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liberal

lib·er·al / ˈlib(ə)rəl/ • adj. 1. open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values: they have more liberal views toward marriage and divorce than some people. ∎  favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms: liberal citizenship laws. ∎  (in a political context) favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform: a liberal democratic state. ∎  (Liberal) of or characteristic of Liberals or a Liberal Party. ∎  (Liberal) (in the UK) of or relating to the Liberal Democrat Party: the Liberal leader. ∎ Theol. regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change. 2. [attrib.] (of education) concerned mainly with broadening a person's general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training. 3. (esp. of an interpretation of a law) broadly construed or understood; not strictly literal or exact: they could have given the 1968 Act a more liberal interpretation. 4. given, used, or occurring in generous amounts: liberal amounts of wine had been consumed. ∎  (of a person) giving generously: Sam was too liberal with the wine. • n. a person of liberal views. ∎  (Liberal) a supporter or member of a Liberal Party. DERIVATIVES: lib·er·al·ism / -ˌlizəm/ n. lib·er·al·ist / -rəlist/ n. lib·er·al·is·tic / ˌlib(ə)rəˈlistik/ adj. lib·er·al·ly adv. lib·er·al·ness n. ORIGIN: Middle English: via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free (man).’ The original sense was ‘suitable for a free man,’ hence ‘suitable for a gentleman’ (one not tied to a trade), surviving in liberal arts. Another early sense ‘generous’ (compare with sense 4) gave rise to an obsolete meaning ‘free from restraint,’ leading to sense 1 (late 18th cent.).

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liberal

liberal pert. to the arts considered ‘worthy of a free man’; free in bestowing XIV; †unrestrained XV; free from prejudice XVIII; (of political opinion) XIX. — (O)F. libéral — L. līberālis, f. līber free, rel. to Gr. eleutheros; see -AL1.
So liberality XIV. liberate XVII. — f. L. līberāt—, —āre. liberation XV. — (O)F. or L.

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Liberal

Liberal, city (1990 pop. 16,573), seat of Seward co., SW Kans.; founded 1888, inc. 1945. It is the trade center for a grazing and farm area. Oil and natural gas are extracted, and helium is processed in the city. Meatpacking and sand and gravel are also important to the economy. The traditional International Pancake Race between the housewives of Liberal and Olney, England, is held annually on Shrove Tuesday.

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liberal

liberalapparel, barrel, carol, Carole, carrel, Carroll, Darrell, Darryl, Farrell •gambrel • spandrel •astral, plastral •cracker-barrel •Errol, feral •petrel, petrol •spectral •central, epicentral, ventral •ancestral, kestrel, orchestral •dextral • Sacheverell • mayoral •sacral • wastrel • cerebral •anhedral, cathedral, dihedral, tetrahedral •hypaethral (US hypethral), urethral •squirrel, Tyrol, Wirral •timbrel, whimbrel •minstrel • arbitral • sinistral • integral •triumviral •spiral, viral •amoral, Balmoral, coral, immoral, laurel, moral, quarrel, sorel, sorrel •cockerel, Cockerell •dotterel • rostral •aboral, aural, choral, floral, goral, oral •austral, claustral •scoundrel • cloistral • neutral • figural •augural •demurral, Durrell •mongrel • sepulchral • lustral •spheral • retiral •crural, jural, mural, neural, plural, rural •illiberal, liberal •natural • federal • peripheral •doggerel • mackerel • pickerel •bicameral, unicameral •admiral •ephemeral, femoral •humeral, numeral •general • mineral • funeral •spatio-temporal, temporal •corporal • tesseral • visceral •bilateral, collateral, equilateral, lateral, multilateral, quadrilateral, trilateral, unilateral •pastoral •electoral, pectoral, prefectoral, protectoral •clitoral, literal, littoral, presbyteral •dipteral, peripteral •doctoral • several • behavioural •conferral, deferral, referral, transferral

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Liberal

Liberal

American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (AAAA)

American Atheists, Inc.

American Ethical Union

American Humanist Association

American Unitarian Conference

Atheist Alliance International (AAI)

Atheists United

Canadian Atheist Society

Celebrant USA Foundation and Institute

Church of Reality

Church of Reason

Church of Spiritual Humanism

Confraternity of Deists, Inc.

Council for Secular Humanism

Creativity Movement (World Church of the Creator)

Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.

Humanist Association of Canada

Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society (ISIS)

National Alliance of Pantheists

Northeast Atheist Association of Connecticut (NAA)

Restored Church of the Star Goat

Temple of Earth

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (UCTAA)

Universal Pantheist Society

World Pantheist Movement

American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (AAAA)

PO Box 5733, Parsippany, NJ 07054-5733

The American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (AAAA) is the oldest of the several atheist bodies in the United States. The group was founded by Charles Lee Smith in 1925 as an antireligion/antitheist body. Smith, a lawyer, was converted to atheism from his reading of various books advocating freethought (the philosophy that holds that all beliefs should be formed by logic and science rather than ideology or emotions). After World War I he began to write for The Truth Seeker, an independent freethought journal published in New York City. In 1925, with his friend Freeman Hopwood, he founded the AAAA. Starting with little support and working within a hostile environment, Smith engaged in a number of controversial activities, beginning with his involvement in the debates over Arkansas’s antievolution law in 1928. He debated Christian ministers when the opportunity arose, the most famous being Aimee Semple McPherson, the flamboyant leader of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. From the publicity given his various activities, the Association grew. At its peak it had approximately 2,000 members, and chapters could be found on some 20 college and university campuses. The AAAA sponsored periodic lectures, called the Ingersoll Forum (named for Robert G. Ingersoll, the famous nineteenth-century freethinker), in New York City. In 1930 Smith purchased The Truth Seeker, which remained independent but closely identified with the Association. Hard hit by the economic Depression of the 1930s, the Association shrank, and most of its organized activities were discontinued, though Smith continued to publish the magazine monthly.

Around 1950 Smith’s dislike of Jews and blacks began to be reflected in the pages of The Truth Seeker, which started to publish an increasing number of racist and anti-Semitic articles. These led to further loss of support and the isolation of the AAAA from other atheist organizations. In 1964 Smith sold The Truth Seeker to James Hervey Johnson, who moved it and the AAAA to San Diego. A few months later, Smith died and since then Johnson has continued as head of the AAAA and editor of the magazine.

The Association believes religion to be a fraud and that God is nonexistent. It also teaches that the white race is superior to Jews and blacks and actively distributes such books as The Biological Jew, by Eustace Mullins; The International Jew, by Henry Ford; the apocryphal Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion; and Our Nordic Race, by R. K. Hoskins. The Association also stands for law and order, honest government, “real liberty,” freedom of the press and of speech, absolute separation of religion and government, and taxation of churches. All members must be atheists, a requirement that distinguishes the AAAA from many freethought organizations.

During the 1970s there were approximately 200 members, but no regular meetings. As with most atheist groups, there are too few members in most cities to support a separate meeting, thus members attend any local freethinkers’gathering available to them. In San Diego, the freethinkers gather on the birthdays of Thomas Paine (January 29) and Robert Ingersoll (August 7).

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The Truth Seeker.

Sources

Cardiff, Ira D. “If Christ Came to New York.” New York: American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, [1932].

Dalgliesh, Malcolm. The Sage of San Diego Said Choose Quality and Reason. New York: A New Enlightenment, n.d. 100 pp.

Graves, Kersey. The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors. New York: Truth Seeker, 1875.

Johnson, James Hervey. “Charles Smith: 1887–1964.” The Truth Seeker 91, no. 11 (November 1964).

———. Superior Men. San Diego, CA: Author, 1949.

McPherson, Aimee Semple, and Charles Lee Smith. Debate: There Is a God! Los Angeles: Foursquare Publications, n.d.

Swancara, Frank. Separation of Religion and Government. New York: Truth Seeker Co., 1950.

American Atheists, Inc.

PO Box 5733, Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733

Possibly the most famous American atheist of the twentieth century was Madalyn Murray O’Hair (1919–1995), who founded American Atheists, Inc., on July 1, 1963, in Austin, Texas. O’Hair became a national figure in 1963 when the Supreme Court upheld her suit, which had been joined with a second similar case, and ruled against the mandatory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and passages from the Bible in U.S. public schools. This ruling has often been mistakenly described as outlawing prayer in the public schools. O’Hair next instituted a suit aimed at eliminating tax-exempt status for church-owned property. Soon after the second suit was filed, she moved from Baltimore to Honolulu, where she formed the International Free Thought Association of America. She eventually settled in Austin, where she founded the Society of Separationists and the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library and Archives. The Society of Separationists was superseded by American Atheists, Inc., the headquarters of which moved into the American Atheist Center in Austin in 1977. During the 1970s O’Hair emerged as a popular and controversial speaker on atheism, frequently debating ministers in public meetings and on television. She instituted a number of lawsuits built around atheistic concerns, most of which failed. Her activities also led to many false rumors, including one that she had petitioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ban religious broadcasting; the persistence of this rumor forced several formal retractions by the FCC. O’Hair also became deeply involved in various social causes, such as civil rights and peace. She was actively antireligious and specifically anti-Christian, rejecting the historicity of Jesus, a life after death, and the authority of the Bible.

The group stands free from theism, which is equated with religion. It views religion as a crutch that healthy people do not need, deeming it superstitious and supernatural nonsense. The American Atheists’ library, founded in 1965 and now housed at the Atheist Center, has more than 20,000 volumes and related material. At its peak, the American Atheist Radio Series (1968–1973) was heard on more than 20 stations in 12 states. Members in Petersburg, Indiana, once opened an atheist museum, which closed after the death of its curator. The organization holds an annual national convention and airs a national cable-access television program called The Atheist Viewpoint, which is also available on podcast. American Atheists also sells books and products.

At the annual convention in 1986, O’Hair resigned as president of American Atheists and was succeeded by her son, Jon G. Murray. O’Hair continued to serve as presiding officer of its board of directors. American Atheists, Inc., founded the American Atheists General Headquarters, a building complex to house the library, archives, and printing facilities (American Atheist Press). Ellen Johnson became president of the organization in 1996, after the disappearance of Madalyn O’Hair along with her son and granddaughter, Robin Murray-O’Hair, who was the editor of the American Atheist Press (see Remarks). In 1999 the group relocated to Cranford, New Jersey. In 2008 Johnson stepped down as president and was succeeded by long-time member Frank Zindler.

Membership

In 2002 the group reported 2,500 members.

Periodicals

The American Atheist.

