humanistmum

I discovered a while back that I'm a secular humanist . . . trying to figure out what to do about it.


1 Comment

Gay Marriage Is Wrecking My Marriage

As the people of Ireland head to the ballot boxes to cast their votes on whether to legalise same-sex marriage I am forced to consider the impact that these crazy-in-love homosexuals have had since it all became legal in the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland, naturally).

So how has gay marriage ruined my own my own marital harmony? Some of the arguments against it are surprisingly convincing . . .

  • Marriage is, and has always been, a covenant between a man and a woman. You cannot change this definition without undermining the entire wonderful concept.

How on earth can I be expected to call myself a married woman if there are gay people out there daring to think their relationships have as much value as mine? Society and Disney are on my side so I must have a point.

Every person who has ever been married will tell you that your wedding day is step one to your happy-ever-after. Unless they’ve  been divorced. Or domestically abused. Or in an unhappy marriage. Or married to a human person.

  • It violates natural law.

Gay people aren’t able to get themselves accidentally pregnant; this has been decreed by nature and should therefore be respected. Just like disease. Nature wants you to die from an antibacterial infection so just take it like a man all you nature haters.

Marriage is for making babies so back off all you gays/infertiles/career-cravers/crazies who believe in freedom of choice.

  • Homosexuality is morally wrong – we can’t condone it.

I don’t want to get down and dirty with another woman so how on earth can these people not be immoral? Why can’t they all just choose the same life I have because everything makes sense to me that way.

Sometimes I lie awake at night unable to have sex with my husband because I can’t stop crying about all the gay love going on out there.

  • If it’s legal people in the business of marrying folk are going to have to cater to this craziness.

What’s the point in religious institutions if they aren’t able to weed out and discriminate the rotten eggs in our society? They have no record whatsoever of immoral activity. Not on the scale of two people of the same sex loving each other anyway.

If my local priest ends up being forced to marry two gay guys he’ll probably cry himself to sleep and also not be able to have sex with his wife that night just worrying about how he’s spreading homosexuality with his liberalness and equality law obedience.

  • Think of the children!

Next thing you know these gay folk are going to think they have the right to foster or adopt and that surrogacy is OK. How will these children feel that their parents are both the same gender? Everyone knows kids can only be happy growing up with a Mummy and Daddy who stay married forever or they get terribly sad until the day they die (don’t get smart you trans lot).

Oh yeah, apart from kids with experience of divorced parents/a single parent/parents with an unhappy marriage/one deceased parent /adoption/fostering/domestic abuse. These things may all have a traumatic effect on a child but there is a way back and the opportunity to have a happy adulthood with a bit of luck. Not like finding out your two Daddy’s love each other and like to cuddle – there is no coming back from something like that.

Sometimes I wish I had never got married because when you find out what marriage means to some people you start to question why you wanted to do it in the first place. I’m a member of a club that I didn’t know I was joining. I was just in it for the party and the celebration of love hippy stuff but I seem to have bought into something a little more sinister.

Advertisements


5 Comments

Atheist Church

For the past few years I’ve felt something was missing. Years of experience and trying really really hard to be a good Christian girl have forced me to conclude that this is not a God-shaped hole that can be filled by finding the Church that suits me.

I’ve found much comfort and learned so much through exploring humanism, “militant” atheism, secularism and even briefly googled buddhism and the Unitarian Church.

All interesting but I still feel like my young children can’t really engage as fully in the community as I would like without me getting over my aversion to God.

Now I have stumbled across something new – The Sunday Assembly.

The Atheist Church – except it’s not an Atheist Church and that’s the best bit!

The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.

We are here for everyone who wants to:

  • Live Better. We aim to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and practical ideas that help people to live the lives they want to lead and be the people they want to be

  • Help Often. Assemblies are communities of action building lives of purpose, encouraging us all to help anyone who needs it to support each other

  • Wonder More. Hearing talks, singing as one, listening to readings and even playing games helps us to connect with each other and the awesome world we live in.

The Sunday Assembly

  1. Is 100% celebration of life. We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together.
  2. Has no doctrine. We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources.
  3. Has no deity. We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do.
  4. Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting.
  5. Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run. We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work.
  6. Has a community mission. Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good.
  7. Is independent. We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organisations or services
  8. Is here to stay. With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place
  9. We won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can
  10. And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have

What should you expect from a Sunday Assembly event?

