British Humanist Association
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The British Humanist Association is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes Secular humanism and represents "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs." The BHA is committed to secularism, human rights, democracy, egalitarianism and mutual respect. It works for an open and inclusive society with freedom of belief and speech, and for an end to the privileged position of religion in law, education, broadcasting and wherever else it occurs.
There are over 28,000 members and supporters of the BHA in the United Kingdom.
The BHA is the foremost provider of humanist and non-religious ceremonies in England and Wales, maintaining a national network of accredited officiants. This network offers humanist wedding/civil partnership celebration, humanist baby naming and humanist funeral ceremonies.
The Association's logo is closely derived from the international Happy Human symbol, which itself is a BHA trademark freely licensed by the BHA for use by other bona fide Humanist organisations.
The British Humanist Association campaigns for a number of causes. It campaigns for legal provision against discrimination on grounds of religious belief or sexual orientation. It has called for unification of existing anti-discrimination legislation and has contributed to the Discrimination Law Review which developed the Equality Act 2010. Many of its campaigns are based on free speech and human rights legislation and it has paid special attention to the Human Rights Act 1998. The BHA supports the international campaign to make Charles Darwin's day of birth a public holiday, Darwin Day.
In tandem with its provision of humanist ceremonies the BHA also campaigns on marriage laws, demanding full equality for same-sex and humanist marriage ceremonies.
Religion and schools 
The BHA claims that schools "are where many people – parents, children and teachers – first encounter religion and religious privilege" and that this is a "major part" of their campaign's agenda. They claim that faith schools are "exclusive, divisive and counterintuitive to social cohesion" and blame religious admissions procedures for "creating school populations that are far from representative of their local populations in religious or socio-economic terms." In September 2008, it was announced that the BHA, alongside religious organisations, teachers' unions and other human rights campaigns groups, were among the founding members of the Accord coalition.
The BHA campaigns for reform of Religious Education in the UK on the grounds that "all pupils in all types of school should have the opportunity to consider philosophical and fundamental questions, and that in a pluralist society we should learn about each other’s beliefs, including humanist ones". They would like to see a reformed subject such as "Belief and Values Education" which was inclusive of secular positions and - unlike Religious Education at present - covered by the national curriculum. For many years they have also supported local humanist volunteers on the SACRE bodies which currently determine the RE syllabus for each local authority area.
In January 2012, the BHA achieved some success in their "Teach evolution, not creationism" campaign, which aimed to establish statutory opposition to creationism in schools. The Department for Education amended the funding agreement to allow the withdrawal of funding for free schools that teach creationism as established scientific fact.
Constitutional reform 
The BHA campaigns for a secular state, which they define as "a state where public institutions are separate from religious institutions and treat all citizens impartially regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs." They point to issues such as the joint role of the British monarch (both Head of Church and Head of State), the reserved places for bishops in the House of Lords, the status of the Church of England (the officially established church), and other "discriminations based on religion or belief within the system" such as those in education and Public Services.
The BHA claims that the rules on religious programming within the BBC constitute a "religious privilege" and reserve particular criticism for the Thought for the Day slot on Radio 4's Today programme. In April 2009 a "breakthrough" in the BHA's campaign saw Andrew Copson (their then Director of Education and Public Affairs, now Chief Executive ) invited to participate as the first humanist representative in the BBC's new Standing Conference on Religion and Belief, replacing the Central Religious Advisory Committee.
Ethical issues 
As well as campaigning on secularist issues the BHA comments and campaigns on ethical issues on which Humanism has a unique or characteristic position. Persistent campaigns include the legalisation of assisted dying, retaining the legality of abortion as a "last resort", defending embryonic stem cell research for medical purposes, and calling for consistent and humane law on the slaughter of animals.
The Humanist Vegetarian Group aims to promote vegetarianism for a variety of reasons including environmental concerns, economics, dietary preferences, aesthetics and health. They dispute the notion that humans have a natural right to exploit animals.
Atheist Bus Campaign 
On 21 October 2008, the British Humanist Association lent its official support to Guardian journalist Ariane Sherine as she launched a fundraising drive to raise money for the UK's first atheist advertising campaign, the Atheist Bus Campaign. The campaign aimed to raise funds to place the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" on the sides of 30 London buses for four weeks in January 2009. Expecting to raise £5,500 over six months, the prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins agreed to match donations up to £5,500 to make £11,000 total. Within 18 hours the campaign had reached more than £30,000 of donations from individuals and companies worldwide and has since raised over £153,000, enabling a nationwide advertising campaign to be launched on 6 January 2009.
Census campaign 
In 2011, the British Humanist Association campaigned to get atheists, agnostics and other non-believers to tick the "no religion" box in response to the optional religion question in the 2011 census (as opposed to writing in either a joke religion like "Jedi" or ticking the religion one grew up in). The BHA believed the question was worded in such a way as to increase the number of currently non-religious or nominally religious people who list the religion they grew up in rather than their current religious views, and thus the results would have been skewed to make the country seem more religious than it actually is. The BHA believes that this supposed overstatement of religious belief creates a situation where "public policy in matters of religion and belief will unduly favour religious lobbies and discriminate against people who do not live their lives under religion".
