Category Archives: Humanist lives

Pat Duffy Hutcheon: A Humanist Life

8865-pat-duffy-hutcheon

Pat Duffy Hutcheon was born in 1926 in rural Alberta. She became a sociologist of education, writing a major textbook in the field, and in her later years emerged as a well-known Humanist author, including The Road to Reason: Landmarks in the History of Humanist Thought (2001) and Leaving the Cave: Evolutionary Naturalism in the Sociol Scientific Thought (1996). She published an autobiography, The Lonely Trail: The Life Journey of a Freethinker (2009). She was named Humanist of the Year 2000 by the Humanist Association of Canada. She died on 4 February 2010 three months after this interview.  patduffyhutcheon.com

Continue reading

Nigel Bruce: A Humanist Life

Nigel Bruce was born in London in 1921. From the 1950s to the 1990s, he published many pamphlets and books, including Radical Readings: A Guide to the Humanist Perspective; A Student’s Guide to Secular Humanism[1]; and Face to Face With Families. He was a frequent letter writer to The Scotsman newspaper. He was a leading campaigner for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and organised the erection of a statue to the philosopher David Hume. In the 1990s he contributed to the redesign of religious education in Lothian Region Schools, and to the design of the children’s courts system in Scotland. Callum Brown interviewed Nigel in his Edinburgh home in April 2010. 

Continue reading

Khushi Ram: A Humanist Life

Khushi Ram was born in an isolated village in the Punjab in India in 1921. He emigrated to Canada in 1986. Callum Brown interviewed him in his home in Vancouver in October 2009.

 My name is Khushi Ram, and I was born in India, Punjab.  Social stratification is all over the world, but the peculiarity about the social stratification in India is that it is hereditary, it goes from birth to birth. My family belongs to the lowest strata of society in India. So much so that some people called us outcastes, not within the caste system. We were very poor, my father was a landless agricultural labourer with even no house of his own. The landlord will give him certain land and he will build a hut and we will live there. Somehow I shone in my class and some teachers almost fell in love with me, they tried to support me, up and up. I was working with my father on the farmer’s land but somebody, that seven kilometres school headmaster sent one of his teachers to me, because I was well known in my area by that time as a brilliant student. I broke all their previous record at the entrance into university, we call it high school final. I got very good marks.

Continue reading

Jutta Poser: A Humanist Life

Jutta Poser was born in 1925 in Berlin and went to Canada in 1950, settling in Montreal and then later Vancouver where she and her husband Ernest have been active members of BC Humanists for many years. Callum Brown interviewed Jutta in her Vancouver home in October 2009.

My family was a mixed marriage.  My father was an assimilated Jew.  His parents had been baptised in Germany for reasons that there were very few openings in the profession that my grandfather was in and he was a banker.  And this was a private bank in Bonn so in order to get all the acceptance that he needed he became baptised into the German Protestant Lutheran Church along with his wife and their progeny, all three of them, were baptised too so that none of them remained in the Jewish faith.

Continue reading

The Unholy Mrs Knight: Margaret Knight and the BBC in the 1950s

margaret-knight

In 1955 Margaret Knight became the most hated woman in Britain. She was vilified and demonised in virtually every British newspaper, and thousands of letters attacking her were sent by ordinary Britons to the BBC, to the papers and to her personally. Parents wrote fearing for the safety of their children, bishops and priests criticised her impudence, whilst well-known authors like Dorothy L Sayers castigated her ignorance. Hounded by journalists and pursued by photographers, the smiling image of Mrs Knight in her ‘Sunday-best hat’ and coat appeared in most newspapers. She was the nation’s number one ‘folk devil’ of 1955. What had she done to deserve this? Had she molested children? Was she exposed as a spy and a traitor? Had she sold secrets to the Russians? None of these. What she had done was broadcast two thirty-minute talks on the BBC Home Service in January 1955 in which she called for children to be educated about morality without religion.

Continue reading