Dignity not dogma

Why Humanists support the case for assisted dying, for publication Barking and Dagenham Post 24.7.19

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Obsolete law

A lot has changed in the 75 years since Christian collective worship was made compulsory in schools. East London Humanists call for reform in the Spiritual Life column of the Ilford Recorder 11 July 2019

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Brexit Party Anti-science

A call to challenge the newly elected Brexit Party MEPs on their reckless rejection of climate change evidence(Newham Recorder Opinion Piece 26.6.19).

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Trump indigestion

Trump’s after-dinner speech at Buckingham Palace sticks in the throat (East London Humanists opinion piece, Barking and Dagenham Post 13.6.19)

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Assembly lines

The archaic rules on collective assemblies for schools are put under the spotlight in this opinion piece for the Barking and Dagenham Post published 2 May.

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Denying school kids Human Rights

“(i) Everyone has the right to education … (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” (Article 26 Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

This piece for the Barking and Dagenham Post looks at how religious die-hards are trying to deprive kids in this country of their rights.

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Hackney, Harmony and Humanism

This year’s annual ‘multi-faith’ event at New City College* provided some fascinating insights, as usual.

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New religious schools bid

East London Humanists join the call to halt recent proposals that will lead to more divisive and discriminatory religious schools in this opinion piece for publication Newham Recorder 30.1.19

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Presidential welcome

Article for Ilford Recorder ‘Spiritual Life’ column celebrating the Humanistic values represented by new and past presidents of Humanists UK (for publication 24.1.19).

“Humanists UK began 2019 with a brilliant new President. Appointed for 3 years, Professor Alice Roberts steps into the shoes of the previous president, Iranian born comedienne Shappi Khorsandi. Other former presidents include Iraqi born physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al Khalili and agony aunt Claire Rayner.

Alice is an evolutionary biologist. She is the first appointed Professor of Public Engagement in Science at Birmingham University and is also well-known as a TV presenter. The BBC recently broadcast her Royal Society Christmas lectures. Alice has long been a supporter of Humanists UK and was prominent in our campaign against the teaching of creationism, a creed which flies in the face of scientific evidence and has no place in our schools.

Alice said on taking up her new position: ‘As an anthropologist I strongly believe in our common humanity. We can rise above the tribal divisions that have caused so much anguish and damage in the past. The real hallmarks of humanity are curiosity and an amazing ability to cooperate. If we can use science wisely and work together, I believe we can overcome the huge challenges facing us this century.’

A question often asked when talking to schools in East London is ‘who leads the Humanists?’ I explain that Humanists think for themselves and that there is no leader as such that we follow. However, any organised group needs spokespeople. Alice, like those presidents before her, ably represents the diversity, passion and values of the Humanist movement. “

Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists


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Humanists Christmas message

Article published Barking and Dagenham Recorder 19 December 2018.

‘Do Humanists celebrate Christmas? It’s one of the most common questions Humanists get asked  in school talks. Perhaps some students think non-religious people like us miss out. I explain that people everywhere have always loved to celebrate special occasions. It’s one of the things that makes us human. Bleak mid-winter is one such time. It’s marked all over the northern hemisphere, from native North Americans to the Zoroastrians of Iran. And let’s face it, many hallmarks of what we here call Christmas, like crackers, tinsel and pantomime, have nothing to do with religion.

The word Christmas still carries religious significance for practising Christians.  But for others it has joined the many words absorbed into our rich language, reflecting our diversity and multi-cultural history, their origin often forgotten. Who now cares that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday refer to Norse Gods, or that Saturday is named after Saturn, the Roman God of renewal and regeneration? In fact the ancient festival of Saturnalia, held in December, featured gifts, partying and decorations. Like many Humanists I will be celebrating Christmas.  These are times of great uncertainty, hardship, and attempts to sow division. That makes it more important than ever to celebrate our common humanity. Christmas is also a time to remember the importance of fellowship with friends, family and complete strangers, and of giving. And as the days start to get longer, it is a time to celebrate life itself. ‘

Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists

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