Highlights activities and achievements over the last 12 months
Humanists UK has released its latest Impact Report, an annual retrospective of the organisation’s key activities over the preceding 12 months.
Some of the highlights include:
12 million people saw the Census Campaign online and in print media There are 534 humanist celebrants in the Humanist Ceremonies™ network 35,000 copies were sold of the Little Book of Humanism 12,500 pupils heard from a humanist school speaker, mainly through online sessions 51 million people were reached through the national organisation’s social media
While our own website for the Ludlow and Marches Humanists doesn’t get quite that many page views, we wanted to share the report with our local members and others who might be interested.
I am a retired GP interested in the history of medicine, and acquired an MA in history from the Open University. At the beginning of Lockdown, The Friends of Ludlow Museum asked me to do an oral history of the pandemic, and kindly funded a digital recorder.
Oral witness is, like a medical consultation, confidential, and requires the written permission of the witness. Written transcripts are crucial in case the recording becomes corrupted.
I selected 34 witnesses from various sources. Each gave a pair of interviews six months apart. The first set of interviews was between June and August 2020 and the second between November 2020 and February 2021.
Here are some quotations which illustrate certain themes.
New website explores the ethical movement, its people and contribution to UK history
April 30th marked the 125th anniversary of Humanists UK.
In 1896 a small group freethinkers came together for their first meeting. The Union of Ethical Societies (now Humanists UK) joined together existing ethical societies for fellowship and the promotion and practice of morality without reference to theological ideas, emphasising a ‘purely human and natural’ basis for ethics and action.
To mark this milestone, Humanists UK has launched a new Humanist Heritage website that charts the UK’s rich and storied history of the humanist movement.
Hundreds of humanist campaigners, many of them women, have been profoundly under-recognised or simply excised from history. So too, the humanist motivations of many of our national heroes have often been overlooked. Humanist Heritage celebrates activists previously resigned to obscure archives, as well the humanist values of national heroes including figures like Alan Turing, Rosalind Franklin, and NHS founder Nye Bevan.
People may have seen some recent media coverage about Southampton Council agreeing to revisit a decision blocking local humanist Mary Wallbank from joining Southampton’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE).
With the support of Humanists UK, Ms Wallbank is making a legal challenge on the basis that her exclusion violates human rights law.
The Unholy Mrs Knight and the Hypocritical Humanist
In the key note lecture from the 2019 Humanists UK Convention, Humanists UK President Professor Alice Roberts takes us on a personal exploration of Margaret Knight’s 1950s radio essay series, ‘Morals Without Religion’, to examine changing attitudes to, and controversies around, the idea of non-religious morality. She discusses the place of faith schools in modern Britain and why arguments against them often provoke fierce debate.
Campaign asks people to tick “no religion” option on Census
A campaign by Humanists UK is encouraging people who are not in any meaningful sense religious to tick the “no religion” option on the 2021 Census.
In England and Wales, the question is “What is your religion?”, and the non-religious option is “No religion”. In Northern Ireland the question is “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?”, and the non-religious option is “None”.
The leading nature of the question and resulting distortion of the facts matters because Census results are used by government and local authorities to make important policy decisions. These include how to allocate funding to state services such as education, health, social care, and pastoral care.
Humanist groups from across the West Midlands region came together to put on four Zoom events every Tuesday evening during February 2021.
The organizing committee comprised Sarah Robbins (Chair), Bob Jelley, Mark Taylor, Jim Brooks and Simon Nightingale.
Here is the fourth and final installment. Sarah Robbins, Chair of Birmingham Humanists, takes us through a review of West Midlands Humanists Month and then introduces the main speaker, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK.
Andrew’s talk on The Future of Humanism begins around 4.45 with a Q&A session beginning around 20 minutes in.
Recordings of all the sessions are posted on our website for people to view at their convenience. Here are links to the preceding three events: