Birmingham Humanists meeting, 21 November: Ariane Sherine

You may be interested in the next meeting of Birmingham Humanists, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 21 November. Ariane Sherine, the comedy writer and journalist who created the Atheist Bus Campaign, as well as the bestselling celebrity book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, will be giving a talk, based on her new book Talk yourself better.

The meeting will be held at Moseley Exchange, 149–153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP.

We’ve all watched films and telly programmes featuring therapists, such as The Sopranos – but what’s the best way to access therapy in real life if you’re not a mafia boss? What’s the difference between therapy and counselling, or CBT and psychoanalysis? And why pay a stranger to listen to you in the first place? Can’t a good friend provide a shoulder to cry on?

In her talk Ariane will answer all these questions and more, demystifying once and for all the secret world of therapy – with plenty of laughs along the way. She’ll also be signing copies of Talk yourself better after the talk.

Ariane has written for BBC1’s My Family, Channel 4’s Countdown and BBC2’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, as well as for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Observer, New Statesman and The Spectator.

Please note: this event is not organised by Shropshire Humanists.

Some local events of interest to humanists in Shropshire

Some events that may be of interest to Shropshire humanists. Please note that SHG is not organising these, so we can take no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

Weds 15 November, 7.30 pm: Birmingham Humanists, Atheism versus Humanism, Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP

Mon 20 November, 7.30 pm: South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, Religion and Medicine in Conflict, United Reformed Church, 73 High Street, Church Stretton, SY6 6BY

Thurs 7 December, 10 am: U3A Philosophy Group, Socratic Dialogue on Humanism, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

Do have a look what is happening at the Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group in Ludlow (email) and Engaging Issues in Church Stretton (Lesley Richards, 01694 722068).

7 June: Birmingham Humanists 50th anniversary conference, ‘Humanism: the way forward’

Saturday, 7 June:  ‘Humanism: the way forward’, a day of talks and discussion to celebrate the Birmingham Humanists‘ 50th anniversary, with speakers including Kate Smurthwaite, 10.30am–3.30pm. The meeting takes place at the MAC, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH. Cost: £10. You can book by sending a cheque, made out to Birmingham Humanists, to Carolyn Sugden, 37 Devonshire Road, Birmingham B20 2PB, or by making payment to their PayPal account (

10.30 coffee & cake
11.00 Prof Colin Campbell
11.45 Pavan Dhaliwal (BHA)
12.15 Short presentations: Uganda Humanist schools, Sunday Assembly, etc.
1.00 Lunch
1.45 Workshops
2.30 Panel
3.15 Kate Smurthwaite
4.00 close

The fee is £10 (concessions £5) and it promises to be an inspiring day!

Interesting meetings at nearby groups

March has been a great month for interesting meetings in Shropshire and around, and there are more still to come.

Sanal Edamaraku Birmingham Humanists has a visit from Sanal Edamaraku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, on Friday, 22 March 2013 at 7.30 pm at the  Moseley Exchange, 149–153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP.

For many years Sanal has campaigned against superstition, helping to expose frauds and supposed mystical happenings. In 2012 he was charged with hurting religious sentiments for his role in examining a claimed miracle at a local Catholic church. At present he is travelling in Europe, campaigning in defence of free speech and against blasphemy laws.

Everyone is welcome. Please note that the Moseley Exchange building is fully accessible, with disabled access to meeting rooms via a lift, and with hearing loops.

Ludlow and Marches Humanists present The struggle against religious privilege. led by Dan Bye of the National Secular Society. Tuesday 19 March , 2013 at 7:30 pm at The Friends’ Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow.

And don’t miss our own meeting on Thursday 21 March, advertised separately.

Reason Week at the University of Birmingham, 25 February to 1 March

25th Feb – 1st March 2013  is Reason Week at the University of Birmingham Atheist, Secular & Humanist Society (UB:ASH), and they have some interesting talks and discussions lined up.  These are open to all. Unfortunately they haven’t given exact details of all events so confirm times and locations at their Facebook page.

List of speakers – rooms and times to be confirmed:
Monday 25 Feb: Andrew Copson (Chief Executive of the BHA) – Blasphemy by the Backdoor
Tuesday 26 Feb: Maryam Namazie (Human rights activist) – Apostasy and Freedom of Conscience. Arts Building Room 201
Wednesday 27 Feb: David Pollock (Former President of the European Humanist Federation) – The Church’s Influence on Education
Thursday 28 Feb: Dr Allan Hayes (University of Leicester)- topic to be confirmed
Friday 1 March: Prof. Paul Sturges (Loughborough University)- Defamation of Religion

Lunch time (13:00-14:00) discussions and collaborations – rooms to be confirmed:
Monday 25 Feb: Collaboration with Interfaith Association – Interfaith Marriage
Tuesday 26 Feb: Collaboration with Christians in Science – Has Science Buried God?
Wednesday 27 Feb: Collaboration with Islamic Society – Islamophobia
Thursday 28 Feb: Collaboration with Fetish Society and LGBTQ – Sexuality and Religion
Friday 01 March: Collaboration with Philosophy Society – Euthanasia: The Right to Die

UB:ASH writes: 

The  UB:ASH is proud to present Reason Week 2013 –  an exclusive event with opportunities to inquire, and hopefully leave you feeling inspired!”We will be joined by other student societies to engage in frank, but respectful discussions about issues relating to religion, science and their impact on everyday life, as well as welcoming high-profile speakers who will be giving lectures on various interesting topics. This is a free and open event, so come along if you have any burning questions, a thirst for knowledge, or you simply want to learn what other people think. We are very excited to host Reason Week, and we hope to see as many of you there as possible.

“N.B.: As a group, we promote tolerance and respect. Religion is a topic that needs academic challenge, not conflict. So agression will not be tolerated. We encourage people from every belief group to come along and participate in what we hope will be engaging discussions, and to learn what other groups think without giving or taking offense.”

It doesn’t matter whether you are current student / ex-student / aspiring student / never been a student  ……you are welcome to attend.

Invitation from Birmingham Humanists

What Can You Say?

Public event by Birmingham Humanists

Friday, 14 December 2012, 19:30
David Allen Green (Jack of Kent) on free speech, free press, social media, injunctions, libel, blasphemy and giving/taking offence…

Read David’s blog at http://

Plus End of Year Party!The Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Birmingham B13 8JP

Darrel Ray’s talk on the ‘God Virus’

The trip to Moseley last Saturday was enjoyable and well worth the effort. Darrel Ray is a good speaker who has given the “God Virus” talk several times over the past 6 months or so.

It has been filmed on at least 3 occasions and can be viewed online via the links below:

New York City Atheists

You Tube (The talks given in San Diego and Ireland + other snippets)

I’ve not watched them myself but, of the three, the opening of the San Diego talk seemed closest to the version he gave last Saturday.

He admitted that the title of the talk (and book) was chosen to catch the eye and proved a useful framework within which he highlighted the many similarities between viral infection and the spread of religions by a mixture of hypnotism, guilt, cultural activities, peer pressure etc.

Whilst personally I found his argument (that all religions are in reality completely separate viruses that manipulate aspects of human behaviour) hard to accept, most of the talk effectively addressed the matter of “How religion infects our lives and culture”.

Copies of his book are available from

The talk gave me the opportunity to meet, among others, members of the Lichfield and Birmingham Humanists. The latter have an on-going project to enhance communication between all humanist/secularist groups in the Midlands and maintain a Calendar to advertise events organised by the various groups. This can be viewed at

Report by Bob Coalbran