Humanist Heroes: Ludovic Kennedy by Jean Davies
Jean Davies tells us why Ludovic Kennedy, the author and journalist, is her Humanist Hero.
My humanist hero is Ludovic Kennedy. I’ll never forget the opening words of his Memorial Meeting in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford last November. “We are here to celebrate the life of a great man. Ludovic was a four-square atheist.” The speaker was one of the most senior Church of England dignitaries on the staff of the Cathedral.
Ludo’s book All in the Mind – a Farewell to God (1999) is every bit as compelling as The God Delusion in revealing the absurdity of postulating the existence of God on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. In this book Ludovic explores the idea that it is time to see God as just a man made creation that is there just to satisfy needs that we have. The book is also a personal account of Kennedy’s thought processes as he became less involved with the Church and became an atheist.
Kennedy played major role in the abolition of capital punishment. One of the most influential ways that he did this was through his book 10 Rillington Place. This book was about the life of Timothy Evans. His wife and daughter, on moving to the eponymous address, were murdered and Evans was arrested and hung. In 10 Rillington Place Kennedy gives evidence that it was not Evans who was the murderer but the landlord. With the help of this book, Evans was granted a posthumous pardon from the Queen in 1966. He once told me that this book was the only one of his books that had never been out of print.
Ludovic spent years looking into miscarriages of justice. He also presented the current affairs programme Panorama for several years and used his broadcasting platform to highlight the campaign against capital punishment.
After success with abolishing capital punishment, years later he concentrated on campaingning for reform of the law on assisted dying. Kennedy was a great contributer to the Voluntary Euthanasia Society as a co-founder and former chair. He attended most Committee meetings, even though he had no vote. His strong views on legalising euthanasia led him to resign from the Liberal Democrat party after Charles Kennedy would not take a pro-euthanasia stance.
Ludovic Kennedy died last year. See the obituary from the BHA.
This post is part of a series written by members, friends and Distinguished Supporters of the British Humanist Association about their own “humanist heroes”.
You can find out more at www.humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanist-tradition/heroes
Jean has been a BHA member for many years and spoken at national and international Humanist conferences. Jean has been a humanist representative on her local SACRE for a number of years.