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. (Please note: the calendar may be displaying this as 18.30 – this is a technical error.)
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.

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21 April meeting: A discussion on Humanism to follow the introductory talk in March

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 21 April at 7.30 pm at University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. We would welcome someone who has not previously led one of our meetings to be the moderator for this discussion.

Here is a report on the March meeting:

The first meeting in our new venue, the University Centre in Shrewsbury’s quayside, was full with standing room only for Simon Nightingale’s talk “An Introduction to Humanism”.

After defining what we mean by life stance and religion, Simon showed with statistics that that living without religion was now common, particularly in younger people, and becoming more common. He explained with examples our core humanist beliefs. Firstly, naturalism, which is the philosophical concept that only natural laws and forces are at work in the work, rather than supernatural forces. So it follows that humanists deny that is a hidden transcendental realm of existence with gods, ghosts, spirits etc or, of course, an afterlife. Secondly he discussed, with entertaining examples, our core humanist belief that moral capacity is intrinsic to human nature.

Simon went on to talk about the core humanist value of reason, explaining that discovered truth (using rational thought and the scientific method) always trumps revealed truth (obtained from a holy book or by divine revelation). He briefly reviewed our social attitudes, including our commitment to human rights (both nationally and internationally) and our provision of humanist ceremonies and humanist pastoral work (i.e. secular chaplains). He explained our wish for “state secularism”, so that all beliefs and religions are on a level playing field, but he emphasised that we were not against religion per se and indeed we strongly support religious freedom and oppose religious discrimination.

He ended with an account of how humanists also have “spiritual feelings”, for example in response to great art, the majesty of nature or profound emotions, but that we believe these originate in our minds, our brains, rather than coming from some divine influence. Simon ended with an explanation of how humanists consider the question “What is the meaning of life?” As with spirituality, he showed that meaning and value are human constructs and so can be understood by anyone, rather than needing a priest or holy book.

We had invited many people with religious faith, for example from the field of Religious Education and Interfaith Forums, so Simon was keen to disabuse them of the commonly held myths about humanism and others living without religion. These myths include that we are few in number, that we are against religion, that we have no morality or sense of spirituality or that our lives are without meaning and value. However the talk was mainly for those who live without religion and we were very pleased in the large number of attendees who asked to be kept on our mailing list or were keen to attend our planned Humanism Course later this year.

15 October: AGM and discussion on the ethics of eating meat

Our AGM takes place on 15 October. We welcome both members and others who may be interested in joining.

Many people say that they are humanists but didn’t know it until they discovered humanism. Please come and help us make everyone aware of what humanism is and what the British Humanist Association does.

We would like some new people to come and help us on the committee and continue our work next year.

The AGM will be followed by a discussion on the ethics of eating meat. There is not only the humane argument about breeding and eating animals, but also the question of the resources required to provide meat. What’s your view? Please come along and contribute.

Thursday 15 October at 7.30 pm at The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG. Donations are requested to cover the cost of room hire, refreshments etc.

Change of topic at 17 September meeting: The refugee crisis

In view of the major humanitarian crisis, particularly resulting from the Syrian conflict, but also from situations  in other countries, we have changed the next meeting to a discussion of the situation.

If you were Prime Minister, what would you do? What actions can individuals take? Should humanists take a particular political position on the crisis?

All are welcome. We would be particularly happy if anyone not on the committee would like to lead the discussion!

The meeting is on Thursday 17 September at 7.30 pm at The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG. Donations are requested to cover the cost of room hire, refreshments etc.

Meeting on 21 May: tell us what’s on your mind

Hot Potato IssuesIs an issue bothering you that humanists ought to be concerned with?

Members and non-members are invited to propose topics that humanists might be particularly interested in for short discussions. You may particularly wish to raise an issue that doesn’t get aired often in the media or that many people don’t know about.

The format will probably comprise 3 to 4 separate issues, with no more than 5 minutes introduction by the proposer and a maximum of 20 minutes open discussion.

Please send a short title for your topic to the Secretary in advance of the meeting.

Topics could be chosen for a full meeting next year, or a campaign that SHG could support.

The meeting is at 7.30 pm at The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG. All are welcome. Donations are requested to cover the cost of room hire, refreshments etc.

September meeting: Should we judge the past by the standards of today?

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There is no meeting of the group in August.

For 18 September at 7.30 pm at The Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG,  we are proposing a member-led discussion on the subject of whether we should or can judge the past by the moral and ethical standards of today. Should we, for example, condemn slavery and the oppression of women? This was topical recently as a result of Richard Dawkins’s comments on the sexual molestation that he and others received when he was at school.

We would be delighted to hear from anyone outside the committee who would be willing to introduce and moderate the discussion. Please contact us for reference materials to stimulate discussion.

April meeting

The next meeting is Thursday 19 April, 7:30pm at the Lantern, Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury SY1 4NG. Helen Taylor will lead a discussion about “A Right to Object?  Conscientious objection and religious conviction”, a recent publication from the Humanist Philosophers’ Group.

Looking forward to meeting more of you during the year. Visitors welcome.

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