Ever wondered what it would be like to live in a modern Christian theocracy? Plymouth Humanists' first international speaker will be providing a window into what it's like to live somewhere where religion holds a lot more power than in the UK.
Texas State Director of American Atheists, AronRa will be speaking in Plymouth on the 28th of this month in the B-Bar at 7:30. Aron will be sharing his experiences from the states and speaking on the topic of "Religious Culture".
Graham Ashton, a member of Plymouth Humanists, who has organised the event said: "It's a privilege to have such an accomplished speaker come so far to speak in Plymouth. Many in the rationalist movement have praised Aron not just for his dedication to activism, but also for the brevity with which he can explain scientific concepts and ideas."
Some Humanists, atheists and agnostics may be concerned about religious influence in the United Kingdom. Their worries include the 26 Bishops in the House of Lords, attempts to set up schools that would teach creationism in science classes, sectarian schooling and lobbying from the Church to government that has, for example, recently successfully stopped Humanist marriages. But it is quite a different picture the world in which AronRa lives and campaigns.
A recent Gallup poll from the States found that that atheists are the candidates Americans would be least likely voted for, behind other minorities that are normally discriminated against such as Blacks, Muslims or members of the LGBT community. Being openly atheist is considered by many to be political suicide and in 7 states atheists are barred from holding public office. There are various social pressures on atheists in the US and there have been bill board campaigns against them, such as the ingodwetrustusa.org bill sign that asks "Why do atheists hate America?". All this, along with continued battles over whether creationism should be taught in schools as science and religion impacting on scientific research show a very different environment from the one we experience in the UK.
Commenting on the situation in his home state AronRa says "Texas is leading the nation in Christian dominionists who actually do want to establish an American theocracy. Some of the graduates from the Chalcedon Institute and other such agencies have even stated an agenda to enforce Levitical law! That would have our predominantly Christian country equal to any of the atrocities of the Arab world."
Drawing on his experience of living in a heavily Christian State, AronRa will be talking on the topic of 'Religious Culture', discussing the tendency of people "to wear their religion like an adopted style, embracing and promoting their faith no different than the way one embraces or promotes a sports team, rather than it being an examined conclusion indicated by reason."
Looking forward to the talk Ben Kerr, Plymouth Humanists' Chair commented: "We are very excited to have to have an international speaker such as AronRa talk in the city. For Humanist groups that are often fledgling and don't have large budgets, these opportunities are few and far between. It will be something very different from our normal fare and we expect it to be controversial, challenging and enlightening."
Anyone interested in attending the talk should email email@example.com as it is likely to be a popular event and places may be limited. More information at http://www.plymouth-humanists.org.uk/