Newsletter Vol 1 No. 2

Central London Humanists

BHA Partner Group

EHF - Consultative Member European Humanist Federation

IHEU - Associate Member International Humanist & Ethical Union

"How Black bodies challenge humanist ethics"

I recently watched a talk given by humanist Dr Anthony Pinn to the New York Society for Ethical Culture

This may seem a very US-centred talk but there are many issues being addressed here which I think have a  relevance not only to New York's Manhattan but equally to Central London. 

Dr Pinn's style is deceptive in its simplicity. He explores the minefield of race with a delicate and careful choice of language coupled with a  dramatic and playful turn of phrase eliciting an avalanche of thoughts.
The lecture is called "How Black bodies challenge humanist ethics".
He tells us many times that a body being black is significant. He says black bodies  have been rendered hyper-visible. Black bodies, he claims, are deeply noticed.  He speaks of  time and space and the geography of mind and place. He refers to Manhattan as the place where he feels most 'embodied'. Should we be surprised at this urbane man's claim? 

He speaks of bodies moving through space and time. He says this is the history of the United States; a nation of migration and immigration. Of course, this is also true of London. He quotes alternately and repetitively extracts from an 18th Century South Carolina code restricting the movements of enslaved Africans and a recent emergency call to the police in February 2012 about Trayvon Martin. The slave code states that slaves are not permitted to travel without an accompanying white person. If a slave travelled alone it was incumbent on all white people to chastise him. A homeowner at night calls the police to report seeing a suspicious man wandering around in the rain and he assumes that he must be up to no good. In the end the innocent wanderer, Trayvon Martin, is shot dead by George Zimmerman.

We may not all be so familiar with some of the references, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansbury, Walt Whitman, Henry Thoreau, Harriet Tubman and others, but I don't think this reduces the accessibility of what Dr Pinn is saying. Whilst the slave experience is not shared in quite the same way it has also inhabited the London streets with those who came from the Carribean to seek new opportunities in the motherland. The discourse on race and colour everywhere in the world has been deeply influenced by slavery and imperialism
For me one of the quiet descriptions that stung most pointedly was when he spoke of being in the street, of wearing a suit, not a hoodee, and yet people crossed the street.

We are being challenged in this talk to consider how we as humanists should respond to diversity and difference.

Schools should be places where students can learn effectively and without the interfering influence of political or religious groups. But the Catholic Church in England is using students to pursue a political agenda. 

Tell the Church to get their homophobia out of our kids' schools! »

The Catholic Education Service, who act on behalf of Catholic bishops in Wales and England, recently contacted every taxpayer-funded secondary school in England and Wales and asked them to encourage students to sign a petition against gay marriage.

The 385 schools were also presented with a letter that says it is Catholics' "duty" to preserve traditional marriage. »

Not only is this against sections 406 and 407 in the 1996 Education Act, which prohibits political indoctrination of students and requires that political stances not be presented in bias ways, but it encourages bigotry in impressionable adolescents. And that is just wrong.

Please tell the Catholic Education Service to stop using students to fight against gay marriage! »


Don't Use Students as Pawns in Political Fights!

Take action now.
Take Action!
Take action link:

Take Action: Holy Redundant!

Visit the website for ‘Holy Redundant’ today and write to your MP.

You can also like the campaign on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Join our campaign, ‘Holy Redundant’ and remove privilege from parliament.

News from the BHA

Concern at pseudo-scientific Maharishi and Steiner Free Schools

Along with Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter; David Colquhoun, Professor of Pharmacology at University College London; and the science writer Simon Singh, we signed a letter in the Observer expressing concern about pseudo-scientific Free Schools, specifically directed at Maharishi and Steiner schools. Read our full report here.

Creationist Free School bids rejected as other ‘faith’ schools advance to interviews

Bids to set up creationist Free Schools have been rejected by the Department for Education (DfE). In particular, the DfE have turned down a high-profile bid from Sheffield Christian Free School, which would have been affiliated to the Christian Schools’ Trust (CST) network of largely creationist private schools. Read more here.

