Today the British Humanist Association (BHA) is sending free copies of The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God to every prison and young offender institutions in the United Kingdom.
Funded entirely by public donations, the initiative is part of the BHA’s charitable educational work to ensure that young people have access to resources which enable them to come to their own decisions about their beliefs and values. This initiative has already seen the book distributed to every secondary school library in the UK.
The Young Atheist’s Handbook is a critically acclaimed memoir from science teacher Alom Shaha. Alom’s book tells the story of his upbringing in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in London, and how he later discovered he was an atheist and learned to live a good life according to humanist principles, emphasising values like empathy and reason.
Commenting on the announcement, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Prison libraries are full of religious texts and books about spirituality and overcoming adversity which take a religious point of view, but relatively few offer meaningful commentary on how to live a good life from a non-religious perspective.
‘We think it’s important, not only that young people in young offender institutions should have the same access to materials about Humanism as their counterparts in schools, but that young offenders are able to reflect on their circumstances and the values they want to live by in an honest and sincere way.
‘For those who are non-religious, or who aren’t sure about what they believe, Alom’s book has the potential to inspire greater reflection and consideration on how find meaning and pursue an ethical and fulfilling life.’
For further comment or information, contact BHA Head of Education Lisa Rønsholt on firstname.lastname@example.org
About the British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
About our work in education
The BHA’s education programme aims to introduce young people to Humanism as a non-religious approach to life which can be studied as an example a ‘non-religious worldview’. The programme offers teachers a number of easy-to-use online toolkits about Humanism and humanist perspectives on a range of issues and topics. We also provide free school speakers who can work with teachers to broaden students’ understanding of Humanism as a life stance and to plan lessons around Humanism. We encourage debate and support young people in forming their own opinions.
For more information, as well as lesson materials and resources which support The Young Atheist’s Handbook, visit humanismforschools.org.uk.
About our care in hospitals and prisons
The British Humanist Association is committed to ensuring that non-religious people have access to pastoral support which reflects their worldview, provided by like-minded individuals. We believe that everyone needs compassion and empathy when going through particularly difficult times, irrespective of one’s beliefs. Through our pastoral arm, Humanist Care, we provide pastoral support to the non-religious, a group of people who have historically been overlooked. Our pastoral support volunteers provide the sort of care that might be provided to religious people by chaplains.
For more information, visit humanistcare.org.uk.
About Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God
Through a series of loose lessons Alom Shaha tells his own compelling story, drawing on the theories of some of history s greatest thinkers and interrogating the fallacies that have impeded humanity for centuries. Shaha recounts how his education and formative experiences led him to question how to live without being tied to what his parents, priests, or teachers told him to believe, and offers insights so that others may do the same.
In December 2012, the BHA began fundraising to send the book to schools across the country, raising enough funds to send the book to schools in England and Wales and Northern Ireland in 2014. In May 2015, it sent copies to secondary schools across Scotland, meaning that young people throughout the country would have access to materials which discuss ethical questions from a non-religious perspective.