Remarks

On September 4, 1995, 76-year-old Madalyn Murray O’Hair, her son Jon, and granddaughter Robin Murray O’Hair left their home without prior warning. They did not take their passports, and they seemed to have left in the midst of eating breakfast. Jon Murray kept in contact with the organization for a few weeks and offered some instructions on keeping it going while they were away. Eventually, all contact stopped and none of the three were seen again. More than $600,000 in funds were missing from a New Zealand bank account. Some months later, Robin’s car was found at the Austin airport. The three were discovered to have been kidnapped and murdered by a career criminal named David Roland Waters and two accomplices. Waters was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison, where he eventually died. Another of the kidnappers, Gary Karr, is serving a life sentence, and the third was murdered by Waters and Karr.

Sources

American Atheists. www.atheists.org.

Conrad, Jane Kathryn. Mad Madalyn. Brighton, OH: Author, 1983.

Murray, William J. My Life without God. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

O’Hair, Madalyn Murray. Bill Murray, the Bible and the Baltimore Board of Education. Austin, TX: American Atheist Press, 1970.

———. What on Earth Is an Atheist. Austin, TX: American Atheist Press, 1969.

Wright, Lawrence. Saints and Sinners. New York: Random House, 1993.

American Ethical Union

2 W 64th St., New York, NY 10023

Alternate Address

International Humanist and Ethical Union, Ouderhof 11, 2512 GH Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The founder of what became the American Ethical Union, Felix Adler (1851–1933), was born in Alzey, Germany, and came to the United States at an early age. The son of the rabbi at Temple Emmanuel in New York City, Adler returned to Germany to study for the rabbinate at the University of Heidelberg, and made plans to succeed his father. During this time, he encountered neo-Kantian idealism and its critique of religion, which left him with a strong sense of duty and a zeal to implement his ethical ideals. Adler came to believe that morality could be established independently of any theological system. For Adler, the autonomy and centrality of ethics became the philosophical basis for an ethical culture. He added a philosophical complement to Emerson’s call for a purely ethical religion and in this way contributed to America’s moralistic religious tradition. On his return to the United States, Adler taught Hebrew and oriental languages and literature at Cornell University (1874–1876) and then returned to New York City to found the Ethical Culture Society on May 15, 1876. This was the first of the ethical culture societies in the United States, later nationally federated as the American Ethical Union and part of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Under Adler’s direction, the society was dedicated to the principle of “deed before creed,” and both education and social reform were seen as necessary deeds. In Adler’s view, creeds about God were not important and socially responsible deeds were the one way people had of affirming the worth and dignity of every human being. Thus, in 1877, the District Nursing Department, now the Visiting Nurse Service, and the Tenement House Building Committee were started. In 1878 the first free kindergarten, which became the Workingman’s School in 1880, was opened. The Mother’s Society to Study Child Nature, started in 1888, became the Child Study Association in 1915. Adler was elected president of the Free Religious Association in 1878, but he resigned in 1882 because of the lack of commitment to social action and political reform. Adler founded and served as chairperson of the Child Labor Committee from 1894 to 1921, and the Visiting and Teaching Guild for Crippled Children was started in 1889. For almost two decades (1902–1921), he served as professor of political and social ethics at Columbia University.

In 1882 Adler formed a second ethical culture society in Chicago, Illinois. Another emerged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1885 and a fourth in St. Louis, Missouri, the following year. In 1887 the first international society was formed in London, England. Eventually some 20 countries would have groups belonging to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which includes groups associated with the American Humanist Association.

Religion, seen as a way of life in this world, has led the union into social involvement on a number of issues related to racism, war and peace studies, adult education, citizenship, and language training for refugees in the United States. Union members were instrumental in establishing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Legal Aid Society. The group participates in United Nations programs as a nongovernmental organization (NGO).

Membership

In 1988 there were 21 ethical culture societies in the United States. Groups from more than 20 countries participated in the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Periodicals

Ethical Platform. • AEU Reports.

Sources

American Ethical Union. www.aeu.org.

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ethical Movement, 1876–1926. New York: A. Appleton and Company, 1926.

Friess, Horace Leland. Felix Adler and Ethical Culture: Memories and Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Kraut, Benny. From Reform Judaism to Ethical Culture. Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1979.

Muzzey, David Saville. Ethical Religion. New York: American Ethical Union, 1943.

Radest, Howard B. Toward Common Ground. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1969.

American Humanist Association

7 Harwood Dr., Box 8188, Amherst, NY 14226-7188

In the early twentieth century, a strong humanist orientation developed among supporters of the American Unitarian Association, the Free Religious Association, and the American Ethical Union. At the time, members of these groups were still mostly theistic. By the 1920s, however, some Unitarians had become nontheists. Their greatest spokespersons were John H. Dietrich (1878–1957), a Unitarian minister in Minneapolis, and Curtis W. Reese, secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference. Using ideas from science and pragmatic philosophy, the nontheists saw humanism as the only possible alternative to traditional religion. Whereas Dietrich and Reese remained within the Unitarian structure, others of like mind left to begin humanistic societies. The first two of these were founded in 1929, in New York City by Charles Francis Potter (1885–1962) and in Hollywood, California, by Theodore Curtis Abell.

In 1933 a group of 11 prominent humanist leaders issued “A Humanist Manifesto,” the definitive statement of the movement. Among its signers were John Dewey (1859–1952), Harry Elmer Barnes (1889–1968), C. F. Potter, and John Herman Randall (1889–1980). The statement called for a radical change in religious perspectives. Religion was seen as a tool for realizing the highest values in life, but the universe was regarded as self-existing, not created, and humanity as part of evolved nature. Mind-body dualism, supernaturalism, theism, and even deism were rejected. The goal of life was viewed as the complete realization of human personality. Social ethics and personal fulfillment were priority items. Social control was a means to the abundant life for all. An updated version of the statement was issued in 1973 as the “Humanist Manifesto II,” which added an additional emphasis on responsibility toward humanity as a whole.

To bring some coordination and fellowship to the various independent humanist efforts in the United States, the American Humanist Association was formed in 1941. It accepts the basic perspective of the two Humanist Manifestos, especially their call for the use of science for purposes of social welfare. Its social program has included a defense of human rights, religious liberty, freedom of thought, and separation of church and state, and advocacy of population growth control, death with dignity, penal reform, ecology; and various issues related to the United Nations.

The American Humanist Association is organized democratically; board members are elected by the general membership. Chapters are located across the country. An annual conference is held in a different city each year. Certified leaders of the association, analogous to ministers or rabbis, are termed celebrants. The association is also a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Membership

In 1997 the association reported approximately 10,000 members in 70 chapters. There were 120 celebrants in the United States, 1 in Canada, and 1 in Australia.

Periodicals

The Humanist. • Free Mind. • Humanist Living.

Remarks

Among the counselors of the association is Paul Kurtz (b. 1925), former editor of The Humanist, who has developed a number of enterprises that, while entirely independent of the American Humanist Association, serve the humanist cause as a whole. Kurtz founded and heads Prometheus Books, the major American publisher of humanist and freethought literature. During the 1970s he was a leader in the formation of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal, whose quarterly Skeptical Inquirer is a major voice in the debunking of psychic and paranormal phenomena. Around 1980 he formed the Council for a Democratic and Secular Humanism and began the magazine Free Inquiry. He also became a leading force in the formation of the Academy of Humanism, an organization created to disseminate humanist ideals and beliefs and to recognize outstanding humanists. In addition, he has been prominent in the Religion and Biblical Criticism Research Project, which disseminates the results of biblical criticism (especially concerning claims many humanists consider unfounded, such as the divine inspiration of the Bible and the historicity of Jesus).

Sources

American Humanist Association. www.americanhumanist.org.

Blackham, H. J. Modern Humanism. Yellow Springs, OH: American Humanist Association, 1964.

Humanist Manifestos I and II. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

Kurtz, Paul, ed. The Humanist Alternative. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

Lamont, Corliss. Voice in the Wilderness. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1975.

Reese, Curtis W. Humanism. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Co., 1926.

———, ed. Humanist Sermons. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Co., 1927.

American Unitarian Conference

6806 Springfield Dr., Mason Neck, VA 22079

The American Unitarian Conference (AUC) was formed in 2000 by Dean Fisher and David Barton and former members of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) who strongly disagreed with the direction taken by the UUA since its formation in 1961. Over the decades, the UUA had moved steadily from its antitrinitarian Christianity to become the home of a wide variety of constituencies, from Humanism to Zen Buddhism. AUC founders termed it a “federation of religions,” and suggested that although Unitarianism should respect all religions, it should not embrace other religions as its own. They also noted that many congregations of Unitarians opposed both Christianity and belief in God.

The AUC believes that Unitarianism did not reject Christianity per se, but rather the doctrine of the trinity (and all that that doctrine implied), as well as a particular form of Christianity—the Calvinism that dominated in the Congregational Church of the mid-nineteenth century. Unitarianism was founded to be tolerant of other faith traditions and to learn from them, not to be replaced by them. AUC founders believed that many Unitarian churches have become anti-Christian and anti-God in their practice, substituting salvation by grace with salvation by legislation.

The AUC founders believed that Unitarian faith anchored in the original tenets of the tradition remains valuable in the present age. In launching their new association, they built a web site and formed a new corporation.

To the AUC, Unitarianism is a religion, a spiritual tradition that affirms humanity’s spiritual nature and the truth of religious experience that is ineffable, beyond the ability of reason to fully describe. It affirms the existence of God, who created the universe and gave humans the gift of free will. This perspective is summarized in “Our Religious Principles.”

As a recently founded body, the AUC sees itself as still developing, and is open to new insights and to people outside the Unitarian tradition who identify themselves as deists or simply theists.

Membership

In 2008 there were three congregations affiliated with the AUC, one each in San Diego, California, Syracuse, New York, and Cochranville, Pennsylvania. Another several thousand individuals have affiliated with the AUC, but do not have a congregation with which to affiliate.

Periodicals

The American Unitarian.

Sources

American Unitarian Conference. www.americanunitarian.org/.

Atheist Alliance International (AAI)

PO Box 234, Pocopson, PA 19366

The Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is a democratic antitheist association formed in 1995 by independent, autonomous atheist societies. The group believes in state neutrality regarding religious speech, beliefs, and participation. Atheism, which AAI defines as “living one’s life without the supernatural,” is considered a human-centered vision with a reality-based approach to problem solving, leading toward intellectual growth, personal freedom, and social, environmental, and scientific progress. Members of AAI believe that the interference of religion in civic and social matters leads to an abridgement of civil liberties, and that religious authoritarianism has caused a tyrannical and intolerant undercurrent in U.S. social and political discourse.