Bill giving Humanist marriage ceremonies legal status in England and Wales is introduced into Parliament

A Private Members Bill with the intention of giving humanist marriage ceremonies legal status will have its First Reading in the House of Lords today (16 May 2012), marking the first stage in the legislative process. Read more here.

The above news is from a latest BHA email - to see the complete message with other items click here .

The Great Gay Mariage Debate

Essential text of poster image
Catholic Voices and British Humanist Association
The Great Gay Marriage Debate
Chair: Rober Bolton
Proposing: Andrew Copson, Tina Beattie, Jonathan Romain
Opposing:Austin Ivereigh, Brendan O'Neil, Richard Waghorne
29th May 6.15-7.45pm,  Emmanuel Centre Westminster 9-23 Marsham Street SW1P 3DW
Places strictly limited and must be reserved in advance by emailing events@catholic (put 'Debate' in the subject line and state number of tickets and names.) Cost: £5 payable on door.

Central London Humanists report to European Humanist Federation's General Assembly

UTRECHT, MAY 24, 2012

My name is Josh Kutchinsky. I am the membership and e-reminders organiser of the Central London Humanist group and its official representative to this assembly.

I have been asked by our committee, on behalf of our members, to pass on greetings and good wishes to all the member organisation of the European Humanist Federation and to all who are attending the GA and the associated conference.

The Central London Humanist Group is a partner group of the British Humanist Association. Our membership falls into two categories voting and non-voting. To be a voting member you are required to be a paid up member of the national organisation, the BHA. We have over 200 voting members. Voting and Non-voting members join us either on our meetup or facebook group. We have over 1000 non-voting members. We are pleased with the range and diversity of our membership which we believe reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the UK's capital city.

In the last year we have:

  • held 12 talks or lectures
  • gone on 6 walks
  • enjoyed 10 book group meetings
  • marched, rallied or supported 6 campaigning events
  • seen 2 film shows
  • visited 2 places of interest - Darwin's house and a cartoon museum
  • socialised at 8 lunches, 1 picnic, I Yuletide party and 19 get-togethers

We are proud to be founding organisers of the Campaign for a Secular Europe.

Our Constitution states as one of its aims that our group is to engage with national and international humanist organisations, thereby providing our members with information and access to a wider world of humanist interest and cooperation.

We are pleased to continue our membership of the EHF

Thank you.

Events in the next few days

(to see details visit our meetup site)
2 days to go -
3 days to go -
5 days to go -


Come Out4Marriage! Love is the same, straight or gay and the civil institution should be the same also. We're fighting for the right of every couple in love, whether they're a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman to have the same rights to marry. Powered by the Coalition for Equa...
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Humanists are treated like second-class citizens

On May 1, the Irish government approved legislation allowing members of non-religious groups to perform civil marriages.
The Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill completed its progress in the Seanad on May 2. It proposes to give the right to conduct civil marriages to non-religious groups, which must be a "philosophical and non-confessional body".
In the UK, a couple who want a humanist wedding must arrange two separate ceremonies, one at a registry office and the other at the venue which they have chosen.


Wonderful news: UHESWO’s documentary film “Awaited Dawn” won the award of the best East African Short Movie of the European Film Festival 2012.
The occasion of awarding the winner was held in Dares Salaam at Alliance Francaise by the European Union on May 15.
This thirteen minute documentary film is about a twelve and a fourteen year old girl who were involved into prostitution and how UHESWO came in to rescue them.
UHESWO was founded by Betty Nassaka and stands for the Ugandan Humanist Effort to Save Women.
This is a very strong documentary about two young girls forced into prostitution and the harsh reality they live in.
How can you grow up an be given an equal opportunity to a good life like other kids when your mum is the one pimping you out...?
UHESWO´s job is to find these girls and give them counseling and support so they can be given the opportunity to create a new and better life for themselves.

MAY 2012
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