Category Archives: Humanists working with others

If we are serious about our humanist values, we should look for all those who share them, and work with them.

Richard Norman argues in New Humanist magazine that new wave atheism is aggressively antagonistic to religion but it’s more fruitful to find common ground. He writes:

Humanism is more than atheism, it is about putting humanist beliefs and values into practice and trying to make the world a better place. And that is impossible unless we’re prepared to cooperate with others who share those values, including those for whom the values are inseparable from a religious commitment. Continue reading

University classes promote respectful religious debate

The Comombus Dispatch reports on a new project at Ohio University that aims to teach students how to have open, reasonable discussions about difficult questions of faith. The University is one of 27 colleges and universities receiving a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation through the Difficult Dialogues Initiative, a project coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

The project aims to face up to the difficult topics that are too often glossed over or shied away from: Continue reading

Silent, moderate majority – both religious and secular – must be silent no more

Tony BayfieldRabbi Tony Bayfield head of the Movement for Reform Judaism has written in a letter of support for charity Tolerance International UK that “the only salvation [from religious extemism] is for the silent majority, both religious and secular, to cease to be silent and for the moderates to demonstrate that moderation is not the same as acquiescence. ” Continue reading

Creationism in the UK – do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news as reported by Ekklesia is that in England “after a number of requests from teaching unions and civic bodies, including the Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association, the UK Department of Children, Schools, and Families has issued guidance for teachers uncertain whether and how to discuss creationism – which is rejected by both scientists and theologians as lacking factual and theoretical value.

A statement on Teachernet, a government website, states that “Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the National Curriculum for science” and describes “intelligent design” as “a creationist belief” that “is sometimes erroneously advanced as scientific theory but has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community.”

Not only is it good news that creationism is being clearly put in its place but it is also a demonstation of how religious and non-religious bodies can work together on common causes. Archbishop of canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has also described creationism as “a category mistake” in religious thought.

The bad news is that in Northern Ireland the Department of Education has said the teaching of alternative theories was a matter for schools. Continue reading

Boston Globe’s profile of Greg Epstein and American humanism

Greg EpsteinThe Boston Globe’s cover story the Nonbelievers reports that “an increasing number of young people in America – and adults around the world – don’t believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion.”

In describing the growing confidence and popularity of atheism and humanism in the USA, the report includes encouraging signs such as Lori Lipman Brown, director of the the Secular Coalition for America who says “When I’m on right-wing radio or Christian radio, I no longer hear people say as much that I’m immoral or liable to commit murder,” she says. “Now, it seems, they acknowledge it’s possible that I could be a good person.”

It also quotes Epstein’s belief – shared by the O Project – in the importance of looking to build links with religious compatriots, a belief that has seen him criticised by fellow atheists and humanists.

“On his blog at Harvard, Epstein wrote that he hopes atheists avoid vilifying believers as they have disparaged atheists. “I don’t even have a problem with all the people who are blogging about me right now and slamming me as some kind of representative of ‘appeasement,’ ” he wrote. “We want to be treated as equals? Let’s raise hell about it, fine, but perhaps think twice about slamming me so hard as some kind of Uncle Tom (I definitely heard that one on a few blogs) if I want to speak for myself, and for the millions of atheists and Humanists out there who actually *like* and care deeply about a lot of religious people and don’t feel the need to hurt their feelings in addition to disagreeing with them.”

True story of A Sikh-atheist mariage

Holding handsTaken from MixTogether.org, this is a personal account of what Ruba experienced as a British Sikh 19 yr old girl falling for a British, white atheist lad. Please forgive my ‘bullet form’ style account, but I still find it difficult talking about what happened. Apologies if you find it difficult to follow but I found it to be the easiest and briefest way to record my story.

The sikh upbringing: life pretty much planned out. School, then college.. then uni… then a job.. then an arranged marriage.. then children.. then a house… then looking after the inlaws. “It’s the way us Indians do things.. god will reward you for doing the right thing.”

Uni- met someone.. needed affection- hadn’t realised how unhappy I was until we connected so strongly.

Lived for the moment.. never considered the long term effect or possibilities… our love grew stronger without even realising it…

Fell pregnant… emotional turmoil Continue reading

Humanist Jews stand by Muslim victims of hate crime

The arson-attacked houseIn Sarasota County, Florida, authorities are investigating an arson that destroyed a Muslim family’s home as a hate crime.

The blaze happened on July 6. The Sejfovics, who moved from Bosnia in 2001, were out of town on holday and returned to find their home completely destroyed and spray-painted with anti-Muslim graffiti.

Several agencies, including the FBI, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are investigating the fire.

Members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church – the church that sponsored the family in 2001 – are standing by the family and vetting correspondence and phone calls. Others who have offfered theire suppport are a local rabbi and a Humanist Jewish Congregation, a couple of American-Islamist Groups, as well as many, many outraged individuals. Condolences and a reward have been offered; a fund is in the process of being set up.