The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in
religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere
revision of traditional attitudes. Science and economic change have disrupted
the old beliefs. Religions the world over are under the necessity of coming to
terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and
experience. In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the
direction of a candid and explicit humanism. In order that religious humanism
may be better understood we, the undersigned, desire to make certain
affirmations which we believe the facts of our contemporary life
There is great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of
the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance
and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth
Century. Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of
life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total
environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting
therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult), established for realizing
the satisfactory life. A change in any of these factors results in alteration of
the outward forms of religion. This fact explains the changefulness of religions
through the centuries. But through all changes religion itself remains constant
in its quest for abiding values, an inseparable feature of human life.
Today man's larger understanding of the universe, his scientific
achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation
which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a
vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals
and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with
the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it
is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing
and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To
establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a
responsibility which rests upon this generation. We therefore affirm the
FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as
self-existing and not created.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and
that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find
that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man's religious culture
and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the
product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural
environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a
particular culture is largely molded by that culture.
FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe
depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic
guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility
of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine
the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent
inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Religion
must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and
SIXTH: We are convinced that the time has passed for
theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought".
SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and
experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the
religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship,
recreation -- all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying
human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer
EIGHTH: Religious Humanism considers the complete
realization of human personality to be the end of man's life and seeks its
development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of
the humanist's social passion.
NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in
worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a
heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote
TENTH: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious
emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the
ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in
terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and
manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We
assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and
discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.
TWELFTH: Believing that religion must work increasingly
for joy in living, religious humanists aim to foster the creative in man and
to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.
THIRTEENTH: Religious humanism maintains that all
associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life. The
intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction of such
associations and institutions with a view to the enhancement of human life is
the purpose and program of humanism. Certainly religious institutions, their
ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities must be
reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows, in order to function
effectively in the modern world.
FOURTEENTH: The humanists are firmly convinced that
existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be
inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be
instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to
the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible.
The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people
voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand
a shared life in a shared world.
FIFTEENTH AND LAST: We assert that humanism will: (a)
affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life,
not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a
satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and
intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the
techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.
So stand the theses of religious humanism. Though we consider the religious
forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life
is still the central task for mankind. Man is at last becoming aware that he
alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has
within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will
to the task.