Author: Margaret


We had visitors at the weekend. They’d been to a family reunion where some of their relatives were very old. One of our guests said she’d enjoyed hearing some of an uncle’s reminiscences and about the hardships he’d experienced, without complaining. She felt that younger members of the family had no idea what his life was like at their age. I agreed with our guest that there’s an enormous difference between today’s young people’s expectations and those of their great-grandparents. We wondered how some of the young people we know would cope if they had to do without many of the things they take for granted, like a varied diet, central heating, washing machines and fridges, cars and televisions. Have we produced a lot of softies, we wondered?

Talking about being a Humanist

Suffolk Humanists met in Ipswich on Wednesday 12th April to talk about what it means to be a Humanist.

The small but select gathering (there were absences due to illnesses and holidays) was lively. Some spoke of their frustration that Humanism was not well known, saying they’d heard about it by attending a Humanist funeral. Why aren’t more people aware of Humanism, they asked. There are many reasons for this, including the attitude that since Humanism is common sense, why give it a name or join an organisation? The current religious revival appears to be stirring people out of this sort of complacency, however.

Faith schools – take action today!

A message from Andrew Copson of the BHA – email your MP about faith schools.

The Government’s current Education and Inspections Bill will inevitably lead to a proliferation of ‘faith’ schools and city academies controlled by religious interest groups. Polls show from 64% to 96% of the UK is against this policy. Why then, do most MPs continue to ignore this issue? We need to convince them that opposition to the creeping gift of our education system to religious interests is genuinely and widely held in their constituencies.

The BHA has set up a special online service to allow supporters to email their MP directly with a standard letter on the Education Bill, sign an online petition against faith schools and religious academies, and vote in our online poll. You can find the site at If you would prefer to send a more tailored message to your MP, or write to them by post, please do still take a look at our campaign site above, but we have also provided some notes for letter writers at

Please take action today (emailing your MP from the BHA site only takes a minute), and pass on this message to anyone else you think will be willing to join us in this campaign.

Andrew Copson
British Humanist Association

Safe surfing

BugIn this summary of Internet highlights, some useful tips on avoiding scams and staying secure online. Some of this may sound obvious, but we hear feedback from people who aren’t so confident using the Internet, so this is a straightforward introduction to safe surfing, with some links to great free tools to protect you while you enjoy the web.

Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Rebecca Smithers, Guardian education editor
Friday April 7, 2006

“Teachers are to call for an end to state funding for faith schools in an attempt to halt the growing influence of religious organisations in education and end the controversial teaching of creationism. Britain’s biggest teaching union, the National Union of Teachers, warned yesterday that religious fundamentalists were gaining control of state schools – predominantly through the government’s city academy programme – and some private businesses had too much influence over the curriculum.”

Link: | News crumb | Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Should traditional light bulbs be banned?

Light bulb

Humanism isn’t just about challenging the religionists, or faith schools, or funerals. It’s also about values – about doing the right thing – so if we’re serious about saving the planet (and most would say we are), should we be using traditional light bulbs? Shouldn’t they be banned? Have you got rid of yours?

A 2001 survey of public attitudes to Quality of Life and to the Environment showed that only a third of the respondents regularly used low energy bulbs, which use 67% less energy than traditional bulbs. You can buy low-energy bulbs from all good home supplies retailers, or online from Energy Savers Direct, amongst others. They don’t just help to save the planet – they save you money too.

Suffolk’s new RE syllabus ready for approval

Suffolk County Council’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) met on Friday 31st March to put the finishing touches to the new Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Suffolk. It will be presented to the county council’s cabinet for approval on 6th June.

Humanist SACRE representative Margaret Nelson reports that Humanism will be included in the syllabus, as recommended by the Qualifications & Curriculum Authority’s 2004 non-statutory national framework for RE. Her suggestions regarding the Suffolk syllabus were incorporated in the final draft, such as ensuring that ‘Humanism’ is spelt with a capital letter throughout – it might seem a trivial issue, but signifies that Humanism is a life stance, like Christianity, Hinduism, and the other religions.