Just by being with us you should be energised, vitalised, restored, repaired, refreshed and recharged. No matter what the subject of the Assembly, it will solace worries, provoke kindness and inject a touch of transcendence into the everyday.

But life can be tough… It is. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, we have moments of weakness or life just isn’t fair. We want The Sunday Assembly to be a house of love and compassion, where, no matter what your situation, you are welcomed, accepted and loved.

Most of all, have fun, be nice and join in.

Sounds a bit too good to be true. I’m still looking for the catch. We travelled to attend an event and it was honestly fantastic. When I look back objectively it was not the greatest music I ever heard, it was not the greatest speaking I have ever listened to and I certainly still felt a little bit sceptical that there wasn’t some other agenda. But on the day we were, what I can only describe as buzzing afterwards and set on trying to create a local group.We felt refreshed, reinvigorated and we met some genuinely lovely people.

You can argue about what everyone does or does not believe until the cows come home but I am sold on the idea that connecting with other people is the number one thing that brings people comfort and happiness.

Even if you live in a place without an Assembly close by (and just wait because they are rapidly spreading) it is important to remember that there are many ways to connect with other people and it is human to want to do so. Sometimes we have to forget this us-and-them mentality and rememeber that even religious folk may believe some crazy things but they are ultimately just trying to connect with their own communities and get that same feeling of belonging and that is human, not spiritual.

My vision would be that everyone has a choice. If you need a place to go and connect with other people, no questions asked, you can choose to go to Church or you can choose to go to your Sunday Assembly/community group. Somewhere where your belief or unbelief is irrelevant. Creating that choice for people will give far more power to atheists than continually telling people they are wrong to feel connected to alive when they worship.


Leave a comment

Wolf-Whistling Is Not a Compliment

These days I rarely have to deal with the issue of wolf-whistling in my day-to-day life. A combination of generally walking with childen, getting a little older and a change in men’s behaviour has definitely been a positive in my own life. But does that mean the problem has gone away for the women of the UK?

Poppy Smart, 23, from Worcester has been plastered over newspapers and the internet for the past few days because she took the unusual step of reporting to police the laddish behaviour of builders on a site she had to walk past on her day to work each day.

On a daily basis she would be the unwanted recipient of wolf-whistles, sexual comments and felt extremely intimidated when one of the men (with several others close by) blocked her path one day to really drive home just how attractive he found her physical form.

My first feeling when I read the story was of pure admiration for a woman who tried to deal with this herself for a long period of time before calmly and rationally deciding that rather than change her route to work she would try and tackle this behaviour and let these men know how intimidated they were making her feel.

She went to the police who spoke to the building firm involved who promised to talk to the men. (The firm have subsequently denied that it was their workers although they have mysteriously stopped whistling whilst they work).

It is, however, the massive publicity that Poppy has attracted and the social and journalistic commentery which is the real story here. The public war of words between the bra-burning ice-queen feminists who cannot take a joke versus the guardians of longstanding British tradition of “banter”.

So what do the feminists have to say on the issue?

  • It can be very intimidating for women of all ages to have a group of men shouting or whistling at them when they are walking alone, even if the men mean no harm.
  • It can be very embarassing for a woman to have to deal with sexual attention when they are not reciprocating any interest and they are just trying to get to their destination.
  • Many, many women will regularly change their route or cross over the road to avoid walking past groups of builders (myself being one of them) which just should not happen in a society where we are supposed to be equals.
  • There are far better ways for men to show they are interested in a woman or compliment her.
  • If a man can see that a woman is uncomfortable or doesn’t respond in a delighted manner the onus should be on him to BACK THE FUCK OFF rather than demand she lightens up and enjoys the attention.

And what about the people who think Poppy has just gone a step too far here?

  • It’s a compliment, duh.
  • Lighten up and just ignore it if you don’t like it, it’s the right of those men to repeatedly tell you every day how much they would like to have sex with you regardless of how you feel.
  • Change your route if you don’t like it.
  • It’s just a bit of fun.
  • Some women love being wolf-whistled – why are you trying to ruin the fun for everybody.
  • “If she walks past again and is lucky she’ll get wolf-whistled again.” (From the lovely chap she complained about).
  • “I only saw the back of her, I didn’t even see her face and you can see in the video the wolf-whistle comes after she had passed the gate. I didn’t even see her face, and I wouldn’t recognise her if I fell over her in the street, so I don’t know how that could possibly be sexual harassment.” (Same guy).

