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The A2R Blog

The Alternatives to Religion blog is a collaborative project between Conway Hall and Bishopsgate Institute which sparked exploration of some of the ways people have tried to make sense of the world and live together ethically without the need for faith in a God or gods.

Snapshot of the Ethical Movement in 1904

Delving into the British Humanist Association archive, the first surviving minute book of the Union of Ethical Societies (forerunner of the Association) creates an image of a thriving, growing organisation with widespread interest in the Ethical Movement.

Past Presidents of the BHA

In 2013 Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist, broadcaster and author, was announced as the new President of the British Humanist Association. Al-Khalili joins the list of distinguished former Presidents including Julian Huxley, Alfred Jules Ayer, Edmund Leach, George Melly, Harold Blackham, James Hemming, Hermann Bondi, Clare Rayner, Linda Smith and Polly Toynbee.

The records of the Ethical Union and British Humanist Association

As well as the records of the Ethical Union and British Humanist Association, the archive (held by Bishopsgate Institute) also contains material of affiliated humanist groups.

The Ethical Church, Queensway, Bayswater

The Ethical Church, Queensway, Bayswater, was established in the late 1890s by Dr Stanton Coit, founder of the West London Ethical Society and a prominent figure in the Ethical Movement. Coit hoped that his Church would be the first of many ‘ethical churches’ and act as encouragement to other established churches (ie. the Church of England), to move away from religious teaching.

Going to pot in 1968?

As well as challenging the role of religion in society, the student branch of the British Humanist Association turned their attention to other contemporary issues concerning their members…

’70s style and socialising

’70s style and socialising at British Humanist Association and International Humanist and Ethical Union conferences.

International Connections

Throughout the twentieth century the Ethical Union, and later the British Humanist Association (BHA), made numerous connections with organisations around the world.

Religion vs Welfare in a Scottish Court, c.1956

In 1956 the Scottish Daily Mail and Edinburgh Daily Dispatch ran a story about a ‘confirmed’ atheist who was appealing for custody of his daughter.

What is Humanism?

This trial leaflet from the BHA’s archive demonstrates the continuity of the Association’s message.

A cordial invitation to the young men of Victorian Kentish Town

A cordial invitation to the young men of Victorian Kentish Town from Dr Stanton Coit’s Neighbourhood Guild.

A ‘pleasant evening’ for the Victorian girls of Kentish Town

A ‘pleasant evening’ for the Victorian girls of Kentish Town – Swedish drill, singing and tableaux.

Neighbourhood Guilds: collective action for social reform

When not experimenting with new camera technology in France, Dr Stanton Coit was a dedicated social reformer. In New York and London, Coit pioneered the creation of Neighbourhood Guilds.

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