This is the web site of the Suffolk Humanist and Secularist Group, providing fellowship, education and ceremonies for Humanists and Secularists in Suffolk, NE Essex, and elsewhere.
On 20th and 21st May, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will have its third reading in the House of Commons. The British Humanist Association supports same sex marriage, and has been campaigning for an amendment to the proposed legislation that would allow legal humanist weddings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Humanist weddings are already legally recognised in Scotland. From what I've read, the amendment is unlikely to succeed.
I've been asked to talk about the bill on BBC Radio Suffolk. I explained that perhaps they should ask someone else to do this, as although I support the principle of same sex marriage, I don't agree about legalising humanist weddings. They want me on the programme anyway. I should therefore make it clear that I'm doing so in a personal capacity, and not as a representative of either the BHA or of Suffolk Humanists and Secularists - the group hasn't discussed the issue or taken a position on it.
You can listen at about 8.10am on BBC Radio Suffolk, either on local radio or the Internet.
The IHEU reports: Death threats from authority figures, over a single topless photograph of an activist named Amina, have inspired a global backlash
"Her act could bring about an epidemic. It could be contagious and give ideas to other women. It is therefore necessary to isolate [the incident]…”
The cleric Almi Adel, chair of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Tunisia who spoke those words (French), may be chewing them over today, as news of Amina's protest, her detainment and the threats against her, have spread around the world and inspired many more to protest in her name. The cleric had also threatened that “The young lady should be punished according to sharia, with 80 to 100 lashes, but due to the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves be stoned to death.”
He was speaking in response to a protest action by Amina Tyler, an activist with FEMEN, who posted a photograph of herself topless to her FEMEN Tunisia Facebook page, bearing on her body the phrase “Fuck your morals”. Subsequently she was photographed for a media interview bearing the words “Women = Revolution”.
While we might join a campaign to prevent Amina from being punished, even killed, what do you think about the Femen protests? Are they likely to achieve what they set out to achieve, or will they provoke a predicatable negative reaction and nothing more? How else might we campaign about women's rights?
He told the religious big-wigs: "This government does care about faith. It does care about the institutions of faith, and it does want you to stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation."
Aggressive secularisation? The PM betrays his ignorance. There's no such thing, and secularism benefits the religious, though they don't appreciate it.
The BBC's bi-annual Red Nose Day broadcast, when "doing something funny for money" videos were interspersed with videos about people who need help, in the UK and Africa, included comedian Rowan Atkinson in a dog collar as a faux Archbishop of Canterbury. It's no longer possible to see Rowan's video on the Comic Relief website or on You Tube, thanks to 2,000 complaints from people who found it "offensive". One wonders if those 2,000 people were as irate over the offensive sight of babies in distress in poorly equipped African hospitals, dying from easily preventable diseases like malaria. If not, they should be ashamed of themselves.
Hayley Stevens has written about this on The Heresy Club website (young atheist, skeptic and freethinking bloggers):
Religion should never be exempt from criticism and ridicule, and for as long as the religious think otherwise, the joke is on them.
This was part of Atkinson's sketch:
Anyway, I hope I'll be able to talk to you more often like this but for now, from all of us in the good old C of E, have a wonderful night, keep on giving, keep on laughing, keep on praying – it doesn't work, but it's a good part of a getting-to-sleep routine if you've got insomnia.
There are Christians with a sense of humour. They're more likely to win friends and influence people than those who spend all their time being offended. However, I've heard that many young people have been asking how a benevolent god can allow so many babies to die from malaria, which amounts to negative publicity.
Red Nose day has raised over £75 million so far.
"We don't have to save the world. The world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it."
— Douglas Adams, Speech at The University of California.
If Douglas had lived, he'd have been 61 today. This is a speech he made in 2001, only days before his sudden death.
One of the creatures he talks about in his speech is the aye-aye. This is a 19th century engraving of one.
The aye-aye is a rare creature. So was Douglas Adams.
First posted on The Answer's 42
The Rationalist Association is aiming to set up a new online community. Caspar Melville of the RA writes:
We do not think that irrationalism, intolerance, special interests and dogma should go unquestioned or unanswered. We are building a community that can offer questions and better answers.
We want to invite you to our own "raising bee". You'll need to register, that is give us your email (and choose a password). That's it. By doing so you become a founder member of the online rationalist community that we are building right here on this website. We then want your help to raise this community. We'll be asking our founder members to help us decide what this community will become and what it stands for.
Want to join now, for nothing? Click here to go to the RA website.
Yesterday was Darwin Day. It's not officially recognised, yet, though some people here and in America would like it to be. There's even talk of making it a public holiday, in recognition of Darwin and his work. But if 12th February is Darwin Day, the 8th January should be Wallace Day, in recognition of the equally important work done by Alfred Russel Wallace, who worked out the theory of Natural Selection as a young man in Indonesia. He sent his ideas to Charles Darwin, who'd been dithering about publishing his theory of Evolution. The realisation that Wallace could beat him to it prompted Darwin to do something with his ideas, after ten years of procrastination. Both of their papers were read to the Linnean Society in 1858. Since then, Darwin has had most of the credit for the theory of Evolution, while Wallace has been largely forgotten.
Now, to help put things right, the Natural History Museum in London has launched Wallace 100 - Celebrating Alfred Russel Wallace's Life & Legacy. They have also hung his portrait next to the statue of Darwin in the main hall. About time.