By Rachel Sloane
What do people who have no faith do when everyone else is celebrating a big occasion such as Christmas? That was the first question I wanted to ask when I paid a visit to Suffolk Humanists, in December.
While atheism is merely the absence of belief, humanism is a positive attitude to the world, centred on human experience, thought, and hopes.
Most humanists would agree that:
At one of their regular meetings in Ipswich, the Suffolk Humanists were being filmed about their convictions for the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource Group – for a film about the faiths of Suffolk that was to be shown in the county’s schools.
Well, in addition to baby-naming occasions, it is possible to have a humanist funeral. Marie Howarth explained to me how, fifteen years ago, she organised the one for her late husband.
"When I told the funeral director I wanted a non-religious funeral he said “yes, dear we know all about that - we have a retired vicar that does a very quiet service,” And I thought – you are not listening!
"It was extremely important to have (a Humanist) sort of ceremony. It would not have meant a thing to have a god, a spiritual gone-on-to-a- better-place sort of thing. We had music, readings, a celebration of his life - which is more usual in all funerals now , but I think humanists started this”.
Those I spoke to included a combination of those who just enjoy a good party, those who use the occasion to mark family and friendship, those who celebrate “Yule tide” - and one who just ignores the whole thing!
last updated: 11/06/2008 at 13:10
The Suffolk man who campaigned against the slave trade