What attracts people to become members of humanist organisations? I have interviewed 80 humanists and atheists in Scotland, England, France, Estonia, Canada and the United States. Not all I interviewed were members of humanist organisations; some were members of atheist and secularist organisations only, not an organisation with ‘humanist’ in the title, and a small number (four) were past members of humanist organisations. Even then, a proportion of those people still responded positively to the term ‘humanist’.
Various legal definitions of belief have emerged recently from parliaments and at least one law court in the UK. Each causes problems, especially for many of those with no religious belief. These definitions have been undertaken in good faith (a surprise use of the term, perhaps). The wish is to extend and better protect the legal rights and openings of those who hold religious and non-religious positions. This is completely commendable as an aim. But, problems may lurk beneath.
David Cameron seems to be taking a bit of a surge towards Christianity. Several years ago, he reported his Christian faith as being a “bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes”. In his recent article in the Anglican-aligned Church Times, he still says: “I am a member of the Church of England, and, I suspect, a rather classic one: not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith.” But he is talking up the role of Christianity in the nation, in its moral position and in the country’s social policy.