I wouldn’t join any cult that would have me as a member…

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I got the latest issue of the British Humanist Association‘s newsletter in the post today. Weird, since I don’t recall asking for a copy. As a secularist and an atheist, I happen to also believe that data protection is a pretty important thing as well, so whoever decided to pass on my contact details, bad move pal. I very much hope it wasn’t the newly formed Liberal Democrat Humanist and Secularists Society, which I may or may not have contacted at some point (it certainly didn’t include a covering letter from them).

It’s a bizarre newsletter, and reads like a parish magazine. On the left hand column on page one, they’ve included a list of recent opinion polls that suggest that religion is a bit shit. One of the most spurious is a phone in poll of New Statesman readers, 96% of whom are against faith schools. Big surprise there then! Then there’s the frankly surreal article about a humanist families day out in York, where concerned humanist parents got to share horror stories about religious images and propaganda “even at toddler group.” For shame.

A few things really bugged me. For starters, why is “Humanism” presented as a proper noun? Another is a quote from a Concerned Parent about an RE lesson: “In his second RE lesson of the year the RE tacher wrote the word ‘Atheist’ on the board (I guess ‘Humanist’ is a bridge too far) as part of a questionaire about Year 6 children’s beliefs and values…” What the bloody hell is wrong with the term “atheist”?!

It all smacks me as a little cultish, and that’s coming from a subscriber to Liberal Democrat News (bdum, tshhh!). In fact, what it reminded me most of all was the stuff I read at university (doing my, um, religious studies degree), about Auguste Comte and his attempt to replace Christianity with Positivism, which to all intents and purposes resembled another religion. As an atheist, I don’t have any hole in my life that needs filling with something. I don’t need to give my lack of believe a sense of importance by capitalising the first letter in the term commonly used to describe it. All it is is a lack of belief, period.

One thing I never realised was that humanists, as part of their unceasing campaign against idolatry, seem to want to replace the Christian cross with a Humanist stick man, shaped like an H. The only problem with that symbol is it looks like the poor fellow is being tortured on a rack. It’s hardly a step on from crucifiction, is it?

Finally, they helpfully provided me with a flyer of Christmas, sorry, “Winterval” cards for me to send to friends and family. However, unlike the charity cards I usually buy (and always fail to send), the money raised from these cards appear to go towards enriching an individual. Perhaps they should call themselves Materialists, capital “M”?

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