Public debates and discussions
Since 2005 Farnham Humanists have been holding an annual public debate or discussion every November on topics of ethical, moral and current interest.
With the help of eminent speakers we have debated motions ranging from 2012’s “We support a wholly elected House of Lords” and the year before “Morality without religion has no firm foundation” to motions relating to Nuclear Power, Electoral Reform, Secular Statehood, Assisted Dying, state funded faith schools and whether there can be a just war. In 2013 we held a non-political panel discussion on what is happening to the NHS.
We have also used the opportunity to raise over £3000 for local and developing world charities.
More details are given under Annual Debates
Evidence based talks and discussions
Our regular monthly meetings generally involve an outside speaker talking about a subject on which they are expert. Subjects have included topics such as Climate change, Sharia Law, Multiple Universes, Conscientious Objection, Morality, Do we have free will and merits of Representative Democracy. Our meetings are open to all and everyone is welcome.
General Election Hustings
In 2010 Farnham Humanists offered to host and fund the local hustings at the next General Election. Jeremy Hunt MP agreed that we should seek to hold the event jointly with Farnham Churches Together. We wrote to Churches Together in January 2011 suggesting that we meet to discuss this proposal. While waiting for a response, we were pleased to provide volunteer support to Churches Together’s running of the local October 2012 hustings for Surrey Police Commissioner. In October 2013 we were invited to address the AGM of Churches Together and subsequently learnt that our offer had been declined.
Local Equality Group and Faith forum
We are concerned about a lack of representation at local level for non-religious people which means that, unlike religious people who can be consulted through recognised methods of communication, non-religious people’s needs and views can be excluded from decision making bodies. As part of Farnham Humanists’ aims to engage with our local community, end discrimination of religion and belief and promote equality by reducing religious privilege, we have joined a number of groups. These include David Savage volunteering his time supporting the Surrey County Council Equality Group and Alec Leggatt for the Waverley Borough Council Faith Forum.
At the Surrey County Council Equality group first meeting the church was pressing the Council to give greater priority to promoting faith. Indeed its draft equality papers continually stressed the importance of faith. We argued that the Council’s role was to promote equality and end discrimination reference to religion or belief and that their equality and diversity papers be rewritten to reflect this. This was accepted and almost all their papers were changed accordingly. The Council have also accepted and published, for internal use, the BHA (British Humanist Association) guidelines for dealing with religion or belief issues.
As well as Supporting Democracy and Equality and volunteering as individuals for a number of organisations, our members give time to the following:
- Volunteer Pastoral Support
- Volunteering in Schools and Colleges
- Educational course, debates and talks
- Volunteer support for RE in Surrey
- Remembrance Day