Richard Green (1954-2016), Vice President of Atheism UK

Richard Green (1954-2016)
Richard Green (1954-2016) with his daughters Harriet & Alice.

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Richard Green on 23rd October 2016, aged 62.

In 2009 Richard co-founded Atheism UK. He remained a council member becoming Vice President in August 2016.

Analytical skills

Richard was a graduate physicist. As a solicitor he made a big contribution to Atheism UK, interpreting government legislation on faith and religion in education policy and secular equality issues.

In 2009 he wrote Atheism UKs Constitution and Committee Roles.

Richard wrote legally technical documents in response to government consultations including Equal Civil Marriage, Lords Spiritual & Canon Law. He also wrote several policy documents for Atheism UK including Religious Education in Academies, Religious Education, “Spiritual” in Education Legislation & Creationism. Richard wrote a critique of the Dublin Declaration on Religion in Public Life, an alternative draft and a draft declaration.   Richard co-wrote a letter to record the religious beliefs of UK MPs.

Philosopher

Using his analytical skills, Richard was able to pinpoint the essential issues in many of our discussions – consequently, some meetings lasted a little longer than others!  As a keen scholar of philosophy, he had a particular interest in morality argued from an atheist point of view. This interest helped to inform some of the key principles adopted by Atheism UK.

Richard had an excellent knowledge of world religions and this, combined with his ability to simplify arguments by looking at them from an atheist viewpoint, was a great asset to the organisation.

Blogger

Richard Green will be remembered for the many incisive blogs he wrote in support of the Atheism UK strapline ‘challenging religious faith’; a strapline that was Richard’s own suggestion. Richard posted over fifty articles for Atheism UK including topics on marriage law (‘Non-religious belief-based marriage: legislation deferred’), Bishops in the Lords (‘No God – No Holy Spirit – No Lords Spiritual’; ‘Lords Spiritual – Atheism UK Responds’), education (‘Challenging Religious Faith – Challenging Faith Schools’), Christianity (‘We are a “Christian country” debunked!’), monarchy (‘Position Statement on Monarchy’), the God Virus (‘Brian Cox Exhibits the God Virus’; ‘Alas Poor Rowan, God Virus Victim!’), blasphemy laws (‘“Son of blasphemy” must be strangled at birth’), Sharia law (‘Many Laws for Many, No Religious Law for Any’) and free speech (‘Nobody has the right not to be offended’).  You can read more of Richard’s blogs and articles here.

Speaker

As well as being a writer, Richard occasionally spoke to non-religious groups. For instance, in 2010 he spoke to Atheist Ireland (watch the video below) and Dorset Humanists.

Our primary target is religious faith

Richard helped to define Atheism UK approach to theistic claims:

“Atheism UK approaches every issue from the premise of atheism, that is that theistic claims are false. Our primary target is religious faith per se, without it the world would be a better place – without the need to replace it with anything else.” (https://youtu.be/z5hDK9UM2io 10:25-10:45m)

Faith Schools

Richard spoke eloquently about Faith Schools:

“ the argument [about faith schools] is not so much about their pros and cons; that is to say whether they are more academically successful, or have a better ethos, or better promote community cohesion than other schools.”

“The argument is simply [faith schools] existence is based on a false premise – and that false premise is – God exists. If they are better in some respects that is not due to God – for there is no God.  It is due to other factors which can equally exist in non-faith schools” (https://youtu.be/z5hDK9UM2io 10:45 – 11:34m)

Richard Green’s sense of humour

Richard’s brilliant mind and his sharp but gentle sense of humour will be greatly missed at our committee meetings and post-meeting ‘refreshments’.

Mark Embleton & Chris Street

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3 thoughts on “Richard Green (1954-2016), Vice President of Atheism UK”

  1. Although I hadn’t seen or spoken to Richard for a few years, I was still very shocked and saddened to hear of his passing (please forgive the euphemism, but I can’t quite bring myself to state that more bluntly). I had a great deal of respect for Richard. I last saw him in the pub, after an Atheism UK meeting, and we had a long chat about his personal experiences with religion and I told him how much I admired his clarity of thought and his passion for secular issues (although I can’t remember exactly how I phrased it). He seemed quite pleased with the compliment, and that will be my lasting memory of him.

  2. I first met Richard when he joined the HASSNERS discussion group I formed in Bournemouth in 2007. His intelligence and perspicacity were remarkable. Richard was often the person to pinpoint the weakness in someone’s argument or worldview – but he always did so without malice, but with pity.

    In November 2010 Richard gave a talk to Dorset Humanists (he was an atheist but not a humanist) about Atheism UK. The strapline ‘Challenging Religious Faith’ (which Richard conceived of) struck me as important. I joined Atheism UK Council in February 2011. Since then I’ve met up with Richard socially (not often enough – we both led busy lives) and I’ve been in many Atheism UK meetings with him – and often afterwards down the pub too. His legal mind and logical brain were wonderful to behold. Richard’s humour was quiet but infectious.

    Sharon and I were delighted to be invited to Richard’s 60th birthday just two years ago in Salisbury.

    I will miss Richard very much.

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