Humanists hold very strongly with the rights of every individual to believe in the god of their choosing and to belong to whatever religion appeals to them ("Academic hits out at atheism in our schools", The Herald, February 13).

We very much enjoy living in this wonderful country of ours where this right which was achieved after tremendous struggle is respected and enjoyed. We simply ask for the same rights to be extended to the large and growing proportion of our population who do not believe in God.

Many parents complain to us that it is impossible to have their child educated free from religion, despite Government guidelines which stipulate they have that right. "Opting out" marginalises the child and we have yet to find a school which provides a suitable alternative curriculum as described in the guidelines.

Curriculum for Excellence places emphasis on the child being encouraged to think for himself after examining the evidence. Why are proponents of religion so reluctant to compare their beliefs with the discoveries of science that is based on sound evidence? Did man evolve gradually over several million years or did God "create him in his own image and likeness"? Is revelation to be believed or should children be encouraged to search the internet for "inventor of monotheism"?

The time has surely come for all schools, denominational as well as non-denominational, to welcome all children regardless of creed and to offer them the option of two curriculums; one based on religious teachings or one based on philosophy and moral education.

Clare Marsh,

Humanist Society Scotland,

272 Bath Street, Glasgow.

I am not a religious believer but I cannot find it in me to condemn local councils and schools for having regular prayers, just so long as atheists and agnostics are not obliged to take part.

I am, however, disturbed by outbursts such as Andrew McKie's ("Resist these attempts to marginalise Christianity", The Herald, February 13). I would say that if Christianity, or any other religion, did what it said on the tin, it would not be possible for it to be marginalised.

Mr McKie asserts that humanists and secularists should cease their objections because religion has played such a pivotal role in forming society as it is today and I would not disagree with that; for centuries, however, most people believed the world was flat and it remained, obstinately, a sphere.

I think the National Secular Society has done believers and non-believers a favour by bringing this court case. Non-believers deserve to have their opinions broadcast occasionally and believers need to examine their faith from time to time rather than just blindly adopt the "it's aye been" philosophy advocated by Mr McKie.

David C Purdie,

12 Mayburn Vale, Loanhead.

The marginalisation and erosion of our Christian culture continues. The news that the High Court has ruled that it is unlawful for town councils in England to begin their formal meetings with prayer has, rightly, been received with dismay by many – excluding, of course, the Bideford ex-councillor who took the council to court, and the National Secular Society that supported him.

This judgment (against which, at least, the council has apparently been given leave to appeal), opens a whole can of worms. If allowed to stand, does it mean an atheist can take me to court because National Secular Society lawyers could argue that he was being indirectly discriminated against and in breach of human rights laws?

The judgment was not given on the grounds of human rights but on a point of statutory construction of local government legislation. It was on so-called human rights grounds that the case was brought – a situation which many gave warning when that legislation was adopted by ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It is a little ironic that this judgment has been given as the nation celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of the accession of the present Queen. Bideford Council had, apparently, previously warned that if the National Secular Society won its case there could be far-reaching consequences, including the abolition of the Coronation Oath. Indeed, if Her Majesty is going to continue to use the sort of wording which she used on December 25, she is in danger of having her annual Christmas address to the Nation and Commonwealth banned.

Rev C Brian Ross,

253 Shields Road,