Humanism is a positive philosophy that encourages actively taking part in society in order to better the world for everyone. Today, many humanists donate their time to charities or good causes, tackling a range of issues from women’s empowerment, to supporting non-religious patients in hospitals.
The British Humanist Association
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people, who seek to lead good lives but do not believe in god.
The BHA leads several campaigns in the UK, focusing on the elimination of religion from the public sphere, the removal of state funding from ‘faith’ schools, and the protection of human rights and equality. The BHA is involved in several international campaigns, and regularly attends the United Nations Human Rights Council to make statements on the persecution of non-religious people.
The BHA also provides invaluable pastoral support to the non-religious across a range of public services, as well as providing trained celebrants to perform humanist funerals, weddings, and naming ceremonies.
Aware Girls is a charity which works towards women’s empowerment and the ending of gender inequality in Pakistan, founded by Gulalai Ismail and three other women, and is run entirely by young women and girls. Gulalai was awarded the International Humanist of the Year award 2014, an award which recognises ‘outstanding service to Humanism’.
Aware Girls seeks to empower women through methods such as increasing the political participation of women, supporting victims of domestic abuse, and running public awareness campaigns which focus on women’s rights. The work of Aware Girls in spreading the message of gender equality forced Gulalai and her family to relocate in 2014 following threats of violence.
These pastoral support volunteers provide essential care to the growing proportion of non-religious people resident in the United Kingdom (estimated to be between a quarter and a half), who have been historically overlooked in this area. New national guidance was published in March of this year, which obliges NHS bodies to provide pastoral support and care to non-religious people on the same basis as chaplaincy is provided to the religious, demonstrating how important non-religious pastoral care is.
Responsible Charity is a humanist charity which seeks educate children living in the slums of India, and empower men and women to overcome poverty. They do so via a variety of programmes, including, but not limited to, birth control provision, English classes for adults and children, nutritional support, and the provision of comprehensive education for children.
Responsible Charity work directly with children and their families, which enables them to distribute funds efficiently, maximising their positive impact. Responsible Charity embraces the humanist outlook, proving that you don’t need religion in order to care for others and better the world will live in.
Uganda Humanist Schools Trust
The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust was founded in 2008 to help cope with the increased demand for secondary education, following the introduction of Universal Primary Education in Uganda in 2000. The government has been able to only partially meet this demand, with private companies, including religious organisations, meeting the residual need.
The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust raises funds to support Uganda Humanists, who have founded three secondary schools, which offer a liberal, secular-humanist alternative. All schools teach the national curriculum, prepare students for public exams, and aim to develop self-confident pupils who care for each other and invest in their local communities.
Foundation Beyond Belief
The Foundation Beyond Belief is a US-based charity created to focus and encourage humanist generosity and compassion. The foundation works via four programmes: Humanist Giving, the Beyond Belief Network, the Humanist Disaster Recovery, and the Humanist Service Corps (for more information, follow this link).
Humanist Giving collects donations from beneficiaries and distributes it among five different secular charities, which change on a quarterly basis. The rate of change of charities demonstrates just how many humanist charities are out there, and just how much good humanists do in the world.