Frequently Asked Questions
These days a majority of people equate religion with theism and Humanism with atheism, so it would seem so. Historically, though, Humanism grew out of liberal religion, as evidenced by the religious language in the Humanist Manifesto I. There are also many examples of nontheistic religion, such as secular Buddhism. The International Humanist and Ethical Union would prefer us to use no adjectives with Humanism, for some compelling reasons, but the HUUmanists Association continues to do so. Why? It all comes down to your definition of "religious". For a religious Humanist, religion is an appreciation of a particular type of community that shares certain practices and traditions, and, for some, a recognition of the "sacredness" of nature.
There is general agreement within the Humanist movement on the need for Humanist community. What the movement doesn't agree on is the form that community should take. Some, such as Greg Epstein, a Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and founder of the Humanist Community Project, believe that religion can be a good model. (Ethical Societies and Humanistic Judaism are other examples of religious Humanist communities.) Other people, such as PZ Meyers, blogger at FreeThoughtBlogs, disagree. The HUUmanists Association, being concerned with promoting Humanism within an existing religious institution, the Unitarian Universalist Association, obviously agrees that religion can be a good model for community and, since a large percentage (40 - 60%) of UUs do not believe in a god or gods, we agree that religion can be non-theistic. We do not think that all Humanist community should be religious, but we think there is room for ritual, ceremonies, singing, Sunday services and religious education and other practices commonly associated with religion in the Humanist world.
The concept of the "sacredness" of nature, or religious naturalism, is a bit more controversial. All Humanists are naturalists, as opposed to supernaturalists -- we believe that nature is all there is that is real and that we are fully part of nature. The "sacredness", in quotes, reflects that religious Humanists place ultimate value in nature and our human part in it. For more, see our About Religious Humanism page.
HUE * YOU * manists
We know it is hard to pronounce, which is why we recently changed our name to the UU Humanist Association -- more prosaic but easier to say.
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