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Society Training Day – An Appeal to the Passionate

“I wish the new federation well, warmly applaud the initiative that has brought it into existence, and feel happier about the future as a result. This is more than another candle in the dark, it is a whole candelabrum, shining its welcome light onto the forward path, for the many who see the world as a natural realm, for which the responsibility – for the planet’s health as for the peace, flourishing and good of all its human residents – belongs to humankind alone.”

- A.C Grayling

A.C Grayling was correct to point out, as the above quote states, that the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (The AHS) is a shining light, in a room blackened by superstition and stupidity. This coming weekend we welcome over 15 different societies from all over Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to the AHS’s first ever Society Training Day held at the University of Nottingham.

The AHS often provides training at the AHS Convention and the Annual General Meeting, but it has never before focused an event that tailors purely for training. This year, the Executive decided to refocus training and create an event that puts you all in the same room as your colleagues from different universities and so allowing you to share ideas, improve, and be inspired. Those holding the candelabrum are the AHS Officers, who offer a huge range of experience and can impart their vast knowledge on to you. These Officers come from various universities across the country, and offer years of valuable experience running the very societies that you run, or attend, at the moment. Who better then to provide training, than those giants upon whose shoulders you stand?

It is a day where that shining light of the candelabrum can operate like a lighthouse in the midst of mist, rocky and turbulent seas.

This event is not, by any means, going to be you guys simply listening to us. Rather it will be us giving advice, useful skills and subtle suggestions and then you guys can and will, I am sure, discuss what is useful about say, social media and perhaps what you as a society has done that others may benefit from. Perhaps you have had a particular idea for an event that you feel could be useful for other societies to use too? Perhaps you are thinking about running for a committee position but you are unsure what it may involve and so want to be informed before making a decision? Maybe you have found somethings really difficult and you feel you need some specialist guidance? Or maybe you just enjoy like-minded people? Whatever the reason, the University of Nottingham will host some of the most interesting and intelligent people in the country who, like yourselves, are all passionate about atheism, secularism and humanism and are committed to a future where the light of truth, beauty and reason prevail against the darkness of superstition, hysteria and unsubstantiated claims.

For more information please visit our page here, and join the Facebook event group here.

I look forward to welcoming you all.

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AHS Newsletter

11th January 15


Hello flock!

Welcome back! I hope ewe all had a lambunctious holiday and are ready to get right back to it.

I won’t pull the wool over your eyes: we’ve all been put out to pasture for the last 2-3 weeks and there’s just mutton new to bring your attention to, asides from a wool load of conventions and an end-of-year retrospective on Society Training Weekend. I don’t feel sheepish about there not being bales of content though: these conventions are probably the strongest selection of events I’ve penned in to this newsletter so far, so I feel no need to pad this issue by ramming in a load of filler.

Baah the way, as ever, we’re always interested in publishing your articles. If you’ve written a piece you’d like to share with other societies, send it to and we’ll shepherd it onto our website, Facebook and this newsletter.

So enjoy the start of the new year; I hope all of our societies get their momentum back up to scale quickly and start doing some amazing things in 2015. 2014 went very well by all accounts; let’s give 2015 the bleating of a lifetime.

Braying for your success,
Luke Dabin

Communications Officer



We are proud to announce that the 2015 AHS Convention page is now available to the general public.

Which puts me in a bit of an awkward situation as all available information is there already and to retype it would be somewhat redundant. So here’s a short salespiece:

The AHS Convention will be a 3 day event in March 2015. It’ll be held in London, which is handy as there’re loads of us there already (with floorspace!) and the city is relatively easy to travel to. There shall be a mixer social on Friday, speaker and panel sessions on the Saturday and a series of workshops on the Sunday. Student tickets are £20 for all 3 days, or free if you choose to join us for just the Sunday workshops. Grants are also available to subsidise travel costs on a first-come, first-served basis.

So if you fancy spending a weekend with a large number of similarly enthusiastic students, acquiring new skills and new contacts, and hearing a diverse roster of acclaimed humanists cover topics such as taking offence, faith and faithlessness, and morality, you must check out the website. And then buy a ticket. By clicking here.

See also:
Tickets & Travel Grants

Venues & Accessibility



Big names, people.

David Fitzgerald, author of “Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All”.
Maryam Namazie, unstoppable human rights activist.
Andrew Copson, CEO of the British Humanist Association and 5-times winner of the Groovin’ Humanist award for applied funk in the pursuit of civil equality.

And that’s not even all of them: to check out the full roster, Sheffield Freethought Convention mas made a slick website available for your perusal RIGHT HERE. So go and give it a skim and consider buying a ticket. For students, these are reasonably priced at £7 for the talks on Saturday, £10 for the whole three days and a tentative £20 for all three days including a glamorous dinner on the Saturday.



UK’s grandest and greatest Humanist gathering.
19-21st June 2015. Bristol.
Jim Al-Khalili. Alice Roberts. Richard Wiseman. Andrew Copson. More speakers TBA.
Web page.
Tickets now on sale. £40 student discount. Installment payments available.
Web page.
More information to come. Book now.



Featured Article: AHS Training, Nottingham

“Each and every aspect of the conference was infused with information on how to run a, positive, inclusive, and successful student society, whilst additionally providing a golden opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. We would wholeheartedly recommend all of our members attend future events in concert with the AHS and BHA.”

Glen Carrigan (University of Central Lancashire ASH) wrote a glowing retrospective of the AHS’s Society Training Weekend, which took place last month in Nottingham. Reading it evoked some fond memories of the weekend, as well as a certain amount of enthusiasm and pride in what we managed to achieve over the course of those three days. You can find it by clicking on the italicised excerpt above.

