THE HUMANIST FAITH LEADER! ARTICLE NEWHAM RECORDER JULY 2014 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 did. 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 pointless? There was also the inevitable question about how the universe was formed if not by God. 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.