Some of the group’s other major tenets are that freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right; that the unfettered pursuit of scientific advancement is the only proven way to make human life better; and that compassion and empathy for both humans and nonhumans, as well as the encouragement of “cooperative diversity” among people with differing values and beliefs, are paramount to improving the human experience. The group is actively opposed to all ideas that it considers to be based in supernatural beliefs, including those concerning the existence of ghosts or spirits, reincarnation or an afterlife for human souls, and all forms of astrology. AAI is also vocal in its opposition to conspiracy theories about and denial of documented historical events, such as the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

AAI hosts an annual convention, during which representatives of the board are selected from among the various member groups. The group also maintains a list of all freethought organizations around the world and has two regular publications: Secular Nation magazine and the more scholarly Journal of Higher Criticism. An Internet-based community of atheists—Atheist Internet Outreach—is also available to individuals through AAI. AAI maintains an association with the teachers’resource group Objectivity and Balance in Teaching about Religion.

Membership

As of 2008, AAI member organizations exist in 22 U.S. states and 10 countries.

Periodicals

Secular Nation. • Journal of Higher Criticism.

Atheists United

4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027

Atheists United is an affiliate organization of Atheist Alliance International (AAI), representing the Los Angeles area. The group was formed in 1982 and is a major organization for unbelievers on the West Coast. It promotes two goals: the separation of church and state and the furtherance of atheism and rationalist thought, primarily through education. Individual neighborhood Atheists United groups host meetings throughout southern California; the group also publishes a newsletter and a set of atheist literature, maintains a “Dial-an-Atheist” telephone service, and hosts a weekly radio show in Los Angeles.

Members of Atheists United consider themselves nontheists. They accept only ideas confirmed by evidence, and even these are subject to reconsideration. All superstitions, especially religions, are rejected.

Membership

Atheists United does not release membership information. There are an estimated 1,500 members. Meetings have been held regularly throughout Southern California, from Ventura to San Diego.

Periodicals

Atheists United Newsletter.

Sources

Atheists United. www.atheistsunited.org.

Canadian Atheist Society

PO Box 41613, 923 12th St., New Westminster, BC, Canada V3M 6L1

The Canadian Atheist Society is a small atheist organization formed in the mid-1990s in British Columbia under the leadership of Ray Blessin and Fern Wayman. In 1994 the society launched The Canadian Atheist as a quarterly magazine and moved to incorporate as an educational organization. Though based in the Canadian West Coast region, the society quickly gained a following across Canada. Among other activities, it launched an effort to remove references to God from the preamble of the Canadian Constitution and the National Anthem. The society feels that these national symbols should serve to unite all Canadians, not just religious Canadians.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The Canadian Atheist.

Celebrant USA Foundation and Institute

93 Valley Rd., 2nd Fl., Montclair, NJ 07042

Celebrant USA was founded in 2000 in Montclair, New Jersey, by Charlotte Eulette. Following on a practice present in Australia for a generation, Celebrant USA Foundation and Institute provides ceremonies that mark important transitions in the lives of people who, for whatever reasons, do not have clergy to officiate. To that end, Celebrant USA recruits, trains, and certifies celebrants to compose and perform personalized ceremonies marking a broad range of occasions for individuals, couples, families, and organizations. Such ceremonies include weddings and funerals as well as house warmings and corporate employee-recognition events.

Celebrant USA has a program to educate the public about the importance of ceremony and rituals marking important transitions in life. Its institute offers certificate programs for people who wish to become professional celebrants in Ceremonies for Couples, Ceremonies for Healing and Transition, Ceremonies for Families and Children, and Ceremonies for Organizations. Classes are conducted both at the organization’s national headquarters and via correspondence and web-based instruction.

Graduates of Celebrant USA’s training are certified as civil celebrants. Their training allows them to work with individuals or groups to create ceremonies adapted to personal needs and interests and a wide variety of beliefs and cultures. Ceremonies can be created to mark a renewal of wedding vows, the adoption of a child, coming of age, divorce, or retirement, for example. In the process of performing their tasks, the personal beliefs of the celebrant become immaterial, and the focus is on the values, beliefs, and wishes of the person for whom the ceremony is being conducted. Thus, the civil celebrant is able to function in a wide variety of cultural settings, providing celebrations with either religious or secular content.

Membership

In 2008 Celebrant USA had certified more than 300 civil celebrants who operate across the United States.

Sources

Celebrant USA Foundation and Institute. www.celebrantusa.com/.

Church of Reality

754 Glenview Dr. #201, San Bruno, CA 94066

The Church of Reality is a Humanist religion begun in 1998 by Marc Perkel, who posited that religion could be based on reality rather than myths. He began to articulate his idea as the Church of Reality via the Internet, exploring the implications of his basic notion. From the concept that the process of pursuing knowledge is a communal activity, Perkel developed the idea of the tree of knowledge, the body of interconnected common knowledge shared by humans.

In 2003 Perkel applied for church recognition from the Internal Revenue Service. The process led him to focus on structure and organization, and to generate two basic church documents: the Sacred Principles and Sacred Choices. The former commits church members to a set of basic values such as positive evolution, curiosity, freedom, peace, courage, persistence, compassion, justice, respect, and personal responsibility. The latter document, on sacred choices, highlights the decisions necessary to anyone choosing to live as a realist.

Perkel concluded that the Church of Reality is about the pursuit of reality, which involves “growing the tree of knowledge.” This involves the assumption that the human race is progressing; positive evolution is the basic value. Perkel also concluded that human society is moving in negative direction due largely to religion and religious conflict. As a realist, the church accepts the mission to focus society’s attention on reality.

The church bases its perspectives on a set of axioms, self-evident truths upon which other truth build. Thus, the church affirms that reality exists; that the earth and the human race exist; and that human life has evolved over billions of years. As humans, we function as a society and share a wealth of knowledge. Humans are self-aware and have the ability to make decisions that produce consequences. As technology grows, it has created the possibility of self-extermination. At the same time, we know that many life forms have become extinct. We need to evolve. Meanwhile, the universe as a whole does not care about humans.

The Church of Reality remains a largely web-based religion. It identifies itself most closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and welcomes people who wish to belong to both organizations, though it distinguishes between the two groups: “Realists put reality first and are interested in community. Unitarians put community first and are interested in reality.”

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Church of Reality. www.churchofreality.org/.

Church of Reason

International Council of Unitary Mission Churches, 3359 W 58th St., Cleveland, OH 44102-5670

The Church of Reason was founded in 1973 by Thomas D. Blackburn, a captain in the U.S. Air Force, while he was stationed in Tullahoma, Tennessee. One of the first to join the church was Robert M. Dunn of Cleveland, Ohio, who promptly became the group’s leader. The church grew under Dunn’s leadership and soon had several Reason devotees in northern Ohio, with associates in Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee. The church is dedicated to several basic principles that appear in its creed. Members seek knowledge; see reason as the faculty that identifies and integrates the materials provided by the senses and as the only means to knowledge; and agree to attempt to act on that knowledge. They also pledge to initiate neither force nor fraud, and understand that their right to life depends on their recognition of the same right in others.

Unlike many rationalists and atheists, members of the Church of Reason are not inimical to religion. Rather, they view religion, as described by Ayn Rand in her novel The Fountainhead, as “the great aspiration of the human spirit toward the highest, the noblest, the best. The human spirit as the creator and the conqueror of the ideal.” As such, by reason of the volitional and conceptual nature of human consciousness, religion is seen as inherent in human nature. Organized religion assists individuals in forging a worldview and helps them to act accordingly. The Church of Reason promotes the discovery and dissemination of information concerning ultimate and ulterior issues by providing a forum for the study and sharing of fundamental ideas. It also provides a forum for the celebration of life-cycle events, a place to meet and share life with like-minded people, and an efficient means of accomplishing goals.

Members of the Church of Reason see the faculty of reason, operating on the evidence of the senses, as the basic tool of human survival, and thus see it as the cardinal virtue; rationality implies productivity, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, and earned pride as correlative virtues.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

www.churchofreason.org/his.htm.

Welcome to a Good Look at the Religion of Reason. Cleveland, OH: Church of Reason, 1989.

Church of Spiritual Humanism

PO Box 180, Jenkintown, PA 19046

The Church of Spiritual Humanism was founded to promote the concept of a religion based on humans’ability to solve social problems using logic and science. It recognizes the value of religion and its rituals and methods to assist men and women in their life struggles, and the power of religion to affect human behavior, but it aims to redefine religion as a natural rather than supernatural reality. It looks to scientific inquiry to define the “divine” spark in humanity.

The Church of Spiritual Humanism also believes that ordination should be free and freely available to anyone who wants it. Its web site provides a means for people to simply ask for and receive ordination in the church. The church authorizes its ministers to perform the traditional functions of clergy, such as marriages and funerals, though they are specifically forbidden to perform any rituals involving exorcism, circumcision, and animal sacrifice. The church is gay-friendly and allows its clergy to perform same-sex unions. It publishes and makes available materials informing new clergy of their rights and facilitating their performance of their duties.

The church is humanist, affirming that religion should be based on reason. It does not approve of specifically Christian beliefs, or even belief in a deity, and it will become open to what it considers to be supernatural beliefs only if they are proven by scientific exploration.

Membership

In 2008 the church claimed more than 100,000 members in 146 countries.

Periodicals

Newsletter (available online).

Educational Facilities

Church of Spiritual Humanism Seminary (online distance-learning facility).

Sources

Church of Spiritual Humanism. www.spiritualhumanism.org/.

Confraternity of Deists, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Confraternity of Deists was begun in 1967 in St. Petersburg, Florida, by Paul Englert, a former Roman Catholic. Deism is belief in one God, the supreme intelligence, as contrasted with belief in Scripture or atheism. Without God, Deists believe, humans are defenseless against themselves. The Creed of Confraternity includes the beliefs that the constructive exercise of human intelligence contributes to the glorification of God; that all human-made Scriptures are mere literary works, without religious, historical, or chronological value; that the church of the Deist should constitute the free university, disseminating scientific knowledge and nurturing the arts; and that the social duty of the Deist is to work for the spiritual and temporal elevation of the people.

Membership

Not reported. In 1969 there were three centers of the Confraternity, one at the headquarters and two at universities.

Council for Secular Humanism

PO Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226-0664

At the end of the 1970s Paul Kurtz (b. 1925), a well-known humanist intellectual, parted company with the American Humanist Association. At that time Kurtz was head of Prometheus Books, a prominent humanist/atheist publishing concern, and the driving force behind the Committee for the Scientific Examination of the Paranormal (later renamed the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), a skeptical watchdog group dedicated to debunking unfounded claims of psychic, occult, and paranormal phenomena. With supporters, he led in the establishment of the Council for a Democratic and Secular Humanism, now known as the Council for Secular Humanism. Whereas the American Humanist Association is representative of the broad range of humanist thought, the council emphasizes the most secular aspect of humanism, and is explicitly not a religious organization.

