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Ten Non-Commandments – John Palmer

John PalmerIn 1963 the magazine New Society ran an article by Ronald Fletcher, then a lecturer in sociology at Bedford College, London, entitled “A Humanist’s Decalogue”. The author was suggesting an updated version of the Biblical list of dos and don’ts as a set of non-commandments – “principles on which the individual must work out his/her own conduct when faced by particular problems”. The article was one of a series dealing especially with young people’s values.  Fletcher’s four page article expanded on each non-commandment. Ronald Fletcher finished his academic career as Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Reading.

Fletcher’s list made an impression on me, at that time a lad of twenty-something years of age, and I kept the article. I have it still, and although it’s brown with age and getting increasingly tatty, its content still seems relevant to me.

More couples tie the knot with Humanism (in Scotland)

From Humanist Philosopher Julian Baggini’s Herald column; he doesn’t seem overly impressed by the increase in Humanist weddings in Scotland.

Humanist weddings, and other ceremonies, are unusual in that they provide a like-for-like replacement for what religions offer. Since people will always want to mark significant events in life in a shared, public way, once humanist weddings were made legal in Scotland it was inevitable that those who held broadly humanist views would take them up. But I do not expect humanism as a mass movement to gain much from this.

BHA – Bishops must go in Lords reform

Responding to the Ministry of Justice White Paper, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has urged the Government to ensure that there will be no reserved places for Bishops in a reformed House of Lords.

Christian protests may prevent more films of Philip Pullman’s trilogy – The Independent

It looked increasingly unlikely yesterday that cinema audiences will get to see the planned film sequels in Philip Pullman’s children’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Sources in the film industry said that plans for a sequel to The Golden Compass appeared to have been put on ice following the fervent Christian protests surrounding the first film, which led to boycotts and box office disappointment in the United States.

Khaled Diab: Contemplating God-free zones

A typical assumption the religious make is that the absence of God deprives life of essence and meaning – that the cold eye of reason is arrogant and robs life of its soul and mystique. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has colourfully described this as “spiritual homelessness”.

Terry Sanderson: The decision in favour of a registrar who refused to deal with gay couples sets a dangerous precedent

In a decision with potentially disastrous implications for the government’s equality agenda (not to mention the idea of a secular society), an employment tribunal has upheld a claim from a Christian registrar that she suffered direct discrimination after she was “bullied” and “harassed” for refusing to conduct civil partnerships for gay couples.

Latest ‘New Humanist’ out now

July New HumanistThe July edition of New Humanist magazine is on sale, containing articles on the following:

Torch bearers – Politics, religion and money may be wrestling to control the Olympics. But, argues Paul Sims, they’ll never be a match for the sheer drama.

Gender traitors – From 19th century anti-suffragists to today’s anti-feminists, Sally Feldman finds a common link between women who turn against themselves.

The genius myth – Lisa Jardine tells Laurie Taylor why she believes in doubt, precision and uncertainty.

Inside the global rebellion – The 21st century has seen the world rocked by a variety of religious challenges to the secular state. Mark Juergensmeyer went in search of common features.

Mistaken identity – Obsessing about culture traps people in their own history, argues Kenan Malik.

Devon Humanists campaign against council prayers

Further to our earlier report on Babergh District Council’s position on council prayers, Devon Humanists have issued the following press release:

Campaign to end the discriminatory practice of having prayers at Council meetings

Do you know that your local Council starts its meetings with prayers? If you say that to most people nowadays they think that you are joking.

Devon Humanists today announce the launch of a campaign to end the discriminatory practice of having prayers at Council meetings. Spokesman for Devon Humanists, Keith Denby said “The history of local Councils in Britain goes back to Saxon times and in the distant past the Church was very much a part of local administration, so to begin a Council meeting with prayers would have been very natural. But now in the 21st Century, Council taxpayers come from many cultures and belief systems and a large proportion of them do not think that religion should have influence in politics.