  • “It’s not worth getting into trouble over some silly little girl. I don’t know why she complained, she must be thinking things above her station.'” (Yep, same guy).

It seems to me this girl is a victim of harassment and if that guy was my son I’d be horrified I’d raised such a pig. Seriously if his mother is out there, how are you not ashamed of his complete lack of respect for women and his intimidation of a young woman?

How difficult can it be to understand. If a woman is not flirting or reciprocating a sexual advance (even if it is a compliment) LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE. Women are people not just pieces of meat to be gawped at and they have the right to walk down any street they want without fearing how a man might react towards them.


Leave a comment

5 Reasons Worship Should Be Kept out of Our Schools

In the UK it is compulsory for all school students up until the age of 16 to take part in a compulsory, daily act of collective worship to God. I believe this is wrong for the following reasons.

1) What a massive waste of time. Reports of kids leaving school unable to read a book properly and yet they can recite the Lord’s Prayer with their eyes closed.I’m not saying they can’t go at the weekend but school is for learning and questioning, not worship.

2) Faith should be a personal choice. Don’t force them – once they fly the nest they’ll either believe or they won’t.

3) Not all religious people believe the same thing, even if they go to the same Church/Mosque/Gurdwara etc. Who decides what they are teaching to 5-year-olds? Some love the gays, some not so much, some believe women shouldn’t speak in Church and they should grow up to serve their husbands, others like their women feisty and opinionated. You can bet your goat they’ll all have their opinions sanctioned by the same God.

4) Kids just want to have fun. Until we tell them your life is meaningless if you just want to enjoy it. I mean, empathy is important and if fun means kicking small animals then there need to be some boundaries enforced and a therapist involved. But let them play and lay off the indoctrination until they’re equipped to disagree.

5) Why would someone believe something so strongly they would legislate to try and force everyone else to believe the same thing, or at least pretend to? Because they are a corrupt, power-hungry, arrogant politician with an agenda who knows perfectly well that freedom to practice religion is completely different from compulsory worship for the most vulnerable in society.


2 Comments

Is Atheism Enough?

English: Atheist Bus Campaign creator Ariane S...

Atheist has somehow managed, in certain circles, to become a dirty word. In fact, in situations where I suspect I may be amongst believers I prefer to keep the term non-believer in my back pocket in case somebody should ever ask me where my spiritual allegiances lie. Not that this happens all too often, but on occasions in the past where it was sprung on me all of a sudden I was finding it difficult to call myself an atheist withour following it up with, “But I’m not against other people believing in whatever they want . . . “.

There have certainly been more publications and prominent voices in recent years willing to challenge the notion that personal and religious belief should not be called into question. Voices such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins ask people to consider that religion can actually be harmful and should be challenged when possible. The atheist conversation dubbed The Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on youtube and the genre of New Atheism sees books in this field sell consistently well.

There are those that would have you believe there is a growing army of militant atheists, not content with living their own meaningless existences, but devoted to destroying religion for everyone else, everywhere. The extremist voices on the topic seem to generate the most headlines, just as they do in religious communities.

Your evangelical Christians like the delightful folk from the Westboro Baptist Church in America do not appear to represent the views of the Christians that I know, or indeed the views I held when I would have called myself a Christian. That’s not to say my Church did not condemn homosexuality and other types of behaviour, I guess they just didn’t condemn it quite as much or persecute people to this extreme. The only thing I respect about these people is their ability to quote Bible passages to back up their crappy behaviour; most Christians from my childhood cherry picked a handful of Bible quotations they liked to remember but didn’t delve much deeper.

Your evangelical atheists are somewhat similar in my eyes as someone who fits into the same category. The people who hold Richard Dawkins or Charles Darwin in such high esteem it’s tantamount to worship. I might enjoy reading the same books and watching the same documentaries on religion as the militant crew but I found it to be a problem when I was reading or watching too much on the same topic.

I tended to get more than a little angry about the existence of religion and it’s intrusion into my family in even the smallest of ways. When religion and it’s downsides became the most important thing in my thinking I could see it everywhere and I would feel angry a lot of the time and desperate for the world around me to change. A part of me wanted to fit in and do what I was brought up to belive was right, and another part of me wanted to tell everyone spouting this crap that they were wrong. Look at the evidence! Think about what we’re all saying and doing here!

