Kia Ora: We have had a few turbulent days with the New Zealand visit of British anti-trans campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker. Humanist NZ expressed our concerns in a letter to the Minister of Immigration Michael Wood – see further down in this newsletter. The thoughts of Sir Peter Gluckman, researcher, scientist and the Prime Minister’s former Chief Science Advisor are insightful and food for thought. In 2020 Sir Peter Gluckman released a report Sustaining Aotearoa New Zealand as a cohesive society produced by Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures at the University of Auckland. This report concluded that social cohesion and national unity were going to come under pressure in the years to come, and we are seeing this in 2023. Societies are polarising through not coping with the rapid change we are experiencing. Sir Peter comments that: “We’ve seen the weaponisation of narrative, particularly through social media and these things polarise people, make people scared, which in turn reinforces the ability for people to be more polarised.”
Sir Peter believes Kiwis need to get better at accepting different viewpoints and accepting people have rights so we can have constructive conversations instead of them turning into heated debates or violent scenes.
Ways need to be found to have constructive, non-emotive or less emotive conversations on matters where society needs to come together and have a consensus. Sir Peter also believes politicians and media have a role to play in this and encouraging “sensible discourse”. Sir Peter warns that NZ’s social cohesion is at risk, and our society needs to accept that transgender people have rights. It is important to respect people who are transgender and people struggling with their own identity. Every human has rights that need to be respected, and that includes the right to express one’s own identity and gender. There must be concern about the roles of people in society, and there needs to be a discussion whereby people understand that people who are transgender or who have issues with their gender identity need to be able to work that through and find their own place in society as full integrated members of society.
Sir Peter believes Kiwis are not fully equipped with all the knowledge we need to have, and wants New Zealand’s leaders to have a role in upskilling people in these areas. Many people do not know what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights means. Discussion must be encouraged on this issue of human rights.
An interview with Sir Peter Gluckman can be listened to at:
April monthly meeting:
Monday Meeting 3 April 6.30pm and by Zoom
Peter Clemerson discusses – The Emotional Basis of our Morality
Moral philosophers may claim that our morality can be derived from philosophical reasoning. Our morality evolved long before such philosophers existed so another explanation is needed to explain the existence of morality.
Our morality consists of a set of rules that govern our behaviour towards our fellow human beings: to benefit them or avoid harming them.
Emotions are conscious psychological states that motivate behaviour.
Aversive emotions are that subset of emotions that motivate actions leading to the cessation of an aversive state.
Pleasurable emotions are that subset that cause us to continue or repeat the actions that give rise to them
This talk will:
· feature those emotions which govern those actions that affect our fellow humans, that is, the emotions that govern our morality,
· provide an evolutionary explanation for the existence of these emotions.
All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public-bring a friend
Wellington Venue: Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon-upstairs
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87085109182
Imprisonment of Mubarak Bala, President Humanist Society of Nigeria,
28th April 2023 marks THREE years of imprisonment.
Request for Donations
See our GIVEALITTLE Page https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/humanists-at-risk
There was a depressing milestone noted in our March 2023 Humanist Newsletter. Returning from our summer holiday break marked Mubarak’s 1001 days of imprisonment. This coming month of April marks THREE years of imprisonment.
Humanists International (HI) is supporting Mubarak Bala and is asking for donations from humanists around the world to continue this support. Funds raised will be used to fund monthly visits to Mubarak by a trusted case-liaison person. HI estimates that monthly visits will cost around Pounds Stirling 819 which is NZ $1616. Donated money will also be spent on HI activities to help international humanists being persecuted for their beliefs.
On the 28th of April 2020, the news of Mubarak Bala’s arrest on allegations of insulting the Prophet Muhammad sent shockwaves through the global humanist community.
Nigerian human rights activist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala is currently serving a 24-year prison sentence after an eighteen-count charge of blasphemy and public incitement. Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mubarak_Bala
HI, after reports that Mubarak has been denied necessary medical care, in contravention of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the ‘Mandela Rules’), has taken actions to improved Mubarak’s safety. They have secured a maintenance grant that enables him to have access to medications and food, as well as supporting his wife and young son’s visits to see him.
