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Humanists UK, formerly the British Humanist Association, is an organisation and charity which promotes secularism and humanism in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1896 by Stanton Coit, it is one of the few groups in the UK, alongside the National Secular Society, to promote such goals on a national scale. Both the National Secular Society and Humanists UK are members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
In the 1960s, the BHA 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, and supports the right of women to access abortion.
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. In January 2012, the British government decided to prevent new so-called "Free Schools" from teaching creationism as science; those that do so will lose their funding. This is largely a symbolic victory however, as outside a handful of high-profile instances, creationism was not commonly taught in state-funded schools in the UK. In 2014, Humanists UK announced the success of their campaign, saying the campaign's aims had "largely been met"; in July 2014, the government had announced Free Schools and Academies were precluded from teaching creationism as science, requiring all such schools to teach evolution, and in August 2014 closing a loophole that allowed creationist private schools to receive state funding via nurseries.
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. The ruling was welcomed by the BHA, but criticised by many Christians, including Christian groups, MPs, and (surprise, surprise!) the Daily Fail.
Membership and support
According to Humanists UK, they have "over 40,000 members and supporters and over 90 local and special interest affiliates". This makes Humanists UK the largest secularist/humanist group in the UK; although the fellow secularist group NSS doesn't release membership numbers it has been estimated to have around 10,000 members, based on figures from donations. In 2016 Shappi Khorsandi, an atheist lady of Asian origin, became the group's president.
In May 2017, the organisation changed its name from the British Humanist Association (BHA) to Humanists UK, adopting a new logo and look.
- Freedom from Religion Foundation
- National Secular Society
- International Humanist and Ethical Union
- Felix Adler
- British Humanist Association Becomes Humanists UK
- BHA becomes Humanists UK
- The New President of the British Humanist Association Talks About Being an Asian Atheist