Kurtz had been prominent in the execution and circulation of the “Humanist Manifesto II” in 1973. In 1980 he wrote and circulated “A Secular Humanist Declaration,” which outlined the position of secular humanism and was signed by a number of prominent liberal thinkers. According to Kurtz, secular humanism is committed to using reason and science to understand the universe and attempt to solve human problems, and stands against perceived efforts to denigrate human intelligence, seek to understand the world in supernatural terms, and look outside of nature for salvation. It is committed to the scientific nature of inquiry, to a belief that nature is intelligible to human reason and explainable by means of causal hypotheses, and to a naturalistic ethics that exists quite apart from any theological or metaphysical base. It differs from other forms of humanism in its confidence in humanity’s ability to apply science and technology for the betterment of human life. Like atheism, it rejects the supernatural but also offers a positive program for constructing an ethical value system.

The council sponsors the Academy of Humanism to recognize distinguished humanists and disseminate humanist ideals and beliefs. The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion attempts to consider critically the claims of religion, both Eastern and Western. The Biblical Criticism Research Project was founded to disseminate the results of biblical scholarship, which it believes undercuts many of the claims of both the Jewish and Christian faiths.

The council founded Free Inquiry magazine, a network for mutual support that assists the organization of local and regional societies of secular humanists. Such groups are now found across the United States. Also related is the Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a humanist alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.

The council is a full member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. It is also an affiliate organization of the Center for Inquiry, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that is dedicated to the promotion of rational social and scientific inquiry based on humanist ideals, and that serves as an umbrella organization for a number of related secular humanist groups.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

Center for Inquiry Institute, Amherst, New York.

Periodicals

Free Inquiry. • Secular Humanist Bulletin. • AAH Examiner (African Americans for Humanism).

Sources

Council for Secular Humanism. www.secularhumanism.org.

Kurtz, Paul. Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988.

———, ed. The Humanist Alternative: Some Definitions of Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

———. In Defense of Secular Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1983.

———, ed. A Secular Humanist Declaration. Privately printed, 1980.

———. Transcendental Temptation: A Critique of Religion and the Paranormal. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986. 500 pp.

Creativity Movement (World Church of the Creator)

Current address could not be obtained for this edition.

The Creativity Movement (also called World Church of the Creator and formerly known as the Church of the Creator) was founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen (1918–1993) with the publication of his manifesto Nature’s Eternal Religion, in which he claimed that the “survival, expansion, and advancement” of the white race was the highest virtue and the ultimate law of nature. Creativity Movement members—all of whom are white supremacists—do not believe in the conventional facets of religion, such as the existence of a god or an afterlife; rather, they hold that their race is their religion. Members, who refer to themselves as “creators,” believe that Jews, people of color, immigrants, and Christians are inferior to and the natural enemies of whites.

Born in the Ukraine and raised in Canada, Klassen assembled his ideology from an amalgamation of ideas and images from Norse mythology, paganism, imperial Rome, and Nazism. Gradually throughout the 1980s, Klassen gained an international following and became a leading figure among hate groups, particularly in South Africa. Klassen called for a “racial holy war” against those he called “mud people.” In 1991 the movement garnered public attention when a member named George Loeb murdered black Gulf War veteran Harold Mansfield Jr., following an altercation in a Florida parking lot. In 1994 Mansfield’s family sued the Church of the Creator for its part in the veteran’s death. These events set into motion a series of violent incidents both within the Church of the Creator and among other hate groups with which it was affiliated. Planning to step down from his post as head of the organization, Klassen named several different successors before settling on Richard McCarty. Klassen committed suicide in August 1993. Over the next several years, numerous Church of the Creator members and associates were accused of illegal activity, including the firebombing of an NAACP office in Tacoma, Washington.

McCarty stepped down in 1996, and a young white supremacist named Matthew Hale took over. Hale reenergized the group, now called the World Church of the Creator, by recruiting new members, appearing on talk shows to espouse his views, starting a white supremacist cable-access television program, and, perhaps most significantly, by harnessing the power of the Internet to significantly expand the church—particularly through specialized Web sites targeting women and children.

In July 1999 the group was again in the public spotlight when a member, Benjamin Smith, went on a two-day shooting spree in Illinois, killing two and injuring nine before killing himself; all of the victims were minorities. Law enforcement speculated that Smith had been motivated by the State of Illinois’s refusal to grant Hale a license to practice law. In 2002 the World Church of the Creator was successfully sued for trademark infringement by another religious organization, also called the Church of the Creator. In early 2003, Hale was arrested for soliciting the murder of federal judge Joan Lefkow, who had presided over the trademark infringement suit. In April of 2003 the group was found to be in violation of the trademark agreement; the Creativity Movement was fined and ordered to shut down its Web sites and surrender its membership list. In April 2005 Hale was found guilty and sentenced to serve 40 years in prison. Numerous threats had been made against Lefkow by white supremacist and neo-Nazi associates of Hale’s between 2002 and 2005, and she was placed under the protection of federal marshals. In 2005 Lefkow’s mother and husband were murdered in the family’s Chicago home. Law enforcement officials initially believed the murders to be retaliation from white supremacists on Hale’s behalf, but later that year the killings were found to be unrelated to the Hale case.

As of 2008, the Creativity Movement was a far more loosely organized group than it had been under either Klassen or Hale. In 2002, under the leadership of Thomas Kroenke, the group moved its world headquarters to Riverton, Wyoming, ostensibly to avoid abiding by the Illinois injunction.

Membership

The Creativity Movement claims members throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Europe, South America, South Africa, and Australia. The group does not provide its membership numbers, but has more supporters than actual members; supporters in North America are estimated to number several thousand. Observers have suggested that the worldwide constituency membership may be as high as 40,000 to 60,000.

Periodicals

The Struggle.

Sources

www.rahowa.com.

Anti-Defamation League. “Creativity Movement.” www.adl.org/learn/Ext_US/WCOTC.asp?xpicked=3&item=17.

Berkes, Howard. “A White Supremacist Church and a Small Town.” National Public Radio. www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=992253.

Klassen, Ben. Building a Whiter and Brighter World. Otto, NC: Church of the Creator, 1986.

———. Nature’s Eternal Religion. Lighthouse Point, FL: Church of the Creator, 1973.

———. The White Man’s Bible. Lighthouse Point, FL: Church of the Creator, 1981.

Southern Poverty Law Center. “Pontifex Ex.” www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=476.

Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 750, Madison, WI 53701

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), Inc., is a North American association of freethinkers (i.e., atheists, agnostics, and skeptics). Many of the founders had formerly been members of American Atheists, Inc., who had left in protest of what they saw as undemocratic policies. The FFRF’s primary goals are to educate the public on matters of nontheism and to promote the principle of church/state separation, both of which are pursued mostly through filing lawsuits against apparent constitutional violations. Recent legal activity has involved intervening in situations involving prayer in public schools, payment of public funds for religious purposes, government favoritism toward religious institutions, illegal activities conducted in the name of religious charities, and religious efforts to deny civil rights to women, gays, and lesbians.

The group was cofounded in 1978 by Anne Nicol Gaylor (b. 1926), a Wisconsin businesswoman, newspaper editor, and feminist activist. Under her guidance, the FFRF became one of the largest and most successful groups of its kind in North America. As of 2008, Gaylor serves as a consultant and president emerita to the group. Gaylor’s daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, helped her mother found the group and currently serves as co-president, along with Dan Barker.

In 1983, FFRF filed a suit challenging President Ronald Reagan’s declaration of that year as the “Year of the Bible.” FFRF has gone to court to halt the U.S. Postal Service’s practice of giving cancellations to a Roman Catholic group, has ended commencement prayers at a major university, and has stopped federal subsidy to the “Virgin of the Rockies” chapel, and in 1996 it won a court decision overturning a Wisconsin law declaring Good Friday to be a state holiday. The federation also succeeded in posting the first atheist placard to be displayed in a state capitol over the Christmas holidays, in protest of religious activities hosted there. One of its more active chapters, the Alabama Freethought Association, has moved to stop religious expressions in the state’s parks and has become a plaintiff in the case against Judge Roy Moore, who has allowed questionable religious practices in his courtroom. In May 2006 the FFRF brought suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) to challenge the U.S. government’s intention to use grant money to institute single-faith prison programs. In October of the same year, the FBP announced it was canceling the plan. In 2007 FFRF won a lawsuit in which it had challenged the State of Indiana’s use of public monies to hire chaplains to encourage religious faith among the state employees in its Family and Social Services Administration. FFRF has also been involved in legal action to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

At its annual convention, the federation presents a “Freethinker of the Year” award to a successful litigant working for church/state separation, and an annual “Freethought Heroine” award, which in 1997 was given to Ann Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan. Additionally, the group sponsors an annual essay competition for students, awarding cash grants, and offers a similar scholarship program for college-bound high school seniors. The federation publishes a variety of books in the freethought tradition, as well as the country’s only freethought newspaper, Freethought Today. In late 2007 the foundation initiated the first nationally syndicated freethought radio program on the Air America network.

Membership

In 2007 the federation reported more than 11,600 members, and an additional 550 nonmember subscribers to its newspaper.

Periodicals

Freethought Today.

Sources

Freedom from Religion Foundation. www.ffrf.org.

Gaylor, Annie Laurie. Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1988.

———. Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1981.

———, ed. Women without Superstition: No Gods, No Masters. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1997. 696 pp.

Hurmence, Ruth. The Book of Ruth. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1982.

Rejecting Religion. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1982.

Humanist Association of Canada

PO Box 8752, Station T, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 3J1

In Canada, humanism and people identifying themselves as humanists emerged in the early twentieth century as part of a larger freethought movement. Among the earliest groups to take the name humanist was the Winnipeg Rationalist Society, which in the 1930s changed its name to the Winnipeg Humanist Society. That group dwindled following the death of its longtime leader, Marshall Jerome Gauvin (1881–1978), but other groups emerged, primarily in Victoria (British Columbia) and Montreal. In 1968, the Victoria and Montreal groups joined to form the Humanist Association of Canada (HAC). At that time they also combined their two periodicals, the Victoria Humanist and the Montreal Humanist, into Humanist in Canada.

The group’s primary focus is on promoting the humanist values of “honesty, compassion, reason, critical thinking, and cooperation”; on offering secular ceremonies for life events such as weddings and funerals; and on working to ensure the separation of church and state in Canada. In 2008, HAC offered its first Education Grant Program for nonprofit organizations that fulfill the criteria of a humanist agenda.

