Alternatives to Religion

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Secularism in the UK and Internationally

Throughout the 20th century the National Secular Society kept records of local secular society branches and affiliated groups. This included organisations both in the UK and abroad.

From the National Secular Society archive, this lovely photograph (including misbehaving children, glamorous women and an early motorised coach) captures the Birmingham Branch on their annual outing in 1926.

The archives also includes registers of member branches and applications to form a branch. Notable applications come from as far afield as Lagos, Nigeria and Fyzabad, Trinidad.

Image © National Secular Society

Humanist Library and Archives reference: NSS/7/17, NSS/4/3/1, NSS/4/2/2

Filed under atheism secularism fashion transport nigeria trinidad free thought archives

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"The English Voltaire"

Thomas Paine, the political activist, philosopher, author, political theorist and revolutionary is one figure who appears in all three archives of the Alternatives to Religion Project - National Secular Society, British Humanist Association and Conway Hall Ethical Society.


Those who abuse liberty when they possess it would abuse power could they obtain it.

Committed to rationalism, in his book ‘Age of Reason’ Paine called for “free rational inquiry” into all subjects, especially religion. He was fiercely committed to liberalism and democracy, vocally supporting the American and French Revolutions. His works and actions have led many Humanist and Secularist to see Paine as the English Voltaire.

This leaflet from the National Secular Society archives includes some quotes from Thomas Paine.


Image © National Secular Society

Humanist Library and Archives reference: NSS/7/27

Filed under atheism liberalism rationalism humanism secularism freethought thomaspaine ethics Religion