HI are now working to ensure a trusted case-liaison can travel to the prison to visit Mubarak once a month, to discuss his case with him and act as a bridge between Mubarak and his lawyers. HI hope to send Leo Igwe, who is a board member of HI and was a speaker at the New Zealand Humanist Conference in Auckland in 2018. Leo is a colleague of Mubarak’s and has been spearheading the campaign for Mubarak’s release since his arrest.
Mubarak’s friends keep a Facebook daily post Vigil for Mubarak. See Facebook page Free Mubarak Bala https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100077931229000. For ourselves we have kept a monthly Humanist NZ Newsletter Vigil
For further information about how Humanists International works to protect and assist Humanists at Risk read more at: https://humanists.international/protect/. Each month, HI receives on average, 22 requests for help from individuals across the world who are at direct threat of persecution and are unable to live in accordance with their humanist values. In some countries, for example Kenya, humanists and atheists are not able to easily find employment.
PLEASE DONATE IF YOU CAN HELP.
Humanist NZ Response to recent visit, 24th March, of British anti-trans campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker
Tēnā koe Minister Wood,
I am writing on behalf of New Zealand Humanists to express concern about news that British anti-trans campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, will be coming to New Zealand. We ask that you consider denying any visa application or revocation of any previously granted visa to Keen-Minshull and anyone associated with organising the Let Women Speak event.
We believe that Keen-Minshull poses significant risk and threat to public order and the public interest.
Yesterday at a ‘Let Women Speak’ event in Melbourne that was organised by Posie Parker, far-right neo-nazis from the National Socialist Movement, attended in support of her hateful message and made Nazi salutes in front of the Victorian Parliament building. I provide below links to news coverage and attach a number of photos from the rally.
Humanists New Zealand has long supported LBTQI+ rights in New Zealand. we’ve campaigned for equal rights, marriage reform, and the pardoning of those convicted for homosexual acts. We believe that New Zealand sends a clear signal of our commitment to human rights, and gender equality.
We are gravely concerned about the rise of far- right extremism being promoted through anti-trans rhetoric.
Two articles translated from French by Humanist member Peter Bacos:
What would you say to a Tour of Miracles? from La Raison, Free Thought Monthly, No 678 – February 2023, by Gerald Cusin
We are approaching spring and if we are all mobilised on the front of struggles – and there have certainly been enough of them – nothing can boost the morale more than the idea of planning our holidays. The statistics of CREDOC indicate to us that the number of French who leave on holiday has not much changed in the last 40 years. In 2020, 50% of households have left, and 54% in 2021. My readership however is going to reduce itself still more because those who leave abroad are 3.9% of the 54%.
But no problem, the tourist circuit that I propose to you being particularly fascinating, I do not doubt that I am going to stimulate a feverish atmosphere. I propose to you nothing less than to go to visit the world’s best places of pilgrimage. The next time that your aunt Agatha will bring you holy water from Lourdes, you will be able to look at her with a condescending air. Don’t thank me.
Let us commence by New Mexico and the sanctuary of Chimayo. In the 19th century one found a wooden cross on a hill. Banal you would say. Wait! One transported it as far as the nearest church, but it disappeared, and one found it again on the same place of discovery and this cross transportation was repeated on several occasions. So, they decided to build a chapel on the place designated by the cross; each year one sees thousands of pilgrims marching there. For lack of water, as at Lourdes, one lacquers oneself with soil reputed to have curative properties.
Next, let us now go to Fiji, to Naag Mandir in effect. There, there is a miraculous stone which measures 3 metres in height. Good, you say, and so? But 100 years ago, it measured only 60cms. The Hindus go there to cure their problems of infertility. Because one speaks of Hindus we are now going to India, to be specific to the town of Varanasi. Bathe yourself in the waters of the Ganges to wash yourself of your sins. But on the other hand, I advise you to not rinse your mouth out with it as the natives do.