The association provides a focus and forum for the broad range of humanist thought in Canada and is similar in beliefs and practice to the American Humanist Association. It is also a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Membership

Membership reported at 800. There are chapters in Ottawa and elsewhere in Ontario, in Montreal, and in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Periodicals

Canadian Humanist News. Available from PO Box 3769, Station C, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Y 4J8.

Sources

Humanist Association of Canada. www.humanists.ca.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 2 vols. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1985.

Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society (ISIS)

c/o The Center for Inquiry, 3965 Rensch Rd., Amherst, NY 14228

The Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society (ISIS) was formed as part of the humanist/skeptical organization Center for Inquiry to promote the ideas of rationalism, secularism, democracy, and human rights within Islamic society. Its program has been based upon the belief that Islamic culture has become backward due to its slowness to allow its beliefs, laws, and practices to come under the scrutiny of modern critical perspectives. This unwillingness is attributed to an intolerance of alternative beliefs and a timidity about participating in fruitful dialogues. ISIS promotes the freedom of intellectual and scientific inquiry and the freedom of conscience as regards religion. The group values the ability of individuals to change religion or belief and the right to unbelief.

ISIS supports the emergence of a modern form of Islam and of unbelief in societies now dominated by Islam. It works for the separation of religion and state in Islamic countries, believing that such separation is necessary if a viable modern secular society is to emerge. It advocates the rights of women and of those who hold minority beliefs, perceiving both to be under attack in Muslim-dominated societies. It also demands the right to examine the historical foundations of Islam (something many Muslim religious leaders have balked at doing), and to explain the rise and fall of Islam in terms of the normal mechanisms of human history.

ISIS has moved to create a network of secularists and freethinkers in Islamic countries, to establish a women’s network in those same areas, and to report on the findings of recent research on the origins of Islam and the Qur’an. It also has begun to publicize alternative readings of Islamic history, especially those that record significant dissent. It publicizes critical findings on basic Muslim documents and attacks their sanctity.

In March 2005 ISIS was a delegate to the international Secular Islam Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was one of the signatories of the St. Petersburg Declaration, a document intended to unify secular Muslims in support of a universal human rights agenda and a rejection of Sharia law, state-sponsored religion, gender violence, and persecution of non-Muslims and minority groups in Islamic countries.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Center for Inquiry. www.centerforinquiry.net/isis.

Warraq, Ibn, ed. The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.

———. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000.

National Alliance of Pantheists

PO Box 484, Groton, MA 01450

Founded in the mid-1980s, the National Alliance of Pantheists is a network of individuals who believe that God is everything and everything is God. It stands in contrast to the idea of theism that God is the transcendent Creator who stands over and apart from creation. Pantheism assumes that the world, nature, and humanity are all an intimate part of the Divine being. Most pantheists recognize philosopher Baruch Spinoza as the grandfather of their perspective, but they also claim such diverse thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), and Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) as fellow pantheists.

While pantheism is an ancient belief, no attempt to organize its believers as a religious group has previously occurred. Pantheism tends to be a very individualistic philosophy; it has no dogma and is not immediately suggestive of corporate worship or united action. However, the Alliance was founded as a religion especially suitable for the modern world, i.e., the New Age. It works to end bigotry and religious discrimination, because of its belief that ultimately all people are involved in the Divine Essence. No one religion can be the “true faith” as all religious expressions exist within the one consciousness of the Divine.

The Alliance has established itself as a place where pantheists can discover each other, thus leading to the formation of local groups and churches. It ordains clergy and charters churches, but has no hierarchy. Though it encourages the individual expression of the member’s relationship to God, the Alliance notes that many Pantheists observe the ancient agricultural festivals at the solstices and equinoxes (and halfway between them) as a means of calling attention to the intimate connection between God and nature. It further notes that Pantheists also tend to be environmentalists. The Alliance holds an annual celebration of Lammas (marking the first wheat harvest of the year) in August.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Nap Time.

Northeast Atheist Association of Connecticut (NAA)

PO Box 63, Simsbury, CT 06070

The Northeast Atheist Association of Connecticut (NAA) was founded in 1992 to promote atheism in the northeastern United States, although one of its major goals is to advocate against the use of public funds for any type of religious event or program. As of 2008, the group was headed by Janos Palotai (president) and John Parker (treasurer) and publishes a bimonthly newsletter. The NAA is an affiliated member of American Atheists, Inc., and the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies.

Membership

In 2002 the association reported approximately 150 members.

Periodicals

The Northeast Atheist.

Restored Church of the Star Goat

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Restored Church of the Star Goat, founded in 1989 as an atheist religion, grew out of an earlier project, the Skeptic Tank. Founder Fredric Rice had been archiving material that debunked what he considered unscientific claims for the paranormal and details of crimes against humanity perpetrated by religion in the name of a deity. In his opinion, both were the result of ignorance and superstition, which he hoped to replace with scientific method, logic, and reason. His discussions with people through the electronic media in the 1980s led to the emergence of the Restored Church as a logical next step, given the need for a religion to replace the deity-oriented faiths. The Skeptic Tank became a department of the church that continues to oppose pseudoscience.

Rice created an interesting myth for his church: Five million years ago humanity fled to Earth to escape the anger of the Mutant Cosmic Star Goat, which threatened life on their previous home planet due to their inhumane ways. The Star Goat was appeased by their fearful flight. He sent a prophet to Earth named Douglas Adams, who showed those with intelligence his ways. Thus Goatees (followers of the Star Goat) came to know of Billy Goat, Star Goat’s son, who was sent to Earth to save humanity but was killed in a torturous death. After learning of Star Goat’s way, believers were amazed by humans’creation of deity religions and inhumane actions.

To address humanity’s disgraceful condition, the Restored Church of the Star Goat, where The Ways could be learned, was founded. Rice also endeavored to compile The Ways into a written document to be made generally available as a book, The Star Goat Mysteries.

It is the belief of the founder that there are many people who are goatees at heart and some who wish to be ministers in the church. Those people should contact him. The church’s community exists primarily in cyberspace.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Fields of Green.

Temple of Earth

For information: [email protected]

The Temple of Earth (TOE) is a Humanist religion initially conceived in 1998 that describes itself as a “religion-free religion.” Its members hold that all religious traditions are outdated and need to be abandoned. In place of a belief in God, it suggests that humans can find communion with each other and meaning in the creation of culture—art, humor, technology. If worship occurs, it should be worship of progress, which leads to the uncovering of the mysteries of the universe. The temple teaches that it is each person’s responsibility to devise his or her own system of morality.

On a practical level, the church recommends to those who feel the vacuum created by the loss of religion the practices of disciplined meditation and involvement in one’s community. Meditation helps focus the mind, and involvement moves one beyond loneliness and into creativity. The Temple of Earth sees these as the essence of religion, and it aims to encourage and facilitate them out of belief that they will improve the quality of everyday life and allow humans to discover truths more sublime than those available in religious communities.

The Temple of Earth freely ordains ministers who in turn are encouraged to spread the creed of the church. The church allows its clergy to choose whatever title they wish, be it reverend, lama, rabbi, bishop, imam, or another.

The Temple of Earth does not form local churches, but it does encourage the formation of what it terms “TOE rings”—loosely organized groups of individuals who meet regularly to discuss ways that they collectively can improve their lives. TOE offers guidelines for organizing a ring and a web board to assist in contacting like-minded individuals. The Temple of the Earth recognizes the two solstices and equinoxes as its major holidays.

Membership

Not reported. As of 2008 ministers for the church are serving across the United States and in a number of countries around the world.

Periodicals

Toe Tree Journal (online).

Sources

The Temple of Earth. www.templeofearth.com/index.html.

Bury, J. B. The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Origin and Growth. New York: Macmillan, 1932.

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) was formed in 1961 by the merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church in America. The merger represents the coming together of the two oldest and most conservative segments of the liberal tradition. (See introductory material for historical survey.) As a member of that tradition, the UUA is the only body that affirms its base within the Judeo-Christian heritage. Many of its ministers can be found in local ministerial associations.

The basis of modern Unitarian belief is the free search for truth. Truth is found in the universal teachings of the great prophets and teachers of all ages and traditions but summarized in the Western tradition as love of God and humans. Members believe in the worth of every human and in the democratic method in human relationships. A world community based on fellowship, justice, and peace is the goal of all actions. While varying widely in belief structures, Unitarian Universalists generally believe in God as the source of mind and spirit, Jesus as a great prophet, the Bible as a collection of valuable religious writings, science as a source of knowledge, and prayer as a means to lift the mind beyond the ordinary. There are no sacraments. UUA members support values related to social justice and civil rights, ecology and environmentalism, and the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.

Following the pattern of their Congregational parents, the Unitarian Universalists are congregationally governed. A national association meeting is held annually, and each minister and local church is represented. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee was established in 1940 to aid refugees of Nazi persecution and has continued as a means to embody social concerns. The group’s Beacon Press is a major publisher of religious books.

During the nineteenth century, both Universalists and Unitarians engaged in foreign missionary activity, the former most noticeably in Japan and the latter in India and Japan. Ties to liberal religionists in these countries have been retained (long after any understanding of a missionary-mission relationship existed), and fellowship with similar groups in other lands has been established. There are affiliated congregations of Unitarian-Universalists in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, West Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Membership

In 2008 the UUA reported 1,041 congregations in the United States, Canada, and overseas. In 2003 it reported approximately 160,000 certified members.

Periodicals

UU World.

Sources

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. www.uua.org/.

Ahlstrom, Sydney E., and Jonathan S. Carey. An American Reformation. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1985.

Cheetham, Henry H. Unitarianism and Universalism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962.

Miller, Russell E. The Larger Hope: The Second Century of the Universalist Church in America, 1870–1970. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1985.

Tapp, Robert B. Religion among the Unitarian Universalists. New York: Seminar Press, 1973.

Wilbur, Earl Morse. Our Unitarian Heritage. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.

Williams, George Huntston. American Universalism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976.

Wintersteen, Prescott B. Christology in American Unitarianism. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, 1977.

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (UCTAA)

531 10 St. SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada T1A 1R4

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (UCTAA) is put forth as a “combination of total seriousness and sophomoric humor.” As with some other religious groups, the church founder and patriarch John Tyrrell uses satire to make serious points, not just against traditional religion but for what is considered a positive alternative view.

