Secular humanism is a phrase you don't hear much anymore, except when it's coming from the mouth of some right-wing Christian leader or another. Somehow they've turned the words into a heathen catchphrase, branding the godless who ignore their patriarchal religion and promises of salvation. Secular humanism is their umbrella for all the hot-button issues: pro-choice/abortion rights, feminism, gay rights, sex education.
Of course, in this post-modern era the enemies of religious demagogues are varied and complex. But secular humanists still occupy a special place within the Christian fanatic catalogue of Satan-spawned social movements.
The threat stems mainly from the elevation by secular humanists of human-centered concepts, justice, equality, etc., to spiritual heights. Instead of people taking dictation of the program from the Almighty, they create their own rules. And the rules, in the perfect world, in turn refine the people into an enlightened, integrated whole.
How naive. But this was big stuff in the late 19th/early 20th century. Actually, these visions of ethics, reason and justice held sway, the Beats efforts notwithstanding, until Vietnam and Richard Nixon. The United States, of course, is the experiment in action. The Constitution is no different from any other sacred text, but instead of seeking the afterlife, it works the here-and-now. The Founders took concepts and fashioned a government, emphasizing the individual with a strong tilt against tyranny and a soft spot for slavery. The point was, and is, that individual life on earth is the only thing we can control, so let's make it fulfilling all the way around.
Somewhere, maybe recently, we lost the thread of community that was supposed to bind and connect all these individuals. But the secular humanists are at work within our midst. The Ethical Culture Society of the Triangle is an avowedly humanist group that seeks that thread. The group was organized in May, 1987, and is joined nationally in the American Ethical Union and internationally in the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
A rabbi named Felix Adler began it all in New York in 1876. In his words, the group is "dedicated to the ideal that the highest value is human worth and that man's relationship to his fellows is our greatest ethical concern."
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