British Humanist Association (BHA) becomes Humanists UK

The British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity representing non-religious people in the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, has become Humanists UK. The new name, along with a revised new look and feel for the charity, will help the organisation to support more of the millions of non-religious people in the UK to be happier, more confident, and more fulfilled in the one life we have.

In an email to members today, Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

A long, evidence-driven process with focus groups of non-religious people across the UK and research involving over 4,000 of our supporters has helped us arrive at the best possible vehicle for our movement for a fairer world. Humanists UK represents not just a new logo, but a totally new, friendly look that captures the essence of humanism: open, inclusive, energetic, and modern, with people and their stories placed first and foremost in all our broad and varied work.

In our proud 120-year history, we’ve regenerated like this more than once. From a collection of 19th century ethical societies, we became the Ethical Union and then, in the 1960s, the British Humanist Association. The ideas and values we represent have an even prouder and still longer history than this: the thinking and doing of humanists stretches back to the European Enlightenment and has its antecedents in the ancient cultures of Europe, China, India, and many other places. Today this way of thinking is the basic worldview of millions of people in the UK and globally.

The Ethical Union and then the British Humanist Association have helped change Britain, and Humanists UK will continue to be a growing movement at the forefront of social change. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, we ran soup kitchens and housing centres while fighting for the right to air non-religious views in public, chipping away at a censorious Victorian culture. In the mid-twentieth century, we were at the centre of movements to reform the law on homosexuality, abortion, and the death penalty. And since then, we have fought to challenge creationism in our classrooms, guarantee protections for minorities in the workplace, oppose harmful blasphemy laws, and so much else besides.

Over that time, we also pioneered the concept of non-religious funerals and weddings, allowing people to mark life’s turning points with authenticity. We offer the same services today, along with new services like non-religious pastoral support, and our celebrants are still the very best you’ll find anywhere.

The charity has unveiled its new look this week, across its website and social media channels. The first Humanists UK event will be the Humanists UK Convention in Cambridge over 9-11 June 2017, which will bring together nearly 600 humanists for a weekend of comedy, arts, and science, in celebration of the charity’s varied work for a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail.

Notes

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

For media enquiries, please contact Humanists UK Communications Manager Liam Whitton .

Advertisements

BHA responds to the Archbishops’ letter

From the BHA, 6 May 2017

In a letter written to the Parishes and Chaplaincies of the Church of England ahead of the 2017 general election, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have argued for faith to continue to play a central role in politics, and denounced the growing secularism of the United Kingdom.

In the letter, the Archbishops write:

This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and reimagine our shared values as a country and a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time. Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God’s world will all play a shaping role….

Contemporary politics needs to re-evaluate the importance of religious belief. The assumptions of secularism are not a reliable guide to the way the world works, nor will they enable us to understand the place of faith in other people’s lives…

Religious belief is the well-spring for the virtues and practices that make for good individuals, strong relationships and flourishing communities. In Britain, these embedded virtues are not unique to Christians, but they have their roots in the Christian history of our four nations…

Political responses to the problems of religiously-motivated violence and extremism, at home and overseas, must… recognise that solutions will not be found simply in further secularisation of the public realm. Mainstream religious communities have a central role to play; whilst extremist narratives require compelling counter-narratives that have a strong theological and ideological foundation.

Responding to the letter, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘This is a letter to a country that no longer exists. The public today overwhelmingly recognise that sound virtues and ethics are not the preserve of the religious nor “spring” from Christianity. That is just a self-aggrandising lie, and an insult to the majority of the British people who have non-religious beliefs and values and contribute enormously to British life as they have for generations.

‘The Archbishops  are right that our country stands at a crossroads but they are wrong to say that greater religious privilege is the path that will lead to a happier future. The cause of social cohesion and a peaceful society will not be advanced by the special pleading of already powerful elites whose beliefs have no popular support, but by the creation of a shared national life that treats everyone equally, regardless of religion or belief.

‘Polls show that British people also believe that religion is already too privileged. The Church of England in particular often uses that privilege today to harm others. The most glaring example is the way in which many of its fully state-funded schools continue to turn away those of other religions and beliefs in their admissions – a practice that may shortly be extended – and shut out poorer children. If the Archbishops want to do their bit for a better Britain they should put their own house in order before lecturing others.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on richy@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3072.

Read the letter: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/electionletter_TEXT.pdf

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

BHA and Young Humanists move to protect non-religious parents with guide on religion in schools

From the British Humanist Association, 20 April 2017:

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and Young Humanists have published today a comprehensive guide for non-religious parents and young people, offering support and advice on how to navigate an education system increasingly subject to undue religious influence. The guide comes in the week that parents all over England discovered at which primary school their children have been offered a place for the next school year.

Religion in schools: a guide for non-religious parents and young people in England and Wales is free to download from the BHA’s website and aims to ensure that non-religious people are fully aware of their rights and the law as it relates to ‘faith’ schools and religion in schools more generally. The advice covers a range of areas, including Religious Education, Collective Worship, school admissions, and the teaching of Science, all of which can pose particular problems for non-religious families.

Currently, a third of state schools in England and Wales are ‘faith’ schools, meaning non-religious parents in England and Wales have access to around 7,000 fewer appropriate schools, or nearly two million fewer places, than their religious counterparts. Depending on their type, these schools can religiously discriminate in their admission arrangements, employment policies, and delivery of the curriculum, all of which has a deleterious effect on the rights of non-religious parents. What is more, the law still requires schools without a religious character to hold daily acts of Christian worship, meaning that even parents who have specifically chosen to avoid ‘faith’ schools cannot completely escape religious proselytising.

