Humanists appoint new chief executive

By staff writers
26 Jan 2010

Andrew Copson has been appointed as the new chief executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity promoting Humanism and representing the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK.

Mr Copson, aged 29, was formerly the BHA’s Director of Education and Public Affairs. He was appointed in November 2009 and formally takes on his new role in January 2010.

The new CEO came to the BHA in 2005 and since 2006 he has been coordinating the BHA’s education work, promoting understanding of Humanism as a non-religious worldview, as well as coordinating the BHA's public affairs activities. He has written extensively on these issues in the press and many other publications, and is regularly interviewed on radio and television news and current affairs programmes.

BHA chair Robert Ashby commented: "Andrew really understands the social and political milieu in which Humanism finds itself and has a track record of hard work and successes over the past years. I am sure that he will address the intellectual, financial and operational challenges of the BHA with his considerable analytical and inter-personal skills. Andrew has the staff, the trustees, the President, Vice- Presidents and all BHA members and supporters right behind him in the tasks ahead."

The BHA currently has some 10,000 members and claims thousands more supporters, making it the largest organisation in Britain seeking to articulate a committed non-religious viewpoint and to campaign for equal treatment on religion and belief issues.

Andrew Copson (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/tags/4037) also helped on behalf of the BHA to co-found the Accord Coalition on inclusive schooling, which brings together religious and non-religious people seeking to end religious discrimination in admissions, employment, the teaching of beliefs and religious assemblies. Accord's other founder members are the teaching union ATL and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia. Its chair is Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain and its latest member is British Muslims for Secular Democracy, a Muslim organisation working for equal treatment.

Andrew Copson said: "I am thrilled to be taking on the role of leading the BHA, which is unique in its aims, experience, reach and representation. There has never been a more exciting time to promote Humanism and work for a world where people are free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values."

He continued: "We need to encourage and support that massive proportion of the population who put human welfare at the heart of their ethics, who find meaning in the realities of existence rather than in their denial, and make the most of the one life they have without reference to a life to come. These humanist values are not only credible and coherent, they have generated some of the greatest achievements of humanity, and should be celebrated and advanced."

In the spring of 2009, Andrew Copson was appointed to the BBC's Standing Conference on Religion and Belief, a new body which replaces the Central Religious Advisory Committee (CRAC), which advised on "religion-related policy and coverage".

He told the Independent on Sunday at the time that his appointment could give him the chance to challenge the composition of the BBC Radio 4 spirituality slot, Thought for the Day. "We need to see an increased contribution from humanists in slots run by the religion and ethics department that are presently confined only to religions," he said.

He has also been involved with the Cutting Edge Consortium of religious and non-religious groups seeking to work against wide religious opt-outs from the Equality Bill currently passing through parliament.

Mr Copson graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with a first in Ancient and Modern History. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Associate of the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University. In addition to his work at the BHA, he is a director of the European Humanist Federation and a representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union to the Council of Europe.

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Articles by Andrew Copson on Ekklesia: 'We need fully inclusive chaplaincies' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5936) and 'Diversity, attainment and faith schools' (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/7646).

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