Barbara Smoker

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Barbara Smoker (born 2 June 1923) is a British Humanist activist and freethought advocate. She is also former President of the National Secular Society (1971–1996), former Chair of the British Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now known as Dignity in Dying) (1981–1985) and current Honorary Vice President of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association in the United Kingdom.

Biography[edit]

Barbara Smoker was born in London in 1923 into a Roman Catholic family. She served in the Women's Royal Navy from 1942-45 in southeast Asia. In 1949 she became an atheist,[1] inspired by the writing of Hector Hawton,[2] Managing Director of the Rationalist Press Association and editor of The Humanist.

In 1950 Smoker joined the secular humanist movement when she became a member of the South Place Ethical Society,[2] where she was critical of seeking redress on religious grounds.[2] Eventually she became President of the National Secular Society for 25 years (1971–1996). In that capacity, she represented the atheist viewpoint in print, on lecture platforms, speaking tours, on radio and television. She was in demand to give addresses at secular funerals[2] and eventually officiated at non-religious funerals, wedding ceremonies, gay and lesbian commitments and baby namings. She became active in various social campaigns, such as the abolition of the death penalty, nuclear disarmament, legalization of abortion and for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.[2] She claimed to have financed the manufacture of the first Make Love, Not War badges that were popular in Britain during the 1960s.[2]

Barbara Smoker became the South Place Ethical Society's last and only female Appointed Lecturer in 1986.[3] As of May 2014, with the death of Dr Harry Stopes-Roe, she became the only living Appointed Lecturer. In 2005 Barbara Smoker received the Distinguished Humanist Service Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. She is also an Honorary Member of the British Humanist Association.

Smoker lives in southeast London and in 2012 was elected the Honorary life president of the South East London Humanist Group in recognition that she is its last surviving founder member.[4]

Publications[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "In bed with Susan De Muth: Barbara Smoker / Stranglers in the night". The Independent. 1994-09-14. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f MacKillop, I. D. (1986) The British Ethical Societies, p 86, Cambridge University Press, [online] Available from: http://books.google.com/books?id=mqgsFS_MN9UC&pgis=1 (Accessed 13 May 2014).
  3. ^ See image of the Appointed Lecturer Board at Conway Hall
  4. ^ "Honorary Life President". 

External links[edit]