Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The atheists who attacked David Cameron, who are they?

The recent statement by David Cameron about Britain as a 'Christian country' attracted a sharp response in a public letter signed by fifty-five prominent people and printed in the Daily Telegraph.
 
There has been a lot of discussion and comment about his original statement but I want to focus on the response and in particular its fifty-five signatories.  Who are they an how did they come together so quickly to respond to Cameron?

The letter was organised by the president of the British Human Association and all but one of the signatories is a 'distinguished supporter' of the British Humanist Association.  It doesn't say that in the letter but on its website the British Humanist Association states that he organised the letter.  However it does not say that almost all the signatories have previously been honoured by them as 'distinguished supporters'.
 
Professor Jim Al-Khalili is an Iraqi-born British scientist, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He is also the president of the British Humanist Association.
 
Philip Pullman is a prominent atheist, a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.  He is the author of a fictionalised biography of Jesus entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ and once said, 'I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.'
  
Tim Minchin is a comedian, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Dr Simon Singh is a science writer and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He is also an honorary associate of the Rationalist Association.

Ken Follett is a novelist, an avowed atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Dr Adam Rutherford is a scientific journalist, a committed atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Sir John Sulston is a biologist, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Sir David Smith FRS is a botanist, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor Jonathan Glover is a philosopher, an atheist and distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Professor Anthony Grayling is an atheist, a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. 
 
Nick Ross is a broadcaster and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Virginia Ironside is a journalist, an atheist, an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
Professor Steven Rose has been described as a 'polemicist on the left'.  He is an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Natalie Haynes is a comedian and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Peter Tatchell is a militant homosexual activist, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Human Association. 

Professor Raymond Tallis is a physician, philosopher and author and a distinguished support of the British Humanist Association.  He supports euthanasia.

Dr Iolo ap Gwynn FRMS is a scientist, mountaineer and distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Stephen Volk is an author and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor Steve Jones is a geneticist, broadcaster and distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Sir Terry Pratchett is an author, satirist and distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Dr Evan Harris is a former Liberal Democrat MP and an atheist.  He is vice-president of the British Humanist Association,  vice-president of the BHA-affiliated Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association and was patron of the Oxford Secular Society.

Dr Richard Bartle is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He said, 'If there is a heaven, it's a far more miserable place than real life.'

Sian Berry is a Green Party campaigner and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  She contributed a chapter to The Atheist's Guide to Christmas and was a supporter of the Atheist Bus Campaign.

C J DE Mooi is an actor, chess player, homosexual rights campaigner and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor John A Lee is a pathologist, an atheist  and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor Richard Norman is a philosopher and a vice-president of the British Humanist Association.  He edited The Case for Secularism.

Zoe Margolis is a writer, a journalist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Joan Smith is a journalist, author and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  She is also an honorary associate of the Nationalist Secular Society.

Michael Gore is an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Derek McAuley is the chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.  This is an ultra-liberal organisation and we should not be misled by the word 'Christian' in the title.  The GAUFC website says, 'Unitarianism can include people who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan and Atheist'!

Lorraine Barratt is a former Welsh Labour politician, an atheist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Dr Susan Blackmore is a wrier, broadcaster and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  She also campaigns for drug legalisation.

Dr Harry Stopes-Roe is an atheist and a distinguished supporter and a vice-president of the British Humanist Association.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC is a lawyer and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Adele Anderson is an actress and singer and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Dr Helena Cronin is a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association, an honorary associate of Rationalist International and of the Rationalist Association.  She has also campaigned for Charles Darwin's birthday to be a public holiday.

Professor Alice Roberts is an anatomist, broadcaster and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association. 

Professor Chris French is a psychologist, editor of The Skeptic and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Sir Tom Blundell is a scientist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He co-signed a letter calling for Charles Darwin's birthday to be a public holiday.
 
Maureen Duffy is a poet, playwright, novelist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  She is a homosexual activist and was the first president of the Gay Humanist Group.

Baroness Whitaker is a Labour peer, an atheist and a vice-president and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Eric Lubbock, Lord Avebury, is a Liberal Democrat peer in the House of Lords and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He is a Buddhist and Buddhism is a non-theistic religion.

Richard Herring is a writer and comedian and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Martin Rowson is a writer, cartoonist, a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.  His work has appeared in many newspapers including The Morning Star.

Tony Hawks is a comedian, musician and author and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Peter Cave is a philosopher and distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Diane Munday was a pioneer of legal abortion.  She is a director of the Rationalist Press Association and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor Norman MacLean is a biologist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Professor Sir Harold Kroto FRS is a chemist and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Sir Richard Dalton is a former diplomat and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Sir David Blatherwick is a diplomat, writer and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Michael Rubenstein is a writer, consultant and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.  He said, 'Equal rights and orthodox religion are not compatible.'

