New Team and New Site

This WordPress site was created by me – Jeff Peel – a few years ago.  However, I’m no longer actively involved in the Conservative Humanist Association – but wish it every success.

However, the Conservative Humanist Association is now being managed by Oliver Cooper and his team.

Oliver has created a new Conservative Humanists website: Click Here to Visit.  

Or you can contact Ollie by visiting this page.

If you’d like to follow my personal blog it’s here: Jeff Peel’s Diary.

New Pope Protest Site and Campaign

We received the following notice from the BHA today and thought members may be interested in getting involved.

To the Conservative Humanist Association

The BHA, together with the NSS, GALHA, Outrage! And the Central London Humanist Group, have formed the Protest the Pope campaign. This campaign brings together organisations which have different reasons for not approving of the State Visit to the UK by the Pope. http://www.protest-the-pope.org.uk/

The basic aim is to organise a series of events around the time of the Pope’s visit, on different issues.

Labour Humanists are on board and it would be good to have Conservative Humanists and Lib Dem Humanists and Secularists on board…

 Best wishes

Naomi Phillips
Head of Public Affairs
British Humanist Association (BHA)

Humanist Soup Kitchen

I had an email from Lois Clark who was keen that we address a comment made by David Cameron in a speech some time ago that there is “no such thing as a Humanist Soup Kitchen.”

I have scanned around the blogoshere and found an interesting rebuttal in the form of an open letter to David.

One point made in this was the fact that “the non-religious give more to charity than the religious do. But of course that doesn’t even begin to paint an accurate picture because most non-believers don’t give to charity in the name of atheism so the actual higher is much higher.”

Chris Worfolk, the author of the piece, also links to the social venture capital site Kiva which shows that the non-believer/Atheist group has loaned more to social enterprises than any other group on the site.  And, of course, many of the world’s largest charities are secular – such as the International Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontiers. 

So much for the claim there is no such thing as a Humanist Soup Kitchen.  And then again perhaps David is right.  It’s just that humanists just call then Soup Kitchens.  No glory is sought.

Tiger Woods and Bad Karma

Robert Pigott, the BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, has written a fascinating blog post that manages to embrace the Tiger Woods scandal and Iris Robinson’s in one hit.  Therefore, as religious affairs articles go, it’s good value for money.

Pigott refers to a television panel discussion that included Brit Hume – a prominent political analyst on the Fox network.  Hume, apparently, suggested that Tiger Woods should probably convert to Christianity (he’s a Buddhist).  Hume felt that Woods would find it easier to obtain forgiveness as a Christian.  This has caused quite a storm in the US. 

Iris Robinson, handily, is an evangelical Christian.  She has made clear that forgiveness has already been provided: “I am comforted that He was able to forgive even me.”  However, despite this, she still seems to be in need of psychiatric help.  No amount of heavenly forgiveness removes all that bad karma. 

I often wonder if the reason why Christianity is so popular is because of the sin/forgiveness duality.  During the years of Northern Ireland’s troubles one often heard about convicted paramilitary thugs finding Jesus in prison.  One wonders why Jesus didn’t find them before they committed their crimes. 

Buddhists, as pointed out by Pigott in his piece, don’t really ‘do’ sin or forgiveness – because they do not peddle the idea of a supernatural being that provides forgiveness and redemption.  Rather they argue that one can live one’s life in a way that causes suffering to others – and one has to learn to improve based on an appreciation of this suffering.  In that sense there is a strong humanist core to the religion (although also a great deal of mumbo jumbo). 

My take on this is very simple.  One can live one’s life in such a way that it can get 1) very complicated; 2) very hurtful to others; 3) very legally dodgy.  All three result in stress.  Therefore it’s probably better not to have too complicated, hurt-inducing, or illegal a modus operandi - in order to avoid stress.  It’s simple.  Moreover it’s neither Christian nor Buddhist.

Equality for All (Except Humanists)

The Conservatives (Baroness Warsi and Baroness Morris) have tabled an amendment to the Equality Bill – likely to be debated on Monday of next week – that will result in the removal of the word ‘philosophical’ from the meaning of belief. It would appear that this is a move to ensure that people who have religious faith are made more equal than people who have ‘philosophical’ belief rather than belief in a god or gods.

This would mean that, for example, humanists would not be protected by equality legislation. This runs counter to the objectives of the Bill.

The Government Equalities Office (yes, there is one!) states in its “easy read” description of the bill that “All public bodies must think about treating people from different groups fairly and equally. This is called the public sector Equality Duty.” It then goes on to list the types of groups that should be treated equally such as, “People with a religion or belief, or people without a religion or belief.”

However, the Conservatives, in removing the key word “philosophical” from the Bill draft will ensure that only people of religion will be included. This is bizarre. The fact that the Conservatives are showing this degree of nit-picking in order to overtly exclude people of no faith from the provisions of the Bill seems counter-intuitive.

An Open Letter to Tony Blair on New Year’s Eve

I was flicking through the most recent edition of Humanism Ireland magazine just yesterday when I came across an Open Letter to Tony Blair, written by Kenneth Houston of Ramelton, County Donegal, in Ireland.  So wonderfully written was this piece that I asked Brian McClinton of the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland, the magazine’s editor, if I could reproduce it here. I’m delighted that he agreed. 

More non-belief in our society, according to the faithful, equates to moral degradation, loss of social cohesion and an increase in social dysfunction. There is no attempt to acknowledge or recognise the intrinsic liberal democratic credentials of secularist advocates, their sense of social justice, and their demand for equal rights for all – without exception.  Kenneth Houston

The entire article is below the fold… Continue reading

Keeping Up…

As Editor of this site I’m a disgrace, I know.  It’s hard to keep it up to date.

However, if you’d like to keep up to date with my rants you may want to pop over to my personal blog over at jeffpeel.net - you’ll have to put up with me wittering about Northern Ireland’s crazy, religion obsessed, political system.  But sometimes I try to slip in blog posts about Conservatism, Humanism, Secularism or all three. 

Jeff Peel

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