Les Reid of the Belfast Humanist Group wonders what ever happened to all the Dissenters and makes a pitch for humanists to occupy at least some of that space. He also points us in the direction of the Humanist Summer School later this month in Carlingford.From Les Reid
We read and hear references to ‘Protestants, Catholics and Dissenters’ but the last group never seem to hold any meetings. Who are these Dissenters and where do they hang out? Many of us have either outgrown or got fed up with the old sectarian dichotomy of Catholic or Protestant and would like to find a Third Way out of the sectarian rut. But how do you become a Dissenter?
The Humanists must have a good claim to the Dissenter mantle. Humanists reject all religious tales of the supernatural, including gods, goddesses, angels, demons, miracles and the hereafter. They are atheists and agnostics, but they do not merely reject religion, they work together to advance the cause of a secular, liberal society. Famous Humanists include Richard Dawkins, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Noam Chomsky and Jonathan Miller, to name but few.
Humanist organisations can be found North and South of the border, in Belfast, Dublin and Coleraine. The Belfast Humanist Group website (www.humanists.net/belfast) has links to groups throughout Ireland and Britain.
The Humanist Summer School which will be held in Carlingford 25 – 27 August is a joint venture by groups from NI and RoI. The theme this year is “Freethinking and Diversity” and the main speakers will be Justin Keating, former RoI Government Minister; Robin Wilson of Democratic Dialogue; Jeff Dudgeon from NI Gay Rights Association and Paul Rowe, Director of Educate Together. Details of the full range of activities and discussions can be found on the website. It is hoped that there will be a good turn-out of Dissenters of all shades of opinion and that there will be lively debate and friendly contact among all those searching for a Third Way.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty