Rational Thought: 100 years and more
For more than 100 years, the Rationalist Association has worked tirelessly to address issues outside the mainstream and to act as a corrective to irrational thought. This page celebrates some of our noteable acheivements
Against Charges of Blasphemy
In July 1890, Charles Albert Watts secured funding to begin the Propagandist Press Committee, whose aim was 'to assist in securing the amendment of the law which sanctions the confiscation of property left for anti-theological purposes, and to promote the issuing, advertising and circulation of publications devoted to Free-Thought and Advanced Religious Reform. This founding principle to address charges of blasphemy has been attended to throughout our history, including raising awareness against the The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 proposed and successfully passed by David Blunkett MP of the Labour government.
In 1929 the Rationalist Press Association published the first edition of Thinkers Library books after which 139 further titles were published until 1951. These text were reprinted from the work of prominent rationalists of the day and were made to be affordable so the message of reason was open to all. Open and accessible rationalism is still a priority.
It is still the hope of the Rationalist Association to educate through its output, and to make this freely available where possible, including supplying free copies of the New Humanist to prisons, schools and public libraries. Most important for our current success is the magazine's online presence; since it launched in 2007, our website, newhumanist.org.uk has received 6 million unique visitors. The New Humanist podcasts, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages all remain open for comments and keep a wide audience in touch with our work.
In 2010 Caspar Melville (NH Editor) and Paul Sims (NH News Editor) spoke publicly to groups including the Central London Humanists and UCL Atheists, Secularists and Humanists, and to thousands of young people at the One Young World and Six Billion Ways events. Caspar also participated in a one hour discussion with theologian Alister McGrath on Premier Christian Radio, and gave a lecture at the How The Light Gets In philosophy event at Hay on Wye on humanism and religion.
Outside the Mainstream
Many of the issues the organisation has raised over time remain worthy of discussion today. We continue to cover a wide range of social and political issues, often outside the mainstream, including homophobia, sexual discrimination, international human rights, blasphemy and abortion. The organisation addresses religious dogma and produces content which informs on and supports the campaigns of organisations such as the British Humanist Association; including their ongoing “Say No to Faith Schools” campaign.
Something to Laugh About
We couldn't work without humour. In 2008, Robin Ince, supporter of the Rationalist Association, curated the first Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People; comedy and science with wit and wisdom, sharing new perspectives with the world. Acts and artists have included Brian Cox, Tim Minchin, Josie Long, Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and many many more. More laughter was had on July 4 2007, when New Humanist held an event at the Royal Society of the Arts in London. Featuring Sir Jonathan Miller, comedian Natalie Haynes and cartoonist Martin Rowson all discussing how humour makes us human. An outline of the event, written by Laurie Taylor, can be read on our website.