News Archive 2014

The Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression

8 Sep 2014 – Last month’s World Humanist Congress in Oxford had the theme, Freedom of thought and expression: forging a 21st-century Enlightenment. At close of proceedings a declaration was issued, which elaborated six points.

  • The right to freedom of thought and belief is one and the same right for all.
  • No one anywhere should ever be forced into or out of a belief.
  • The right to freedom of expression is global in its scope.
  • There is no right not to be offended, or not to hear contrary opinions.
  • States must not restrict thought and expression merely to protect the government from criticism.
  • Freedom of belief is absolute but the freedom to act on a belief is not.

Read the Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression on the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) website.

Report by Stephen Stuart

Enlightenment: the roots of Humanism

4 Sep 2014 – On 20th June 2014, I took part in the World Humanist Day Symposium, held in Sydney. I attended on behalf of the HSV, along with representatives from other States and the ACT. The Symposium revolved around a resolution from the Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS) Convention AGM of 2013: “That the Australian Humanist movement adopt the defence and promotion of the values of the Enlightenment as an overarching concept for organising our aims, objectives and programmes.” Dr Victor Bien of the Humanist Society of NSW led the day’s proceedings and introduced the speakers.

David Tribe spoke about ‘The Enlightenment – Who Is Criticising It and Why’. The talk explored a brief history of the philosophical schools of thought that emerged from the Enlightenment beginning with empiricism and rationalism, as well as various sources of counter-Enlightenment ideas. Originally, and most notably, Enlightenment values came under attack from organised religion – particularly its traditional, hierarchical forms – which saw its authority being undermined by the ‘secularisation’ of society as ideas of individual freedom and equality came to the fore. Further criticism is attributed to modern post-Enlightenment movements, such as romanticism and postmodernism. David’s talk served to give historical context to Humanism and its connection with the Age of Enlightenment. Read Full News Item …

Humanism in action

Photo of humanists at World Refugee Day march in Melbourne4 Sep 2014 – Humanists joined many other community groups at the World Refugee Day March, held on Sunday 22nd June, 2014.

After gathering in Melbourne’s City Square and listening to a range of speakers and musicians, attendees walked around several city blocks. The final destination was Southbank to hear further speakers.

National school chaplaincy clean bowled in Humanist lawsuit

20 Jun 2014 – Yesterday’s decision by the High Court of Australia vindicates the claim by plaintiff Ron Williams, Australian Humanist of the Year 2012, that the Commonwealth did not have proper executive power to fund the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP). We salute you, Ron, for bringing off a rare achievement, even greater than your first tilt at the law in 2012. Read Full News Item …

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

6 Jun 2014 – May 17 2014 marked International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) and it seemed a timely occasion for an Equal Love Marriage Equality rally. In Melbourne, a contingent of Humanists attended the local rally and literally flew the flag for HSV while also publicly adding our organisation’s support to the cause of Marriage Equality. At the conclusion of the rally, a number of people came forward to thank Humanists for our attendance and support.

Members of HSV might like to mark 16 August 2015 on their calendars now – the date of the next Marriage Equality rally, which also marks the tenth anniversary of Federal legislation being enacted to discriminate against those who seek same-sex marriage equality. This will hopefully be another opportunity for Humanists in action.

Report by Geoff Allshorn

School chaplains: government capitulates to church interests

28 May 2014 – In the May budget of the federal government, it came as no surprise that there was provision to continue the inadequately regulated program of school chaplains for four years more. However, secularists were appalled to read what has not been before Parliament, namely that, beginning in 2015, the scheme will be restricted to nominees of religious bodies and participation of secular student welfare workers will be abolished.

Report by Stephen Stuart

School chaplains: a question for government

21 May 2014 – Ron Williams, Australian Humanist of the Year 2012, submitted a pertinent Q&A video question for the federal treasurer at Q&A, the ABC television forum, on Monday 19th May, 2012. The question was not accepted on that occasion, but it deserves to be. The Australian government has no business encouraging religion in our schools.

New rules for SRI in Victorian government schools

16 May 2014 – The Victorian minister of education has announced a ministerial direction about Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in government schools (MD141, 1 May), intending to clarify his Department’s policy. Unlike the previous departmental advice to school principals, it has the force of law and comes into effect on 14 July, 2014. Read Full News Item …

Humanism in action – Walk for Justice for Refugees

Walk for Justice for Refugees Palm Sunday March, 2pm, April 13, State Library12 May 2014 – On Sunday 13 April, 2014, a small contingent of members and friends of the Humanist Society of Victoria took a public stand for human rights by joining thousands of other Melburnians who marched in support of refugees and asylum seekers. Palm Sunday rallies were held in cities across the country, and Australia’s mass media appeared to largely ignore (or downplay) these rallies and the numbers involved.

Organised by the Refugee Advocacy Network, which markets itself as ‘a coalition of community and faith based groups, unions and refugee advocacy organisations’, Melbourne’s Palm Sunday refugee march was attended by thousands of people, predominantly from Christian churches and groups, and included a variety of community speakers. Read Full News Item …