danielandthelionsdenfigurinesetA few weeks ago I posted about the report that the British Humanist Association (BHA) commissioned BRAP to research (click here). Below is an article by Damian Thompson that appeared in The Telegraph on the 30th April 2009 where he strongly criticises not only the report but also the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for funding it.

The article is entitled, ‘Christians: this is how your taxes are being spent in the middle of a recession’:

With the economy in crisis, campaigning atheists are being subsidised by the Government via the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Just look at this appalling email that’s been forwarded to me.

I beg you: take time to read it in full, follow the links and ask yourself who is paying for this exercise. And why. If you feel like contacting the EHRC (0845 604 6610 – it’s their “helpline”) – well, it’s not my place to stop you.

From: local@humanism.org.uk

Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 12:55 PM

Subject: BHA Equalities Project

I am delighted to be able to send you the results of a British Humanist Association project which was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The project was designed to explore issues regarding “religion or belief” equality and human rights work. The project had the stated aim of “increasing understanding of issues of ‘religion or belief’ in the context of equalities and human rights within the voluntary sector, media and general public.”

I am very pleased to be able to send you the resources which we have created for people working in the equalities and human rights field. The resources are designed to help discussion of the issues in this field of equality work and all of them are available on our website. Alternatively, if you require hard copies or alternative formats, please do not hesitate to contact me. Feel free to send the resources to colleagues and contacts and to forward them around your networks.

The Resources

The BHA has written guidance for public authorities and organisations who may be undertaking “religion or belief” equalities work. It gives information about current legislation with regard to ‘religion and belief’ and gives good practice guidelines on employment and equality schemes.

We also designed a toolkit to support equality practitioners in their work by giving guidance and information about the “strand” via exercises and presentations. It can be used by anyone who is comfortable giving presentations and can be delivered to colleagues in the equality sector, ‘religion or belief’ groups and other community groups. In small groups, the exercises can be done as a whole group; larger groups should be split up for easier discussion.

We undertook a survey which was designed to discover the amount of knowledge that people held currently in the “religion or belief” equalities field and what support they felt was needed to take such work forward.

The survey questions were sent to 418 people. The list was made up of over 170 equality contacts at local authorities in England and Wales and all the delegates and speakers at the 4 BHA ‘religion or belief’ conferences held in 2008 and 2009.

This report gives information about people’s opinions regarding ‘religion or belief’ equality work and gives recommendations to improve work in this field.

We held four conferences as part of the project and the resources from these are now available online. They include PowerPoint presentations from various speakers on many different subjects including human rights, free speech and public services.

We also commissioned brap to write a ‘state of the nation’ report on the “religion or belief” equality sector. The report is entitled THE ‘RELIGION OR BELIEF’ EQUALITY STRAND IN LAW AND POLICY: Current Implications for Equalities and Human Rights and is available to download.

If you have questions or feedback about the resources or the BHA, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,

Pepper Harow
Local Campaigns Officer

British Humanist Association
1 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HD
t: 020 7462 4992
f: 020 7079 3588

The BHA has also responded to its own report (?). Their response can be read here.


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