Posters for the campaign which used the slogan "If you're not religious, for God's sake say so" were refused by companies owning advertising hoardings in railway stations following advice from the Advertising Standards Authority who believe the adverts had "the potential to cause widespread and serious offence".
The Census results for England and Wales showed that 14.1 million people, about a quarter of the entire population (25%), stated they had no religion at all, a rise of 6.4 million over the decade. The BHA said the fall was "astounding", and calculated that Christians could be in a minority by 2018.
Resolution Revolution 
Set up in 2010, the Resolution Revolution campaign aims to "[recast] the tired old New Year resolution – so often about breaking a negative habit – as a pledge to do something positive for others". They give examples of signing up to be an organ donor, volunteering for a charity or helping a neighbour sweep an icy path. Participation is open to all and not restricted to humanists or the non-religious.
"New Year is a time for renewal - but beyond diets and gyms, not just for ourselves. Resolution Revolution is a humanist social action initiative, turning good intentions outwards to others. The more people that get involved, even in a small way, the bigger the impact is. Spending cuts don't make a cohesive society, but generous actions do.”
The British Humanist Association was founded in 1896 by American Stanton Coit as the Union of Ethical Societies, which brought together existing ethical societies in Britain. It became the British Humanist Association in 1967, during the Presidency of philosopher A.J. Ayer.
This transition followed a decade of discussions which nearly prompted a merger of the Union of Ethical Societies with the Rationalist Press Association and the South Place Ethical Society. In 1963 the discussions went as far as creating an umbrella Humanist Association of which Harold Blackham (later to become a President of the BHA) was the Executive Director. However, the BHA, the Rationalist Association and the South Place Ethical Society remain separate entities today and in 1967 the Union of Ethical Societies alone became the British Humanist Association.
In the 1960s the BHA campaigned on the repeal of Sunday Observance Laws and the reform of the 1944 Education Act’s clauses on religion in schools. More generally the BHA aimed to defend freedom of speech, support the elimination of world poverty and remove the privileges given to religious groups. Ambitiously, it was claimed in 1977 that the BHA aimed "to make humanism available and meaningful to the millions who have no alternative belief."
At this time the BHA also supported a growing number of local communities, continuing today as a network of affiliated local humanist groups. A network of celebrants able to conduct non-religious funerals, weddings, naming ceremonies and same sex affirmations (before the law allowing gay civil partnerships) was also developed and continues today as Humanist Ceremonies.
Educational issues have always featured prominently in BHA campaigns activities, including efforts to abolish daily worship in schools and to reform Religious Education so that it is objective, fair and balanced and includes learning about humanism as an alternative life stance. Gaining recognition for humanism as a lifestance has been a constant theme.
Social concerns have persisted in the BHA’s programme. The BHA was a co-founder of the Social Morality Council (now transmuted into the Norham Foundation), which brought together believers and unbelievers concerned with moral education and with finding agreed solutions to moral problems in society. The BHA has been active in arguing for voluntary euthanasia and the right to obtain an abortion. It has always sought an "open society".
The Humanist Housing Association attempted to provide accommodation for needy, elderly humanists, the Agnostics Adoption Society worked to gain adoption rights for the non-religious and the Humanist Counselling Group pioneered in non-directive counselling. Since 2004 many of the affiliated local humanist groups have raised funds for Humanist schools in Uganda and now through the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust.
On 8 January 2009 Christian Voice announced they had made an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority asserting that the Atheist Bus slogan broke rules on "substantiation and truthfulness". The BHA disagreed with the complaint and wondered how the ASA would be able to make a decision as to the "probability of God's existence".
Bryan Appleyard has criticised both the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society for their campaign that the Scouts' Oath of Allegiance is religious discrimination. Similar views were expressed by Deborah Orr and Rod Liddle. Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society argued that the oath should be modified, as it has in the past allowed non-Christians to become Scouts, so that the non-religious can participate in Scouting without having to compromise their human rights.
Famous British Humanists 
BHA Presidents 
- Jim Al-Khalili (January 2013 to date)
- Polly Toynbee (10 July 2007 – January 2013)
- Linda Smith (2004 – died 27 February 2006)
- Claire Rayner (1999–2004)
- Hermann Bondi (January 1981  – 1999)
- James Hemming (1977 – December 1980)
- H. J. Blackham (1974–1977)
- George Melly (1972–1974)
- Edmund Leach (1970–1972)
- A.J. Ayer (1965–1970)
- Julian Huxley (1963–1965)
Current Vice-Presidents 
- Professor Simon Blackburn
- Baroness Blackstone
- Professor Richard Dawkins FRS
- Professor A. C. Grayling
- Dr Evan Harris
- Mary Honeyball MEP
- Lord Hughes of Woodside
- Professor Richard Norman
- Dr Harry Stopes-Roe
- Baroness Turner of Camden
- Baroness Whitaker
- Jane Wynne Willson
- Professor Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS
Controversy in 2012 
In April 2011 it was announced that Professor A.C. Grayling would succeed Polly Toynbee as the next president of the BHA in July 2011. However, in June the BHA announced that Professor Grayling had decided not to take up that position, because of what he described as "controversy generated by activities in another area of my public life." The BHA stated that Polly Toynbee would continue as President until a new appointment was made later in 2011; in the event, she remained President for a further 18 months. In December 2012, it was announced that Jim Al-Khalili would become President in January 2013.