The church offers the perspective that agnosticism in itself is a legitimate end position in religious belief. It is summarized in three articles of faith: that “the existence of a Supreme Being is unknown and unknowable; that if there is a Supreme Being, then that being appears to act as if entirely apathetic to events in our universe; and that we are apathetic to the existence or non-existence of a Supreme Being.” Because the question of God is unanswerable, the church believes that people can abandon what is a fruitless search and adopt an attitude of apathy toward theology. Though apathetic about the question of God’s existence, church members are not apathetic about its agnostic position, which it seeks to propagate widely.

UCTAA began in 1996 as a one-page personal Web site. Initially it was a lighthearted presentation of the founder’s personal religious beliefs. As early as 1965, Tyrrell had thought of apathetic agnosticism as a label to describe his belief about God: “I don’t know and I don’t care.” The church’s motto thus became “We don’t know and we don’t care.” The satirical language used to describe the serious viewpoints has been retained as an equally serious reminder to laugh at oneself as well as others.

In 1996 the Web site began to attract notice from Internet surfers. In response, Tyrrell expanded the site to include a section for opposing views. The site now includes more than 2,000 pages of articles and discussions. Membership was opened in 1997, and the next year clerics and a hierarchy appeared. Ordination was offered through the International University of Nescience. In 2000 a transient membership was replaced with a group of correspondents who voiced a desire to be active participants and even offer their energy and guidance to the church. The site expanded further to accommodate this core membership/leadership. Additional Web sites were created.

Tyrrell, as patriarch of the church, ordains clergy, many of whom assume one of a number of titles—minister, rabbi, pastor, priest, priestess, and so on. Clergy are authorized to conduct weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies, and other ceremonies to celebrate life’s passages. Clergy may apply to become a bishop of a specific territory. Their responsibilities include the further ordination of clergy in their diocese and the guidance of any clergy who seek it. Clergy may seek the still higher office of patriarch or matriarch of a See (which includes multiple dioceses). A patriarch/matriarch may ordain new bishops and appoint them to new dioceses within his or her See. Tyrell is responsible for appointing patriarchs and matriarchs and providing general guidance through the church’s Web site. All the patriarchs and matriarchs in the church constitute its Council of Elders.

The church is organized as a loose hierarchy, meaning that clergy are not required to take direction from senior clergy; rather, they may conduct their ministries as they see fit. Tyrrell emphasizes, to those who might have contact with one of the church’s ministers, that “ordination does not guarantee the good character of any clergyperson.”

International University of Nescience is the educational arm of the Apathetic Agnostic Church. It is an unaccredited institution, and advises those who attempt to relate to it that its degrees are worth at least the paper they are printed on. It offers a spectrum of master’s degrees for clergy and doctoral degrees for senior clergy (bishops and above).

Membership

In 2008 the church reported approximately 15,000 members scattered in more than 50 countries.

Educational Facilities

Online International University of Nescience.

Sources

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic. www.uctaa.net/. Also available from ApatheticAgnostic.org.

Universal Pantheist Society

PO Box 3499, Visalia, CA 93278

Although it is a widely held philosophical position that permeates a variety of religious perspectives, pantheism has usually not been the focus of new religious communities in itself. For example, different movements like Daoism are usually seen as pantheistic. In the United States, the Church of Christ, Scientist, in spite of its leadership, is frequently cited as pantheistic. On the other hand, many contemporary neo-pagan groups often identify themselves as pantheists.

Pantheism may be defined as the view that the universe is identical with God, and God identical with the universe. The first person of note to be identified primarily as a pantheist is the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677). The British freethinker John Toland (1670–1722) appears to have coined the term “pantheism” to describe Spinoza’s thought. A variant position, panentheism, identifies the universe as divine (part of God) but asserts that God is far more than the universe. In the panentheist view, God is still an object of worship. Strains of panentheism appear in the thinking of philosophers and writers throughout history, from Plato and Plotinus to D. H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Universal Pantheist Society is one of the few groups that have focused on pantheist metaphysics as the center of their belief. Founded in 1975, it asserts that “the cosmos, taken or conceived of as a whole, is synonymous with God. The cosmos is divine, and the earth sacred. Pantheists do not propose belief in a deity; rather, they hold nature itself as a creative presence. Pantheism reconciles science and religion through ecology leading to strong environmental awareness.”

The society offers no creed, nor does it require any particular behavior pattern of members. It sees its task as promoting individual spiritual growth and providing pantheists around the world with a unified “worldwide presence.” It also seeks to be a resource for people inquiring about pantheism. It suggests that the natural focus of a pantheist lifestyle would include attention to conservation, developing sustainable lifestyles, ending consumerism, celebrating nature’s cycles, home schooling, and family life.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Pantheist Vision.

Sources

Universal Pantheist Society. www.pantheist.net/.

Garrett, Jan. “An Introduction to Pantheism.” Available from www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/panthesm.htm.

Harrison, Paul. Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe. London: Element Books, 1999.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. “Pantheism.” In Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan, 2005.

World Pantheist Movement

PO Box 103, Webster, NY 14580

The World Pantheist Movement (WPM) is the world’s largest organization of people associated with pantheism, a philosophy that reveres nature and the wider universe. The WPM grew out of a mailing list started in 1997 by Dr. Paul Harrison, an environmental writer, editor of United Nations reports, and recipient of a United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 award. Harrison was motivated by the apparent need for a spirituality suited for the scientific age and for the acute environmental challenges faced by the planet. The WPM incorporated in the state of Colorado in 1998 and officially opened for membership in December 1999.

The World Pantheist Movement supports a scientific pantheism, which seeks to find a scientifically sound and socially aware perspective on a wide variety of subjects. It focuses on reverence and concern for nature, celebration of life, respect for human rights and the rights of other living beings, and naturalism. The WPM also emphasizes respect for reason, evidence, and science as our best methods of deepening our understanding of nature, while accepting that science is a never-ending quest and that some technologies have created massive social and environmental problems. It supports freedom of religion, religious tolerance, and complete separation of state and religion.

The WPM promotes respect for the rights of humans and other living creatures, nondiscrimination, justice, and peace. It supports the legalization of gay marriage. It does not interfere with or promote any specific personal choices in sexuality, gender, or use of recreational or psychotropic substances. Similarly, members have a diversity of views on vegetarianism, hunting, nonviolence, and many other issues.

The WPM does not prescribe any particular set of spiritual practices but leaves the choice up to individuals. Its policy is to accept a diversity of languages and methods of celebration among its members, although it generally avoids theistic or religious language in its official literature and Web pages.

Ceremonies (which the WPM calls “celebrations”) are viewed not as rituals to placate gods and spirits or to follow authority, but as individual expressions of one’s deepest feelings toward nature and the wider universe. Among members and friends of the WPM, the most common practice is daily close observation of nature, followed by meditation. About a quarter of members employ some form of pagan celebration, but since they have no belief in gods or magic, this is always for self-expression or enjoyment.

The WPM believes that the “divinity” of nature can be accessed directly anywhere and by anyone, and therefore does not have clergy, church buildings, or seminaries. Members and friends meet in small groups that decide their own meeting format. Groups may discuss ideas, books, or films, watch nature-related movies, share experiences, or go on nature outings. All members may request certification to celebrate nature-based weddings of friends and relatives.

The WPM does not give credence to personal survival after death but believes that people create their own “afterlife” through actions and the creations and memories they leave, their elements recycled in soil, water, and atmosphere. Thus the WPM fosters the “natural death” approach to funerals, with burial in biodegradable materials, in nature-preserve-type burial grounds if available.

Organizationally the WPM is governed by a board of 13 appointed directors. Directors must agree to sign the credo as it exists at the time of their joining the board. Members do not have to sign the credo but are asked to consider their agreement with it before joining. The board may, by a 75 percent majority, change the credo.

The main forms of WPM activity consist of more than 60 e-mail lists and a periodical, Pan, which explores the possibilities of naturalistic spirituality in living, therapy, art, meditation, nature conservation, ethics, science education, and many other areas. The WPM places considerable emphasis on the conservation of nature and on humans reaching a sustainable way of life. The organization has saved more than 300 acres of wildlife habitat through direct sponsorship of conservation organizations, Internet click groups to save habitat, and its pantheist wildlife reserves scheme. The WPM is also an organizational member of the International Dark-Sky Association, which combats light pollution.

Membership

In 2008 the WPM reported approximately 400 members in 16 countries who provide financial support. It also reported more than 5,000 “friends” belonging to its many associated mailing lists and Internet groups.

Periodicals

Pan.

Sources

Pantheism: The World Pantheist Movement. www.pantheism.net/.

Harrison, Paul. Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe. London: Element Books, 1999.

———. Personal Web site. paul-harrison.com.

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Liberal

Liberal

1271

American Association for the Advancement of Atheism

PO Box 5733
Parsippany, NY 07054-5733

The oldest of the several atheist bodies in the United States is the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism founded by Charles Lee Smith (1887-1964) as an anti-religion/ anti-God body. Smith, a lawyer, was converted to atheism from his reading of freethought books. After World War I he began to write for The Truth Seeker, an independent freethought journal published in New York City. In 1925, with his friend Freeman Hopwood, he founded the Association. Starting with little support and surrounded by a hostile environment, Smith engaged in a number of controversial activities, beginning with his involvement in the debates over Arkansas's antievolution law in 1928. He debated Christian ministers when the opportunity arose, the most famous being Aimee Semple McPherson, the flamboyant leader of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. From the publicity given his various activities, the Association grew. It peaked with approximately 2,000 members, and chapters could be found on some 20 college and university campuses. It sponsored periodic lectures, the Ingersoll Forum (named for Robert G. Ingersoll, the famous nineteenth-century freethinker), in New York City. In 1930 Smith purchased The Truth Seeker, which remained independent but closely identified with the Association. Hard hit by the Depression, the Association shrank, and most of his organized activities disappeared, though Smith continued to publish the magazine monthly.

Around 1950 Smith began to let his dislike of Jews and blacks become visible on the pages of The Truth Seeker, which began to publish an increasing number of racist and anti-Semitic articles. These led to further loss of support and the isolation of the Association from other atheist organizations. In 1964 Smith sold The TruthSeeker to James Hervey Johnson, and he moved it and the Association to San Diego. A few months later, Smith died and Johnson has continued as head of the Association and editor of the magazine.

The association believes religion to be a fraud and God nonexistent. It also teaches that the civilized white race is superior to Jews and blacks and actively distributes such books as The Biological Jew, by Eustace Mullins, The International Jew, by HenryFord, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and Our NordicRace, by R. K. Hoskins. The association also stands for law and order, honest government, real liberty, freedom of the press and of speech, absolute separation of religion and government, and taxation of churches. All members must be atheists, a requirement which distinguishes the AAAA from many freethought organizations.

