The Rationalist Association is aiming to set up a new online community. Caspar Melville of the RA writes: We do not think that irrationalism, intolerance, special interests and dogma should go unquestioned or unanswered. We are building a community that can offer questions and better answers. We want to invite you to our own “raising bee”. You’ll need to register, that is give us your email (and choose a password)....
Yesterday was Darwin Day. It’s not officially recognised, yet, though some people here and in America would like it to be. There’s even talk of making it a public holiday, in recognition of Darwin and his work. But if 12th February is Darwin Day, the 8th January should be Wallace Day, in recognition of the equally important work done by Alfred Russel Wallace, who worked out the theory of Natural...
And now evolution, not creationism, must be included in the science syllabus of British free schools – a reason to celebrate on the 204th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin – Darwin Day.
A brief introduction to the history of death and funerals in England, and attitudes to the same, by Margaret Nelson, retired celebrant and blogger at Dead Interesting.
The recent European Court of Human Rights ruling on religious “discrimination” cases was just one of several significant victories. The Daily Mail, among others, reported that BA staff member Nadia Eweida had won her right to wear a crucifix to work, despite the fact that BA had already changed its uniform policy, but made less of the fact that the three other litigants, Chaplin, Ladele and McFarlane, were unsuccessful in claiming that UK courts had discriminated against them on religious grounds.
The Home Secretary Theresa May has agreed to accept a House of Lords amendment removing the word “insulting ” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. Section 5 has a low prosecution threshold and there have been prosecutions for ridiculously trivial remarks made in public, such as when a student was arrested for telling a mounted policeman that his horse was gay.
The Suffolk Humanist Group was formed in December 1991, so we’re 21 this year. A bunch of us celebrated with a tea party in Hadleigh, Suffolk, today, where members old and new met and reminisced. Thanks to Sue Hewlett for organising the lovely buffet. The cake was lovely – sorry if you missed it, but it’s all gone.
As we celebrate our 21st anniversary, the group’s secretary Denis Johnston, Suffolk SACRE member and SIFRE board member, will be interviewed by Rob Dunger on BBC Radio Suffolk this Sunday at 7.05am. Either set your alarm or listen again later in the day.
A Humanist contribution to a Celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights at University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, 11th December 2012, organised by the local UN Association.
Suffolk Humanists & Secularists hosted the event and chose Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Perhaps the most well known quote about free speech is “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”, which has been attributed to Voltaire but was actually written by his biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, paraphrasing him. It neatly summarises the idea that freedom of speech is worthy of vigorous defence, even when you hate what’s being said.
I was keen to celebrate Article 19 as I value free expression very highly, as do most humanists and secularists. Those who know me won’t be surprised to hear that I frequently disagree with people. I’ve always done it. My school reports made reference to it. It’s never seemed to me that there was anything wrong with disagreement; quite the contrary. It’s how you learn, how you challenge your own and other people’s ideas, how you develop them. My exasperated mother once threatened to burn my books because they provided fuel for my arguments. If she’d carried out her threat, she’d have been following a centuries-old tradition of book-burning in reaction to dissent by religious and political authorities. It still happens today. One of the most recent examples is the public destruction of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses by Bradford Muslims in January 1989. Ironically, the Bradford Muslims didn’t seem to have bothered reading Rushdie’s book before setting fire to it. They were told that it was blasphemous, and that was enough. What was worse was that Rushdie had to go into hiding because the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a death fatwa against him.
Margaret Nelson will be on Terry Baxters’s programme with a local clergyman at 8.05am on Wednesday 12th December to talk about the results of the census, published today. Fewer people are claiming to be Christian and more have identified themselves as atheist. How will this affect the Church’s claim to keep 26 bishops in the House of Lords, especially since none of them will be women, and how will it affect its arguments about same-sex marriage? Is it time to consider disestablishment?