A secular heroes program?

[Photo of Ian Bushfield.]
Ian Bushfield

By Ian Bushfield

I am always tossing a lot of ideas for projects around in my head. I get some down in writing and solicit opinions on others. Most don’t make it very far but others are actually implemented and affect change.

Almost every idea is sparked by an initial outrage to a story in the media. So before I get to my idea-of-the-day, let’s discuss the spark.

Xtra! is reporting that REAL Women of Canada, a notorious anti-feminist group, is involved in deciding who will be awarded some of the 60,000 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals to “outstanding” Canadians. Xtra! notes that pro-LGBT groups like Egale Canada were not asked for their input.

Couple this affront to secularism – REAL exists primarily to promote bigoted extremist Christian values – with my general distaste with spending several million dollars to celebrate the head of the Church of England, and I begin to hope that more people when offered these medals will turn them down as six Quebec MPs did.

But where adversity lies, opportunity flourishes. So we reach my idea for a counter-protest with room to evolve into something much greater: A Canadian Secular Heroes award.

While Humanist Canada has recognized Canadian Humanists of the Year for quite some time, I am not aware of any awards that reach beyond our typical membership or appeal to a broader audience. This is not to disparage the work of pioneering past award recipients, but to identify a chance to recognize others who have contributed to the advancement of secularism and humanist values in our society.

I am thinking of people like former MP Svend Robinson who tried (unsuccessfully) to remove God from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or Gibson’s mayor Barry Janyk who forced local churches to justify their property tax exemptions. There are undoubtedly many other heroes who deserve our recognition and respect, and such an award offers a chance for the BCHA to offer some appreciation for their work.

So what are your thoughts? Is this a long-overdue project or something that is not worth the effort? Would people accept our award? If we do this should we have the Secular Villain award to recognize those who would force religion back into our government (much the same way that New Humanist offers a Bad Faith award)?

On the About Us page: “The British Columbia Humanist Association has been providing a community and voice for Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the non-religious of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia since 1982. We support the growth of Humanist communities across BC, provide Humanist ceremonies, and campaign for progressive and secular values.

We are a registered charitable organization. Our mission is:

  • to promote the ideas and philosophy of secular humanism by all available means of education and communication;
  • to serve the educational needs of its members and others of humanistic, scientific and naturalistic outlook, in a democratic, non-dogmatic manner free from authoritarian doctrine;
  • to provide opportunities for fellowship, study and service at all levels of humanistic endeavour, and to advance the values and welfare of humanity in dedication to the continuing enhancement of human life through human effort and understanding;
  • to offer and provide meaningful ceremonies to members and non-members at significant times such as marriage and death; and
  • to elaborate and to express publicly Humanist positions on issues of concern to people, including values, morality and ethics.

Find out more about Humanism or the issues we support.

We are run by a democratically-elected volunteer Board of Directors and a small staff. We are funded entirely by donations from individuals who share our vision for a world based on reason and compassion.”

Originally published on the British Columbia Humanist Association website on March 8, 2012.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Image Credit: Ian Bushfield/Devan Scott.

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