During the 1970s there were approximately 200 members, but no regular meetings. As with most atheist groups, there are too few members in most cities to support a separate meeting, thus members attend any local freethinkers' gathering available to them. In San Diego, the freethinkers gather on the birthdays of Thomas Paine (January 29) and Robert Ingersoll (August 7).

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The Truth Seeker.

Sources:

The American Association for the Advancement of Atheism. http://se1.com/ft/ftorg/aaaa/. 29 May 2002.

Cardiff, Ira D. "If Christ Came to New York." New York: American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, [1932].

Dalgliesh, Malcom. The Sage of San Diego Said Choose Quality and Reason. New York: A New Enlightment, n.d. 100 pp.

Graves, Kersey. The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors. New York: Truth Seeker, 1875.

Johnson, James Hervey. "Charles Smith: 1887-1964." The Truth Seeker 91, no. 11 (November 1964).

——. Superior Men. San Diego: The Author, 1949.

McPherson, Aimee Semple, and Charles Lee Smith. Debate: There Is a God! Los Angeles: Foursquare Publications, n.d.

Swancara, Frank. Separation of Religion and Government. New York: Truth Seeker Company, 1950.

1272

American Atheists, Inc.

PO Box 5733
Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733

Possibly the most famous contemporary atheist in the United States is Madalyn Murray O'Hair (b. 1919). She founded American Atheists, Inc. on July 1, 1963, in Austin, Texas. O'Hair became a national figure in 1963 when the Supreme Court upheld her suit, which had been joined with a second like case, and ruled against the mandatory recitation of the Lord's Prayer and the Bible in the public schools, often mistakenly reported as outlawing prayer in the public schools. She next instituted a suit aimed at eliminating tax-exempt status for church-owned property. Soon after the second suit was filed, she moved from Baltimore to Honolulu, where she formed the International Free Thought Association of America. She eventually settled in Austin, Texas, where she founded Poor Richard's Universal Life Church, the Society of Separationists, and the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library and Archives. The Society of Separationists was superceded by American Atheists, Inc., the headquarters of which moved into the American Atheist Center in Austin, Texas in 1977. During the 1970s, O'Hair emerged as a popular and controversial speaker on atheism, frequently debating ministers in public meetings and on television. She instituted a number of lawsuits built around atheistic concerns, most of which failed. Her activities also led to many false rumors, including one that she had petitioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to ban religious broadcasting, the persistency of which forced several formal retractions by the FCC. In the midst of building American Atheists, she discovered members who rejected what they considered her autocratic leadership. She dropped some of these from membership, and they, joined by others who left, formed other atheist groups, the most prominent being the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The group stands free from theism, which is equated with religion. Religion is viewed as a crutch which healthy people do not need. It is called superstitious and is considered to be supernatural nonsense. O'Hair has become deeply involved in various social causes: civil rights, peace, etc. She was actively anti-religous and specifically anti-Christian and rejects the historicity of Jesus, a life after death, and the authority of the Bible.

The American Atheists' library, founded in 1965 and now housed at the Atheist Center, has more than 40,000 volumes and related material. The American Atheist Radio Series (1968-1973) was being heard on over 20 stations in 12 states at its peak. Members in Petersburg, Indiana have opened an atheist museum. The organization promotes an annual national convention.

At the annual convention in 1986, O'Hair resigned as president of American Atheists and was succeeded by her son, Jon. She continued to serve as presiding officer of its board of directors. American Atheists, Inc. founded the American Atheists General Headquarters, a building complex to house the library, archives, and printing facilities (American Atheist Press). Ellen Johnson became president of the organization after the disappearance of Madalyn O'Hair, her son Jon G. Murray, who was the organizations president at the time, and Robin Murray-O'Hair who was the editor of the American Atheist Press and Madalyn's granddaughter.

In 1996, the organization reorganized and Ellen Johnson was selected to succeed O'Hair as president of American Atheists. She, along with Ron Barrier have assumed leadership of the organization's cable television show, "The Atheists Viewpoint."

Membership: In 2002 the group reported 2,500 members.

Periodicals: The American Atheist.

Remarks: On September 4, 1995, 76-year-old Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son Jon, and granddaughter Robin Murray O'Hair left their home without prior warning. Jon Murray kept in contact with the organization for a few weeks and offered some instructions on keeping it going while they were away. Eventually, all contact stopped and none of the three have been seen since. They did not take their passports, but they seemed to have left in the midst of breakfast with more than $600,000 in funds are missing from a New Zealand bank account. Some months later, Robin's car was found at the local Austin Airport. The three were kidnapped and murdered by David Roland Waters. He is serving a 60-year sentence for the crime.

Sources:

Conrad, Jane Kathryn. Mad Madalyn. Brighton, OH: The Author, 1983.

Murray, William J. My Life without God. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

O'Hair, Madalyn Murray. Bill Murray, the Bible and the Baltimore Board of Education. Austin, TX: American Atheist Press, 1970.

——. What on Earth is an Atheist. Austin, TX: American Atheist Press, 1969.

Wright, Lawrence. Saints and Sinners. New York: Random House, 1993. 266 pp.

1273

American Ethical Union

2 W. 64th St.
New York, NY 10023

Alternate Address: International Humanist and Ethical Union, Ouderhof 11, 2512 GH Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Felix Adler (1851-1933) was born in Alzey, Germany, and came to the United States at an early age. The son of the rabbi at Temple Emmanuel in New York City, he returned to Germany to study for the rabbinate at the University of Heidelberg, and made plans to succeed his father. During this time, he encountered neo-Kantian idealism and its critique of religion, which left him with a strong sense of duty and a zeal to implement his ethical ideals. Adler came to believe that morality could be established independently of any theological system. For Adler, the autonomy and the centrality of ethics became the philosophical basis for an ethical culture. He added a philosophical complement to Emerson's call for a purely ethical religion and to America's moralistic religious tradition. On his return to the United States, he taught Hebrew and oriental languages and literature at Cornell University (1874-76) and returned to New York City to found the Ethical Culture Society on May 15, 1876. This was the first of the ethical culture societies in America, later nationally federated as the American Ethical Union and internationally in the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Under Adler's direction, the society was dedicated to the principle of "deed before creed," and both education and social reform were seen as necessary deeds. In Adler's view, creeds about God were not important and, socially responsible deeds were the one way people had of affirming the worth and dignity of every human being. Thus, in 1877, the District Nursing Department, now the Visiting Nurse Service, and the Tenement House Building Committee were started. In 1878, the first free kindergarten, later (1880) to grow into the Workingman's School, was opened. The Mother's Society to Study Child Nature, started in 1888, became the Child Study Association in 1915. Adler was elected president of the Free Religious Association in 1878, but resigned in 1882 because of the lack of commitment to social action and social and political reform. He was founder and chairperson of the Child Labor Committee from 1894 to 1921, and the Visiting and Teaching Guild for Crippled Children was started in 1889. For almost two decades (1902-1921), he served as professor of political and social ethics at Columbia University.

In 1882, Adler formed a second ethical culture society in Chicago, Illinois. Another emerged at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1885 and a fourth in St. Louis, Missouri, the following year. In 1887, the first international society was formed in London, England. Eventually some 20 countries would have groups included in the International Humanist and Ethical Union which includes groups associatied with the American Humanist Association.

Religion, seen as a way of life in this world, has led the union into social involvement on a number of issues related to racism, war and peace studies, adult education, citizenship, and language training for refugees in America. Union members were instumental in establishing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Legal Aid Society. They participate in the United Nations programs as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

Membership: In 1988, there were 21 ethical culture societies in the United States. Groups from more than 20 countries participated in the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Periodicals: Ethical Platform. • AEU Reports.

Sources:

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ethical Movement, 1876-1926. New York: A. Appleton and Company, 1926.

Friess, Horace Leland. Felix Adler and Ethical Culture, Memories and Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Kraut, Benny. From Reform Judaism to Ethical Culture. Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1979.

Muzzey, David Saville. Ethical Religion. New York: American Ethical Union, 1943.

Radest, Howard B. Toward Common Ground. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1969.

1274

American Humanist Association

7 Harwood Dr.
Box 8188
Amherst, NY 14226-7188

In the early twentieth century, an aggressive humanist orientation developed among supporters of the American Unitarian Association, the Free Religious Association, and the American Ethical Union. At the time, members of these groups were still mostly theistic. By the 1920s, however, some Unitarians had become nontheists. Their greatest spokespersons were John H. Dietrich, a Unitarian minister in Minneapolis, and Curtis W. Reese, secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference. Using ideas from science and pragmatic philosophy, the non-theists saw humanism as the only possible alternative to traditional religion. While Dietrich and Reese remained within the Unitarian structure, others of like mind left to found humanistic societies. The first two were founded in 1929, in New York by Charles Francis Potter and in Hollywood by Theodore Curtis Abell.

In 1933 eleven prominent humanist leaders issued "A Humanist Manifesto," the definitive statement of the movement. Among its signers were John Dewey, Harry Elmer Barnes, C. F. Potter and John Herman Randall. The statement called for a radical change in religious perspectives. Religion was seen as a tool for realizing the highest values in life. A religion adequate to the twentieth century regards the universe as self-existing, not created, and regards humanity as part of evolved nature. Mind-body dualism, supernaturalism, theism, and even deism are rejected. The goal of life is the complete realization of human personality. Social ethics and personal fulfillment are priority items. Social control is a means to the abundant life for all. That statement was updated in 1973 by a "Humanist Manifesto II," which adds an additional emphasis on human responsibility toward humanity as a whole.

To bring some coordination and fellowship nationally to the various independent humanist efforts, the American Humanist Association was formed in 1941. It accepts the basic perspective of the two Humanist Manifestos, especially their call for the use of science for social welfare. Its social program has included a defense of human rights, religious liberty, and freedom of thought; separation of church and state; population growth control; death with dignity; penal reform; ecology; and the United Nations.

The American Humanist Association is organized democratically; board members are elected by the general membership. Chapters are located across the country. An annual conference is held in a different city each year. Certified leaders of the association, analogous to ministers or rabbis, are termed "celebrants". The association is also a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Membership: In 1997 the association reported approximately 10,000 members in 70 chapters. There were 120 celebrants in the United States, one in Canada, and one in Australia.

Periodicals: The Humanist. • Free MindHumanist Living.

