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Isolated in a Catholic CountryAuthor of this text: Kaz Dziamka
Radzików, a village just west of Warsaw, hosted recently (Oct. 6-8) the
First Polish National Conference of Rationalists and Freethinkers organized
by the Association of Polish Rationalists (PSR). As Mariusz Agnosiewicz,
President of PSR says, it was the first conference of this type in many
years, its goal being to integrate Poland's secular movements and to rebuild
their organizational structure by attracting unaffiliated freethinkers.
„Isolated in a Catholic Country": this is how, in its Oct. 7-8 edition,
Trybuna, one of only a few leftist publications in Poland, titled its short
article about the Rationalist conference.
Over 100 people took part, representing different publications and
organizations: The Polish Humanist Association (TH), The Secular Culture
Society (TKS), the Polish Association of Freethinkers (PSW), and others. (I
represented the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Humanist
Association and spoke about the challenge and hazard of teaching secular
humanism at an American college.) Also represented were "Fakty i Mity, a leading Polish anti-clerical weekly, Ateista.pl, and others.
Among the featured speakers were Andrzej Dominiczak (TH), who highlighted
controversies and divisions within the world humanist movement; Jolanta
Marcinkowska (TKS), who discussed the problems of secularism in Poland, an
overwhelmingly Catholic country; and Mariusz Agnosiewicz (PSR), who outlined
the development of PSR.
Maria Szyszkowska, Jerzy Drewnowski, Stanisław Obirek, Mariusz Agnosiewicz
Highly-acclaimed Polish law philosopher and writer Prof. Maria Szyszkowska
talked eloquently about the problems and challenges of freedom in a free
society. Bogdan Mis, a well-known Polish journalist and editor, discussed different concepts of freedom of the
Three Polish political parties also sent their representatives. Of those,
the speech by the articulate Joanna Senyszyn-of the Alliance of the
Democratic Left (SLD) and former senator-attracted the most attention. She
addressed the complex and controversial issue of the separation of church
and state, an issue that is nowhere near being resolved in Poland because of
the privileged position of the Catholic Church.
Regrettably, Prof. Barbara Stanosz-co-founder of the most influential Polish
Humanist journal, Bez Dogmatu (Without Dogma) and its former editor-and
Prof. Jan Wolenski, a prominent Polish philosopher and writer, could not
attend due to health reasons.
Despite the fact that the conference coincided with a weekend of several
political demonstrations in Warsaw, which diverted attention from all other
events scheduled at the time, and despite some organizational problems, the
unanimous opinion of the participants is that the conference was a success
and that the Polish rationalist/humanist/secular movement is now energized
enough to grow and to offer national conferences every year.
« (Published: 29-10-2006 )
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