Breaking News: AC Grayling will not become BHA President

News just in from the British Humanist Association. AC Grayling will not be taking up the Presidency of the BHA as he was expected to this weekend, because of the controversy surrounding his role in the new ‘New College of the Humanities’. Instead, current president Polly Toynbee will be staying on for a bit until they find someone new. We have previous covered Richard Dawkins’ comments on his role in the NCH on the Pod Delusion and will have further coverage on this week’s programme.

Here’s the BHA’s statement they’ve just released to their subscribers:

Anthony Grayling, the President-elect of the BHA, has decided to step down from that position and not to take office as President on 1 July.

In doing so Professor Grayling said, ‘It was an honour to be named President of the British Humanist Association and I very much looked forward to working alongside the staff and trustees over the next two years to promote Humanism – a vitally important task in today’s world. Unfortunately, I believe that controversy generated by activities in another area of my public life will make it difficult in the next two years for me to be the sort of President that I would like to be for the BHA and all its members and supporters. In deciding to stand down and let the Trustees of the BHA appoint an alternative President, I wish them all the best in their important task.’

Robert Ashby, Chair of the Trustees of the BHA, has responded, ‘We thank Anthony Grayling for the concern he has shown for the BHA and its work and regret the circumstances that have led him to step down as our President-elect. His decades of work in the causes that humanists espouse – secularism in our public life, freedom and human rights at home and globally, science and reason in our struggle to know the universe and humanity in our treatment of ourselves and other people – remain of great value.’

Polly Toynbee, currently President of the BHA, will continue as President until a new President is appointed by the Trustees later this year.

Many thanks to all of you for your ongoing support of the work of the BHA.

7 thoughts on “Breaking News: AC Grayling will not become BHA President

  1. There is something more than a bit fishy about this. Unless Grayling felt he has something to be ashamed of, why would he resign voluntarily?

    Surely the BHA don’t believe that the only compatible political ideology with a humanist world view is a socialist/communist position do they? Are any capitalists who believe that their methods are better for humanity unwelcome at the BHA?

  2. Fairly certain that’s bollocks, Craig. I think Grayling will have realised that wherever he goes – at least for the next few months – is going to be hounded by protests, and so has wisely decided not to drag the BHA into this.

    Or perhaps slightly more cynically, now he’ll have even more time to spend on his lucrative day job…

  3. Bloody idiot protestors! Poor Grayling is being done out of a well deserved honour because of their sour grapes!

    I hope that the BHA and Grayling reconsider.

  4. Is Grayling’s establishment of the New College of the Humanities compatible with humanism? That depends on what you mean by humanism. It’s perfectly compatible with atheism, both of the peaceful and the convert-everyone-in-sight varieties. It’s compatible with campaigning for secularism, again, both in terms of combating discrimination against those of no faith, ensuring that there is a place in society for the godless, and in terms of actively campaigning against religion. What it may or may not be compatible with is actual philosophical humanism. I think there is a certain potential for conflict between the values implied by the New College of the Humanities and what I would think of as humanism; but then, there is also potential for conflict between medieval Catholicism and what I would think of as humanism, but twelfth-century humanism (specifically, Hugh of St Victor’s _De Humilitate_) has a lot we can learn from.

  5. OK – at last the BHA has put it on its web site and I admit that it was insight. It did seem fishy as Shinier said, because the only other site releasing the news was one that looked a bit radical. Thanks to the Pod Delusion for the news – even if it was not good news.

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