Secular Humanism Is a Recognized Religion

Article excerpt

The Culture, et cetera article "Students doubting religion now can join group of peers" (May 13) made the glaring mistake of presenting secular humanism as if it were not a religion.

The term "religion" is usually associated with theists and the idea of a Supreme Being. However, religion also means "any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system" (of religious beliefs) or "any object of conscientious regard and pursuit" (Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition).

In other words, a religion can be theistic or nontheistic. This was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso vs. Watkins (1961) when it said: "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others."

Secular humanism or humanism has far more practicing adherents than those who formally profess it. Webster's defines humanism as "a modern, nontheistic, rationalist movement that holds that man is capable of self-fulfillment, ethical conduct, etc. without recourse to supernaturalism." Based on that definition, secular humanism may be the most fervently practiced religion in the United States. …