As well as it being a more than pleasant read, this piece is particularly relevant given the three conventions mentioned above. I’m definitely excited about the speakers – some of whom I’ve been wishing to meet in person for years – but a significant chunk of my motive for going is to experience once again the sense of community, cooperation and energy that comes with being in a big room with lots of AHS members and a not inconsiderable volume of beer.




The following two articles were published side-by-side in The Stag, the University of Surrey’s student newsletter. UoS AHS and UoS CU both graciously permitted them to be republished here. Stated opinions are not those of the AHS but of the respective authors etc. etc.


Christmas Holiday Period – the Christian Union Perspective

– UoS Christian Union
– Hannah Bostock, Female President of the Christian Union

For many, Christmas means sparkling lights, meat covered in gravy, the dreaded Brussel sprouts (though I think they taste alright with some salt), pigs wrapped in blankets, attempting to fake a smile of gratitude even when receiving the most random of presents and time spent with family and friends. Of course, it is important to point out Christmas can be a painful time for people all over the world as some may feel lonely, poverty-stricken and depressed. What is Christmas really celebrating though? As Christians the main purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth and life of someone who lived on earth over 2000 years ago and changed history forever. But this wasn’t just ‘someone’: we believe He was and is the Son of God. It is necessary to note however, that Jesus’ actual birthday is likely to have been in autumn time, but Christians adopted the date from Winter Solstice festivals

But how is the celebration of Jesus’ birth during Christmas relevant to us in the 21st Century? In short terms, crucifixion and resurrection as written in the Bible, if we choose to believe it all, means we can have a relationship with who we believe is the creator of the Universe and it also would mean that though our physical bodies die, our souls will still live on for eternity, with God in Heaven.

Why choose to believe it? Because as it says in the Bible the wages for sin is death, but through Jesus we have a free gift of eternal life. Yet is it not cruel that God sent His one and only son to live in our imperfect world to eventually suffer and then die a horrific death? The Bible claims that Jesus sacrificed himself for us so that we wouldn’t have to die; he had chosen to do this. As Jesus says in the Bible (Matthew 26:53): “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” This means that Jesus could have called out an army of angels to destroy those who were attempting to destroy Him, but he still went ahead with being abused and then slaughtered. Though Jesus did die, it is recorded that he was then resurrected three days later and was on earth for forty days before returning to Heaven to be with His father.

If what Jesus and the Bible claim is true then His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection are the most important historical events ever. And Christmas is a great time to celebrate this, but isn’t the only time we do! Want to find our more? Contact us ( or pop along to our Discover study we run on a Saturday at 3pm in Starbucks on campus, which is an opportunity for people who are not Christians to discover who Jesus is.


A Very Ordinary Christmas

– Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society
– Mike Parker (President) and Kerri Moore (Treasurer)

The final straw broke. On the door mat was a red envelope, a first class Santa stamp in the top right corner (they had even got to Royal Mail – unforgivable!) and his name written in black biro. Inside the envelope was a card depicting what might be a nativity scene complete with Mary, shepherds and three men who had followed a star. It was a Christmas card with, he shuddered, Christianity. He threw the card on the ground and reached for the jerry can of petrol. Having suitably doused his entire house, he lit a match, surveyed his room with a deep scowl on his face, and proceeded to burn all evidence that anything remotely related to Jesus had infiltrated his house this year. With all the shops closed for Christmas and packs of carollers on the street, he saw no reason to go out, and simply sat reading the paper as his house burn down around him. He’d have to find another day to perform his sacrifice to the Messiah Richard Dawkins.

We are, of course, joking. In all seriousness, why would a self-identifying atheist or Humanist celebrate Christmas any differently to anyone else? Take all the things we associate with Christmas; good and often abundant food, giving and receiving presents, a jolly bearded man in a red suit, bad Christmas films (The Hogfather not-withstanding), family, festive lights, trees, awful Christmas number ones and the Nativity story involving a grumpy innkeeper who doesn’t like to help pregnant women. There is, let’s face it, already little Christianity left in Christmas.

Those of us who don’t subscribe to the religion can still embrace all the other joys, big and small, this winter festival brings. It would be the most horrendous killjoy, probably someone you wouldn’t ever want to meet, who denies themselves and others the chance to enjoy the festivities just because they disagree with the Christian story that co-opted pagan winter festivals so long ago.

Christmas is now as much as cultural event as a religious one and one we think is especially important for University students. Many of us are miles from home, maybe continents away, and it is good for us to have an occasion that brings us back to those people who are important to us, whether that be family, friends or anyone else. And mince pies.



What’s on where you are:

Regional Events: NORTH WEST

Some of you may have heard about a little event called the QED convention (Question, Explore, Discover). For QED 2015 a fine roster of speakers will gather in Manchester for two of the skeptical/humanist calendar’s brightest days.

(I hope we can agree that when it comes to Mitch Benn, Matt Dillahunty, Prof. Marcel Dicke, Dr. Lucie Green, Dr. Harriet Hall, Prof. Bruce Hood, Dame Sue Ion, Michael Marshall and Rosie Waterhouse, “fine” is at least an acceptable term.)

The convention takes place on 25th-26th April 2015 and tickets are only £69 for students. If even this is a bit steep, Friday 24th will be a free full-day event. There’s simply no excuse. Check the official website for further details including some very in-depth speaker profiles. More information to follow.

Regional Events: EVERYWHERE ELSE

When your society comes under the label “Everywhere else”, you just know that nothing’s happening. If your society has an upcoming event you’d like to be publicised, please contact your regional development officers. Otherwise, buy some train tickets, head out to one of the events above and make some new friends!

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