Humanists are people who have a particular philosophy and lifestance. Basically, they have no god beliefs nor do they believe in any aspect of the supernatural. In this respect, Humanists are part of a growing demographic in Canada that started out at less than 1 percent of the population in 1971, the first year that the Canadian Census began asking questions about religious belief, and which today stands at 25 percent. Apart from that, Humanists are much like other people. They live, laugh, love, do their best to enjoy life and get along with other people.
Like other people, Humanists need the fellowship of others who think and believe as they do. Like others, therefore, we get together in meetings and on other occasions to discuss things, socialize, and occasionally to celebrate special events.
Like many other people, Humanists enjoy the arts, such as music, drama, painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature. They are also likely to have a high appreciation for the sciences.
Humanists are likely to have a well-developed sense of social justice. They want everyone to be able to enjoy the good life. It bothers them that in this wealthy country of ours, some families must struggle to make ends meet and that there are children who actually go to bed hungry at night. We would like to see more effort made to educate people so that they can get along better in life but we also realize that there are many who need a helping hand.
Humanists are strong secularists. We believe that religion and state should be kept strictly separate. We object to municipal councils and other public bodies opening their meetings with prayer. We object to a separate school system funded by public taxation and desire that only public schools should receive public support. We believe that all laws should be based on objective and secular values, rather than religious, reasons, and that no account needs to be taken of any religious morality in the forming of laws and rules for the conduct of citizens in a secular society.
In 2004-5, Humanists in Ontario, along with women’s groups, human rights groups, and even groups within the Islamic community, opposed strongly the proposed introduction of Muslim Sharia law into the Ontario arbitration system. We were all too aware of the abuses of human rights and women’s rights that take place under Sharia in Islamic countries, such as the impoverishment of women under the half-an-inheritance rule, the automatic credence given to male over female testimony, female genital mutilation and honour killings. As a result the government of Ontario not only did not proceed with this plan but did away with all religious arbitrations proceedings entirely, including Jewish and Catholic.
Quinte Humanists is one of many similar organizations across Canada and around the world. The Humanist Association of Canada, with which Quinte Humanists is affiliated, is the main national organization and there are now several Centres for Inquiry across Canada. However, world-wide the Humanist movement numbers hundreds of thousands of people. Some European countries boast many tens of thousands of members. The flagship organization for international Humanism is the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) which has Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status at the UN.
If you, too, are among the 25 percent of Canadians who count themselves as non-religious, you are probably a Humanist. Come out to some of our meetings and get to know us. We welcome all persons of goodwill and would love to meet you.