International Humanist and Ethical Union
From the desk of Matt Cherry, International Representative
It’s a small world.
When I began my career in Humanism almost twenty years ago, the British Humanists introduced me to their strategic partner, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). After a few years, I joined the IHEU as their director of PR and development.
But I saw challenges in the United States, and moved there to spend a dozen years leading American Humanist groups in their vital fight against the religious right.
I never lost touch with the IHEU, because I believed they were – and still are – the one organization that has a global reach and global credibility when it comes to the concerns of Humanists. As a matter of fact, for the last seven years, I served as an IHEU representative at the United Nations (UN) in New York, and was even elected president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
And now, I have come back to the IHEU as an International Representative. I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be working for the IHEU. The challenges are great, but so are the opportunities.
Thanks in part to its growth and development work, the IHEU has grown to more than 100 member organizations in 40 countries. And the IHEU now has staff working in India, Nigeria, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But what makes the IHEU different from all the other Humanist organizations out there is that we give you a voice in the global freethinking movement whether you live in Los Angeles, Katmandu, Geneva or Kampala – or anywhere.
And that’s the REAL reason I came back to the IHEU. I wanted to help an organization that represents everyone: a democratic, global organization that makes a difference to billions of people.
And that’s why I am reaching out to you today.
You see, we can’t do it alone.
Through the generosity of people like you, the IHEU runs projects all over the world. I firmly believe that without the IHEU, more people would be locked up in small jail cells, beaten, and even put to death for their freethinking values.
Consider that for a moment. I think you will agree with me that the IHEU is needed more than ever.
We have literally saved the lives of freethinkers in hiding from lynch mobs, such as Dr. Taslima Nasrin in Bangladesh, or on death row for blasphemy, such as Dr. Younus Shaikh in Pakistan. But we also campaign to overturn the laws that criminalize freedom of thought and expression.
Over the past decade, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, made up of 56 member states of the United Nations, has been trying to make the UN categorize “defamation of religion” as a human rights violation. For almost as long, Roy Brown, the volunteer head of the IHEU’s delegation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, has been leading the resistance. We support existing bans on incitement to violence, of course, but we know laws against “defamation of religion” are used to criminalize criticism of the dominant religion. From my position at UN headquarters, I have seen Roy and the IHEU begin to turn the tide against this attempt to curtail free speech. In fact, we have become so prominent that some governments, such as Egypt and Pakistan, have taken to denouncing the IHEU at the UN.
And in the United States we are on the forefront of major change. A new administration takes power soon, and I am working hard to make sure the IHEU and Humanists have a voice in new policies, not just in this country, but around the world.
To me, the future of the IHEU lies in continuing to work alongside the hundreds of groups and millions of Humanist individuals throughout the world. But without your support, we cannot take on the challenges that lie ahead.
We need your help!
As 2008 draws to a close and you reflect on how you made a difference this year, please consider how much more you can do to help Humanists throughout the world by sending a special year-end gift to the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Please, take a moment right now to give as generously as you can by going to: www.iheu.org/donate
As the IHEU looks ahead to our agenda for 2009, we have to calculate how much funding will be available for each of our urgent and critical action programs. It would help so very much if we can have your year-end gift in hand as soon as possible.
Please, take a moment and go to: www.iheu.org/donate
With my warmest regards and my best wishes for your happiness in 2009,
PS: If you pay taxes in the US, your gift is tax deductible. If you are a UK taxpayer, you can use Gift Aid to increase the size of your gift. Please donate today to the IHEU by going to www.iheu.org/donate Thank you so much.