (almost) universal and Orthodox Jews are not the majority in Israel.

            Not, by the way, that all Orthodox Jews support the idea of the State of Israel.

            As for the Court, well, let’s be happy there are still miracles, eh?

  • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

    Having just heard a political broadcast on Radio 4 by a representative of the “Vote Leave” campaign I’m even more convinced that Craig was a hundred times right to say he would not be posting on this question.

    And the “Remain” people are of course no better.

    One despairs. Hibernation until 22h00 on 23 June seems to be the only answer.

  • fred

    If only it were possible to legislate against bigotry, what a perfect world we would live in but more often than not attempting it has the opposite effect, causes more animosity, creates more hatred more division and less trust.

    It’s not impossible, with loads time thought and consultation and agreement between all concerned it can be done but forcing through a badly thought out law against the wishes of all the other parties was doomed to failure.

    Now a statement from the Rangers Football Club who feel let down, let down by the Scottish FA, let down by their government, let down by their First Minister, let down by Police Scotland and let down by the media.


    • Republicofscotland


      Poor wee Rangers FC, let down, however they weren’t let down a few years back when they ran amok trashing and smashing Manchester to pieces after they got soundly beaten in the uefa cup final.

      Still to listen to the unionist press and radio stations broadcasting their wares in Scotland today, you’d have thought Hibs fans had burned Hampden park down with the Queens Eleven (That’s what Tory MSP Murdo Fraser tweeted when Rangers defeated Celtic) still inside. No mention of Rangers fans singing “up to your knees in Fenian blood” nor Rangers fans setting off flares in the ground.

      Here are those poor affronted Rangers fans dismantling Manchester.


      And here are those poor wee hard done by fans taunting independence supports on September 19th 2014.


      The Queen and her established Westminster government must sleep sound at night knowing that her brainwashed supporters in Scotland will do their utmost to thwart Scottish independence.

      • fred

        Thank you for your excellent demonstration of what those combating sectarian bigotry at football matches are up against.

    • Node

      You’re right Fred, it’s a disgrace.

      I don’t know how you stop pitch invasions. I wouldn’t like to see the day come when there is a riot-proof fence between fans and the pitch, but that day will come sooner if the authorities and media pretend nothing serious happened last Saturday.

      I watched the game on TV and was delighted when Hibs won the game in injury time, but if the Hibs fans get off with attacking Rangers players and officials on the pitch, then the door is opened to mayhem. The SFA should impose some very painful and humiliating sanctions, say ban Hibs from all cup competitions for a couple of years along with a big fine, and all Scottish football fans should be loud and clear that that sort of behaviour is unacceptable.

  • Habbabkuk (think the unthinkable)

    The far-right candidate for the Austrian Presidency is reported to have lost the election by a mere 30.000 votes.

    After all the postal votes had finally been counted, that is.

    I wonder if we shall be hearing a lot of talk about ballot-rigging and electoral fraud?

    Given that the far-right winger lost, that is.

    • Loony

      There are a lot of people in Europe who are not too keen on their societies being dismantled.

      The betting is that these people are so stupid that their voices can be silenced indefinitely. It is more likely that sooner or later people will realize that the entire electoral process is one giant fraud. What happens then is the only thing of interest.

      Everything is a fraud, so would Austrian elections be anything different.

        • Loony

          I know nothing about individuals.

          The salient point is that you are in a society infected by mass delusion. That being the case it will not be difficult to identify examples of such delusion.

    • CanSpeccy

      Where or when would an alleged right-winger not lose in an election rigged by our globalist elite?

      And what is a right winger? Is it not any person who opposes mass immigration to Europe of people with a contempt for the European race, religious tradition and legal system? If, as I suspect, that is what most liberals and leftists mean by right winger, then I would say that most native-born liberals and leftists are stupid self-hating white people.

      But what is the point of making such a point here where it will promptly be deleted by the moderator.

  • Douglas Beckett

    Way off beam with this argument. You will find for instance that in Scotland, more non-catholic children attend Catholic state schools than catholic kids. Don’t confuse our educational process with the acts of some nutters attending football matches.

