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Monday, 26 May 2008

Mad as a fish

What is going on at the Humanist Celebrants Association (HCA)? According to its website, the organisation “exists to assist you in your search to locate a humanist, non-religious, secular speaker”. It also claims that each of its associates is an experienced celebrant of nonreligious, secular funerals, weddings and baby-naming/welcoming ceremonies.

On its About HCA page, the association claims that its celebrants are the frontline ambassadors of the humanist cause. Well, correct me if I’m wrong but when did the humanist cause embrace hypnotherapy, psychic mediums, readings and drawings, aura drawing, earth angel healing or crystal therapy? Anyone visiting the HCA’s Links page would be forgiven for believing that all of this is part of the humanist tradition! Among other gems (I’m being ironic), the site also recommends online Tarot readings, online and DVD recordings from the Temple of Isis Organisation and psychic awareness workshops from Jewel Marie Leaf.

But perhaps the most bizarre recommendation is for Pet Paws Animal and Pet Care Services, who offer “pet care services [and] have a genuine love of animals [and] feel every pet has its own personality and character”.

Roy Brown, who is a former president of IHEU (the International Humanist and Ethical Union) and, since 2004, the IHEU representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, is not impressed:

What on earth do they think they are doing? Are they unaware that Humanism is defined as “reason in the service of compassion”? Yes, reason. What on earth has possessed them to get alongside all this New Age garbage?

Perhaps the answer is contained in the contact email address given on the site, And try clicking on the “Members” page, which should actually read “Member” because that’s all you get – one member, Anthony Roberts-Moore of Birkenhead, where the HCA is based!

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