Category Archives: Cornwall Humanists

Cornish group affiliated to the British Humanist Association (BHA)

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

Comment
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.)

Richy Thompson Visits Cornwall Humanists

Richy Thompson

Richy Thompson
director of Public Affairs and Policy for “Humanists UK”

Richy Thompson came to give a talk to Cornwall Humanists at their monthly meeting on 18th September.

Richy described six areas of “Humanists UK” activity, to a well-attended meeting.

  • Government Contacts – Speaking with central government in London, through contacts with civil servants and MPs. The all-party Humanist group of 100 MPs, led by Crispin Blunt, is very important.
  • Research – publicising relevant research and undertaking new research when necessary.
  • Campaigns – Encouraging members and supporters to advance campaigns for change, by writing to MPs, writing letters to newspapers,  and organising protests.
  • Media – Promoting the inclusion of a Humanist perspective in newspapers, television, and other public media.
  • Legal – Challenging illegal practices, and supporting individuals who are going to court to fight injustice, such as the refusal of assisted dying.
  • Advice – Helping people who are suffering from unfair discrimination in a faith school, or who are struggling with the imposition of Collective Worship.

What can we do in Cornwall?

Richy gave examples of what we could do locally, to advance Humanism.
We could attend the constituency surgery of our local MP to learn about their standpoint, and ask for their support in advancing Humanist ideals.

We can try to influence local decision making through our membership of SACRE, the body advising Cornwall Council on Religious Education.

We can make sure that our views are publicised in local newspapers, and heard on local radio and television.

 

 

Farewell to Peter Edmead

Farewell to Peter and Barbara

The photograph above shows a group of friends of Peter and Barbara Edmead at their home near Nancegollan. The friends met on 26th August to wish Peter and Barbara well as they move  to a smaller home near Weymouth.  Peter has been a very active member of Cornwall Humanists and has worked regularly as a hospital volunteer. He visits people who are in hospital, to talk with them, adding to the religious pastoral service, for the growing number of people who do not hold a religious belief.

We hope that you both enjoy your new home, and do keep in touch!

Richy Thompson talk in September

Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy for Humanists UK will come to speak to the Cornwall Humanists Group on Tuesday 18th September.

The talk will be in the Fal Building of Truro College, starting at 7.30pm – everyone welcome!

Richy Thompson is Humanists UK’s Campaigns Manager and works on issues from across Humanists UK’s public policy remit. From May 2011 to February 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies. Richy is a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, on the steering groups of Voice for Choice, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign, and a representative of Humanists UK at the Religious Education Council for England and Wales.

Read more about Richy Thompson