Coventry & Warwickshire Humanist

Summer 2018


Issued by Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

4 Collett Walk, Barrowfield Lane, Kenilworth CV8 1GZ

Website: Twitter: @CWHums

FB and Newsletter Editor: Derek Franklin

Tel: 01926 258413



A self-governing voluntary association affiliated to the International Humanist and Ethical Union [IHEU] and to the National Secular Society [NSS].

freedom / happiness / virtue

Guest editors

This month a couple of rooky guest editors are standing in for Derek Franklin who has unfortunately dislocated his shoulder and been unable to do his usual great editorial job.  We wish Derek well and hope he’ll soon be well enough to return. In the meantime, rank amateurs Phil and Alison have compiled this short update on recent news.  Any mistakes, omissions and daft ideas are entirely their responsibility.

Warwickshire Press Articles

Two new Humanist contributions by George Broadhead have been published in the Warwickshire press (Leamington Spa Courier, Kenilworth Weekly News and Warwick Courier).

Humanists warmly welcome the abortion referendum decision

Local Humanists have warmly welcomed the overwhelming vote to repeal the amendment on abortion in the referendum held in the Irish Republic and those in favour of repeal included Leo Varadkar, the out gay Taoiseach. 66% of voters were for repealing the amendment which forced an average of ten women and girls a day to leave the country to receive adequate medical care, causing them unnecessary expense, delays, anguish, and medical complications. Previously, Ireland had one of the strictest prohibitions on abortion, with women facing up to 14 years’ imprisonment. This restriction forced women to either travel to the UK to receive treatment, risk prosecution for procuring illegal online abortion pills, or continue their pregnancies against their wishes and in violation of their rights. The repeal was achieved despite very strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and it is another major blow to the Church following, as it does, the passing of legislation allowing same sex marriage.

Humanists supported the 1967 Abortion Act which legalised abortion in England Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland. The Humanist position is ‘pro-choice’. It is best, of course, if every child is a wanted child. Improved relationships and sex  education, more widely and freely available contraception (also opposed  by the Catholic Church), better education and services for young people, can all help to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. However, for as long as abortion is needed, society should provide safe and legal facilities to provide it. Anything less would inevitably increase the number of illegal and unsafe abortions, and would be an infringement on a woman’s right to choose.

We defend the right for women to gain access to safe abortion with appropriate secular counselling and to after-care. We also support liberalisation of the abortion laws which would include giving women in Northern Ireland the same rights to free abortions on the NHS as women in England, Scotland and Wales enjoy. Other desirable measures are to make access to safe, early abortions easier and measures to enable exclusion zones around abortion clinics. Some local Councils have already introduced these to enable clients to access them free from challenge, and sometimes very hostile intimidation, from religious protesters.

George Broadhead

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

Humanist praise for Tatchell demonstration

Local Humanists have praised the courageous demonstration made by Peter Tatchell in Moscow during the World Cup.

The decision to award Russia the right to host the World Cup has been questioned on account of its abysmal record on human rights, including LGBT rights. Although homosexuality was officially decriminalised in Russia in 1993, a more recent law banning “gay propaganda” has extended the state’s powers to arrest and detain people in the LGBT community. According to Amnesty International, “LGBTI people continued to face discrimination and violence” last year.

Gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who is a patron of the national Humanist organisation, Humanism UK, was arrested after holding a one-man protest near the Kremlin building in Moscow. He was holding a poster criticising Vladimir Putin’s complicity in the heinous treatment of gay men in Chechnya, an Islamic Republic. Last year, the United Nations called for an end to the abuse of human rights in Chechnya where men perceived as being gay are being forcibly detained and tortured in camps by local militias and security forces. Some are known to have died as a result of such treatment.

Humanists are very concerned about the severe clampdown on the right to free speech in Russia, which has intensified during its hosting of the World Cup, as well as the persecution of LGBT people that Peter was seeking to highlight.

Peter is a great example to those who believe that human rights are worth fighting for, risking his own health and safety in the process. Russia might want to silence those who shine a spotlight on its human rights abuses, but brave campaigners like Peter will always be there to hold them to account.

George Broadhead

Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

News round-up

Humanists UK campaign for more non-religious hospital ‘chaplains’ was reported in the Observer on Sunday 15 July.  The article included the following quote from Richy Thompson of Humanists UK: “Non-religious people want to meet someone who is like-minded and the data suggests religious chaplains don’t generally visit non-religious people,” he said. “Research shows that only around 4% of visits by religious chaplains are to the non-religious.”

“Our pastoral carers have a well-developed sense of their own non-religious belief system and are trained to deal with complex issues around meaning and purpose. Often being able to speak to someone who shares your world view facilitates the ability to explore deep existential questions and enhance someone’s wellbeing at a point of crisis.”

You can read the full article here and (recommended) scroll down to read some of the 400 odd comments from readers.  There are clearly a couple of trolls on both sides, but also some interesting views on the issue.

The Guardian and most of the religious press were keen to report on a survey which claimed that the post-millennial generation in the UK Generation Z) are slightly more tolerant of Christian faith and worship than those in older age groups.  The survey questioned just over 4,000 people in March 2018 and included some rather bizarre statements like ‘I would have more fun socialising with a Christian rather than an atheist’ (37% disagree; 56% neither agree nor disagree).  It was commissioned by Dr Krish Kandiah, whose new book Faitheism explores stereotypes about Christians and atheists.  Full results here.

You can listen to illusionist Derren Brown and the Rev Richard Coles, celebrity vicar discussing the search for happiness and whether humans can have meaning in their lives without a god here.

A new report on the future of religion in the education system by Professor Linda Woodhead and former Education Secretary Charles Clarke fails to impress Humanists UK and stops short of recommending the abolition of collective acts of worship in schools.

The Metro did a feature on a celebrity humanist celebrant. Carol Smillie, famous for presenting Changing Rooms (a while ago!) is now officiating at Humanist funerals in Scotland.  Good to see Humanism in the mainstream press.

Culture corner

A new film ‘The Devil Outside’ exploring the loss of faith previewed at the Edinburgh festival, taking a sceptical line on organised religion.

Faith and health conference

The National Secular Society will hold its first ever conference on the role of secularism within healthcare in October.

The Healthcare & Secularism Conference will be held in central Birmingham on Saturday 27 October. It will give participants the opportunity to discuss the most secular medical issues today, including conscientious objection, ritual circumcision, pastoral care and assisted dying.

More details here.

Green drinks

Local humanist friends are invited, along with other green thinking and socially aware people e.g Friends of the earth, Greens, etc, to Green Drinks every 1st Wed evening of the month, 7.30 onwards, at The Engine, 8 Mill End, Kenilworth CV8 2HP. Next meeting Wednesday 1st August 2018. Look forward to seeing you. In case of re-arrangement and for any other queries contact Tracey Drew or phone 01926 857782