Non Prophet Week: An International Call to Arms

by Martin Smith (Former AHS Secretary)

“There can be no progress without head – on confrontation.”

The AHS this year is delighted to be working in collaboration with the International Humanist Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO) to bring Non–Prophet Week onto the world stage. The 9th to 15th of November is this year’s Non–Prophet Week. IHEYO are calling it ‘Charity Week’. Why the name change you ask? Well, consider the effect of an international humanist group raising awareness and money for charity under the name of “Non–Prophet Week”. As many of you will be aware, blasphemy is punishable by death in many of the countries that immediately benefit from the AHS’ efforts during Non–Prophet Week. Indeed just a few weeks ago Niloy Neel was brutally murdered for “blasphemy” in Bangladesh.

Non–Prophet Week this year is even more essential because it is in a front line fight. You and I may take a (relatively) secular state for granted but we are the lucky ones.

The AHS’ chosen charity this year is GiveDirectly. You guessed it, GiveDirectly take money from donors and give it to the poor. They can do this because modern payments technology has drastically cut the costs of sending money directly to the extreme poor, at the same time as new research has shown the powerful effects this has on their lives. GiveDirectly see these trends converging to make direct giving the benchmark against which the old, top-down models are evaluated. $1000 is usually given to a household, the equivalent of a year’s salary for many, in order to alleviate them from their suffering. Last year the AHS raised £2784.60. If this year that sum is matched, the potential to radically improve four households quality of life is, simply, humbling.

The University of Nottingham Agnostic Secular and Humanist Society (UNASH) raised £1234.50. We will need something similar again this year, but we all have a huge advantage this year. The President of UNASH, the man who oversaw the most successful student society Non–Prophet Week total in AHS history, Richard Acton, is now the AHS President. This means that his expertise is readily available, and you should use it! The AHS even produced a guide to running a successful Non–Prophet Week, so it really has never been easier to do more!

Therefore the AHS has set a total of £5000 to be raised by its student societies, that’s just under £180 per society listed on the AHS website. We won’t pretend that last year was not incredible. It was; we broke all sorts of records and the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust benefited greatly. Among these benefits included a new computer room and the facilities to allow the students to stay at the school so they no longer have to walk miles just to receive an education. We did that. Now the question is: What more can we do?

We are all humanists, and I absolutely believe that being a humanist means taking an active part in improving the lives of our fellow humans across the world. Humanism is after all, ‘for the one life we have’. To sacrifice a week doing something to help raise money for something that affects a person’s life forever is a small sacrifice, but not, I don’t think, an unreasonable one. Non-Prophet Week is about empathy, compassion, hope, joy and most of all, making a difference. Non-Prophet Week is the very active part of humanism. We are all humanists… let’s prove it.

There can be no progress without head – on confrontation.

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