Tagged: InterFaith

Universal Rights

A Humanist contribution to a Celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, at the Unitarian Meeting House, Ipswich, 10th December 2008, organised by the local UN Association.

UN-LOGOArticle 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Sometimes, when talking to young people about ethical or political issues, I’ve invited them to consider them from a different point of view – that of an interested, intelligent being from another part of the universe. Suppose there were alien anthropologists, or the equivalent, since they wouldn’t restrict themselves to studying one species – ours. What if they came and simply observed human behaviour. What if they came from a planet where there were no wars, where they’d restricted their population and the damage it might do, where they’d established some sort of harmonious relationship with their environment, where everyone regarded him or herself as part of one society, based on their planet, rather than having national or ethnic boundaries. I think they’d probably regard us as a primitive species.

Sony gets cold feet, and the bmsd

Sony has delayed the launch of a new video game because of fears that the background music may offend Muslims. The music, by Muslim musician Toumani Diabaté from Mali, contains a couple of phrases from the Qur’an. When their attention was drawn to this, Sony decided not to risk offending anyone. Whatever you do, if it’s anything to do with religion, you’re bound to offend someone.

On the BBC news, Muslim journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said more or less the same thing. She was quoted as speaking for British Muslims for a Secular Democracy, which was founded in May this year.

I wouldn’t start from here

Zehra Zaidi’s piece in the Guardian about the latest daft idea from Hazel Blears & Co is spot on. The constant harping on about “community cohesion”, which really means trying to get Muslims and others to all get along, is ridiculous. Can’t they see that the proliferation of faith schools is an obstacle to social harmony?

BlearsThere’ve been many “consultations” that were ostensibly about achieving harmony and understanding, but all they do is exaggerate the differences between people, rather than encourage them to discover what they have in common. Pixie-Dust for Brains Blears is behind the Government’s “Face-to-Face and Side-by-Side: A framework for inter faith dialogue and social action” consultation – another waste of time. In the foreword, she writes:

We have in recent years seen an increase in dialogue between different faith communities which is breaking down barriers, building understanding and strengthening relationships. We have also seen the positive changes that collaborative social action has brought about within our local communities. This growth in ‘active faith’ has seen faith communities putting into practice their values and teachings to enrich and benefit wider society.

SIFRE debate on the Archbishop’s Sharia blunder

Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource is having a debate at the Unitarian Meeting house on Thursday 14 February, starting at 6pm. See our events calendar for details.

SIFRE says,

Speakers from the Christian and Muslim Faiths will debate Rowan William’s thoughts on the accommodation of some aspects of Sharia Law by the English legal system and the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of his proposals by the media and politicians.

Living in a Secular Society

Margaret Nelson led a discussion at a Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource Forum of Faiths on 16 October 2007. The others speakers were Manwar Ali (Muslim), Robin Herne (Pagan) and Shpetim Alimeta (“thinker” of Albanian origin).

For those who don’t know me, I’m a Secular Humanist. I make that qualification because in the States there are Religious Humanists as well as Secular Humanists.

However, in Great Britain and other countries where there are Humanist organisations that are part of the International Humanist & Ethical Union, Humanism is totally non-religious. It’s an approach to life for people who’ve rejected religious and supernatural explanations for life, the universe and everything, and whose ethical outlook is based on our common humanity and our experience. We have a naturalistic view of life, rather than a supernaturalistic one. Science can’t explain everything but it can and does help us to understand our place in the natural world, and where there aren’t any answers, we prefer to leave a question mark, rather than explain the gap in our knowledge with a religious answer.