Polly Toynbee is a journalist, an atheist and vice president of the British Humanist Association.  She is also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan is a Labour peer, an atheist, an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.

Dan Snow is a television presenter and a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association.
 
In the letter the signatories did not state that the letter was organised by the president of the British Humanist Association and that 54 of the 55 signatories are listed on the BHA website as 'distinguished supporters'. 
 
It is also interesting and alarming that not one of our newspapers pointed out the fact that 54 of the signatories were atheists.  For example:
The Daily Telegraph noted that the lead signatory is the president  of the British Humanist Association but simply described the signatories as '55 public figures from a range of political backgrounds'.
The BBC also noted that the lead signatory was the president of the British Humanist Association but like the Daily Telegraph did not report the relationship of 53 other signatories to the British Humanist Association.   
The Guardian referred to them as 'more than 50 prominent public figures including novelists, diplomats, Nobel prize winners and playwrights' but made no mention of the British Humanist Association. 
The Independent described the signatories as 'an alliance of public figures' but made no mention of the British Humanist Association at all.
The New York Times noted that the lead signatory was the president of the British Humanist Association and described one other signatory as a 'noted atheist' but made no mention of the fact that nearly every signatory has been recognised by the British Humanist Association as a 'distinguished supporter'.
So why were the mainstream media so reticent about saying it?  Did they not know?  Did they not research?  Did they not think it significant?  Did they just hide it?

The letter certainly draws our attention to the British Humanist Association, whose website lists those whom the association has invited to be 'distinguished supporters'.  It reads like a 'who's who' of the people who appear in the media day after day as commentators, contributors and participants in panel discussions.  It helps to explain the secular ethos which is so dominant in the media, especially in the BBC, and it helps to explains why Christians are generally marginalised.

The development of this 'distinguished supporters' list provides the British Humanist Association with a list of names, some of them fairly prominent, who can sign a letter as 'public figures'.  If the letter was signed by the secretary or the chairman of the British Humanist Association and signed in that capacity it would attract little attention.  They would be dismissed as simply another pressure group.  It was the omission of any reference to the British Humanist Association and the inclusion of so many names that gave this letter its credibility.

The 54 atheists who signed the letter are just some of the people who have been honoured by the British Humanist Association as 'distinguished supporters'.  There are quite a few others, including Professor Richard Dawkins.

Finally, the letter is really a reflection of the activities of an increasingly militant atheism in Britain today.  Christian churches and Christian believers would do well to take note!

3 comments:

  1. They are indeed a strange lot. One thing that did strike me after looking at their various profiles on the BHA website is that "Humanism" means different things to each and everyone of the great and the good listed there. The BHA only provides a tent if you like where they can all come together and have a anti-religion gripefest. They even ape religion by having "Humanist Celebrants" when they die.
    There are some really bizarre and chiidish comments there too - Nick Ross for instance gave up his belief in God when in junior school he was asked to feed worms to chickens! Many repeat the old mantra about religion encouraging superstition which gives an insight into how much each of them understand about religion. I have known and do know several highly superstitious people, none of them are religious. They couldn't be, as religion is the very antithisis of superstition, a fact that bypasses these "opinion formers" at very high speed.

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  2. Many prominent members of The British Humanist Association have been bestowed with titles and honours such as Knight, Peer, Baron, Baroness, OBE, CBE, CVO, KCMG etc. Christian prizes with privileges.
    Association President Jim Al-Khalili, accepted The Most Excellent Order of The British Empire from Her Majesty the Queen, being by God's Ordinance Defender of the Christian Faith and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The motto of the Order is 'For God and the Empire'
    His membership of this Order also grants him and his family members the privilege of being baptized or married in the OBE Chapel at St Paul's Cathedral.
    Humanists do not believe in God, and core objectives of their mission include changing the role of the Monarch ,who is the head of state as well as the head of the established church. They also reject claims of privileged positions by virtue of beliefs.
    The fact that they are willing to use their Christian honours to give gravitas to various statements and appeals to newspapers, while at the same time calling for the abolishment of the institution by which they were awarded, has struck many as being extremely hypocritical.
    None of the members have given back their awards in order that they may confirm their profound disagreement with Her Majesty, who believes that this country is indeed Christian and defends the established Church and it's role in government. .It would seem the benefits of retaining their conferred Christian titles are of more value to them than their principles.
    Perhaps they could each be awarded a further title, 'OHHO', the Order of Hypocrite of the Highest Order.

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  3. 17 work or have worked for BBC
    9 work or have worked foe The Guardian

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