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Superstition eclipses rare solar blackout

Superstition eclipses rare solar blackout

While milllions marvelled today over one of the most dramatic solar eclipses seen in years, pupils at a London primary school told they could not watch it for ‘religious and cultural reasons’.

According to this report, pupils at North Primary School in Southall were stopped from watching the solar eclipse directly and had to observe it on screens instead.

Sometimes known as Little India, Southall is a diverse community in west London with a large Hindi population.

Although headteacher Ivor Johnstone would not comment on what the ‘religious and cultural’ reasons were, some Hindu scriptures say that an eclipse makes believers impure.

And fundamentalists believe that they need to bathe immediately after an eclipse and chant the name of God to overcome the forces of darkness.

However parents said children were disappointed by the decision, arguing that religious superstition had been allowed to overshadow science.

Phil Belman, whose seven year old daughter goes to the school, said:

I am extremely upset about it. My child went in having spent an hour preparing and making up her pinhole camera. This is an issue about scientific matters versus religious superstition. I am outraged – is it going to be Darwin next? We will be like mid America.

Johnstone explained:

The school made this decision when we became aware of religious and cultural concerns associated with observing an eclipse directly. Although we are sorry for any disappointment, pupils were still able to watch the eclipse on screens in classrooms.

However, the overcast conditions in West London today meant they would not have been able to see it live in any case.

Belman added:

It is a very diverse school with kids from a lot of backgrounds including our own. They take a balanced approach as a whole, so this is completely out of the blue.

He suggested that if parents did not want their kids to watch the eclipse they should have been given the option of keeping them at home.

But it wasn’t an option. This was very last minute and a knee jerk reaction.

Ealing Council and the Department of Education said it would not be investigating the incident.

In the run-up to the rare eclipse, religious loons were gleefully predicting that it signalled the end of the world.

Hat tip: Ivan Bailey

20 responses to “Superstition eclipses rare solar blackout”

  1. Ivan says:

    Meanwhile,according to this report,one of Ofstead’s senior officials has said that inspecting British values in religious schools has made life difficult:

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31991767

  2. Robster says:

    It’s Saturday here and the loons are wrong again! What do the loons do when their “predictions”are proven wrong? Do they run and hide? Hang their heads in shame? Or just muddle on, playing Let’s Pretend we’re not embarrassed.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    The famous atheist Gora – a friend of Gandhi – was combating this superstition as far back as 1927.

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/tochgora.htm

    http://www.atheistcentre.in/GoraScienceCentre.html

  4. TrickyDicky says:

    I am surprised that the headteacher didn’t trot out the old “Health & Safety” canard.

  5. tonye says:

    As always, whenever mankind makes strides in the teaching and enjoyment of science, the religionists try to pull us back to the middle ages.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Shock, horror! Children may discover that the Earth isn’t the centre of our Solar system or the Universe and that a Solar eclipse is a natural event not requiring Goat sacrifice or talking to hands nonsense to make the Sun come back.

  7. TrickyDicky says:

    @Angela_K

    But the Earth is the centre of the observable universe.

  8. zombiehunter says:

    I wonder how much truth there is to this, I mean if it was for health and safety reasons I could kind of understand that but for cultural and religious reasons??

    it’s possible but could be another one of those made up stories in the same vein as 2war on Christmas BS”

  9. gegsieline says:

    Why can’t there be clear guidelines laid down to protect against superstitious fears?

  10. barriejohn says:

    All major news sources carry the same story, so it certainly looks legit.

    Twitter comment:

    Worth noting that North Primary School, which ordered pupils to throw stones at the angry moon, sorry, skip the eclipse, is “non religious”

    — sean thomas knox (@thomasknox) March 20, 2015

    Pastor Mark Biltz, author of ‘Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,’ said the eclipse was a message of heavenly displeasure with Europeans for criticizing Israel.

    Speaking to US news website WorldNetDaily (WND), he said: “In Jewish tradition, a total solar eclipse is a warning to the Gentiles and a sign of judgment on the nations.

    “When we look at where the darkness will be, it will be in northern European countries like England and Sweden where we see the rise of Islam and anti-Israel sentiment.

    “Europeans especially should take heed,” he added.

    http://rt.com/uk/242681-school-bans-watching-eclipse/

  11. jay says:

    It’s not clear from the article what exactly was or was not done.
    Without special equipment, no one should look at an eclipse directly.

    The simplest safe way is projecting through a pinhole onto a screen.

  12. Lucy1 says:

    I do find it so depressing. I had thought we had moved on from thinking that natural phenomena are god related.

  13. Marky Mark says:

    “Pastor Mark Biltz, author of ‘Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,’ said the eclipse was a message of heavenly displeasure with Europeans for criticizing Israel.”

    Is this fool unaware that astronomers can predict eclipses “to the hour” for the next hundred years??

  14. Sharad says:

    This is ridiculous! While Hindus in India have abandoned these superstitions, seems they are alive and kicking, suckled at the munificent teats of the nanny state.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Is this fool unaware that astronomers can predict eclipses “to the hour” for the next hundred years??

    God “knows the end from the beginning”, so he could see exactly what was going to happen, and just how wicked people would be, so he planned all these things down to the last detail. How awesome is our god!

  16. Cali Ron says:

    Another strong argument for separation of church and state, in this case “state” being schools. I would say look at America, but the religiots here have been successfully attacking secular education and forcing more and more religious BS content into are schools. For a nation that rose to dominance in the world largely on technological advances due to science and education it’s hard to understand how a significant portion of it’s citizens now want to go back to the dark ages and teach stupid shit like “creationism” and “American exceptional-ism”. Oh wait, we don’t need science, we have god, he’ll make sure America stays the greatest as long as we remember to persecute LBGT’s and atheists. Ignorance may be religions greatest ally.

  17. Maggie says:

    @Marky Mark

    By predicting eclipses, astrologers are obviously trying to read god’s mind. Another thing to be banned by the religious; they tried it before.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Maggie: I’m sure you meant “astronomers”. Astrologers, we know, have supernatural knowledge!

  19. Garry says:

    Southall doesn’t have a large “Hindi” population. Hindi is a language. It has a large Panjabi population for at least 70 years. Most are Sikhs. Stupid head teacher. Stupid freethinker. Freethinking should be based upon fact. Especially Briatin was there for hundreds of years. Who is the more close minded then?

  20. barriejohn says:

    It has a large Panjabi population …

    Stupid freethinker.

    Briatin was there for hundreds of years.

    Laughing my fucking socks off here!