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British Humanist Association

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The British Humanist Association, founded in 1896 by Stanton Coit,[1] is an organisation and charity which promotes secularism and humanism in the United Kingdom.[2] Along with the National Secular Society, it is one of the few groups in the UK which promote such goals on a national scale. Both the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association are members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.[3]


In the 1960s they supported repealing Sunday Observance Laws and reforming the 1944 Education Act, which required compulsory daily prayer at state-funded schools. The group supports assisted dying/voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill,[4] and supports the right of women to access abortion.[5]

They were opposed to a UN resolution put forward by Islamic States for the "defamation of religion".[6]

In 2011 they launched a campaign "Teach evolution, not creationism!", which supports teaching evolution in science class, and preventing state-funded schools from presenting creationism as a scientific theory.[7] In January 2012 the British Government decided to prevent new 'Free Schools' from teaching creationism as science - those that do so will lose their funding.[8] This is more of a symbolic victory, as outside of a number of high-profile instances, creationism isn't commonly taught in state-funded schools anyway.

In February 2012 the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor took Bideford Town Council to the British High Court over prayers held during council meetings. The High Court ruled the town council was not acting lawfully, citing the Local Government Act 1972, and that prayers should stop.[9] The ruling was welcomed by the BHA,[10][11] but criticised by many Christians,[12][13][14] including Christian groups, MPs, and (surprise, surprise!) the Daily Fail.[15]

Membership and Support[edit]

According to the BHA, they have "over 40,000 members and supporters and over 90 local and special interest affiliates".[16] This makes the BHA the largest secularist/humanist group in the UK, since although fellow secularist group the NSS doesn't release membership numbers, it has been estimated at around 10,000 based on donations from members.[17] Their new president is Shappi Khorsandi, an atheist lady of Asian origin.[18]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]