Opinion Former Article

BHA: Religious beliefs must not dictate the work of English Heritage

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today responded to an English Heritage consultation on a request by the Council of British Druid Orders (CoBDO) for the reburial of prehistoric human remains, calling for the request to be totally rejected.

Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said 'These remains are of undoubted scientific, historical, educational and archaeological value and they are vital for future scientific and historical research. Yet CoBDO suggests that these facts should not outweigh the "spiritual value" of human remains and as such they must be removed from a museum and reburied, together with other prehistoric artefacts.'

'The remains are not of value exclusively to present-day Druids or those who share similar beliefs. Indeed, it is extremely worrying that the unshared beliefs of a group of people with no more genetic 'claim' over the human remains than anybody else in Western Europe might trump the enormous, real and proven benefits that these remains currently provide - and that proposal must be totally rejected.'

Ms Phillips continued, 'While we respect that the feelings of these religious believers are deeply held, we do not believe that exaggerated feelings should be deferred to unduly, particularly if that deference will result in harm. It is clear to us that English Heritage and the National Trust have taken these remote religious claims far too seriously, when the ethical and moral argument posited by CoBDO does not hold anywhere near sufficient weight to be accepted.'


Read the BHA's response to the consultation here.

For comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on naomi@humanism.org.uk or on 020 7079 3585.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned, non-religious people living in the UK. It is committed to human rights and democracy, and has a long history of active engagement in work for an open and inclusive society and for a rational approach to public ethical issues. The BHA's policies are informed by its members, who include eminent authorities in many fields, and by other specialists and experts who share humanist values and concerns.

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