Humanist Movement in the News

June 10, 2009

There are many voices in the humanist movement, promoting humanist beliefs and values in unique ways. Critical to our collective success in these challenges is communication and cooperation among the variety of organizations working to promote humanism. Here is a brief look at what’s been going on recently:

AHA Annual Conference

The American Humanist Association held their 68th Annual Conference in Tempe, Ariz. on June 5-7.

The three day event is one of the largest gatherings of atheists, agnostics, and humanists in the country. This year’s conference featured Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, keynote speaker Dr. Donald Johanson, and "Humanist of the Year" award winner Dr. Paul "PZ" Myers, as well as dozens of other notable humanists and freethinkers who led break out sessions and trainings covering a variety of topics.

Good Without God Essay Contest

The United Coalition of Reason is sponsoring an essay contest as part of their "Good without God" Campaign, and as part of a book to be published this fall.

They are seeking personal essays of 500 words or less describing what it means to be "good without God", or how you live with positive values as an atheist, agnostic, humanist or freethinker. The author of the winning essay will receive a $1,000 prize, and many other entries will be published by United CoR as part of the upcoming campaign. Essays must be submitted by June 23. Check out this link for more details about the contest.

Secular Student Alliance Service Trips

Members of Students For Freethought at Ohio State University recently partnered with The Thomas Society, a campus Christian student group, for a service trip to New Orleans, La.

In New Orleans the students rebuilt and gutted houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, revived lawns and gardens, painted, and even walked dogs at a local animal shelter. It was a successful volunteer opportunity that served a community in need, and showed others that humanists and nontheists are, in fact, good caring people who can lend a hand in their communities. If your group is interested in a service trip, visit the Secular Student Alliance web site.

March for Science in Washington, D.C.

The American Humanist Association is co-sponsoring the March for Science on September 6, 2009 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The march is designed to support the idea that ideology and theology should not dictate public policy and scientific research. Limitations on stem cell research, censorship of research on global warming, and the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools are matters of science policy that should not be influenced by theology. The AHA urges you to take a stand for science, and join the March.

Secular Coalition for America Hires New Executive Director

The Secular Coalition for America has hired Sean Faircloth as their new executive director.

Faircloth has spent more than a decade as an elected politician in both houses of the Maine State Legislature, including two years as the Majority Whip. Throughout his legislative career, Faircloth has been a vocal champion of the separation of church and state, and strong advocate for the rights of the millions of nontheists in America.

National Day of Reason

In response to the federally supported "National Day of Prayer", atheists, agnostics, and humanists across the country sponsored the National Day of Reason on May 7th, 2009.

The National Day of Reason, to be observed on the first Thursday in May each year, was designed to raise awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government support of religious events, and to inspire the growing secular community to be visible and active in creating positive change. Dozens of local groups throughout the country held events throughout the day, including barbeques, fundraisers, and blood drives.

IHEU Holds first World Conference on "Untouchability"

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) held the first World Conference on Untouchability June 9-10 in London, England.

"Untouchability" is defined on the IHEU website as the social exclusion of people because of the population they are born into, and is said to formerly be common in Europe. It is still a problem for 250 million people in Bangladesh, Burma, India, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Yemen and elsewhere.

The organizers aim to bring together activists to share strategies to launch a global campaign against untouchability. The conference is supported by the British Humanist Association and the South Place Ethical Society.

Godless Billboards

In anticipation of their 68th Annual Conference in Tempe, Ariz., the AHA has unveiled a new billboard saying: "Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone," along the highway near the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

The ad campaign is an effort to reach out and inform humanists and nontheists that there is a community for them. Other billboards have been placed in Idaho, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

This billboard comes on the heels of a successful bus ad campaign by the AHA and the Indiana Atheist Bus Campaign in which the slogan "You can be good without God", appeared on the sides of buses in Bloomington and South Bend. Similar ads have recently been placed on buses in Chicago, Ill.

Brandon Wojcik is a communications and policy intern at the American Humanist Association, and holds a bachelors degree in philosophy from Northwestern University. He is originally from the Chicago area and has been living and working in Washington, D.C. since 2006. He has previously worked in youth education and development in both the Chicago and D.C. public schools.