Other Religions & Beliefs

There is some diversity within Humanism about the merits of religion and of interfaith dialogue. Humanists are often excluded from interfaith dialogue and networks on the grounds that Humanism is not a religion, and thus do not always know what it involves. However, most humanists would prefer to see dialogue rather than religious conflict, and many would like to enter into dialogue with others, regardless of their worldviews, about common concerns such as climate change and world poverty.

Some humanists, like some religious believers, are very interested in what other people believe and would like to find out more in a neutral setting that does not compromise their own beliefs. Humanists do participate in some local interfaith groups and SACREs (Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education).

Increasing diversity during the past half-century has made the UK a much more interesting place to live, but humanists are often concerned that the freedoms associated with an open society may be threatened by too many concessions to religious groups. Humanists are not on the whole separatists, and do not seek their own schools, or youth or scout groups, or welfare services – and would prefer that pluralism was expressed in “reasonable accommodations” of religious and cultural needs within a framework of shared values and shared public and community institutions.

Whilst strongly believing in a democratic secular state that does not privilege religion in any way, humanists also have a clear commitment to human rights, including the rights to religious freedom and freedom of expression. Humanist beliefs rarely, if ever, clash with the requirements of citizenship, at least in secular democracies, though, of course, humanists do not necessarily agree with everything that their governments do. Humanists believe that citizenship should be based on the acceptance of shared values and institutions, but should not demand abandonment of religious or cultural beliefs and practices, as long as they do no harm.

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