May 19, 2010

Police chaplaincy appoints humanists

by David Masters

Hertfordshire Police has become the first UK police force to appoint humanists to its chaplaincy team.

The Hertfordshire Constabulary appointed two humanist lay advisers to join its 20-strong team of chaplaincy volunteers from a range of belief groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Pagan.

“As we have sought to expand and provide a more diverse chaplaincy support service, I am really pleased that we have the services of Humanists,” said Superintendent Simon Hawkins.

“It is vital that we provide appropriate support structures to our police officers and staff, and that they can have a choice that is compatible with their religion, belief or faith.

“Diversity is very much about respecting each others’ differences and the chaplaincy has a key role to play when supporting our people and offering an independent ear to listen to their issues or concerns.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, welcomed the “inclusive and progressive” appointments.

“Humanist members of chaplaincy and support teams exist in many places in the world such as Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, where they provide the sort of support to non-religious people that takes account of their distinct philosophical and emotional needs,” he said.

Humanists believe that morality should not depend on there being a god, but should be based on human reason and experience.

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