Political and social commentator Polly Toynbee has been appointed as the new President of the British Humanist Association (BHA), taking up the office that fell vacant with the death of comedian Linda Smith last year.
Accepting the appointment, Polly said, ‘I am honoured to be appointed President of the BHA at a time when not for many years has there been such a need to promote a Humanist view of the world. Religious fanaticism is the clear and present danger all round the world. We need to oppose religious zealotry by promoting the positive and liberating case for believing life on earth is precious because the here and now is all there is and our destiny is in our own hands. Mankind itself has all the innate moral strength it needs, without inventing divine reward and wrath.
‘Humanism is tolerant of all beliefs, so long as they oppress no-one else, including weak members of their own communities, and so long as they seek no special privileges from the state. The Humanist view of life is progressive and optimistic, in awe of human potential, living without fear of judgement and death, finding enough purpose and meaning in life, love and leaving a good legacy.’
Welcoming the appointment, chief exec Hanne Stinson said, ‘We are all delighted. Polly is highly articulate, and well respected as a commentator on social affairs and religion: just the person we need to raise the profile of the BHA and help us get the views of the people we represent across to government and opinion-formers. She is a great opinion-former herself, and I am sure she will do a wonderful job for us. Linda Smith – the BHA’s much loved President until her tragically early death last year – will be a very hard act to follow, but I am sure that Polly can do it.’