Commenting on the publication of the new guide, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Despite the fact that as a society we are now much more diverse, and much more non-religious, the school system has only become more and more permissive to religious influence in recent years. This guide builds on the decades of support that the BHA has provided to parents and young people caught in the crossfire of this long-standing tension between religion and education, and will hopefully equip them to challenge unlawful and discriminatory practice wherever they find it.’

Lauren Nicholas, coordinator of the BHA’s 18-35s section Young Humanists, added, ‘Well over two-thirds of young people in Britain state that they do not belong to any religion, and nearly half of the population as a whole now say they are non-religious. And yet, whether it’s being denied access to your local school, being forced to pray to a god you don’t believe in, or being taught a narrow and doctrinaire religious education curriculum, non-religious people have never encountered a more hostile education system than the one they face now. We are a maligned majority. Ultimately we must repeal the legal freedoms allowing religion to run amok in our schools, but until then this guide will do a great deal to protect the rights of parents.’

Notes

For further comment or information please contact BHA Education Campaigns Manager Jay Harman on jay@humanism.org.uk or 0207 324 3078.

Read the ‘Guide for non-religious parents and young people’: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017-04-19-BHA-guide-for-non-religious-parents.pdf

Read more about the BHA’s work on:

Young Humanists is the 18-35s section of the BHA. Two thirds of Britons between the ages of 18 and 35 are non-religious, according to surveys, and most will share humanist values even if that’s not a term they’ve come across. Young Humanists exists to offer a space for non-religious people aged 18-35 to meet, socialise, debate and support each other.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

British Humanist Association videos

There are many videos on the British Humanist Association YouTube channel. They include lectures by distinguished speakers, panel discussions and specially-produced videos on Humanism.

Why not have a look?

Among the recent additions, the Holyoake lecture 2016 by Owen Jones:

BHA Convention and Humanist Professionals Conference, 9 to 11 June

From the BHA: The Humanist Professionals Conference, taking place in Cambridge during the daytime on Friday 9 June. This conference has been organised to take place alongside the BHA Convention 2017, which is running from Friday evening through to 16:00 on Sunday 11 June.

The Humanist Professionals Conference is an excellent opportunity to share experiences and best practice with others, with CPD that will be relevant and useful to everyone who might attend: school speakers, pastoral support volunteers, dialogue officers, and celebrants. The day is also open to those who might not be involved with the BHA in any of the above ways, but who would like to be. There’s been strong interest, and half the tickets are gone already.

There will be twelve sessions – plenary and parallel – throughout the day, covering a wide gamut of topics and interests:

  • Getting involved with Community Services
  • Pre-need funerals and pastoral support
  • Marketing yourself
  • Producing a good PowerPoint
  • How to ask good questions
  • Prison Education
  • How to speak to young people about Humanism – and answer tricky questions
  • Developing a voice you can rely on
  • Debating and dialogue techniques
  • Making use of symbolic gestures in your work
  • Successful peer assessment

The Humanist Professionals Conference is free to those also attending the BHA Convention 2017, or just £49 as a standalone event.

The BHA Convention 2017 will take place from 17:30 on Friday 9 June until 16:00 on Sunday 11 June, featuring dozens of speakers on myriad topics. Even three months out, it’s already our biggest Convention ever.

Join us and hear from theoretical physicist and BHA Vice President Jim Al-Khalili; comedian and BHA President Shappi Khorsandi; Humanist of the Year and author of the ‘Dubs amendment’ that committed the government to accepting more child refugees, Lord Alf Dubs; Julia Ebner, policy analyst at the Quilliam Foundation; oceanographer and physicist Helen Czerski; and many, many more.

15 November: Andrew Copson talking to Ludlow and Marches Humanists on religious education. Car-sharing

On Tuesday 15 November, Andrew Copson, the Chief Executive of the BHA will be taling in Ludlow on ‘Religious Education – an update’. Andrew should be updating us on the implications and reaction to recent moves announced by Teresa May to allow 100% religious selection at faith schools. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the Friends’ Meeting House (St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ).

We hope he will have a big turnout, but we know that it can be tiresome and expensive travelling to Ludlow from Shrewsbury, Telford and points north. Therefore we are hoping to arrange car sharing. If anyone would like to offer, or if you need a lift, please contact us through admin@shropshire.humanist.org.uk and we’ll try to help.

BHA: New research shows that 100% religiously selective schools will promote racial segregation

From the British Humanist Association:

New research carried out the BHA’s Faith Schools Campaigner has rubbished the Government’s claims that plans for a new generation of 100% religiously selective English schools will not lead to further ethnic or religious segregation. The Government had claimed that the cap has had no impact in reducing ethnic segregation.

The research, which is based on data provided in the Government’s recent green paper on increasing selection in English schools, has found that Christian schools with a 100% religiously selective intake are less diverse and admit a far higher proportion of children classified as ‘of white origin’ than schools which operate under the 50% cap on religious selection or do not select on religious grounds at all.

The research has also shown that the existing 50% cap on religious discrimination in schools has been more effective in reducing racial segregation in non-Christian ‘faith’ schools than the Government has given it credit for. We continue to call on MPs to resist attempts at permitting further religious segregation. Please remember to write to your MP via our facility to voice your concerns about these worrying new proposals.

 

%d bloggers like this: