Category Archives: Cornwall Humanists

Cornish group affiliated to the British Humanist Association (BHA)

Gift to all Cornish secondary schools


Carrie, Peter and Jimmy with the book about Humanism

Cornwall Humanists decided to send out the book ’What is Humanism?’ by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young to all 57 secondary schools and colleges in Cornwall as a gift for their librairies, enclosing a label to be glued into them by the librarians.
The photo shows Carrie Langford, Peter Wood and Jimmy Jackson with the book at their monthly meeting on the first Sunday of the month, 11o’clock,  at Truro Arts Cafe, which people are welcome to atttend.
‘The Edge of the World Bookshop’ in Penzance has kindly taken this order.
Member Mary Fletcher said, ‘Young people need to know that it’s perfectly possible to lead an ethical life, aiming to improve conditions for everyone, without religion. Humanism provides an organisation to promote  this.’

August 2023 Meeting

Special General Meeting

A Special General Meeting was held on 15th August at 7pm.
Members of Cornwall Humanists attended both in person, and via Zoom.
The members discussed the motion:

“Cornwall Humanists will apply to Humanists UK to change our status,from Partner Group of Humanists UK, to Branch of Humanists UK.”

After contributions to a discussion by members the vote was unanimous in favour of the motion.

A second motion was put to members:

The name of the new Branch should be Cornwall Humanists”

After discussion this was carried by a large majority.

Wayne Mills, the newly appointed person to work for branches of Humanists UK, was present at the meeting.
He was able to offer advice and factual information, without seeking to sway the decisions taken.

Humanly Possible

 by Sarah Bakewell

From Monday 27th March 2023 there will be five readings from Sarak Bakewell’s new book.
These will be at 9.45am each day, on BBC Radio 4, lasting fourteen minutes.
The broadcasts are also available for a month, using the links below, to listen at your leisure.

Episode 1    Monday –  Petrarch and Boccaccio

Episode 2    Tuesday –   Erasmus and the principles of peace, friendship and civility

Episode 3   Wednesday –  Wilhelm von Humboldt and Prussian schooling

Episode 4   Thursday –  Darwin, Huxley and scientific humanism

Episode 5   Friday – Humanism is confronted by the rise of Fascism

School Worship

Religious Freedom and its Limits

Religious Freedom and its Limits

Cornwall Humanists enjoyed a very interesting talk on Zoom at 7pm on Tuesday 21st September, given by the National Secular Society.  Stephen Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the National Secular Society, talked about religious freedom and its limits.

School Worship

Photo by Don McPhee

Stephen told us that the National Secular Society defends everyone’s freedom of religion and belief.
Everyone should have freedom to believe whatever they wish. This is confirmed by the United Nations Charter of 1948, in Article 18, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

However there are areas of human life where balances need to be struck between the undoubted rights of people to practise their religion, and possible harms that might result from certain religious beliefs.

Stephen gave the Jehovah Witnesses’ opposition to blood transfusions as an example, where the parents’ religious belief could result in the death of a child in their care.
It has been decided by the courts that the child’s right to life, takes precedence over the parental rights of religious belief.

In the world of work British Airways failed to prevent a Christian employee, Nadia Eweida, from wearing a visible cross at work, because their policy was found to be inconsistent regarding other religious symbols. By contrast the NHS were successful in preventing nurse Shirley Chaplin, from wearing a crucifix at work.

There are differing views on how animals should be slaughtered, before their meat is eaten.
The majority of meat certified as Halal is stunned before slaughter, but no prior stunning is permitted in the rules of Kosher slaughter.  It would be possible to label meat, to show if the animal had been stunned prior to slaughter, allowing the buyer to make a choice.

Another example Stephen gave was the religious practice of surgery on the genitals of children.  It seems widely accepted in the UK that operations on girls, known as FGM (female genital mutilation) is unacceptable, and it is illegal in the UK.  But circumcision of boys is not illegal in the UK, although there is no medical benefit, for boys or girls, while there is sometimes serious harm resulting from surgery.

In the case of Batley Grammar School, a teacher used a caricature image of the Prophet Mohammed as part of a lesson.  This caused offence to some people of the Muslim faith, who protested at the school.  The Trust which runs the school has said that it wishes to ensure that offence is not caused, but Stephen feels that an Islamic blasphemy code has been quietly imposed at this school.

The right of freedom of religion and belief is accepted, but Stephen suggested that there also needs to be freedom from religious belief.

Peter Wood 23rd September 2021

Daily, compulsory, Christian worship in our schools does not seem to strike a fair balance between the freedom of religion, and the freedom from religion.

The Eden Project

A Link With Humanism

eden projectDid you know that the architect who developed the idea of the geodesic dome was R Buckminster Fuller? (1895-1983)   He was named Humanist of the Year in 1969, by the American Humanist Association.  He drew insights from nature with no supernatural intervention.  His name has later been given to fullerenes, types of carbon molecules, which have structures resembling geodesic spheres.



History of Humanism

James Croft Lecture








You can watch the James Croft lecture which was organised by Plymouth Humanists.
The lecture traces the history of ideas and institutions from Felix Adler to the present day.

You can watch it here.
(You may need to go back to the start of the lecture if it begins half way through.)

Enlightenment Now

“Enlightenment Now”  by Steven Pinker
Enlightenment Now

Steven Pinker’s 2018 book “Enlightenment Now” makes the case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

Mary suggested that I should watch a discussion of the ideas in the book on YouTube.
She also suggested adding information to our website.
The discussion between Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry lasts nearly 80 minutes.
You can find the discussion on YouTube here.

The image shows the hardback version of the book, but a similar paperback edition is available.

Bereavement Support

Information about Bereavement Support

A member of Cornwall Humanists has kindly offered some advice, following her own bereavement.
She found that ‘Grief Beyond Belief’ is a very helpful online community for atheists who are bereaved to share their experiences and support one another.  Many of the members are in USA but also all over the world. The American members seem to suffer most from people repeatedly telling them their loved dead family members are in heaven etc.

The most helpful books she read were Joyce Carol Oates ‘A widow’s story’ and Joan Didion, ‘The year of magical thinking’.

The Cruse meetings are helpful once a month as everyone there knows how difficult the experience is. There are also one to one sessions, normally 4, and these are also worthwhile.
Painting above by Mary Fletcher

You can see more of Mary’s Grief Drawings as a
Slide Show
(This is a large file – 76MB, and runs for over 6 minutes.)