Our Work | Local Groups | Purposes of a local humanist chapter

Purposes Of A Local Humanist Chapter

Purposes of a Local Humanist Chapter

by Joseph Sommer

In communities fortunate enough to have a Humanist chapter or other freethought organization, some Humanists decline to join or otherwise become involved. Perhaps this is due to the strong independent streak that characterizes many Humanists.

But there are important reasons for Humanists to affiliate with a local freethought group. And if they don't have a local group, the same reasons justify starting one.

The first reason is social support for members and friends of the group. In the U.S., which has a high percentage of believers in the supernatural, it's common for Humanists to feel alone with their naturalistic views of the universe. This is especially true at times of religious celebration, such as Christmas and Easter.

Aloneness is a cause for concern. Studies show that people who are socially isolated tend to have more health problems and die at younger ages than those having social support.

By providing Humanists with an opportunity to interact with like-minded and supportive friends, a local group helps them avert the adverse emotional and physical effects of social isolation. Humanist social gatherings can include regular and special meetings of the group, and life-cycle ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.

Second, local Humanist groups are more effective than individuals in educating the public about the Humanist alternative to religious philosophies - which sometimes impede progress and cause other harm. Bertrand Russell said: "My own view of religion is that of Lucretious. I regard it as a disease born of fear and a source of untold misery to the human race."

Where persons are suffering because of religious beliefs, or are in danger of being harmed by theological doctrines, Humanists have a moral obligation to let them know about Humanism. For it's a philosophy that can prevent and alleviate religiously induced misery.

This educational process will at times require pointing out certain problems with religions - such as ways in which they are inconsistent with reality. As the nineteenth-century historian Henry T. Buckle said: "The only remedy for superstition is knowledge. . . . Nothing else can wipe out that plague-spot of the human mind."

Third, Humanist chapters help members grow in their understanding and appreciation of Humanism. As a result, they are able to more effectively and joyfully put the Humanist philosophy into practice in their daily lives.

Corliss Lamont described Humanism as "a philosophy of joyous service for the greater good of all humanity in this natural world and advocating the methods of reason, science, and democracy." By means of speeches, discussions, educational outings, and other methods of learning what science reveals about the world, Humanists enhance their ability to live their philosophy and help others do the same.

Fourth, a local Humanist group can work with other organizations - including religious ones - in areas where they have common concerns. Humanists are interested in all aspects of the human condition. They know that some problems are not religious in origin and affect freethinkers and religionists alike. Many of the problems can be addressed more effectively by collective action.

There are several benefits of joining with other groups to work on common problems. These include: a greater likelihood that the Humanist methods of reason and compassion will be used to full effect in addressing the problems, a more united and better coordinated approach to the problems, and a chance to introduce more people to the Humanist philosophy.

This activism also offers an opportunity to show people that, contrary to what many fundamentalists say, Humanists are concerned about helping others and improving society.

In attempting to carry out the purposes of a Humanist chapter, there will inevitably be both successes and failures along the way. But far fewer successes will occur if Humanists refuse to make the effort to reach these goals.

Isaac Asimov, the prolific writer and late president of the American Humanist Association, knew the importance of supporting Humanism. He said: "Why are we trying? Because it would be disgraceful if we didn't. We owe it to ourselves as respectable human beings to do what we can to make humanity rational. And having done this - or having tried to do this - we can respect ourselves."


Reprinted with the author's permission.

American Humanist Association

Fred Edwords reports from this year's Colorado Secular Conference! Get TheHuman...

13 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Two weeks ago, AHA's Maggie Ardiente and Roy Speckhardt traveled to Oxford, Engl...

15 hours ago

American Humanist Association

The United Coalition of Reason is a national non-profit organization that helps...

17 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Is it really that "tragic and bizarre" to remove bibles from hotels rooms in ord...

19 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Throwing some separation of church and state history at you!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why does the media usually portray atheists as pretentious, white men? Time to c...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Fields Medal has been awarded to up to four mathematicians every four years...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The nature of the backlash to our recent legal case concerning pray in public sc...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Religious differences within the family unit can be difficult. How do you feel a...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an update to our on-going Carroll County, Maryland case involving prayer...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Back to school time! Let's take a look at the most and least religious colleges...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Anyone need a laugh? I sure do! Warning: Language!

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Should someone's religious belief allow them to do whatever they want? No! Get...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

In November, 2014, a new film is coming out about the life of Stephen Hawking. T...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA legal director David Niose on football and Christian politics in Georgia.

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yesterday, the beautiful and talented Lauren Bacall passed away. Just one of th...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

When the AHA, or similar organizations, take legal action in efforts to keep the...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

In this week's Humanist Hour Podcast Dr. Robert M. Price tells us 10 Things Ever...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fox News chimes in on a letter recently sent form the AHA to a Georgia high scho...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Meet the newest staff member of the United Coalition of Reason, Jason Heap! Y...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fan of Martin Scorsese's 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ? It looks like...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday today to Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicis...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why does God and Jesus always show up in food? Check out the newest find in an e...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ebola is for sinners? I think there may be some people who are a little confused...

9 days ago