The most sportive pilgrimage in the world is without doubt the one on Mount Kailash in Tibet (also called Gang Rinpoche). It is the meeting place, considered as the axis of the world, of the four great Asiatic religions: the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and the Bonpos (1). One commences by doing a circuit (clockwise for the Hindus and Buddhists, and in the opposite direction for the others) of about 52 kms. One may also prostrate oneself on the ground every 3 metres. Next, one climbs 5000 metres (out of 6000) to reach a small monastery.
Let us now change continents and go to Africa to the area of Yaounde (Cameroon) and visit the cave of Nsimalen. It is there, 13 May 1986 that the Virgin appeared to a group of children. Every month, in the night from 12th to 13th, thousands of pilgrims walk the 500 metres up there, some on their knees to the Cross to bathe themselves in the sacred river.
Another place dedicated to Mariology, this time in Bosnia at Medjugorje. The Virgin has appeared on several occasions to six witnesses, and has delivered a personal message to each. Since then, one estimates that those who have visited this site and received a personal message numbers up to 30 million.
A small tour now to the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem, called the Western Wall by the Jews and El Bourak by Muslims (in reference to the magical steed that the archangel Gabriel furnished to Mahomet to go from Jerusalem to Mecca). One leaves little notes in the interstices of the wall; a young Israeli found a cheque there for $100,000. Now, that is a miracle!
The Christian pilgrims who go to the site of Glastonbury in England are persuaded that Christ went there (in walking on water?…history does not say). As for the pagans they go there to celebrate the Druidic rites which have taken place there. As to the fans of Camelot they go there to commune at the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere, discovered by monks in the 12th Century.
If after all this you don’t feel well, I would advise you to go to Madron Well in England. There is down there an old well besides an ancient chapel from the 12th Century. You suspend a piece of cloth from a branch hanging over the waters, and as it withers over time so your illness or malady does and you are supposedly cured. It is infallible.
Now, to return to your aunt Agatha. Lourdes is not bad either for this kind of thing, even if the profitability is not that great; there have been only 70 miracles recognised since its opening!
Great Britain: The Hour of the Disestablishment of the Church of England has Sounded from Newsline, Newsletter of the National Secular Society)
According to the data of the 2021 Census published recently, 46% of people in England and Wales have described themselves as, “Christian.” It is a question of a lowering of 13% in relation to the 59% recorded in the 2011 Census. During this period the percentage of people who have declared to not have any religion at all has increased to 37% whereas the figure in 2011 was 25%. The members of religious minorities, notably Islam and Hinduism, have experienced a constant increase.
Wales has known a diminution more significant of people declaring that their religion is, “Christian,” from 58% in 2011 to 44% in 2021, and an increase in the number of people declaring themselves without any religion from 32% in 2011 to 47% in 2021. That makes the non – religious the greatest group of religion/belief in Wales. In Northern Ireland the people without any declared religion constitute the second most important group. The data for the 2022 census in Scotland have still not been published but the data for the 2018 survey reveal that 59% of Scots are not religious.
The National Secular Society (NSS) which campaigns for the separation of church and state has declared that these figures demonstrate the necessity for, “fundamental reforms,” in the relationship between religion and the state. The United Kingdom has a state religion; the Anglican Church which benefits from unique privileges has 26 seats reserved for its Bishops in the House of Lords. The head of state, the British monarch is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England and takes an oath at their coronation to defend the Church. A third of the public schools (i.e., private) are confessional schools, and all state schools are expected by law to organise daily collective acts of Christian worship. The Director – General of the NSS, Stephen Evans has recently stated: “ It is official, we are no longer a Christian country. These figures portray a population which has moved itself in a spectacular fashion from Christianity – and from religion as a whole. The current status quo in which the Church of England is profoundly anchored in the British constitution is unjust and anti – democratic and seems more and more absurd and untenable. We have a need for fundamental reforms to become a true lay democracy, a democracy which reflects the reality of our population, irreligious and diverse, which is adapted to the 21st century.”