The Humanist Faith Leader! (On being invited to speak to Religious

I have never thought of myself as a faith leader! I was therefore flattered to be invited recently
together with a number of local faith leaders to speak to children from schools in Newham about
our beliefs. It was delightful. I just hope that the children found it as interesting and stimulating as I
It was certainly a novel experience for all of us. The children, who study religious education, are of
different faiths and all have strong beliefs. They had clearly had little if any conversation before with
someone who doesn’t believe in God. The concept appeared to be as weird to them as their belief
in an Almighty Being and an afterlife is to me.
Another concept that was possibly new to them is the freedom a non-religious person has to decide
for themselves how they spend their time, what clothes they wear and the food they eat. The event
brought home to me the value of this freedom, and the responsibility that comes with it.
The questions came thick and fast. How can I possibly know what is right or wrong without a
religious belief? Who do I turn to for comfort or advice in time of need? Don’t I think my life is
There was also the inevitable question about how the universe was formed if not by
Honesty is the best policy, and I have to confess that I don’t know the answer to this one. If I could
fully explain the origin of the Universe then I would be in line for the next Nobel Prize. I simply point
out that I prefer the scientific attempts at explanation based on evidence and research to the word
of ancient holy books.
I hope, if nothing else, that the children discovered that people who don’t believe in God can be as
good and as sincere as people who do, and that the humanitarian values we have in common are far
more important than anything that divides us. If they did learn this then they have at least grasped
some basic principles of Humanism.
Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists.