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 .

BHA: Please, help us fight blasphemy laws

From the British Humanist Association:

The news that our patron Stephen Fry is under criminal investigation in Ireland for allegedly committing ‘blasphemy’ is enough to send chills down your spine. We’re urging the Irish Government to repeal its blasphemy law (passed in 2009), and we remain extremely concerned by a growing trend of European countries, such as Denmark and Ireland, re-activating ‘dormant’ blasphemy laws to silence criticism of religion.

This trend has to stop, and we need to grow and scale up our campaigns against blasphemy laws – everywhere in the world. Please, if you haven’t joined us already, will you join the BHA today?

We also have reason to be concerned by a startling letter published by the Church of England at the weekend, which urged even greater influence for religion in UK politics, claiming Christianity as an exclusive ‘wellspring’ of moral values, and condemning secularism – the very best guarantee we all have of being treated fairly, whatever your religion or belief.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the religious lobbies were trying to drag us back decades and erase the social progress we’ve all fought for, tooth and nail, in spite of religious lobbying. As Stephen Fry once said, in times like these, ‘it is essential to nail one’s colours to the mast as a humanist.’ If you haven’t joined us already, please, don’t put it off.

BHA defends its patron Stephen Fry in face of Irish blasphemy probe

BHA responds to Archbishops’ general election letter

Man sentenced to death for apostasy as violence against non-religious across Islamic states continues

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Many humanists are interested in matters relating to death and dying for various reasons, such as humanist funerals, topical issues such as assisted dying and existential questions about life and death. During Dying Matters Awareness Week (8-14th May), there are three public events in Shropshire.

SHREWSBURY 10TH MAY
On Wednesday 10th of May at 6.60pm, Dignity and Dying, who are supporting Noel Conway in his high court action to enable assisted dying, are holding a meeting for a new Shropshire branch in the Hobbs room of Shrewsbury Library.

SHREWSBURY 12TH MAY
Dying Matters Shropshire is holding a public event in the Square Shrewsbury on Friday 12th May from 10am to 2pm. There will be crafts, a talking about death & dying cafe, florist and so much more, encouraging the public to talk about death and dying asking people what they want to do before they die, and how they would like to be remembered. Simon Nightingale will be there (in the morning) to answer questions abut humanism and humanist funerals. Come and join us! For more details see here.

TELFORD 12TH MAY
Dying Matters Shropshire is also holding a public event called “You only Die Once” in the Telford Shopping Centre (TF3 4BX) from 9 am to 6pm on Friday 12th May. It will outside Pandora, which is near Marks and Spencer. There will be representatives from community health teams, Samaritans, Hospice etc. Humanism will be represented there with a table display staffed by some of the local humanist funeral celebrants, including Sue Falder and Simon Nightingale (in the afternoon). Come and join us.

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.

Humanist garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show: request for assistance and contributions

We are aiming to have a garden celebrating Humanism at the Shrewsbury Flower Show this year, 11 and 12 August. It will be designed by Carol Seager.

This is an opportunity to put Humanism before possibly as many as 100,000 visitors.

Help with money, fundraising and practical help in the week before and during the show are all welcome.

As visitors come to the Show from all over the north of England and further away, other Humanist Groups may wish to use this opportunity to advertise.

Please contact through the Contacts page us if you are interested in helping!

Introduction to Humanism: course in Telford this autumn

Following the success of the course we held in 2016, we are repeating it in Telford this year. The course consists of 6 sessions, each lasting 2 hours (7 – 9 pm) on a Wednesday at weekly intervals from the end of September to the beginning of November 2017. The venue will be The Meeting Point House at Telford Shopping Centre, Southwater Square, Telford TF3 4HS.

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. There will be a fee of £20 for the course to cover expenses.

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.

Sept 27th, What do humanists believe?
Oct 4th, What are the historical roots of humanism?
Oct 11th, Where do humanists get their moral values?
Oct 18th, How do humanist handle moral dilemmas?
Oct 25th, What is the meaning and purpose of life for humanists?
Nov 1st, What do humanists do? Review of the course.
Date to be arranged: Meal for all participants

If you would like to come to the course and/or join the SHG, please contact us through the contact page.

Simon Nightingale gives an introduction to Humanism at Shrewsbury U3A

Shrewsbury U3A member and chair of Shropshire Humanist Group, Dr. Simon Nightingale outlines the principles of humanism. This talk is a well-structured introduction for anyone interested in humanism, for example, those who believe that it is possible to lead a good life and be a good person without religion will find areas of common interest. Those with religious faith who are interested in learning more of a rapidly growing, influential non-religious world view are especially encouraged to watch the presentation which includes questions from the U3A audience towards the end.

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