The Society for Humanistic Mormonism

Humanistic Mormonism is a movement of Freethinkers, Liberal Mormons, Cultural Mormons, Orthodox Mormons, Post-Mormons, Secular Mormons, Disfellowshipped, Resigned, Excommunicated and/or Independents related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Latter Day Saint groups that have some connection with Mormon culture, identity, and/or history, but do not demand belief in a supernatural god, or the historicity of the Bible or the Book of Mormon. It is based on Humanism and can be summarized in some points: A Humanist Mormon is someone who identifies with the history, culture, and future of the Mormon people; Mormonism is the historic culture of the Mormon people, and religion is only one part of that culture; People possess the power and responsibility to shape their own lives independent of supernatural authority; Ethics and morality should serve human needs, and choices should be based upon consideration of the consequences of actions rather than pre-ordained rules or commandments; The Bible, Book of Mormon or other religious texts are purely human and natural phenomena. Biblical and other traditional texts are the products of human activity and are best understood by scientific analysis. The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is the first official institution of its kind and is incorporated in the State of Delaware which welcomes both religious and secular Mormons or Ex-Mormon humanists under its tent. All are welcome. Inspiration for the founding of this Society came from the Society for Humanistic Judaism http://www.shj.org/. We desire and want to create a space for all types of Humanist Mormons here. Anyone who has an interest in this institution and the project of Humanistic Mormonism or the philosophical connection between Humanism and Mormonism please feel free to contact us or join us here. This institution will continue to expand and evolve in exciting and new ways. We are also looking for a Board of Directors and Advisors to this Society. If you would like to add your imput to the Society please do, whether you are an Orthodox Mormon Humanist, Liberal Mormon Humanist, or a Post-Mormon or Secular Mormon Humanist we would love to hear from you. We desire to create within this society a large tent of diversity of thought. It has been asked how we at The Society of Humanistic Mormonism prepose to go about bringing together differing beliefs and people under one tent here. A few quotes may express the idea. This Society believes in the idea expressed in the statement sometimes attributed to Voltaire: "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write" and also the statement of John Stuart Mill: “We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.” This Society seeks difference. The words of Karl Popper come to mind: "It is often asserted that discussion is only possible between people who have a common language and accept common basic assumptions. I think that this is a mistake. All that is needed is a readiness to learn from one's partner in the discussion, which includes a genuine wish to understand what he intends to say. If this readiness is there, the discussion will be the more fruitful the more the partner's backgrounds differ." Towards these ends we believe we can have a large enough tent for all Humanisms or Anti-Humanisms that may show up here; including an openness to the diversity of "Mormons" which may come here, whether they be Orthodox, Liberal, or even the Post-Mormon or Non-Mormons of any kind who are interested in this intellectual and moral project. So whoever you are we would like to have you here so we can all grow together. We do not believe in echo chambers of group think where all agree, nor is that helpful for intellectual and moral growth. The Mormon Rationalist Association is affiliated under The Society for Humanistic Mormonism which serves as an umbrella organization for The Mormon Rationalist Association, whose facebook group can be found here, all are welcome to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/81722755612/members/ The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is an affilate of the American Humanist Association. http://www.americanhumanist.org/view/EN/What_We_Do/Local_Groups/AHA_Chapters2?page=7 The Society for Humanistic Mormonism Answers 12 Tough Questions about Humanistic Mormonism 1. What is Humanistic Mormonism? Humanistic Mormonism is a denomination within Mormonism. It combines attachment to Mormon identity and culture with a human centered approach to life. It defines Mormonism as the historical and cultural experience of the Mormon people. Humanistic Mormonism affirms that people are independent of supernatural authority and responsible for themselves and their behavior. 2. How can you be Mormon if you don’t believe in God? Membership in the Mormon people is not a function of belief it is a function of identification, connection, and history. 3. Why call what you do Mormonism? Mormonism is the evolving culture of the Mormon people. There is no single way to be Mormon. What Mormons do is called Mormonism. What Humanistic Mormons do as Mormons is Mormonism. Pluralism in Mormon life enriches Mormonism and enables a more inclusive and enriched Mormon community. 4. Why are you a separate movement in Mormonism? What distinguishes Humanistic Movements from other movements that identify humanistic themes in Mormonism is our resolve to create a consistency between our philosophy and our liturgy (what we believe and what we say and do). Humanistic Mormon celebrations, ceremonies, and commemorations use human-centered non-theistic language. The words we say and the songs we sing follow this guideline. We call this principle integrity and it is fundamental to our identity as Humanistic Mormons. 