Anyone reading my blog might be forgiven for thinking that we Humanists, atheists and assorted free thinkers were concerned only with expounding on neo-Darwinian theory and the debunking of postmodern nonsense, a dour and serious enterprise. I am going to lighten up a bit to talk about non-believers in the entertainment industry. We usually only find out about celebrity Humanism when reading the obituary of a recently deceased showbiz persona. Good examples would be the late Bob Monkhouse and Ronnie Barker who were both Humanists and had BHA funerals. Comedians feature strongly on the list of celebrity Humanists, with Ricky Gervais leading the pack of current comics who wear their atheism on their sleeves. You only need to watch the hilarious send up of Genesis in Gervais’ Animals standup routine to know that he has some serious doubts about religion. Gervais was one of the comics who took part in the Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People this Christmas which I am hoping will be released on DVD this year. Other acts included Robin Ince who sometimes writes for New Humanist magazine, Richard Dawkins fan Dara O’Briain and Stewart Lee, writer of Jerry Springer the Opera, someone known for making appearances at local Humanist societies. Rowan Atkinson was a leading light in the campaign to end the blasphemy laws. The BHA even had a comedienne as it’s President until the tragic and premature death of Linda Smith in 2006. Well known atheists in comedy across the pond include Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live’s Julia Sweeney and the late George Carlin.
The world of stage magic also has it’s fair share of scepticism for good reason. Derren Brown and Penn & Teller were prominent cheerleaders on the publication of Dawkins’ God Delusion. James Randi is another famous sceptic. Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen heads the list of prominent actors known for their Humanism. Fewer people are aware of the atheist inclinations of Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves and Bruce Willis. Angelina Jolie is apparently making a film version of Atlas Shrugged by Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand.
Perhaps the most famous showbiz person who is explicitly linked with the International Humanist movement is Björn Ulvaeus of Abba who is a prominent and outspoken supporter of Humanisterna, the Swedish Humanist Association. The original lyrics to the song Thankyou for the Music included the lines
"…thanks for all the songs, words and tunes, who needs religion? We can do without that, but imagine if music didn’t exist, not anywhere. Everybody needs a song and a dance…"