20 October meeting: AGM and discussion on multi-culturalism

As usual in October, Shropshire Humanist Group will be having its AGM. It is at the University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ at 19.30.
We have been delighted to see so many new faces in the audiences this year, and we hope that as many as possible of you will come to the AGM. We welcome new ideas and hopefully some new members on the committee to increase our activities.
And also as usual we shall follow the AGM (time permitting) with a discussion.
This year the proposed topic is Multi-culturalism: to what extent is it possible or desirable in a cohesive society? Are there limits? Here are some thoughts:

SHG has contributed at multicultural events this year and these events tend to present multiculturalism as the continuation of the ancestral folk music and dances and traditional clothing of particular groups. However, at the other end, some ‘communities’ continue to practise forced marriage, female genital mutilation, coercion of women and attacks on those who leave the shared religion. These practices would be regarded as abhorrent by humanists, and are at least in theory mostly illegal. There have been reports of the authorities colluding in these, for example, police returning abused wives to their husbands.
The question is, where should we draw the line? Should ‘communities’ be allowed to practise and regulate customs that deviate from what is considered normally acceptable in British society, and to what extent should they be allowed to practise compulsion on their members? Should the government support those who leave their religion or try to escape coercion?

Again, we would welcome an offer to open and lead the discussion from someone not on the current committee.
Please contact the Secretary or use the contact form on this site.

15 September: SHG meeting with Imam Sohayb Peerbhai on Islam

Pilgrims performing Tawaf (circumambulating the Kaaba). This picture was taken from the gate of Abdul Aziz. Taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Pilgrims performing Tawaf (circumambulating the Kaaba). This picture was taken from the gate of Abdul Aziz. Taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (copyright).

The next SHG meeting will feature Imam Sohayb Peerbhai. Sohayb, who is a friend of our Chair and colleague of his on SACRE and Interfaith Forums, has kindly agreed to come to talk to us about Islam.

Sohayb will start with a short talk on current issues in Islam and will then answer questions. We anticipate that there will be lots questions and so we would be grateful if you would email your questions to us before the meeting. We will group the questions to prevent duplication. To help Sohayb to provide a succinct and considered response, we will send the questions to him before the meeting. However, everyone is free to ask other questions on the evening, time permitting.

7.30 pm on Thursday 15th September, in the University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, SY3 8HQ. The Guildhall is next to the Theatre Severn. There is plenty of free parking outside.

Shropshire Humanist Group at the Multi-Cultural Fun Day, 17 September

hThe Shropshire Humanist Group has a stand at the Multi-Cultural Fun Day on 17th September in the grounds of the United Reform Church near the English Bridge in Shrewsbury.
We are there to reflect our humanist support for human rights, our stand against discrimination and to emphasise that, although we live without religion, we support religious freedom as well as freedom to live without religion.
Do come if you can. It should be fun!
Our chair Simon Nightingale, who will be at the stand, would welcome support. Please contact us through the contact form.

Shropshire Humanist Group at the Shrewsbury Cultural Diversity day, Saturday 23rd July

Cultural Diversity DayThe Shropshire Humanist Group has a table/stand at the Shrewsbury Cultural Diversity day on Saturday 23rd July in the Square in Shrewsbury from 12 noon until 4.30pm.

We are there to reflect our humanist support for human rights, our stand against discrimination and to emphasise that, although we live without religion, we support religious freedom as well as the freedom to live without religion.

Introduction to Humanism: course in Shrewsbury Sept and Oct 2016

There will be an introductory course on Humanism in Shrewsbury this autumn. The course consists of 6 sessions, each lasting 2 hours (7 – 9 pm) on a Wednesday at weekly intervals in September and October 2016. The venue will probably be the University Centre in Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury (to be confirmed).

This course is intended for anybody who is interested in humanism and wishes to find out more about its principles and the activities of humanists. No previous knowledge of humanism or philosophy is required.

The course will be limited to 20 participants. You do not need to be a member of the British Humanist Association, but we would prefer (but don’t insist) that you are a member of the Shropshire Humanist Group.

A course folder, which is distributed at the beginning of the course, includes all the material needed for the discussions on which the course is based. Participants are encouraged to read the material in advance, so that they can bring contributions and questions to each session.

What do humanists believe? Sept 14
What are the historical roots of humanism? Sept 21
Where do humanists get their moral values? Sept 28
How do humanist handle moral dilemmas? Oct 5
What is the meaning and purpose of life for humanists? Oct 12
What do humanists do? Review of course. Oct 19
Meal for all participants

There will be a fee of £20 for the course to cover expenses. We plan to have a meal together after the last session. Any fee surplus will subsidise this.

If you would like to come to the course and/or join the SHG, please contact the Secretary through this site.

Entirely the wrong direction of travel: Church of England announces 100 more church schools

BHA logoFrom the British Humanist Association:

The Church of England’s educational empire-building continues, with its recent announcement of plans to build more than 100 discriminatory Anglican ‘free schools’, which will have the legal right to select 50% of school places on the basis of religion.

As if that weren’t bad enough, other major players in our sorry ‘faith’ schools sector are pushing for that cap to be lifted. The Catholic Church, for example, is determined to be able to discriminate with 100% of places at its new schools. A national charity responsible for promoting ‘free schools’, the New Schools Network, has also called for a lift on the cap.

This is all profoundly worrying. At a time when we need more than ever for people of all beliefs and backgrounds to mix together, we are seeing distressing moves towards segregation and discrimination. A Balkanised education system serves no one but the religious establishments which stand to profit from the takeover of education. Their expansion agenda represents a fundamental threat to the rights of children to determine their own beliefs.

Other Christian groups have also been taking advantage of the political chaos and the rise in British nationalism that followed the 23 June ‘Brexit’ vote. Christian Concern, the fundamentalist Christian lobby group, has called for a rollback on decades of progress towards securing equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. It would be irresponsible to be complacent about the threat they could pose.

As ever, we are determined to fight for a fairer education system and for human rights and equality for everyone in Britain, regardless of religion or belief. To do this we need support and encouragement of our members, and just as importantly, the funding that membership provides. If you haven’t already, you can join the BHA today.

Doing so will give a serious boost to our work to promote reason, empathy, and Enlightenment values where they’re needed most.

If you’re already a member, you can support us by encouraging friends to join. One way of doing that today would be to tweet a call to join via this link.

Simon Nightingale on radio: identity, labelling, prejudice and discrimination – and humanism

Simon_NightingaleSimon Nightingale was on BBC Radio Shropshire on Sunday morning talking about identity, labelling, prejudice and discrimination – and humanism.

If you would like to hear it (available for 7 days) go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03yf1r5#play and listen on the time line from 1:16:50 to 1:22:00.


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