East London Humanist chairman Paul Kaufman asks how will humanists vote on May 22


- Credit: Archant

How will humanists vote at the upcoming elections? Your guess is as good as mine. We are a diverse group but are also very much part of the mainstream.

As with many issues today, such as environmentalism and sexual politics, our views do not fall easily into a left/right divide. What we mainly have in common is our lack of religious belief combined with an ethical outlook on life based on human values. The All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group has more than 100 members from all parties.

There are celebrity members who have “nailed their colours to the mast”, such as Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais. The UK Armed Forces Humanist Association is the second largest belief group in the forces.

We are less likely to vote for candidates, who seek to impose their religious views on and at the expense of others, for example in relation to abortion, gay rights and faith schools.

A local example concerns us is in neighbouring Tower Hamlets. Our group made a complaint last year to the council about its Community Faith Buildings Support Scheme. Under this the council is giving £3million to faith groups. The scheme excludes and discriminates against community groups who have no religious belief. Our complaint is still being pursued.

There is no reason why we wouldn’t vote for candidates just because they have a religious belief. Often we share the same values as some religious candidates, for example on the importance of helping the less fortunate and striving for peace and fairness. One thing that is certain is that we are likely to vote. Our concern is about making the world a better place in the here and now, not in a mythical hereafter that we don’t believe in. We generally believe that everyone who is interested in what happens in our communities should vote and make their opinion count, even if it’s just to say, none of the above.