I want you to indulge in a bit of fantasy. Imagine you are sitting at the kitchen table, having a nice cup of tea. The birds are singing in the trees, all is right with the world. You have just received you r latest copy of Church News, the monthly magazine from your local Baptist church. As you can see there is a little bit of fantasy here. The Vicar has an article concerning his recent trip to India where he presented a cheque for $1000 in aid of a local charity. There is a reminder of the annual dinner dance, and you are informed that Mrs Thistlewaite has won the marmalade competition for the fifth year in a row. There is not one comment in the magazine about Humanist issues, for or against etc. The church simply gets on with the job of what they see as their role in the community. Others may not see it this way but this is the way it is.
I have never been comfortable with religion. I state this as a fact. But I think Humanists, when dealing with religion, miss one very fundamental point, and I would suggest a very vital point. Millions of people need a religion, a faith if you like, just as they need food and water. It is not a question of trying to prove to a religious person that god does not exist, a virgin birth was impossible, or that Jesus reduced the cost of transport by walking on water. Logic does not come into it. You can laugh at religious people, try to explain this or that line of logic to them, quote the shocking behaviour of the church towards children, you can do all these things, but, at the end of the day, millions need a faith. It is as simple as that.
What prompted me to write this piece in the first place were the comments by the Secretary of the HSV, Stephen Stuart, where he states on page 1, ‘The question of rejuvenation of the Society remained unresolved’ and, also, there is comment on page 27 of the Australian Humanist concerning the decline in membership since 2010.
Whether you are selling socks, or the Humanist Society, there are two key factors. First, you must have a regular supply of new customers, otherwise, as night follows day, you will die on the tree. And second, you must look after your finances and make sure there is more coming in than there is going out.
Is there a solution? Yes there is. Firstly, you could do absolutely nothing and, in time, the Humanist Society, in its present form, will cease to exist. Some organisations amalgamate, and this can provide a partial solution. You need to know how many members you have, and, very important, how many do you want at, say, the end of 2017. To some degree you have to think like a half-starved used car salesman, in that you need a small subcommittee whose sole function in life is to obtain new members. Think more about Humanism, and less about religion, because there is not a hell of a lot you can do about the latter, it is entrenched in the human soul, the existence of which we will acknowledge for the moment. Otherwise, given time, instead of commenting on the non-existence of god, we will, one day, be commenting on the non-existence of the Humanist Society.
Barry Revill, Moorabbin