By and large, I don’t join things. I was in the Cubs and Boy Scouts, and then the Air Cadets. After that, I was in the university Rifle Club, and kind of by default, in the Physical Society, like everyone else doing a physics degree. About the only organisation to which I deliberately signed up was the British Interplanetary Society. I know the name sounds slightly archaic, and possibly suggestive of a bunch of cranks, but it’s the UK’s main pressure group for promoting space research, and many very serious space scientists are members. In fact, I eventually let my membership lapse because it was all too academic and technical.
But my lack of enthusiasm for joining up means that I probably won’t become a member of the National Secular Society, even though I’m strongly in favour of their principles. Anyway, what use is it to join a club of people who agree with you, other than some warm feeling of affirmation? Still, I’d come out and support them if it mattered, like voting, or protesting some public idiocy, such as Iris Robinson.
Among other things, the NSS campaigns for the abolition of “faith” schools. Both our current Prime Minister and the previous one have used their positions to increase the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on such schools. Yes, public money funds religious segregation and the teaching of sectarian ideas to children. Clearly, that’s been an enormous success in the history of Northern Ireland, so it’s bound to work well in multi-cultural Britain.
The NSS does have a foot in the door as far as being consulted by official British and EU agencies, but it doesn’t receive any public funding. Everything is paid for from membership fees and merchandise, and it was a bit of the latter that tempted me today (and it’s only £3). It’s the Certificate of Debaptism, and it reads: