This week we met humanists in the UK campaigning for changes to the law that they believe would enhance people’s freedoms and, consequently, their capacity to lead full and flourishing lives. Many of the humanist goals we’ve explored this week are not shared by humanists alone. Large numbers of religious people also support these aims. In today’s plural society, many believe such freedoms would support us all to live better together.
Let’s summarise what we have learned:
- Humanists care deeply about freedom: freedom of expression, freedom of belief, freedom to choose how we live our lives. They will often argue that our freedoms should only be restricted in cases that would cause harm to others.
- Humanists typically believe that focusing on the fact that we are all human beings is better than drawing on distinctions of race, religion, gender, or sexuality.
- Humanists will support human rights as they believe they are extremely useful instruments for guaranteeing that freedom is maximised for all.
- Humanists support secularism (equal treatment by the state of all its citizens, regardless of religion or belief) as they believe a state run on such a principle benefits everybody.
- Many humanist campaigns focus on education, in particular on removing religious influence over the education system. They campaign against faith schools, for inclusive religious education, and for young people’s rights to relationships and sex education.
- Humanists campaign on a number of ethical issues including women’s reproductive rights and the right to an assisted death for those who are terminally ill or incurably suffering.
- Humanists believe there are deep connections between liberalism, democracy, and distinctively humanist values. Their aspiration is for a world in which all human beings can shape their own lives in accordance with their own beliefs and values.
This summary step is a good space to ask any questions you still have in the comments area and to take the opportunity to help out your fellow learners with their queries.
Next week, we will take a look at humanism from a more global perspective, turning our attention to humanists living in very different parts of the globe. We’ll meet humanists living in countries where their non-religious beliefs place their lives in danger, and we’ll encounter those who find themselves battling against religious and cultural traditions to create what they believe would be a more fair and equal society.
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