All posts tagged: Humanists

Ofsted report into Religious Education shows long overdue need for reform, says Humanists UK

Ofsted report into Religious Education shows long overdue need for reform, says Humanists UK

The UK Government must carry out long overdue reform of the teaching of Religious Education (RE) to meet the needs of modern society, says Humanists UK in response to another Ofsted review.  In its deep-dive report into RE – Deep and meaningful? – Ofsted found that the current curriculum often lacks ‘sufficient substance to prepare pupils to live in a complex world’. It also found that here was a ‘profound misconception among some leaders and teachers that ‘teaching from a neutral stance’ equates to teaching a non-religious worldview’, On the issue of non-religious worldviews inspectors reported that ‘curriculums typically contained little about both defined non-religious traditions, such as Humanism, and the complexity of contemporary beliefs’. The report also heard from pupils themselves who said the subject ‘did not reflect their experience of living in a complex world’. One pupil told inspectors: ‘We learn what the Pope thinks about something, and that’s fine. But what about other thinkers, such as Humanists?’ In 2015 the High Court ruled that non-religious worldviews like humanism should be given ‘equal …

Humanists UK respond to Michaela School ‘prayer ban’ ruling

Humanists UK respond to Michaela School ‘prayer ban’ ruling

Pictured: Michaela Community School Buidlings, Wikipedia Commons, Jonathan A Jones, CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED Humanists UK have called for the Government to develop national guidance for England on the question of religious practices in schools following today’s High Court ruling which ruled in favour of the so-called ‘prayer ban’ at Michaela Community School, Brent.  Michaela Community School was taken to the High Court in January by a Muslim pupil following allegations that a ban on all prayers and worship had been imposed in the school. The pupil argued that the ban was a ‘breach of her right to freedom to manifest her religious beliefs’, however this was rejected on the grounds that the pupil had… ‘chosen the School knowing of its strict regime; on the evidence she was able to move to a suitable school which would allow her to pray at lunchtime; and, in any event, she was able to perform Qada prayers in order to mitigate the fact that she was not able to pray at the allotted time.’ The judge further ruled …

Humanists UK alarmed at Government’s proposal to remove 50% cap on faith schools

Humanists UK alarmed at Government’s proposal to remove 50% cap on faith schools

Notes The 50% cap was introduced by the UK Government to make sure that new state faith schools could no longer select 100% of their pupils by religion. Under pressure from Catholic and Jewish hierarchies, the Government promised to lift it in its 2017 manifesto.  Timeline of the 50% cap September 2007 – The Labour Government introduces a 50% cap on religious selection at new Academy schools that did not replace a pre-existing state-funded school. May 2010 – The Coalition Government keeps the 50% cap in place as part of its Free Schools Programme, effectively meaning that almost no new state faith school can select more than half of their places on the basis of religion. November 2013 – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales announces that it will boycott the free schools programme, refusing to open any new state schools under the 50% cap. April 2014 – Future Education Secretary Damian Hinds sponsors a debate in the House of Commons calling for the cap to be removed. May 2015 – Following the …

Five ways humanists have promoted better healthcare for all

Five ways humanists have promoted better healthcare for all

Pictured: NHS pioneer and humanist, Nye Bevan, the day the act came into effect, 5 July 1948, Park Hospital, Davyhulme. For World Health Day, we’re celebrating the humanist visionaries who spearheaded better healthcare in the UK! Here are five ways humanists have pioneered better healthcare: 1) The National Health Service Since its inception, the NHS has continued to represent fundamentally humanist values: that scientific advancements can be harnessed for social progress, that people with differing beliefs can cooperate for the common good, and that every human being should be treated with dignity, compassion and respect. In all, we credit the creation of the NHS to three innovative campaigners who all happened to be humanists: William Beveridge, Nye Bevan [pictured], and Clement Attlee. 2) Leading the fight for reproductive rights Through our early work with the pioneering Abortion Law Reform Association, our role in legalising abortion in England and Wales, and the formation of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – humanists have always been at the forefront of championing women’s reproductive rights. Today, we campaign for total decriminalisation of abortion, and for a permanent end to religious harassment …

Humanists UK reflects on Same-Sex Marriage Act coming into force

Humanists UK reflects on Same-Sex Marriage Act coming into force

Humanists UK is celebrating the ten year anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales. Whereas the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act received Royal Assent on 17 July 2013, it took some time to implement this change, so the Act only came into force the following year. The first same-sex marriages took place just after midnight on 29 March 2014. The Act’s primary aim was to allow for marriages of same-sex couples across England and Wales, and Humanists UK was a leading voice in bringing about this pivotal change. It was a founding member of the Coalition for Equal Marriage, the key coalition of groups that worked to secure the Bill, and as a result of its efforts, Humanists UK was one of only two organisations – alongside Stonewall – thanked in the final debate on the Bill in the House of Lords. Yet the anniversary is a bittersweet moment for humanist couples. The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act also gave the UK Government the power to legally recognise humanist marriages by Order whenever it chooses …

