As some of you may already know, I’m not a religious person. I’ve spoken about my beliefs (or lack thereof) in the past, and shared my experience of not being accepted as a result.

I’ve been interested in Humanism for a while now. Humanists believe in morality without the need for religion and, in their own words, aim to “create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail” – Humanists UK.

Doesn’t that mean that all atheists are humanists?

Not necessarily, no. The chances are that many atheists subscribe to a humanist way of life without realising it, but Humanism UK, as a charity, goes further than that. They campaign for a fairer society and for the voices of non-religious people to be valued as much as those who believe in God.

Why does Humanism appeal to me?

In a word, community. One thing I always envied about my church-going friends was that sense of community and support. I loved that they had a place they could go, where they could discuss their beliefs with like-minded people.

I signed up to join the Dorset Humanists when I came across their stand at Bournemouth Pride. I’ve since found out that they hold regular discussion groups, social events and even lectures from historians and scientists about the ways in which religion has impacted the world. It warmed me to see that this was a group of intelligent, curious people, who wanted to broaden their understanding of the world, engage in lively debate, and above all, practice kindness.

What Humanism isn’t:

  • A cult. Believe it or not, this has been suggested to me.
  • A “fingers up to religion”. That’s not the point of it at all. The way I see it, it’s an opportunity to meet people who share my beliefs, and explore the world in a way that’s meaningful to me.
  • Sad, empty or meaningless. I shouldn’t even have to defend this one, but contrary to what some people might think, meaning doesn’t only come from believing in God.

Other things you might not know about Humanism

One of the other things I quite like about Humanism is that it offers ways to celebrate important milestones in a deeply personal and meaningful way.

For example, Humanist celebrants can perform weddings and baby naming ceremonies. If Dave and I were to have children, I quite like the idea of having a little naming ceremony in our back garden. Humanists also have “guide parents” (in place of Godparents), which I think is a lovely idea.

I didn’t grow up with religion, but I was given the guidance I needed to become a good person. As a result, I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t necessarily need to play a part in a person’s “moral education”, so to speak. I like that Humanism nurtures the very best aspects of human nature, and encourages people to seek out happiness and fulfillment.

I’m not trying to throw anything in anyone’s face, or make a statement. All I want to do is explore the world in a way that makes sense to me.

Isn’t that all anyone wants?

 

I feel I need to start this post with a very big disclaimer. I respect all religious views and I definitely don’t intend for this post to offend anyone.

But I’m frustrated.

My so-called lack of beliefs is a belief in itself. I am always open to learning about different religions, as I find them fascinating, but I don’t appreciate people trying to convert or ‘save’ me.

I am spiritual, in the sense that I think there could be some sort of higher power, and I believe in serendipity/fate/kismet/whatever you want to call it in some form or another, but I also believe in science, facts and proof. They may do for you, but for me, religious books don’t offer those things. I know that’s where faith comes in, but unfortunately, I don’t work like that, and I’m sick of people trying to prove me wrong. I can’t look at a sunset and see God’s work. I won’t hear a child prodigy playing the piano and think they have been given a gift from God – for me, it’s a sign of aptitude and probably a lot of hard work. People can do incredible things; of course I’m in awe of them, but I believe they have themselves (and possibly genetics and a good teacher) to thank for their abilities.

And that’s OK.

I wanted to have faith for such a long time.

I wasn’t raised religious. Most of my primary schools (I went to a lot!) were Church of England. My father isn’t religious and my mother is Buddhist. I wasn’t baptised and I was raised to be open-minded and curious. And I was very curious.

I went to Alpha Club, attended a lot of church events with my best friend and often prayed for some sort of sign that God was there. But I never felt it. I could never quite get my head around organised religion, and there are quite frankly, a lot of aspects that I don’t agree with. I really loved this post by Mark (The Honest Father), as it summed up a lot of what doesn’t quite sit right with me.

As a woman, there are some traditions and beliefs within various religions that make me feel uncomfortable. A lot of other things just don’t make sense to me and it’s not through lack of questioning.

Perhaps one of my biggest obstacles (and not just because of my own sexuality) is the notion that homosexuality is a sin. I can’t get my head around the idea that God would create a person a certain way, then tell them it’s a sin to love the person of their choice.

I don’t label myself.

I’m interested in Humanism, because I feel like I can align with its values. But quite honestly, I simply believe in being a good person and leading a fulfilling life. Anyone that shudders at the thought of Humanism or Atheism (and believe me, I’ve met a few people that do) needs to look at themselves and question why they feel this way. There are good and bad people in the world, religious or otherwise, so please don’t confuse lack of religion for a lack of morality.

I’m sorry if this post has come off as ranty or aggressive, I merely wanted to voice my frustrations and actually, my hurt. I’ve been made to feel like less of a person for not being religious, and to tell you the truth, I don’t see how this is any less offensive than discriminating against someone for their religious beliefs. It’s insulting, upsetting and surely not very in the spirit of loving thy neighbour.

Everyone has their own beliefs. Atheism, Humanism – or any belief system that doesn’t worship a deity – is just as valid as your religion. If I’m respectful and understanding of your beliefs, please extend me the same courtesy.