Well! It’s less than a week since we were all wishing each other a very happy / fulfilling / prosperous New Year. So, on the related theme of togetherness – and as a life-long ‘no faith’ humanist, I’d like to tell you [today’s Radio Oxford’s listeners], that I consider OxCoF (Oxford’s Council of Faiths) deserves to be respected by humanists and other non-believers. Indeed, given that I’ve been an active participant in OxCoF activities for the past 18 months or so (i.e. ever since I was welcomed as their first “Associate, no faith, Member”, sometime in 2016), I’m fairly confident I’m right! Let me expand:
To the Editor, The Oxford Times Sir I read with interest [in the 11/1/18 edition of The Oxford Times] your article headed “Sharp decline in church weddings across county over past five years”. I don’t happen to know how Oxfordshire compares to the rest of England but in comparison with Scotland [where Humanist Weddings were legalised as long ago as 2005], there are a couple of potentially significant differences. The major difference is that in Scotland the rapid decline in the number of church weddings began about 15 years ago – from being over 50 % until the 1990s – to a low today of
Successive, well respected, UK-based social surveys have, for the past 30 years, been telling us that the proportion of UK adults identifying themselves as having no religion has increased from about 30% to just over 50%. The accuracy of the 50% figure was reinforced when (last December, 2015) the Woolf Institute – which studies relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews – published the results of its Church of England sponsored ‘Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life’. Their findings were consistent with today’s 50:50 equilibrium! Between our 2006 and 2013 AGMs, Oxford Humanists’ (OxHums’) membership grew a lot faster than the national average:
The Oxford University student newspaper, Cherwell, asked us to comment on the recent tweet from the Church of England, saying it was ‘praying for Richard Dawkins and his family’ after Dawkins’ recent stroke, and whether we agreed with allegations that it was opportunistic/disrespectful to Dawkins. Our response was as follows, made by David Lahee, in his capacity as Dialogue Officer for the Oxford Humanists: “In the absence of any concrete evidence to the contrary, we assume that the call for prayers for Richard Dawkins is made out of genuine concern and for no other reason. Naturally we do not expect such prayers to have any
I have always been attracted to religion. As a child attending a series of mostly C of E schools, I wanted to know God. Moses had his burning bush, the disciples had the feeding of the five thousand – of course they could believe in God. I actively looked for a sign It never came. In my student days I was still looking. I was soon picked up by the Christian Union people and taken to week-end retreats and prayed for. I attended a variety of the best churches that London had to offer. It just didn’t work for me. I am a rational person.
07 November 2015 My parents were ‘Anglo-Catholics’, this is the extreme ‘high church’ end of the Church of England spectrum. Naturally, as a young child, I believed everything my parents said; so followed their religion. However, I did start having doubts even before my teens; and never received satisfactory answers other than ‘God moves in mysterious ways’. I did question how people could become Christian before Jesus was born; and also realised I was only Christian because I happened to be born of Christian parents. If they were say Hindu, I’d be Hindu. Furthermore, all religions teach that all other religions are wrong; hence at
I became an atheist when I was about fourteen. My parents were both atheists, but I didn’t know that then, and was not brought up to be either an atheist, or religious. One of the attractive things about most of the atheists I have known is they don’t appear to feel a need to indoctrinate their children. They usually encourage them to think for themselves. My own parents tested my arguments by putting the opposite point of view, but never told me what to think. It was my job in life to decide what I thought. Lively discussion on a wide variety of subjects was
Preamble The 2011 Census recorded that almost a third of Oxford’s citizens didn’t have a religion. Yet we humanists are still largely treated by the establishment as little more than a fringe organisation and, at best, only mentioned as a tag-on to the well-known phrase “All Faiths (and none)”. Fortunately, the tag-on has at least enabled us to be given as much status over the past 2 years as other world religions during the annual [essentially Christian] Remembrance Sunday services. But few of you, I suspect, feel that this recognition is sufficient recognition for the over 30% of all local people we – in many