Friday, August 21, 2009

29 of the Council for Secular Humanism’s important accomplishments in the last 29 years

source: highlights comments
Paul Kurtz et al achievements at Council for Secular Humanism.

  1. The Council for Secular Humanism was founded in 1980 by Paul Kurtz. Secular humanism rejects supernatural accounts of reality and embraces the fullness of human life by creating a positive alternative framework.
  2. The Council issued “A Secular Humanist Declaration” in 1980, with fifty-eight prominent endorsers, such as Sidney Hook, A. J. Ayer, Francis Crick, Albert Ellis, and B.F. Skinner. The Declaration garnered front-page headlines worldwide.
  3. Publication of Free Inquiry magazine began with the Winter 1980—81 issue. Tom Flynn is the current editor. Free Inquiry continues to be a provocative, intellectually stimulating journal. It is the authoritative voice of secular humanism in the United States.
  4. The Council founded the International Academy of Humanism, which has included many of the leading scholars, intellectuals, and writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  5. The Council launched the First Amendment Task Force, a network of volunteer attorneys concerned with protecting church-state separation and fundamental human rights. The FATF has participated in dozens of legal battles.
  6. The Council successfully sued to end tax-funded publication of an annual prayer anthology compiled by the chaplain of the U.S. Senate.
  7. The Council for Secular Humanism held the first conference spotlighting the displacement of moderates by fundamentalist conservatives in U.S. Baptist colleges and seminaries.
  8. Secular humanism was declared public enemy number 1 by Religious Right leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
  9. The Council held the famous 1985 conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan that fostered renewed scholarly interest in the problems of a “historical Jesus.” The Council launched the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion.
  10. In the mid-1980s, The Council helped defeat efforts to have secular humanism classified as a “religion” by the federal courts. Paul Kurtz provided expert testimony, and current CFI President & CEO Ronald A. Lindsay filed a critical brief.
  11. The Council held the first Mormon-Humanist Dialogue, linking secular humanists with dissident academics the Mormon church had threatened with excommunication. (Other important dialogues sponsored by the Council have included meetings with Vatican representatives and leaders of the Baptist church.)
  12. The Council formed the James Madison Memorial Committee that catalyzed the preservation of Montpelier, historic home of James Madison, and bestows the James Madison Award to recognize outstanding church-state activism.
  13. The Council saved the birthplace of agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll from demolition and accomplished its rehabilitation of the Ingersoll birthplace at a cost of more than $250,000.
  14. Under the leadership of Norm Allen, The Council launched African Americans for Humanism, the first permanent humanist outreach to the non-religious black community.
  15. The Council launched the Campus Freethought Alliance, forerunner to today’s CFI on Campus, providing outreach to students at 200 college campuses. Derek Araujo and D.J. Grothe, both of whom now work with CFI, were among the initial leaders.
  16. The Council exposed the faith-healing tricks of televangelist Peter Popoff (inspiration for the 1992 Steve Martin film Leap of Faith).
  17. The Council recruited more than twenty national humanist organizations from Europe, Africa, and Asia into the international humanist movement.
  18. In 1984, the Council held a ground-breaking conference challenging the apocalyptic tradition in Christianity -- which then-president Ronald Reagan suggested had shaped his views on nuclear policy.
  19. The Council issued “Humanist Manifesto 2000,” successor to the original Humanist Manifesto (1933) and Humanist Manifesto II (1973).
  20. The Council raised tens of thousands of dollars for victims of “acts of god” through SHARE (Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Effort).
  21. The Council for Secular Humanism filed a lawsuit to end Florida’s faith-based initiative, which clearly seems to violate language in the state constitution forbidding any financial aid to religious organizations (in progress).
  22. The Council established the Freethought Trail, an informal network of abolitionist, feminist, anarchist, freethought, and other radical reform sites within eighty miles of the Ingersoll birthplace (see
  23. With Jim Christopher, the Council established SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves) the first self-help recovery group offering an alternative to religious “twelve step” recovery programs, now active worldwide.
  24. The Council launched Secular Humanist Bulletin, a lively newsletter for associate members of the Council now in its twenty-fourth year of publication. Andrea Szalanski is editor of SHB.
  25. The Council produced more than 300 episodes of The Humanist Perspective, a half-hour public affairs TV show aired on more than thirty cable systems around the country.
  26. The Council provides speakers and debaters for humanist groups and campus groups nationwide.
  27. The Council for Secular Humanism pioneered summer adult education programs for humanists: our “summer sessions” starting in the late 1980s grew into the Center for Inquiry Institute.
  28. Free Inquiry became the first major U.S. publication to reprint the notorious Danish cartoons satirizing some of the extremist interpretations of Islam; Borders Books refused to carry the issue. Several Canadian bookstore chains refused to carry the following issue, which didn’t make much sense to us either.
  29. Council spokespersons continue to be consulted by the media for their views on cartoons, crosses, crèches, cranks, censorship, churches ... and dozens of other topics not beginning with the letter “c.”

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