Does organised humanism have a demographic problem?

The BHA's Voltaire Lecture

I have always been a humanist, really. But it’s only recently that I've made the effort to ‘get involved’ with humanism more actively.

At my secondary school I now run an ‘Asking Questions Club’ – “a space to discuss, with rationality, empiricism, and all-round critical thinking in mind”, reads the poster, “absolutely everyone welcome” – which has been going well.

More and more, I am also making the effort to attend lectures, talks, and conferences centred around Humanism and Science, my pet subjects. One of my recent outings was to the Voltaire lecture given by experimental psychologist Steven Pinker and hosted by the British Humanist Association (the audio for which can be found here, if you missed it). It was a great talk, and the topic – ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity’ – certainly left my Mother and me with a lot to think about on the way home.

The only problem was that our travel discussion at this time seemed to constantly revert back to a different theme to the one Pinker presented. We kept asking: “why are the audiences at these things always so white, and middle-class?”

I think, frankly, that this is unrepresentative of humanists as a whole. My Mother and I are both proudly working-class, and live in what I believe to be one of the most culturally diverse boroughs in London – Haringey. So, each time we attend these events, we feel that there is a very stark contrast between the people in the audience and the people surrounding us in our day-to-day lives, many of whom we know to be humanists themselves.

(Continue reading this post at the Rationalist Association website)

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Tags: Atheism, Class, Equality, Humanism, Pinker, Race, Rationality, Shaha, Voltaire


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