VALUES AND PRINCIPLES
What is critical for humanists is the sense that there are multiple values, not one, and they are grounded deeply in our humanities. They flow out of human relationships and inform personal lives; subsequently they also help shape social institutions and practices.
THE PRINCIPLES OF SECULAR HUMANISM
Secular humanism is comprehensive, touching every aspect of life including issues of values, meaning, and identity. Thus it is broader than atheism, which concerns only the nonexistence of god or the supernatural. Important as that may be, there’s a lot more to life … and secular humanism addresses it.
Secular humanism is nonreligious, espousing no belief in a realm or beings imagined to transcend ordinary experience.
Secular humanism is a life stance, or what Council for Secular Humanism founder Paul Kurtz has termed a eupraxsophy: a body of principles suitable for orienting a complete human life. As a secular life stance, secular humanism incorporates the Enlightenment principle of individualism, which celebrates emancipating the individual from traditional controls by family, religion, and government, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life.
The principles of secularism that protect and underpin many of the freedoms we enjoy are:
• Separation of religious institutions from government institutions and a public sphere where religion may participate, but not dominate.
• Freedom to practice one's faith or belief without harming others, or to change it or not have one, according to one's own conscience.
• Equality so that our religious beliefs or lack of them doesn't put any of us at an advantage or a disadvantage.
• Securing justice and fairness in society and eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
Secular Humanism protects both believers and non-believers
Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens.
Secularists want freedoms of thought and conscience to apply equally to all – believers and non-believers alike. They do not wish to curtail religious freedoms. Secular Humanism is about democracy and fairness In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.
Secularism champions universal human rights above religious demands. It upholds equality laws that protect women, LGBTQ2S+ people and minorities from religious discrimination. These equality laws ensure that non-believers have the same rights as those who identify with a religious or philosophical belief.
Equal access to public services
We all share hospitals, schools, the police and the services of local authorities. It is essential that these public services are secular at the point of use, so no-one is disadvantaged or denied access on grounds of religious belief (or non-belief). All state-funded schools should be nonreligious in character, with children being educated together regardless of their parents' religion. When a public body grants a contract for the provision of services to an organisation affiliated to a particular religion or belief, such services must be delivered neutrally, with no attempt to promote the ideas of that faith group.
Secularism is not atheism
Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Secularism simply provides a framework for a democratic society. Atheists have an obvious interest in supporting secularism, but secularism itself does not seek to challenge the tenets of any particular religion or belief, neither does it seek to impose atheism on anyone.
Secularism is simply a framework for ensuring equality throughout society – in politics, education, the law and elsewhere – for believers and non-believers alike.
Secular Humanism protects free speech and expression but not hate speech
Religious people have the right to express their beliefs publicly but so do those who oppose or question those beliefs. Religious people and organizations who express hate speech are not guaranteed a right to a public platform to express such views. Religious beliefs, ideas, and organizations must not enjoy privileged protection from the right to freedom of expression. In a democracy, all ideas and beliefs must be open to discussion in a safe and non-harmful or demeaning and destructive manner. Individuals have rights; ideas do not.
Secular Humanism is the best chance we have to create a society in which people of all religions or none can live together fairly and peacefully.
Secular humanists hold that ethics is consequential, to be judged by results. This is in contrast to so-called command ethics, in which right and wrong are defined in advance and attributed to divine authority. “No god will save us,” declared Humanist Manifesto II (1973), “we must save ourselves.” Secular humanists seek to develop and improve their ethical principles by examining the results they yield in the lives of real men and women