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This Week in Humanism 2018–02–14


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/02/14

“Activists of color come together to address social change at the Secular Social Justice 2018 Conference in Washington DC.

The American Humanist Association is hosting the Secular Social Justice conference in Washington DC on April 7, 2018. The conference is “an all-day event that will center the sociopolitical insight, leadership, and strategies of secular, humanist, and atheist activists of color who believe social change will only come through human intervention.”

Conference organizer Sincere Kirabo describes the meeting of social justice advocates as

“an all-day event that will center the sociopolitical insight, leadership, and strategies of secular, humanist, and atheist activists of color who believe social change will only come through human intervention.””


“Earlier this week, a story floating on the fringes of the news cycle caught my attention.

A man from Pakistan who arrived in the UK in 2011 — and renounced his Muslim faith, declaring that he was now a humanist — applied last year for asylum in Britain, on the grounds that his life was in danger if he returned home. But after being interviewed, Hamza bin Walayat’s application for asylum was rejected by the authorities, and he is now facing deportation back to Pakistan.

Bizarrely, it seems that the clincher was that bin Walayat failed to correctly answer questions about ancient Greek philosophers. According to the Home Office — the UK government department that deals with immigration — he was unable to identify Plato and Aristotle as humanist philosophers, which, they said, demonstrated that his knowledge of humanism was “rudimentary at best,” and that his application for asylum was spurious.”


“Somewhere in between inventing new machines, techniques and medicines to make us feel better, medical professionals forgot that not only are their patients human beings with human needs, so too are the doctors.

That is the basic contention of members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, an international organization of individuals and medical school chapters formed in 2002. Its mission is “dedicated to foster, recognize and support the values of humanism and professionalism in medicine.””


Loveless is the title of Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s drama of a 12-year-old boy’s disappearance, and the word might as well be etched into the screen, hovering in chalk-colored skies over denuded trees on the outskirts of Moscow — home of a soon-to-be-divorced woman and man who really, really, really, really hate each other (“I’ve fucking had it with you”; “Scumbag”) and have no use for their son, either. Loveless is about a state of mind, a lament, an indictment of crimes against the human spirit.

This is clear before humans even make their first appearance. Zvyagintsev opens with a winterscape of dead trees. Shots two through nine offer variations thereof. Two ducks drift by in shots ten and 11. The next shot is a large building with an empty lot, over which a Russian flag flutters grimly. The faceless structure is a school that belches out children ahead of young Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), who trudges home alone to find his mother, Zhenya (Maryana Spivak), showing the family apartment to prospective buyers, a man and his pregnant wife. Mute with anger and grief, Alyosha refuses to make eye contact. Soon, we learn that the boy’s father, Boris (Aleksey Rozin), doesn’t want custody of him, and neither does Zhenya, who says, “I’m moving on, too.” To a woman doing her hair, she complains that her son is beginning to smell like her husband. She didn’t want the child, she tells her lover, Anton (Andris Keiss), a successful older man, adding, “I wasn’t even producing milk.””


“Ignoring the Bible has U.S. on the path to destruction

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach. Where does America stand? Never have we been such a divided nation.

Abortion has killed 60 million innocent babies (since Roe v. Wade). God hates the shedding of innocent blood. Our public schools have done away with the Bible, the Ten Commandments and prayer.

Our schools have been hijacked by humanism. Now man determines what is good or evil. There is a great breakdown of the family. In some communities, as many as 70 percent of children have no father and in some cases no mother.”


“Darwin Day will be celebrated today in many parts of the world. In this country it is barely mentioned if not completely ignored. A good question is why?

Why is such a pillar of science, father of the theory of evolution, so treated in one of the most advanced societies in the world? The answer is the word “evolution,” still considered taboo in influential circles of our U.S. community. Too many are still uncomfortable even mentioning, let alone discussing, it in polite society.

Nowadays people can participate in exchanges on racial, cultural diversity, same sex marriage, cloning or even “designer” babies thanks to modern genetics without too much fuss.”


“The Bishop of Paisley has agreed to meet the humanist society’s campaigns and communications manager Fraser Sutherland.

In a letter agreeing the meeting, the bishop said he feels ‘routinely in the position of having to defend our Church frankly from what I would say are lazy and quite gratuitous attacks on Catholics in Scotland and their beliefs from members of the HSS.’

“The context of all of this is the general experience of Catholics fairly broadly that the HSS feels some kind of need to ‘take a pop’ at religion in many of its outputs,” he said. “In that sense we naturally conclude that you are as exercised to do away with the place of religion in Scottish civic society as you are to advance the cause of authentic humanism. I, more than anyone, would be very encouraged if the HSS were considering a fairer and more positive appraisal of the contribution of faith communities to Scottish civic society and so open up a new chapter of their due respect for religions in Scotland.””


“Anjan Chakravartty has been named to the University of Miami’s — and the nation’s — first endowed academic chair in the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics.

Chakravartty serves as a philosophy professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the university’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values. He will begin his new position at UM July 1.

The university announced its intention to create the chair, which was endowed by a $2.2 million donation from retired businessman Louis Appignani, in May 2016. Since then, the search for the perfect candidate has been an extensive and hush-hush process.”


“Given the ink spilled over two-tier health care, it feels odd more Canadians aren’t overtly distressed by the growing inequity in publicly funded school systems.

According to a Globe and Mail analysis, English-language Catholic elementary schools in Ontario have seen a steady rise in enrolment by non-Catholic pupils. The data were compiled by the Catholic school boards because the province, incredibly, does not keep track.

The story repeats itself across the country. Catholic school systems have become a destination for parents of other religions who are keen to send their children to institutions where the curriculum is at least partly rooted in faith-based moral dogma, even if it’s not their own. In doing so, they are bailing on public systems.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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