  • Terry Kelly

    The elephant in the room is the fact that this problem only exists in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Can Mr. Murray explain that or would he rather hide away from the truth which is that Scotland remains polluted with anti English/Irish race hatred and anti Catholic sectarian bigotry?.

  • Andrew Morton

    I was at a Scottish state primary school in the 1950s and 1960s and there was a Catholic school less than half a mile away. Several of my pals who lived in my street went there. We were ‘prodisans’ and they were ‘cathlicks’. I can’t recall any hostility (we all played football together in the local playing field) but we were very aware of the divide. I went to the Royal High School for my secondary education and it was until fourth year that I discovered to my surprise that one of my classmates was a catholic.

    So it is perfectly possible for all religions to be educated together without any tension. However, it is entirely down to the Catholic Church’s desire that catholic children have a religious education that we have this system. It’s pernicious and it’s time that it was stopped. Of course it won’t be because it would be electoral suicide for any party which proposed it.

  • Cameron Brodie

    JSM also supported colonialism and felt that the burden of democracy too onerous for the less developed societies of the world. I suppose you could see JSM as a man of the Enlightenment, or you could view him as he would probably be considered by many today, as a c@#t. Did he not suggest free trade was based on justice and not utilitarianism? If I was being kind, I suggest the man was a confused employee of the East India Company. What justice has free trade delivered in a world of growing income disparity?

    I agree with the author’s main point though. There is no place for segregated faith schools in a forward looking society, IMHO.

    • Loony

      John Stuart Mill was interested in free trade based in the same way that Ricardo was interested. It revolved around the theory of comparative advantage.

      What you are now seeing is a form of trade where capital roams the globe in search of absolute advantage. This has nothing to do with John Stuart Mill. Perhaps some people are so busy looking forward that they have no idea where they have come from, in which case they are unlikely to be able to determine whether they are moving forward or going round in circles

    • Cameron Brodie

      However, I also believe cultural diversity is an essential component of a ‘sustainable’ future and religion is a strand of cultural identity. I’m out ma depth. 😉

      • Loony

        Orwell wrote that “Unity is strength” Today we appear to believe that “diversity is strength” – although no-one ever explains exactly how diversity is strength.

        We certainly do not believe it ourselves when it comes to appointing central bankers. In this area only homogeneity is acceptable. Anyone with a diverse opinion on the role of the US in the world is ordinarily killed.

        Maybe someone could explain why western societies need to be turned upside down in honor of the cult of diversity, while western soldiers need to kill in order to honor the cult of homogeneity.

        • Cameron Brodie

          I suppose it depends on whether you view the marketplace as a fallible human construct or an instrument of God. Personally, I agree with the Dalai Lama’s suggestion, that the world needs a set of non-secular human rights, applicable to all, possibly even Hindu untouchables and Japan’s Burakumin. Now that would put the cat among the pigeons.

          Re. cultural diversity. Evolution only works if there is diversity in the gene pool. No diversity and evolution stops. Is that what you desire?

          • Loony

            No sane person could view the market place as an instrument of God. Once the false analogy is stripped away then you are postulating that a persons view of human affairs is stark binary choice between sanity and insanity. Such a view is condescending and puerile in equal measure.

            What has it got to do with you how Hindu’s or Burakumin choose to conduct their affairs? What level of arrogance allows you to opine on such matters which are manifestly nothing to do with you. Can you not see that it is the western penchant for forcing other people to do their bidding that is a root cause of so many problems that afflict the world.

            There are more than enough people in Europe to maintain any necessary diversity in the gene pool. So to imply that mass immigration is necessary in order to maintain evolution is both facile and utterly irrational. You write things like this and people simultaneously believe that western culture is a predicated on reason. Not even a cargo cultist would possibly believe such arrant nonsense.

