BBC The Big Questions: Should humanists have the same rights as religious people?

In this episode, one of the three questions discussed was the rather oddly phrased “Should humanists have the same rights as religion?”

Humanist marriage was the main topic discussed, but whether humanism should be on religious education syllabuses was also touched on.

Amongst the contributors are Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association and Julian Huppert MP.

You can find the link here to watch the programme for 30 days after broadcast.

You may wonder why the question even needs debating in the 21st century. You may be puzzled by the rant by one person that humanism is the work of the devil, but as another speaker said, that shows why we need to keep the right to mock.

The BHA on humanist marriage and campaigning on ‘faith’ schools

BHA logo

Important update on humanist marriage: Labour and Lib Dems both adopt legalisation of humanist marriage as party policy

Last week we reported to you that the legalisation of humanist marriages in England and Wales was being blocked by Number 10 on the advice of the Conservatives’ election strategist, citing it as a distracting ‘fringe issue’.

The Government’s report, published last Thursday, goes to extraordinary lengths to justify [denying] couples the right to express their commitment to one another in the way that they choose.

That same day however, the Labour Party announced it would legalise humanist marriage if returned to power in May 2015. The Liberal Democrats have stated they remain committed to legalising humanist marriage as well, despite the block from Number 10 preventing it from going ahead at this time.

This remains depressing news for couples in England and Wales who were planning on having a legal humanist wedding early in 2015. Next year, though humanist couples can still have a highly personalised, warm, and fitting humanist wedding ceremony to suit their needs and wishes, they will as before be required to attend an additional register office ceremony in order to become legally married.

We should take heart from these recent developments, and in the meantime, continue to reflect on and celebrate the joy of couples in Scotland, where humanist marriage has been legal since 2005. It has since overtaken Catholic marriages for popularity, and on 31 December, the first same-sex couple to be married in Scotland under the new law on same-sex weddings will be a humanist couple. Our warmest congratulations go out to them and all the other happy couples now and in the new year.

Help us to continue funding our ‘faith’ schools campaigner

We’re at 50% for our appeal to continue employing our Faith Schools Campaigner in 2015. We urgently need to reach 100% of our target so we can continue to employ Richy and keep up the great work he is doing to challenge and reverse the spread of ‘faith’ schools in England and Wales.

Richy’s successes in 2014 include:

  • facilitating three former members of staff at Park View School in whistleblowing, well before any ‘Trojan Horse’ letter appeared, and supporting them in speaking out across the media, prompting a range of reforms and rule changes around school inspections.
  • getting evolution added to the English primary-age curriculum, and getting Government to ban all state-funded schools in England and Wales from teaching creationism as scientifically valid
  • successfully challenging the London Oratory School’s admissions policy, resulting in it being found to use its ‘faith’ school status to select pupils on racially and socially selective grounds, as well as 105 other Admissions Code breaches

Whatever you can afford to give – whether that’s £5, £50, or £500 – a gift to help us to continue employing our Faith Schools Campaigner will go a long way to improving the state of education in this country as we move into 2015.

To donate to the appeal, go to www.justgiving.com/nofaithschools and please, give generously.

Humanist, non-religious weddings

Video from the British Humanist Association. For celebrants local to Shropshire, please contact us or see the list on this site under Humanist Celebrants.

Rainbow across my electorate: speech on marriage equality

New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson has parliamentarians roaring in their seats during a debate on marriage equality.

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