About the AHA | Frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the AHA?

The mission of the American Humanist Association is to advance humanism, an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces. Advocating for equality for nontheists and a society guided by reason, empathy, and our growing knowledge of the world, the AHA promotes a worldview that encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good.


What is humanism?

Definitions abound. Kurt Vonnegut, who served for many years as the AHA's honorary president, maybe said it most succinctly when he observed that "...being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead."

Humanism is a worldview which says that reason and science are the best ways to understand the world around us, and that dignity and compassion should be the basis for how you act toward someone else.

Humanism is nontheistic. By this, we don't mean to say that there is no God. Instead, we say that there is no proof for the existence of God, any gods, the supernatural or an afterlife.

Therefore, we take very seriously the idea that "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves."  We are living the only life we'll have, in the only world we know about. The responsibility for the choices we make are ours and ours alone.

You can visit our About Humanism page to read more about the varied ways that humanism is understood and interpreted.


Is the AHA trying to destroy religion and replace it with secularism?

No. There is no conspiracy by humanists to force people to reject religion.

We do take philosophical issue with beliefs of religious followers. However, what concerns us even more is when religious believers attempt to use the power of the government to force their beliefs upon the rest of society. As it has been shown throughout history, no one benefits when religious belief and government power mix.

We strongly support Thomas Jefferson's call for a "wall of separation between church and state."  This ideal can best be reached through a secular government. This would mean a government neither favors religion, nor discriminates against it.

As President Obama noted at his first inaugural address, "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth." For our government to best serve the diverse needs of the American people, it must remain neutral in matters as personal as religion.     


How long has the AHA been around? 

Though the AHA was founded in 1941, our history can be traced back to 1927, when professors and seminarians at the University of Chicago organized the Humanist Fellowship, and began publishing the New Humanist magazine.

By 1935 the Humanist Fellowship had become the Humanist Press Association, replacing the New Humanist with the Humanist Bulletin.

With the help of Curtis Reese, and along with John H. Dietrich, the Humanist Press Association reorganized itself in 1941, forming the AHA.  Along with its reorganization, the AHA began printing the Humanist magazine as the successor to the Humanist Bulletin.


Exactly what does the AHA do?

Please visit our "Our Work" page for an overview of our activities. 


Does the AHA work with other organizations in the community of reason?

Yes. Through the Secular Coalition for America, the AHA works alongside fellow atheist, humanist and freethought organizations to amplify the growing voices of nontheists in the United States. We also co-sponsor local and national events, send AHA leaders to speak at other organizations' conferences (and vice versa), and strive to create a cooperative atmosphere within the community of reason.  


Does the AHA do anything internationally?

The AHA's charitable arm, Humanist Charities has provided money for people in need around the globe. We are also a proud, founding member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, currently based in London. The IHEU is the world union of over 100 humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations from more than 40 countries.   


How can I support the work of the AHA?

The most effective way to support the AHA is by becoming a member.  Or, consider donating to our organization, subscribing to the Humanist magazine or become a local activist

No matter if you provide a contribution of your money or your energy, know that you are joining forces with the oldest and largest humanist organization in the U.S.


Still have questions?

Contact us via email at aha@americanhumanist.org