"Distinguished Supporters" 
Numerous prominent people, described by the BHA as "distinguished supporters", are aligned with the British Humanist Association:
- Academics including Professor Sir Michael Atiyah OM FRS, Dr Susan Blackmore, Professor Colin Blakemore FRS, Dr Helena Cronin, Professor Sir Anthony Epstein CBE FRS, Professor Frank Furedi, Professor A. C. Grayling, Professor Robert A Hinde CBE FRS, Professor Sir Harry Kroto FRS, Professor Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS, Professor Steven Rose, Professor Laurie Taylor
- Actors and entertainers including Jane Asher, Ed Byrne, Stephen Fry, Richard Herring, Shappi Khorsandi, Stewart Lee, Tim Minchin, Warren Mitchell, Sir Patrick Stewart, and Sandi Toksvig
- Artists, novelists and creative professionals including Alan Brownjohn, Maureen Duffy, Anish Kapoor, Mike Leigh, Ian McEwan, Sir Jonathan Miller CBE, Sir Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman CBE, and Sir Salman Rushdie
- Broadcasters and journalists including Dr Kenan Malik FRSA, Jonathan Meades, Jenni Murray OBE, Polly Toynbee, Dr. Nicola Gerrard (also known as Nicci French)
- Politicians and peers from across the party spectrum, many of whom are also members of the BHA's All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group. The Group is currently chaired by Lord Warner of Brockley.
- Scientists and medical professionals including Sir Roy Calne FRS, Professor Steve Jones, Randal Keynes OBE, Sir John Maddox, Sir John Sulston, Professor Brian Cox OBE
Prominent deceased distinguished supporters include philosopher A J Ayer, founder of the BHA Harold Blackham, visionary science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke, social and political theorist Bernard Crick, child psychologist and activist Dr James Hemming, jazz and blues singer George Melly, comedian Linda Smith, broadcaster and journalist Sir Ludovic Kennedy.
For a full list and more information regarding 'distinguished supporters', see the BHA's complete list.
International Humanist and Ethical Union's minimum statement on Humanism 
"Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality."
See also 
- Ethical movement
- Humanist Society of Scotland
- International Humanist and Ethical Union
- National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies
- National Secular Society
- Rationalist Association
- Sea of Faith
- Conway Hall Ethical Society
- Birmingham Humanists
- North East Humanists
- Leicester Secular Society
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (March 2013)|
- "About Us >> The British Humanist Association". Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- See e.g. WeddingGuideUK.com  and BabyGuideUK.com 
- "Working towards a Single Equality Act: The Government's Equalities Review and Discrimination Law Review". The British Humanist Association.
- Doward, Jamie (15 January 2012). "Richard Dawkins celebrates a victory over creationists". The Guardian (London).
- http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/free-speech/Blasphemy. Also see http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6539, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3753408.stm and http://newhumanist.org.uk/548
- "Human tissues". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Animal welfare". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- http://www.humanist.veggroup.org/index.html Humanist Vegetarian Group
- "'No God' slogans for city's buses". BBC News. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- BBC News, Humanist religious question census campaign launched
- The Guardian, Humanist census posters banned from railway stations
- "Census reveals decline of Christianity - Guardian". London: Guardian. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- Knowles, Joanne (6 December 2010). "A new twist on New Year's resolutions". The Guardian (London).
- A new twist on the New Years resolution, Resolution Revolution blog
- "Resolution Revolution encourages us to make ‘social resolutions’ this New Year". Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- http://www.humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/humanists-doing/charities. Also see Humanist Groups Newsletter April-May 2009.
- "'No God' campaign draws complaint". BBC News. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Scout's oath 'is religious discrimination, Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent, Daily Telegraph
- Oh Grow Up! - entry from Bryan Appleyard's blog on February 1st, 2008
- Deborah Orr: Labour promised social justice along with economic competence. It failed ... The Independent
- Petty political sniping from within isn’t a sign of Labour’s progress, Times Online
- Scouting without God, Terry Sanderson, The Guardian
- Humanist Newsletter, January 1981
- BHA, Anthony Grayling has decided not to take office as BHA President, 17 June 2011
- British Humanist Association, Jim Al-Khalili named President-elect of British Humanist Association, 14 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012
- British Humanist Association, Distinguished Supporters. Accessed 15 October 2012
- "Distinguished Supporters". British Humanist Association. 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2010.