My Involvement in Humanism

by G. P. Jelliss ©

In London 1980 - 1982

I was briefly a member of South Place Ethical Society when I worked in London in the early 1980s, not far from Conway Hall. I attended some of the lectures and concerts there, but did not really get very deeply involved. At the time it seemed to me that there were too many different "factions" (Humanists, Secularists, Rationalists, etc.) all pulling in different directions. I used to call myself an "Unbeliever" and was pretty tolerant of religion, thinking that it didn't matter to me what other people believed so long as they didn't force their views on me.

Moving to Leicester 1999

In early 1999 my father died and I sold my flat in St Leonards on Sea and decided on a change of scene. So I moved to Leicester with the intention of doing some research in the Mathematical Association collection at Leicester University Library. However I also found that Leicester's Secular Hall was open and, like Conway Hall, held regular lectures. I found the people there generally friendly and with similar vews to my own.

Secular Hall, photo 11 September 2005, by G.P.Jelliss

The Stayfree company was at that time offering a free course in HTML and setting up of websites. So I joined and set up some sites on my hobby interests, and also one for Leicester Secular Society. This led to further involvement with the LSS and I was on their Committee for several years and helped to draw up a revised set of Principles of Secularism for the new century.

Creationism in Leicester

Young-Earth Creationists were active in Leicester when I was there. The US-based organisation ‘Answers in Genesis’, headed by the Australian Ken Ham, had its UK (and Europe) Headquarters in Leicester. Their address was 147 Queens Road, but they moved to 16 Morris Road, a warehouse where they stocked their extensive literature. The ‘Biblical Creation Society’ had a postal address in nearby Rugby. Both had connections with the local Evangelical churches.

On the website of Leicester Secular Society there is a page on Creationism devoted to events in 2006 based mainly on correspondence and features that appeared in the Leicester Mercury. For my Darwin Day article (11 February 2006) and replies by the Bishop of Leicester, and an Imam, see the LSS page on Evolution and the Church of England.

Here is a photo I took at the Creation Conference held at Aylestone Leisure Centre in Leicester in 2005. Speakers at the event included Professors Andy McIntosh (Leeds) and Stuart Burgess (Bristol). There were sufficient people in attendance to require the conference to be split into three parallel sessions at times (hence the three display screens).

Here's a photo (taken by Answers in Genesis) of my encounter with Ken Ham at Leicester University campus in 2006. He is holding a small poster I made with the caption "Ken Ham, Prophet of Ignorance". Naturally they tried to turn this encounter into publicity for themselves.

Hastings Humanists

Since moving back to Hastings & St Leonards on Sea in December 2008, I have become involved with setting up a Hastings Humanists group affiliated to the BHA.