Category Archives: From the BHA

Items originating with the British Humanist Association

Learning Together

Accord Coalition

We believe that pupils from all different backgrounds should be educated together in a shared environment, rather than separated according to the religious beliefs of their parents.

Humanists UK has long been involved in campaigning for an end to the laws that allow schools with a religious character to discriminate in their admissions and employment policies and to teach a biased RE curriculum. In September 2008 we became one of the founder members of the Accord Coalition – a wide coalition of organisations working for reform of state funded schools to make them more inclusive in matters of religion or belief. Accord brings together religious and non-religious supporters of change as well as teaching unions, human rights organisations and high profile individuals.     Read more

End Collective Worship

The UK is the only country in the world to impose Christian worship in state-funded schools.
 The United Nations Organisation says it is wrong.  Write to your MP to change the  law.  

As you know, the BHA is committed to ensuring a fair education system in which all children are free to arrive at their own conclusions about life’s big questions. That means not only that schools should provide an inclusive, balanced, and objective education about different religions and non-religious worldviews, but also that children should be free from any requirement to participate in religious worship at school.

Collective worship   –  United Nations Report

In a section on Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the UN reports states:

The Committee is concerned that pupils are required by law to take part in a daily religious worship which is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” in publicly funded schools in England and Wales, and that children do not have the right to withdraw from such worship without parental permission before entering the sixth form. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, children do not have right to withdraw from collective worship without parental permission.

The Committee recommends that the State party repeal legal provisions for compulsory attendance at collective worship in publicly funded schools and ensure that children can independently exercise the right to withdraw from religious worship at school.   June 2016

What is Humanism?

Talk in Plymouth by Andrew Copson

What is Humanism? (Plymouth Humanists)

When  Tuesday, January 24, 19:30 – 21:00

Where  The B-Bar, Barbican Theatre, Castle Street, Plymouth, Devon, UK, PL1 2NJ

Description   Come and join Plymouth Humanists to hear Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, give an overview of Humanism: what it is, what it is not and its history. Andrew will also talk about the British Humanist Association, its aims and the work that it does.
Website: http://plymouth-humanists.org.uk/

Anti-intellectual Populism

 

The Rise of Anti-intellectual Populism

It didn’t start in America and it didn’t start with the election of Donald Trump. For months pundits have discussed the phenomenon of ‘post-truth politics’: politics deliberately based on simplification, appealing to the raw emotions of the electorate. Evidence, historical precedent, well-reasoned analyses: all count for nothing. In fact they are repudiated as being the preserve of elites.

This populism replacing reasoned politics is now global and a major threat to universal human rights, to secularism, to reason, and to humanist values.

In India, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government disparages the open secular framework that has long held the most diverse nation in the world in some sort of social harmony. In Poland, the Government is preparing once again for an aggressive assault on the rights of women, justified entirely through appeals to Catholic dogma. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte indulges in sermon-like attacks on atheists, interwoven with rabble-rousing cries to bring back the death penalty. And in Russia, Putin, re-elected President in 2012, has used aggressive foreign policy to settle domestic political issues while imprisoning those who offend the church or criticise his regime. In Turkey, we see one of the greatest tragedies of our age: a country full of cosmopolitan potential transformed into a police state under Erdoğan, without democracy and without a free press or judiciary. In Hungary, the rule of law is rapidly becoming history. Elections in the next few months threaten the rise of far-right authoritarian parties in Austria, France, and the Netherlands.

When the world is so very far from what we want it to be, there is a temptation to retreat, to tend to one’s own garden and look to the private and the domestic. These are, after all, areas of our lives where we at least have some sort of control, and where we can have some positive effect.

This isn’t entirely the wrong instinct. Just as peace between nations starts with love between people and happiness in societies, our little choices can affect the bigger picture. So much of the BHA’s work is directed to the lives of individuals: our school volunteers encourage young people to open their minds and their sympathies, our pastoral carers give like-minded support to those in personal crises, and our celebrants guide families and couples through some of the highest and lowest points in their lives.

But public crises call for our public involvement, not just private actions. 

As humanists, we champion secularism because we believe everyone is treated better when governments and churches are kept apart. We champion human rights not simply because we believe in the equal dignity of every living person, but because we know that this is something all-too easily forgotten by humankind. And we steadfastly champion democracy and the rule of law, along with those civil values that ensure their smooth functioning.

In all that we do, these social values are our guides, along with reason, empathy, and kindness. The future is uncertain and ever-harder to predict. But we must enter it optimistically, rationally, and with a cool head on our shoulders. Our humanist way of thinking has given the world so much over the centuries and its resources are far from depleted. We are entering a dark chapter in the human story, but the light has burned brightly in darker times than this. Today we all have a responsibility to tend the flame.

 

C of E School Expansion Plans

Entirely the wrong direction of travel: Church of England announces 100 more church schools

The Church of England’s educational empire-building continues, with its recent announcement of plans to build more than 100 discriminatory Anglican ‘free schools’, which will have the legal right to select 50% of school places on the basis of religion.

As if that weren’t bad enough, other major players in our sorry ‘faith’ schools sector are pushing for that cap to be lifted. The Catholic Church, for example, is determined to be able to discriminate with 100% of places at its new schools. A national charity responsible for promoting ‘free schools’, the New Schools Network, has also called for a lift on the cap.

Read More

Rights of the Child

UN –  Rights of the Child

On 9th June the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its major periodic review of the state of children’s rights in the UK, and has advocated:

  • the repeal of compulsory collective worship in UK schools
  • a fully integrated education system in Northern Ireland
  • full and comprehensive sex and relationships education in UK schools
  • decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland in all circumstances.         Read More

All Schools to Become Academies

Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan Secretary of State for Education

George Osborne announced in his budget speech that all schools will be forced to become academies.
When small primary schools form a grouping to give them a viable size for an academy, there may be a religious school in the group.
This may result in the entire academy having to take on aspects of the religious school in the group.  This could in turn have the effect of forcing many schools without a religious character, to become to some extent religious schools.
Read the full article from BHA.

Darwin Day Lecture

Prof Jerry Coyne delivers the Darwin lecture on 13th February

Jerry Coyne

The lecture, hosted by the British Humanist Association (BHA) and entitled ‘Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?’, explored whether comprehension of evolution was inimical to religious belief.  Professor Coyne presented data which showed that fewer than one in five Americans believe in the naturalistic evolution which is taught in science lessons.

Read more on the BHA website