In a House of Lords debate yesterday discussing the ‘Big Society’ and the role of government and civil society in shaping social policy, the role of humanists was recognised by the Acting Shadow Minister to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Lord Hunt OBE. The debate, called by The Lord Bishop of Leicester, had highlighted the work of ‘faith based organisations’ working with local communities and Lord Hunt explained, ‘It is not just faith-based organisations…we must recognise the value of communities as a whole and the contribution that humanists as well as religious people make.’
Pepper Harow, BHA Campaigns Officer, commented, ‘It is great to see the work of non-religious people in communities recognised. There is a myth that religious individuals volunteer more, give more to charity and are more active in local communities but that is simply not the case. We know that non-religious people are hugely active in equality work, education, community development and many other areas.’
‘By labelling community groups with religious affiliations, and then targeting such groups for extra support and funding to the detriment of inclusive, secular organisations, the previous government appeared to split the voluntary sector along religious lines. Only by recognising the contribution to civil society of the voluntary sector as a whole, can the ‘Big Society’ agenda be truly inclusive.’
For more information or comment, contact Pepper Harow on 020 7462 4992.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.