Haywards Heath meeting 14th April 2011


Our guest this month was former Haywards Heath resident Alan Palmer, active member of Central London Humanists (the largest group in the UK).

Alan was active in the United Reform church but became a Humanist after reading books like The God Delusion. In the last few years, he has built up the contact list of Central London Humanists to around 1000, with regular meetings of around 50 members from across London. He played a leading role in organising the Protest the Pope march and subsequently took part in several controversial debates with representatives of Opus Dei.

Alan gave us more advice on how to run a successful group. He encouraged us to make contact with other local groups that are concerned with issues surrounding human rights. He also suggested holding debates with religious groups, like the Opus Dei debates he organised. Other suggestions included outings (e.g. visit it Darwin's house, picnics, humanist choir) and supporting any local issues, such as new "faith" schools/academies.

We considered how to attract members of ethnic minority communities, as Humanist membership is dominated by white, educated middle class people. A recent Guardian article suggested that we can learn from the experiences of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) movement, where "coming out" was a major problem in the early years.

Other topics of discussion included a failing "faith"school (where the most criticised employee was a science teacher promoting creationism); the recent excommunication of medical staff who carried out an abortion on a woman whose life was in danger, even though there was no hope of saving the baby; A.C Grayling's The Good Book (which was probably not such a good idea).

Alan invited us to attend Central London Humanists and also suggested we invite their members to a future meeting in Haywards Heath.


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