5. Is Humanistic Mormonism a religion? According to the dictionary a religion is a set of beliefs to which people hold fast. Humanistic Judaism is a religion using that definition. Humanistic Mormonism falls into the category of a cultural religion, based on history and evolving values guided by science, reason and compassion. Humanistic Mormonism is also a religion in its structure, its congregational model, and school for children, adult education, and provider of life cycle ceremonies all follow the religious model. However unlike traditional religion, here we have freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Whether one believes in God or no God (or whether one takes an agnostic view point), or whether one sees Humanistic Mormonism as their personal secular view point or whether they see Humanistic Mormonism as their personal religious view point: All groups are welcome and can be in good standing as Humanistic Mormons. That is to say Humanistic Mormonism has no creed other than a commitment to reason, science, compassion, free inquiry, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought. 6. If you are not religious in a traditional sense, why have chaplains? A Humanistic Mormon Chaplain is someone who is knowledgeable about Mormon history and ceremony. A Humanistic Mormon Chaplain provides pastoral care based on Humanist principles. The Humanistic Mormon Chaplain gives information, advice, and consultation about existential questions. 7. Isn’t the Mormon religion (orthodoxy)/Prophets responsible for what Mormonism is? No one owns “Mormonism” it belongs to all of humanity and to all types of Mormons and even belongs to Post-Mormons or Ex-Mormons who have a right to say what they think Mormonism should become or what they think Mormonism is. There are many ways of interpreting what Mormonism is, no one way is the right way. It belongs to world culture and world society as well as the many differing types of Mormons to decide what “Mormonism” is. One thing we are sure of Mormonism will continue to evolve. Humanistic Mormonism is just one step in that evolution, it is sure to keep evolving in the future. 8. Without God how can there be ethics? The foundation of ethics is human dignity, human survival, and human happiness. The foundation of ethics is not God. Ethical behavior consists of relationships between people. Some people behave well without believing in God and some people who believe in God do not behave ethically. 9. If you don’t pray, what do you do and who do you worship? We can use poetry and prose to express that connection. We can sing songs and we can meditate. We use materials that encourage reflection and meditation. And some Humanistic Mormons choose to pray. Worship is an ambiguous and loaded word. What does it mean ‘to worship’ as a Humanistic Mormon? If we do pray, we address ourselves in our uncertainty: ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ So whom or what would we worship? Probably many different things. But perhaps with a shared reverence and gratitude. So we still use the word ‘worship’ as an indication of our wonder and awe; and our recognition of the worth of the world around us, the life we share, and the beauty and mystery of being. For that is what piques our curiosity, inspires our imagination, warms our spirits, shapes our character, and contributes to our belonging and becoming. To worship is to celebrate life, in all its peculiarities. 10. Can someone convert to Humanistic Mormonism? We define a Mormon as someone who identifies with the history, culture and fate of the Mormon people. If a person would like to participate in the Mormon experience, they can adopt Mormonism and a Humanistic Mormon community or the Society for Humanistic Mormonism can adopt the person wanting to be part of the Humanistic Mormon family. It’s a mutual experience. Because being Mormon is defined as the historical and cultural experience of the Mormon people an individual does not have to “give up” who they are to add Mormon identity to their self-definition. Thus one can choose to remain a member of another religion and still join Humanistic Mormonism or hold secular, agnostic, or atheist views and still join Humanistic Mormonism. Whether one considers themselves a Post-Mormon, a Liberal Mormon, an Orthodox Mormon, or even an Ex-Mormon, all are welcome in Humanistic Mormonism and perhaps especially Ex-Mormons or Post-Mormons. We mean not to place any limits on how one’s identity as a “Mormon” is defined but nor do we mean to exclude you regardless of where you define yourself. Indeed Humanistic Mormonism is a big tent and we mean to keep it that way so we can all learn and grow together in happiness, peace, love and understanding with our various backgrounds. Expanding what it means to be a “Mormon” allows us to advance one of the core principles of Humanistic Mormonism: freedom of thought and freedom of belief or disbelief. No one will be excommunicated in this Society on the basis of belief or non-belief and all are welcome to take part in the joys of Humanistic Mormonism. 11. If you are Humanists why bother with Mormonism at all? Being Mormon is part of our identity. Indeed this is true of most traditional religions we are typically born into a faith that we had little choice or no choice in being part of. Indeed we were born into a faith and a culture and this becomes part of our identity. For those that converted to Mormonism later in life this also becomes part of our identity. When we added Humanism on to our identity we took up that identity as well. Thus the combination of Mormonism and Humanism as our identities is the natural course and evolution of our Humanistic Mormon identities. We are all curious to know who we are, to discover our roots and establish connections, to learn and to celebrate. Culture adds interest to our lives, whether it be music, literature, art, dance, or food. 12. Isn’t all Mormonism humanistic? Some of Mormonism is humanistic, although not all of it is. The confusion is usually around the differences between humanitarianism and humanism. Humanism is the reliance on people to solve human problems. Humanism includes humanitarianism, which is the act of promoting human welfare and social reform.