The main problem is that living life feeling pissed off most of the time is just not a fun way to exist. If a person is unable to shift their opinions on religion one way or the other, is it ever worth choosing to feel angry all of the time about anything? Maybe if the Westboro Baptist people took just a few days off to mentally relax and just do something fun for the hell of it without thinking about The Lord they might not be so completely consumed by saving their own souls and condemning others.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good atheist/believer debate and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins will always be close to my heart as a book I really needed to read at the time I came across it. My vote will always go towards secular policies and I would like to see the influence and grip that religion has on most societies around the world greatly reduced.

Does that mean I’m trying to deconvert people? Nope. Believe what you want but don’t discriminate against others or set up any aspect of the state that would put pressure on peoople to choose to miss out on access to services if they don’t believe (i.e. weddings/faith schools/political parties etc.).

So I’m pasasionately atheist and in many ways I am absolutely anti-religion. So, considering the fact I know religion is not going to disappear from my society in my lifetime, no matter what I do, and as an atheist I think this life is all I have, how can I justify spending all my time alive sulking about it?

I remebered something that happened several years ago on a night out with some University friends in Manchester. Back in those days I was a chain smoker and for many reasons I wasn’t planning to quit any time soon (primarily I believed, and still do, that smoking had helped me control my tendency to abuse alcohol and at least I knew I would end up safely in my own bed at night). I was unconcerned about the health implications because I figured I’d just quit when I was older and I enjoyed the social side of it. When the ban on smoking indoors was introduced in the UK it had the surprisingly pleasent effect of creating smoking areas just outside every pub and bar.

Smoking areas were a place to get away from the music and actually talk to another human being. It felt cool to be there, with all the other cool peoole who were unconcerned with health statistics and wasting money. On this particualr night out I had gone outside to smoke with a close friend and one of her friends from back home, with a particularly judgemental and outspoken personality, joined us and spent the entire time telling me how bad smoking was for me. Did you know it’s bad for your health? Non smokers tend to absolutley hate the smell and they can smell it instantly on someone’s clothes or breath. Cigarettes are expensive! Why would you spend so much? It causes cancer you know. It’s really addictive and the sooner you quit, the better.

As a non-smoker these days I actually agree with all this, and I feel much healthier and wheeze a lot less during exercise than I used to. But, funnily enough her speech was not the thing that made me change. The fact is I already knew all of this when this girl gave her unsolicited advice and I had my own reasons why I wanted to continue smoking anyway. If anything, I mentally flipped her the finger and decided I would never be as boring and sactimonious as that. She may have had good intentions but people using that technique of lecturing others about things they already know and chose to ignore rarely win people round in a conversation.

I thought of that girl when I started getting the urge to point out how silly it was for a friend to baptise their child or when I wanted to point out moral issues I have with the story of the ten plagues to an enthusiactic Church playgroup volunteer. I was conflicted all the time about being preachy versus feeling like I should be honest with what I really thought. Constantly biting your tongue can leave you feeling like you want to scream.

I think I’m on a better path now. I’ve been trying for a while now to find more positive ways to engage with Atheism. I don’t want to switch off from caring but I don’t want to transfer my feelings on religion onto every individual I come across who has had different experiences to my own.

Postitve ways to engage with Atheism

1) Help others in your community just because, well, it’s nice to. And be honest about your lack of faith if it ever crops up in conversation. One of the most important ideas we have to challenge is that atheists are lacking morality or the desire to help others because they haven’y got a book telling them to do so.

2) Humanism. I like to describe myself as a humanist because it clarifies that I am not an atheist who hates all religious people out there or thinks they are stupid. Humanists are all about not harming others and encourage people to think for themselves rather than trying to tell them what they should or shouldn’t think.

3) Sunday Assembly. This organisation is growing fast and has a simple mission:

  • We are a godless congregation that celebrates of life.
  • We have an awesome motto: Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More.
  • A super mission: to try to help everyone find and fulfil their full potential.
  • An awesome vision: a godless congregation in every town city, or village that wants one.

This is as far as I’ve got with positive atheism but I’m far happier than when I was just angry and having a lot more fun in life with lots of different people. So does anyone else have any ideas or organisations to add to my list? How can we make atheism a positive life choice that doesn’t require us to fight the believers?