American Humanist Association

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. It embraces secular, religious, and other manifestations of Humanist philosophy. It advocates Humanism as defined by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a multinational coalition of which it is a founding member.

Founded in 1941 as a successor to the Humanist Press Association, which was itself successor to the Humanist Fellowship founded in 1928, the AHA has served its members by initiating social reforms and other programs. Humanists and the American Humanist Association were among the first to advocate for or introduce many significant developments in the fields of human rights, sexual equality, civil liberties, education, science, alternative technologies, humanistic psychology, and the control of population growth. The AHA is also the source of the well-known Humanist Manifestos. The official symbol of the AHA is the Happy Human.


The AHA was founded as an educational organization in 1941, was incorporated in 1943, and secured an educational tax exemption shortly thereafter. In the late 1960s the AHA also secured a religious tax exemption in support of its celebrant program, allowing Humanist celebrants to legally officiate at weddings, perform chaplaincy functions, and in other ways enjoy the same rights as traditional clergy. In 1991, however, the AHA took control of the Humanist Society, a religious Humanist organization founded in 1939, and moved its celebrant program over to it. After that, the AHA commenced the process of jettisoning its religious tax exemption and resuming its exclusively educational status—a change that finally took effect January 1 2003. Today, therefore, the AHA is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501 (c)(3), publicly supported educational organization.


The mission of the American Humanist Association is to promote the spread of Humanism, raise public awareness and acceptance of Humanism, and encourage the continued refinement of the Humanist philosophy.

As a member organisation of the IHEU, the AHA fully endorses the Amsterdam Declaration 2002.

Definitions of Humanism

AHA's definition of Humanism

The AHA's definition from its website:

"Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity"." — [ Humanism and Its Aspirations]

IHEU's minimum statement on Humanism

All member organisations of the IHEU are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1 to accept [] the IHEU Minimum statement on Humanism:

:"Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality." []

Unofficial definitions

*Kurt Vonnegut, former Honorary President of the AHA, wrote in [ God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian] , “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead.”

AHA's role in Humanism

The AHA strives to be vocal on issues of major concern to Humanists; reaching out to media and opinion leaders as well as keeping its members informed about the issues of the day. It currently has groups in more than 30 states and publishes the "Humanist" magazine and the philosophical journal, "Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism". The AHA is also the publisher of the Humanist Manifestos [ I] , [ II] , and [ III] .

AHA's Humanists of the Year

* Pete Stark - 2008
* Joyce Carol Oates - 2007
* Steven Pinker - 2006
* Murray Gell-Mann - 2005
* Daniel C. Dennett - 2004
* Sherwin T. Wine - 2003
* Steven Weinberg - 2002
* Stephen Jay Gould - 2001
* William F. Schulz - 2000
* Edward O. Wilson - 1999
* Barbara Ehrenreich - 1998
* Alice Walker - 1997
* Richard Dawkins - 1996
* Ashley Montagu - 1995
* Lloyd Morain - 1994
* Mary Morain - 1994
* Richard D. Lamm - 1993
* Kurt Vonnegut - 1992
* Lester R. Brown - 1991
* Ted Turner - 1990
* Gerald A. Larue - 1989
* Leo Pfeffer - 1988
* Margaret Atwood - 1987
* Faye Wattleton - 1986
* John Kenneth Galbraith - 1985
* Isaac Asimov - 1984
* Lester A. Kirkendall - 1983
* Helen Caldicott - 1982
* Carl Sagan - 1981
* Andrei Sakharov - 1980
* Edwin H. Wilson - 1979
* Margaret E. Kuhn - 1978
* Corliss Lamont - 1977
* Jonas E. Salk - 1976
* Betty Friedan - 1975
* Henry Morgentaler - 1975
* Mary Calderone - 1974
* Joseph Fletcher - 1974
* Thomas Szasz - 1973
* B.F. Skinner - 1972
* Albert Ellis - 1971
* A. Philip Randolph - 1970
* R. Buckminster Fuller - 1969
* Benjamin Spock - 1968
* Abraham H. Maslow - 1967
* Erich Fromm - 1966
* Hudson Hoagland - 1965
* Carl Rogers - 1964
* Hermann J. Muller - 1963
* Julian Huxley - 1962
* Linus Pauling - 1961
* Leo Szilard - 1960
* Brock Chisholm - 1959
* Oscar Riddle - 1958
* Margaret Sanger - 1957
* C. Judson Herrick - 1956
* James P. Warbasse - 1955
* Arthur F. Bendley - 1954
* Anton J. Carlson - 1953

ee also

*John Dewey
*Bertrand Russell

References and external links

* [ The American Humanist Association]
* [ GuideStar - American Humanist Association] Information in GuideStar, national database of nonprofit organizations
* [ "Humanist Tax Exemption"] by Roy Speckhardt, "Humanist Network News".

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