Humanists UK welcome Labour’s commitment for protest buffer zones around schools

Humanists UK welcome Labour’s commitment for protest buffer zones around schools

Pictured: Keir Starmer – Leader of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor (CC BY-NC 2.0) Flickr Humanists UK has welcomed a commitment from Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, that a Labour government would introduce 150 metre protest buffer zones outside schools. Sir Keir’s promise comes after the release of Dame Sara Khan’s Social Cohesion Review, to which Humanists UK submitted evidence. Among the many recommendations was one for a 150m buffer zone around primary and secondary schools to block intimidating or  ‘freedom-restricting’ activists from demonstrating outside school gates and subjecting families and teachers to harassment. In recent years schools have been subjected to protests from religious parents and groups in response to LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education and the portrayal of Muhammad in teaching resources about ‘blasphemy’. Speaking to the press in support of the proposal late last week Sir Keir said schools ‘should not be a place for protest’. Previously, Muslim-led protests in Birmingham over LGBT content in lessons became so disruptive to learning that the …

Michael Cashman, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and Roger Hutton join Humanists UK as new patrons

Michael Cashman, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and Roger Hutton join Humanists UK as new patrons

Humanists UK is delighted to announce the appointment of three new patrons, Labour peer and activist Lord Michael Cashman, archaeologist and writer Rebecca Wragg Sykes, and former senior civil servant Roger Hutton. They join a stable of over 200 Humanists UK patrons with notable careers in arts, literature, science, academia, politics, and community and civic activism. Lord Michael Cashman is an actor, activist, MEP, co-founder of Stonewall, and member of the House of Lords. As an actor, he is famed for his groundbreaking role as Colin Russell in EastEnders and the first gay kiss on a British soap in 1987. Transitioning into politics, he served as an MEP for the West Midlands from 1999 to 2014, acting as Labour’s human rights spokesperson in the European Parliament and a Civil Liberties Committee member. He is now a Member of the House of Lords. He is a celebrated LGBT rights activist, having co-founded the charity Stonewall and has received the Pink News Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Diversity Awards. In 2013, …

Humanists UK welcomes Khan’s Social Cohesion Review

Humanists UK welcomes Khan’s Social Cohesion Review

Humanists UK has welcomed the findings of The Khan Review: Threats to Social Cohesion and Democratic Resilience, that recommends legislative restrictions on protests immediately outside primary and secondary schools, for police to have a comprehensive understanding of ‘apostate and intra-faith hatred’ and for the Government to gather intelligence on blasphemy related incitement and violence. Humanists UK submitted evidence to the Review by Independent Adviser for Social Cohesion and Resilience, Dame Sara Khan. The Review coins the term ‘freedom-restricting harassment’ to describe ‘threatening, intimidatory or abusive harassment online and/or offline which is intended to make people or institutions censor or self-censor out of fear’. An online poll commission by the Review found that: 44% of respondents had witnessed freedom-restricting harassment online 44% of respondents had witnessed freedom-restricting harassment in person 76% of respondents reported restricting expressing their personal views in public out of fear of harassment to themselves or others Humanists UK has raised several instances of this kind of harassment when anti-blasphemy protests have resulted in undue censorship. Recommendation for protecting teachers and pupils against …

Equality for non-religious refugees, Humanists tell UN

Equality for non-religious refugees, Humanists tell UN

Humanists UK has raised its concerns about the treatment of non-religious asylum seekers at the 55th session of the UK Human Rights Council. Having been forced to flee their home due to violence and persecution, non-religious asylum seekers, including humanists, frequently faced further barriers when claiming asylum because of their non-religious beliefs. Humanists at Risk The position of most non-religious people around the world is perilous. As Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief from 2016-22, said: ‘In my observations, humanists, when they are attacked, are attacked far more viciously and brutally than in other cases.’ Some 13 countries have the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy; a number more have seen people murdered for the same. At least 89 countries have blasphemy laws on the books. More generally, some 30 countries are classified by the Freedom of Thought Report as guilty of grave violations against the non-religious. The number of non-religious people in the world is consistently underestimated and there is simply no reliable data outside of the West. …

Humanists UK welcomes Starmer’s commitment to assisted dying vote

Humanists UK welcomes Starmer’s commitment to assisted dying vote

Pictured: Keir Starmer – Leader of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom ©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor (CC BY-NC 2.0) Flickr Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, has committed to hold a vote on assisted dying in the next parliament. Humanists UK welcomes this pledge which, if fulfilled, could pave the way for legalising assisted dying by the end of the decade. He made the commitment when speaking with broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen, who has stage four cancer and recently announced she was a member of the Swiss assisted dying centre Dignitas.  Sir Keir told Esther: ‘I’m personally in favour of changing the law… I think we need to make time. We will make the commitment. Esther, I can give you that commitment right now.’ He had previously committed a free vote for Labour MPs and parliamentary time for assisted dying. His latest remarks go a step further, indicating this would happen at in the first term of a Starmer government. When pressed if the Labour leader would want a vote to take …