            But…but…your devotion to irrationality in no way impedes your rights to tell the foreign man how he should live. You really could not make it up.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            Looking at the results of human evolution to date, I am far from sure that is a rhetorical question…

  • Paul Seligman

    It’s also interesting to think about other segregated eduction systems. In Israel, with a very few exceptions, Arab and Jewish children attend different schools. Before anyone attacks my language, I can assure you that the terms ‘Arab’ and ‘Jewish’ are not only those routinely used by the citizens of Israel, but are actually printed on their identity cards so that the authorities can assess and treat their citizens according to their ‘nationality’. No surprise then when incidents like this recent one happen: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.720952

  • RobG

    Craig, I’m sure you’re aware that you are being increasingly highlighted by our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. You should perhaps correct them on this one:

    “On May 17th, the British Member of Parliament (MP) Craig Murray, who is that rare thing a fully committed democrat who also happens to be a member of his country’s national legislature, headlined at his terrific blog, “The Conservatives Will Be Protected From Their Election Fraud”, and he documented that there is “blatant state propaganda manipulation” and that “in this country, electoral law is not enforced against those in power.” Power-holders in UK can violate the law with impunity, even where the violation is clearly documented — he showed that.”


    Otherwise people might think that you are all just a bunch of CIA psyops loons,

    I’m sure Habba & Co might have an opinion about this.

  • K Crosby

    ~~~~~Public mass displays of hate speech do not to me come under freedom of speech.~~~~~

    Ha! Unmasked!! Liberal!!!

    John Stuart Mill, the proto-fascist of his own free will was particularly ill….

    “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”
    ―Noam Chomsky In Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992 – On freedom of speech

    • Alcyone: End every cliche

      Keith, I don’t think Craig has the foggiest of how ‘freedom of speech’ has just become another cliche on his own website, given the silly snipping that his ‘moderators’ do here.

      Sometimes I really wonder whether a single-digit IQ is a prerequisite to do that job here. If not, Craig is enclosed in his very own ivory tower. Shows how easy it is to become unplugged.

    • bevin

      Great link , though no doubt the conspiracy theorists such as Habban’taclue will note that the wicked RT are behind it so it is probably all shot in a studio in the Kremln basement.
      Them we shall ignore however. The beauty of the fuel shortage is that it reminds us that it has never been so easy, given the incredible dependence of business on deliveries ‘just in time’ to strangle the capitalists by striking.
      The likelihood is that the coming years will see lots of unofficial, targeted strikes, sustained by the solidarity of the masses. The General Strike can now be achieved with a speed and precision that the syndicalist founders of the CGT -and the soixante huiters- only dreamed of.

  • bevin

    “The far-right candidate for the Austrian Presidency is reported to have lost the election by a mere 30.000 votes.
    After all the postal votes had finally been counted, that is.
    I wonder if we shall be hearing a lot of talk about ballot-rigging and electoral fraud?
    Given that the far-right winger lost, that is.”
    Wonder no more HabBandera!
    It looks very suspicious to me.
    If computer voting was involved even more suspicious.
    The Establishment in Austria hews to the theory of the former Finance Minister Schumpeter that representative democracy means only that the electorate may choose which of the alternatives offered by elites it prefers.
    And right now the EU establishment is as fearful of the “far right” as it is of the left.
    In this case however the election is just another blow to the credibility of a system which is failing to convince increasingly large numbers of citizens. Postal votes however, as New Labour will attest, are such a convenience to election fixers that it will be hard to get the bastards to part with them.

  • BrianFujisan

    fuck the state. But fuck racist scum like you first.

    Its all By Design As you Know Phil…

    In my town.. Celtic Leaning Councilors had the NEW HIGH School With A Merging of all Students in One Building,,But Separate.. St Stephens..And Port Glasgow High School… Some in tha Building Sit listening to Catholic Crap..Others do not.. Am Anti- Something for that staement…
    I’m Mind Blown… The Tens Of Thousands At Park head ….Cos a new Manager…. Well am saying to Listeningwater Is that for real

    On the Hopeful Side… The Children Do not want this. It must have Been More than ten Mins of News At Six

    Its Amazing ..My Daughter and i were talking about this very Subject Two hours before i read this post

    Fucking Peace …..When ya think of it ant that Hard

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