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East London Humanist chair Paul Kaufman says it is not just the religious who do good

PUBLISHED: 09:38 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:38 13 May 2015

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A lot of good things are done under the banner of religion, such as providing night shelters for the homeless.

Is there anything equivalent done under the Humanist banner? In fact, surveys show the non-religious do at least as much “good stuff” as the religious – for example by giving money to charity.

However, we generally feel no need to advertise our beliefs when we do this. We simply act on the human urge to help others rather than to please a God or win converts.

There are exceptions to our reticence. For example, there is a growing movement to provide Humanist “chaplains” who can give pastoral care in hospitals, prisons and the armed forces to people who don’t believe in God. Promise of an afterlife is no solace to someone who doesn’t believe in it and can be intrusive and upsetting.

Another example of positive Humanism is in the field of education. In April East London Humanists hosted a discussion led by Steve Hurd, founder of the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. Universal primary education was introduced in Uganda in 2003.

However, the government is unable to meet the demand for secondary education.

The gap has largely been filled by religious groups, including fundamentalist evangelical Christians from the US.

The Trust was created to support the alternative of a liberal, secular education. It currently helps fund three Humanist secondary schools in Uganda.

Uganda has proved fertile territory for a vicious homophobic creed preached by some of the fundamentalist groups. There were whoops of joy by fanatical Christian members of the Ugandan Parliament when a bill was passed to introduce the death penalty for homosexual acts, a measure which has thankfully now been overturned.

It is a reminder, were one needed, that sincerely held religious belief is also capable of causing great harm.


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