Locally, numbers have dwindled from more than 50 during the group's hedyday in the middle of the last century to around 15 current regular members, outgoing chairman Dr Katie Frith, 86, revealed.... "We have monthly meetings, which are very well attended by our faithful few, but visitors must look around at us and they just don't come back". "We won't fade away completely, but can't go on as we are", add Dr Frith, who has been a member since 1966....Members, on average, are in their mid-70's and the group has lost a number of leading lights in recent years...The Humanists in Havering will hold an extraordinary general meeting in September, at which it is expected members will vote to amalgamate with the Chelmsford based Humanists in Essex. ... Publicity manager, Christine Seymour, 67, said: "...There are plenty of young humanists out there, but I think most of us feel the battle is won."It looks as if, in Havering at least, atheism is dying out. But, before we rejoice, it might be worth reflecting on what is replacing it. The "faithful few" are of a generation which thought about issues of religious faith or atheism. People today are probably more typically indifferent to such questions, and are secularist in outlook rather than humanist. I do not go along with the suggestion that there are "plenty of young humanists out there". If anything, young people are today growing up in an environment where religious belief enjoys a bigger impact in the public sphere - for good and for evil - than in the recent past. So "most of us feel the battle is won" is, to say the least, somewhat over-optimistic an observation.
Friday, 23 July 2010
Humanists opt to call it a day
... is the headline (on page 21) in one of our local newspapers this weekend. It refers to the forthcoming demise of Humanists in Havering, the local branch of the British Humanist Association.