Key ruling of 1917

FIRSTLY, thank you for including my letter re One Law for All in the paper on 23 February. I note there was a response from Ms Dinnings.

I would like to clarify the word “ secular” as there is much misunderstanding of the word .It means (Oxford Dictionary) being concerned with worldly affairs rather than spiritual ones. i.e., not being involved with nor belonging to any religion (faith),

In response to Ms Dinnings’ letter of 1st March, the “point “ of having a secular Remembrance ceremony is that it would be inclusive. That means people of any religion and none would be and would feel free to attend. At the moment, this is really a Christian service which excludes those of other faiths and of no faith or religion. The BHA is, in fact, pressing for a secular ceremony in view of this very fact.

If private faith schools wish to hold prayers, then that is their prerogative. However, many people, the majority, in the most recent poll, which included those of different faiths, stated they felt State education should not include faith schools, regardless of their particular religion. Also that religion (a faith ) should not be able to influence government as it does at present. Thereby, every one would be able to feel equally included in those organisations.

Here also, your readers might like clarification of the case that decided we are not a “Christian” country.

This idea was quashed by the House of Lords ruling in the Bowman case of 1917. Charles Bowman, a wealthy supporter of the secularist movement, left a substantial sum to the secular Society Ltd.

The bequest was challenged and eventually heard by the Lords of Appeal. The appellant’s case rested on the “Christian country” myth. During their Lordships’ deliberations, Lord Sumner observed “ The phrase, Christianity is part of the law of England, is really not law. It is rhetoric.” The majority agreed and ruled in favour of the Secular Society instead.

Commenting on the judgment, the Church Times declared, “England is no longer, in law, and has ceased to be in fact, a Christian country.” Rhetorically inclined Christians still ignore that important ruling which has never been successfully challenged.

Elaine Ansell

Ophir Road

Worthing