Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Religion the real reason behind Sunday swim ban

Religion the real reason behind Sunday swim ban

A Croundfunding campaign has been launched to “stop Sabbatarians spoiling Sunday swimming” on the Isle of Lewis. The National Secular Society (NSS) is appealing to Scots to help raise £11,400 to pay for a 12-month trial of Sunday opening after councillors ruled out swimming on the Sabbath.

Local campaigners have started a fundraising drive to open the Ionad Spòrs Leòdhaisa (ISL) Sports Centre on Sundays and are already halfway to reaching their target.

They say the local council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is refusing to open the pool on Sundays because it would cost too much but has rejected cost-saving suggestions like closing the pool during the week in little-used hours to allow it to be open for three or four hours on a Sunday. The council has faced numerous accusations of using the cost argument as a cover for religious objections to the pool opening on the Sabbath.

Campaigners Families into Sports for Health (FiSH) said their survey found 71 per cent of sports-centre users “supportive” of the proposal to open for some hours on Sundays.

In September, Elma Macleod of FiSH said: “Overwhelming evidence from the users of ISL now shows a strong demand for seven-day opening amongst the users of the facility.”

Campaigners argue that religious considerations on the council are overriding the wishes of local people after Councillor Neil Beaton urged his colleagues to distance themselves from a “stifling sanctimonious Sabbatarian shroud”.

The National Secular Society has urged its supporters to make a donation to ensure families on Lewis and Harris can go swimming on Sundays.

NSS spokesperson for Scotland Alistair McBay said: “If some fundamentalist Christians wish to observe the Sabbath then of course they can do so according to their custom and ritual, but to force everyone else who does not share their beliefs to observe it too is not acceptable.

“The financial constraints advanced by the local council are simply a smokescreen for religious fundamentalism at work. The community on Lewis is not one homogenous group where everyone wants the same thing and lives by the same code, yet the Calvinist element on Lewis is determined to impose its unique brand of Christianity on everyone else and declare a part of the United Kingdom its own to govern according to its beliefs. We appeal to the council and fair-minded Brits of every hue to support these parents in their bid to pursue a healthy lifestyle for their families.”

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