British Humanist Association e-bulletin
The latest news update from the BHA – click on “read more” for the whole bulletin.
BHA meets Department of Communities and Local Government
Representatives from the BHA met with officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government on Friday to discuss Humanist involvement in their community cohesion work. This meeting was part of a follow up from the successful meeting the BHA had with Minister Sadiq Khan in February where Mr Khan agreed that humanist representatives should be involved in relevant discussions on public service delivery and cohesion initiatives. Pepper Harow, Local Campaigns Officer, explained, “All too often the department choose to work exclusively with religious groups. Initiatives such as ‘interfaith week’ as announced last week are planned and implemented without any non-religious voices being heard. This meeting is a big step in trying to change this.”
Discrimination in succession to the Crown must end
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has restated its support for a Bill that seeks to end discrimination in succession to the Crown. BHA Vice President Dr Evan Harris MP is seeking to end centuries of ingrained anti-Catholic and sexist prejudice in the UK Constitution with his Private Member’s Bill: ‘Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill’. Read more on our site.
We need secular public spaces for community life to flourish
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has responded to a new government report “Church and Faith Buildings”. Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive, said, ‘It appears from this report that the Church is using the influence of its “unique legal status as the Established Church” to exert pressure on the Government to include it as a key partner in the provision of welfare, community and other public services – and that the Government is acceding to those demands.’ Read the full story on our website.
British Humanist Association responds on Government’s “interfaith week”
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has responded to the Government’s announcement of its first “interfaith week”. We said, ‘It is of course important that people have some understanding of each other’s beliefs and values and interfaith dialogue can contribute to this, but this “inter faith week” is unlikely to add much to the wider aims of social cohesion and intercultural interaction. The Government is prioritising – and funding – the religious aspect of good relations and social cohesion, with the majority of the UK’s population relegated to a footnote.’ Read the full story on our website
Welcome for inclusion of Humanism in new GCSE
The BHA has welcomed a new GCSE from the OCR exam board that will enable students to study Humanism and humanist organisations as part of a study of religions and beliefs in the modern world. Andrew Copson, director of education at the BHA said, ‘The non-religious, non-religious beliefs such as Humanism, and non-religious organisations like the British Humanist Association and the International Humanist and Ethical Union are significant features in the landscape of belief today. It is great that students will have the chance to study them alongside religions in the pilot GCSE.’
23rd April, Annual Voltaire Lecture, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, 6pm for 6.30pm start, The Guilt of Science? Race, Science and Darwin: a lecture by Kenan Malik. Chaired by Polly Toynbee. Cost is £5 for members of the British Humanist Association or South Place Ethical Society; £7 for non-members. Tickets can be bought online through the shop here for those wishing to pay by debit or credit card. Alternatively you can send a cheque made payable to “British Humanist Association” and clearly marked “FOR VOLTAIRE LECTURE” with your name and a return address, to 1 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HD.
6th June, ‘Darwin, Humanism and Science’, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, 10am – 5.30pm. This day conference will open with a keynote speech from Richard Dawkins and close with a keynote from A C Grayling. In between we will be hearing from speakers on topics to do with increasing understanding of evolution and its implications, including James Williams from Sussex University and Johan de Smedt of Ghent University who will speak about the cognitive biases that can prevent acceptance of evolution. Cost is £15 including coffee and tea but not lunch. Tickets can be bought online through the shop for those wishing to pay by debit or credit card. Alternatively you can send a cheque made payable to “British Humanist Association” and clearly marked “FOR DARWIN, HUMANISM AND SCIENCE” with your name and a return postal address, email address and telephone number, to 1 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HD.
Camp Quest UK is now taking bookings for July 2009! Camp Quest UK is a week-long residential summer camp program for the children of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and all those who subscribe to a naturalistic, rather than supernatural, worldview. The camp combines outdoor activities like climbing, zip wire, canoeing and archery with fun and educational activities which stimulate critical thinking, curiosity and humanist ethics. The theme for the camp this year is evolution and so several of the activities will reflect that, but the activities will also include crafts, Philosophy for Children (P4C), drama, talks on famous humanists and other freethinkers and on astronomy. Our counsellors come from a variety of backgrounds and we intend the camp to be a place where everyone can share their thoughts and ideas in a safe environment and where children are encouraged to explore their interests, whatever they might be. Camp runs from 27th – 31st July 2009 and is held in Bruton, Somerset. Cost: £275 all inclusive (Discounts available for more than one child). Please register soon to avoid disappointment! Click here for more information
25th April, ‘Science and Religion’, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, Baroness Mary Warnock, best-selling science writer Simon Singh, Scientist Jack Cohen and Stephen Law will be looking at God, the Big Bang and a host of science-and-religion related topics. Tickets are just £5 for BHA members (£10 for non-members). Find out more here.
3rd May 2009, LSS: Manzoor Moghal – Religions and Misguided Government Policies, Secular Hall, 75 Humberstone Gate, Leicester LE1 1WB, Starts at 6.30pm. ‘I will be talking about how religions have begun to acquire an inappropriate role in our society, how this has been brought about and encouraged by government policies, and how the net effect of this is a fragmentation into faith groups. I will focus on the education system and various faith activities funded by the government and discuss a shift towards religious rather than national identity.’ Manzoor Moghal chairs the Leicester-based Muslim Forum. Free. A collection will be taken.
TAKE ACTION! Campaigners in over 50 countries are gearing up to mark the 5th International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th. The IDAHO committee in conjunction with “Transgender Europe” and “Gender Dynamix” have launched an international appeal “to reject transphobia and respect gender identity” and there is an on-line petition to sign. Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK Campaigner explained “In the UK, we will focus on human rights and violations against trans people around the world, and work with other campaigners to publicise and celebrate the services which do exist , and identify the many gaps in service provision”. Professor Stephen Whittle commented “Press for Change welcomes the IDAHO campaign and we will be working closely with them”. Details of the campaign can be seen on www.idahomophobia.org
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