A humanist view of society

At Humanists UK, we campaign in favour of free thinking and freedom of choice so that everyone can live in a fair and equal society. We are a human rights charity bringing together tens of thousands of people with a shared humanist outlook on the world to influence public debate and policy, in support of human rights, democracy, and equal dignity and treatment of everyone – including those with whom we disagree. That includes being committed to ending racism, sexism, and LGBT discrimination.

We do this because we are humanists: people who shape their own lives in the here and now, because we believe it’s the only life we have. Because it’s this life that counts, we believe that governments have a duty to guarantee and respect the human rights of citizens, and base their decisions on evidence, empathy, and compassion.

Our ideal society is the ‘open society’ – one in which individual liberty, including freedom of belief and expression, is reinforced by a deliberate policy on the part of government and all official bodies of disinterested impartiality towards the many beliefs, philosophies, and political viewpoints within society, so long as they confirm to agreed minimum standards and conventions and are worthy of respect in a democratic society.

Humanists condemn racism and racial discrimination in all its forms and are committed to campaigning for racial equality across all aspects of society. Humanists believe in equality on the basis of sex and gender and therefore support the feminist principle of the inherent equality of women, and have long supported the human rights of LGBT people.

We see rational thinking and kindness not only as the best basis for sound government policy, but the best recipe for a happier, more fulfilled, more harmonious society as well. With this in mind, we pursue democratic reforms to remove institutional bias and prejudices, such as racism, sexism and LGBT discrimination, from government, particularly around the role of religion or belief in society. We recognise and respect the deep commitment of other people to religious and other non-humanist views, and do not seek a privileged position for humanism. At the same time, we reject any claims that others may make to privileged positions by virtue of their own beliefs.

For example, rather than support a system where children are divided up by faith schools on the basis of religion, we advocate an education system where children from all beliefs and backgrounds can learn side by side, and learn about all religions and humanism through the curriculum. Or, rather than support compulsory worship or prayers in schools, as the law says all state schools in the UK must do, we support inclusive assemblies exploring values, ideals, and aspirations which all pupils can benefit from, regardless of religion or belief. Policies like these emerge not only from our desire for a fair society underpinned by an impartial state, but also our understanding of the positive rights of children – including their inalienable rights to a broad and balanced education that will help them decide and shape their own beliefs.

On ethical issues like the right to die, we want to give choice and dignity back to people with incurable conditions on the basis that it is their right and they deserve our compassion – as opposed to the traditional religious view that life is sacred and so must never be ended.

Supported by our members, we champion positive ideas and policies for the one life we have. In many areas of life where governments look to give priority to religious organisations’ views about society, we strive to ensure the views of the non-religious are heard and listened to.

Humanists UK: Think for yourself, act for everyone.