Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said he fears humanists are becoming “ever-more combative” towards faith communities.
Speaking at a conference in Madrid this week, the Chief Rabbi called on proponents of the movement to cease campaigning against religious practices like faith schools or circumcision in boys.
Rabbi Mirvis told the conference: “We are finding that, often, Humanism, and other secularist approaches, seek out opportunities to attack faith. I have always believed that when it comes to self-definition, the finest way for people to describe themselves is by explaining what they live for. It is a failing of human nature that, increasingly, people self-define according to what they are against.”
Mirvis added: “Humanism, with a small ‘h’, sits at the centre of what it means to be a Jew. But there is a different Humanism, with a capital ‘H’, which I fear is becoming ever-more combative in the way in which it regards faith communities.
“So to my Humanist friends, I call out to you in friendship and with respect. By all means, live your lives according to the values you hold dear. However, if it is freedom you seek, please do not campaign against our freedom to practice our faith.”
Rabbi Mirvis expressed concern about Humanists UK, a charity opposed to state-funded faith schools, saying that those “who campaign against the existence of faith schools are in effect campaigning against my freedom to raise my children in accordance with the tenets of my faith.”
“We may play different instruments, each one with a unique sound, but when we all play together under the baton of respectful cooperation, we can create beautiful harmony,” he continued.