On 17 November, the European Humanist Federation took part in a conference co-organized with EHF members Associació per a l’Humanisme and Valencia Laica in Valencia, Spain.
This humanist afternoon was centered around a working meeting with Spanish organisations sharing the EHF’s values as well as a conference and public debate with the title “Humanism and Laicism: a rational, critical, scientific and ethical vision or life”.
During the working meeting, EHF Board Members had the chance to receive a deeper insight in the main issues related to secularism and humanism in Spain. This insight was provided by representatives of a number of Spanish humanist, laïque, secularist, skeptical and free thinker organisations.
At the conference and public debate following the meeting, participants were provided with various insights of what humanism and laicidad mean, thanks to the diverse panel moderated by Raquel Ortiz, coordinator of Valencia Laica, the regional branch of Europa Laica.
First, Giulio Eroclessi, EHF President, made a short presentation of the organisation and outlined the main challenges it is taking up in today’s political landscape. He then proposed the audience a linguistic analysis around the many expression that exist in Europe to express the idea of secularism and which all carry their national and cultural nuances.
Following this, EHF Vice-President Kaja Bryx outlined her views related to humanism and its many facets as well as the challenges and opportunities of promoting humanism as a life stance and vision of life:
We live in difficult times, having to face the growing fundamentalism, religious fanatism, populism and all kinds of irrational ideologies. Nevertheless, we also live in fascinating and beautiful times, when science is finally able to shed light on where we’ve come from, who we are and what the Universe is all about!
From distant stars to quarks and deep inside the human brain: humanity has never before reached so far! Moreover, the vision of life offered by science is far more interesting and enjoyable than any religious promise.
The panel would have not been complete without Manel Salido, a local humanist activist, President of the recently-founded Associació per a l’Humanisme, a group very active in Ontinyent, a smaller city 100 km from Valencia. Manel told the audience about his experience discovering humanism and creating his association as well as setting up a new group of humanists in Valencia.
The panel was followed by a debate with a very enthusiastic and outspoken public. Participants were eager to know more about humanism as an alternative life stance in a society still widely dominated by the catholic church. Others enquired about secularism as a framework guaranteeing the separation of state and church and freedom of religion and conscience for all, both religious and non-religious.
The next day, the EHF Executive Board convened for its regular quarterly meeting and discussed the outcomes of the afternoon. At this occasion, Giulio Ercolessi, EHF President said that:
We are very grateful to our member organisations Europa Laica and the Associació per a l’Humanisme for having made this Humanist afternoon possible, regardless of all the other political controversies that are being fiercely debated throughout the Iberian Peninsula these days.
We appreciate that quite a number of Spanish organisations share the EHF’s values and we look forward to collaborating with all of them. The challenges to secularity in Spain are complex but we are convinced that if humanist, laïque, secular, skeptical and free thinker organisations work hand in hand, real changes can be achieved in the future!
Further photos of the event are available here.