Remarks: Among the counselors of the association is Paul Kurtz, former editor of The Humanist who has developed a number of enterprises which, while entirely independent of the American Humanist Association, serve the humanist cause as a whole. He founded and heads Prometheus Books, the major American publisher of humanist and freethought literature in recent decades. During the 1970s he led in the formation of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal, whose quarterly Skeptical Inquirer is a major voice in the debunking of psychic and paranormal phenomena. Around 1980 he formed the Council for a Democratic and Secular Humanism and began Free Inquiry. He also became a leading force in the formation of the Academy of Humanism, an organization formed to disseminate humanist ideals and beliefs and to recognize outstanding humanists, and in the Religion and Biblical Criticism Research Project, which disseminates the results of biblical criticism (especially claims many humanists consider unfounded, such as the divine inspiration of the Bible and the historicity of Jesus).

Sources:

Blackham, H. J. Modern Humanism. Yellow Springs, OH: American Humanist Association, 1964.

Humanist Manifestos I and II. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

Kurtz, Paul, ed. The Humanist Alternative. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

Lamont, Corliss. Voice in the Wilderness. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1975.

Reese, Curtis W. Humanism. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1926.

——, ed. Humanist Sermons. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1927.

1275

American Rationalist Federation

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The American Rationalist Federation, formed in 1955 by a number of rationalist groups (mostly limited to a single urban area) and individuals, continues the organized rationalist movement in America which dates to the middle of the nineteenth century. As early as 1857 (St. Louis), German-America rationalists had begun to organize local societies. (That early St. Louis group may have grown out of an even earlier group called Licht-freunde, formed in 1832.) In 1859 several such societies came together to form the Bund der deutschen Freien Gemeinden von Nordamerika (the Federation of German Free Communities of North America). At the time of the second national convention in 1871, societies could be found in Hoboken, New Jersey; New York City; Milwaukee, Painesville, and Maryville, Wisconsin; Frankfurt, Missouri; and New Ulm, Minnesota. The organization of the German-American rationalists was followed by the Czechs and a number of English-speaking groups such as the Friendship Liberal League. These groups seemed to thrive in the late-nineteenth century, but by the time of the formation of the Federation, had dwindled noticeably, many finding it difficult just to continue to exist.

In 1947 many of the surviving rationalist groups had banded together in the United Secularists of America. However, many members began to protest the secretive financial policies adopted by the Secularists, and in 1955 most of the local societies in the United States withdrew and reorganized as the American Ratio-nalist Federation. Representatives of twelve societies gathered in Chicago, in the building owned by the Czech Rationalist Federation (and previously used as the address of the United Secularists) for the organizing convention.

Rationalism is defined as the mental attitude which "unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics verifiable by experience and experiment and independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority." The Federation believes in the complete separation of church and state; in free public education; and that the improvement of civilization can come only by combating all forms of political, social, religious, and economic tyranny.

At the organizing meeting of the American Rationalist Federation, delegates from Chicago and St. Louis formed the Rationalist Association, Inc., whose main task has been the publication of The American Rationalist, a bimonthy periodical and the circulation of rationalist-atheist books and literature. Through the years the magazine, though completely independent, has been closely associated in the public mind with the Federation and is often mistakenly seen as its official organ.

Included within the American Rationalist Federation are several surviving German groups and the Czech Rationalist Federation of America, centered in Chicago where a monthly periodical, Vekrozumu, is published. Local organizations of rationalists are also found in San Francisco, Chicago, and Cleveland (Czech).

Membership: Not reported. Their were 11 independent ratio-nalist-freethought organizations and 20 state organizations in the Federation in the early 1980s.

Periodicals: The American Rationalist is an unofficial publication of the rationalist movement.

Sources:

Capek, Thomas. The Czechs in America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920.

School, Eldon, and Walter Hoops. "Going Back to the Beginning: Twenty-five Years Ago." The American Rationalist 25, no. 1 (May-June 1980): 17-19.

1276

American Secular Union

(Defunct)

The American Secular Union, one of the most prominent free-thought/atheist organizations at the beginning of the twentieth century, grew out of the efforts of Francis Ellingwood Abbot, who in 1872 published "The Nine Demands of Liberalism" in his paper, The Index, then published in Toledo, Ohio. The "Demands" virtually defined freethought's agenda at the time and called for the complete separation of church and state and the total secularizing of tax-supported institutions. Abbot's call for separation implied the doing away with chaplains, the dropping of the Bible from school curricula, the withdrawal of support for religious holidays, the end of Sunday blue laws, and the end of tax exemption for religious organizations.

Several "liberal" societies were formed by Abbot's readers, and in 1875 delegates met in a convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and chose Abbot as their president. That meeting also issued a call for a national convention to be held the following year for the purpose of creating a national organization. The convention gathered in Philadelphia on July 1, 1876, and formed the national Liberal League.

The league met annually and chartered chapters across the United States. It was soon hit by a controversy over the enforcement of the so-called Comstock Laws, aimed against the trafficking in obscene literature. Postal official Anthony Comstock expanded the scope to include anti-religious materials. In 1878 he conspired to have R. M. Bennett, editor of The Truth Seeker, arrested. Some liberals began to agitate for the repeal of the Comstock Laws. Abbot argued for their revision. The debate, in which the majority stood for repeal, led to Abbot's pulling out of the organization. In 1879, Robert G. Ingersoll championed a proposal in defense of Bennett which called for rewriting the Comstock Laws while decrying obscene literature; many included the Bible on their list of obscene materials. The league also called for the complete separation of church and state.

At the convention in 1883 the league changed its name to National Secular Union. Ingersoll was elected president of the organization and served for two years.

In 1892 Samuel P. Putnam, a prominent freethinker, called for the formation of a national organization that would push for the liberal program in a political arena. The result was the formation of the Freethought Federation of America. Two years later it merged into the National Secular Union and Putnam was named president of the merged organization, which became known as the American Secular Union. It had little success in gaining legislative support for its views.

The union continued into the 1920s.

Sources:

Putnam, Samuel P. 400 Years of Freethought. New York: The Truth Seeker, 1894.

Warren, Sidney. American Freethought, 1860-1914. New York: Gordian Press, 1966.

1277

Americans First, Inc.

(Defunct)

Kent Meyer was a member of the Society of Separationists, now known as the American Atheists, Inc., but he resigned in 1969 and formed his own organization. The small group operated within the state of Oklahoma as an atheist/freethought organization. Within weeks of the founding of Americans First, Meyer made national headlines for his instigation of a lawsuit to have a fifty-foot lighted cross removed from the state fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. He charged that the presence of the cross is a violation of the state constitution. No recent information on Americans First has been forthcoming and it has been reported defunct.

1278

Atheist Alliance Inc. (AAI)

PO Box 6261
Minneapolis, MN 55406

The Atheist Alliance Inc. (AAI) is a democratic association formed in 1995 by independent, autonomous atheist societies most of whom had formerly been associated with American Atheists, Inc. Members of the alliance see blind religious mania as a rising threat that seeks to repeal the advances made in establishing civil rights and civil liberties for all citizens. It seeks to abolish First Amendment rights to freedom of and especially from religion. In response, they believe they see the need for a concerted atheist influence on society and the application of reason and common sense to solving problems. Atheism, given its human centered vision and a reality-based approach to problem solving, leads toward intellectual growth, personal freedom, and social, environ-mental and scientific progress.

The alliance offers the possibility of unified atheist action on a national scale, but notes that they consider themselves independent thinkers. It attempts to affirm the freedom of members by refraining from the establishment of a strong controlling centralized power structure. The alliance works through the diverse member groups to facilitate common purposes. The group believes it gives atheism an effective voice in public affairs to persuade legislators and the public to recognize the danger to freedom of basing laws and policies on religious doctrines.

The alliance seeks to establish a strong, democratic atheist organization in every state and provides brochures on atheism and issues of concern to atheists. It also provides seed money for organizational development. It holds a national convention every year so atheists can gather to exchange information, participate in programs, and fellowship with unbelievers from around the country.

The Alliance seeks to reclaim a heritage of the struggle of men and women who defied the superstitions of their day and in so doing advanced culture and provide the facts of history to the public to dispel ignorance about atheist contributions to civilization. They oppose what they see as the obscuring of atheism in discussions in schools, noting that even such an important reference tool as the Encyclopedia Britannica has, since the Eleventh Edition, presented a negative twist to atheism.

Membership: As of 1997, the Alliance had 13 local atheist groups including: Atheist Centre (Vijayawada, India), Atheist Coalition (San Diego), Atheists and Agnostics of Wisconsin, Atheists and Other Freethinkers (Sacramento), Atheists of Colorado, Atheists of Florida, Atheists of the San Francisco Region, Atheists United (Los Angeles Chapter), Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, Metroplex Atheists (Dallas-Fort Worth), Minnesota Atheists, Rationalist Society of Saint Louis, and the Society Against Religion.

Periodicals: Secular Nation.

1279

Atheists United

14542 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 211
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Atheists United was formed in 1981 by atheists in Los Angeles, and is the major organization for unbelievers on the West Coast. It promotes two goals: the separation of church and state and the furtherance of atheism, primarily through education. Educational efforts are focused in meetings throughout southern California, the publication of a newsletter, a set of atheist literature a "Dial-an-Atheist" telephone service, and a weekly radio show in Los Angeles.

Members of Atheists United consider themselves nontheists. They accept only ideas confirmed by evidence, and even these are subject to reconsideration. All superstitions, especially religions, are rejected.

Membership: Atheists United does not release membership information. There is an estimated 1,500 members. Meetings were held regularly throughout Southern California from Ventura to San Diego.

Periodicals: Atheists United Newsletter. Send orders to 12542 Ventura Blvd., Suite 211, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.

1280

Bund der deutschen Freien Gemeinden von Nordamerika

(Defunct)

During the mid-nineteenth century, several freethought organizations were formed in German-speaking communities in the United States. Among the earliest was one called Lichtfreunde (Light Friends), of St. Louis, Missouri. During the 1850s, several suggestions emerged that a national organization be created. Thus at a gathering of German freethought leaders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Bund der deutchen Freien Gemeinden von Nordamerika (Federation of German Free Communities of North America) came into existence. The Philadelphia Freie Gemeinde became the organizational center of the group, and seven of its members were the first directors.

The start of the Civil War largely curtailed the new organization's work; however, Friedrich Schuenemann-Pott, the editor of Blaetter fur freies-religioeses Leben (Sheets for a Free-Religious Life), authored a widely distributed pamphlet, Die freien Gemeinden, for the new organization in 1861. Chapters appeared along the East Coast and as far west as Milwaukee and Sauk City, Wisconsin. Among the early accomplishments were the appointment of several "secular" chaplains in the Union Army and the development of a corresponding relationship with European free-thought groups.

The first national convention was held in 1866, and contact was established with the Free Religious Association. The national organization continued to be active into the twentieth century. By the end of the 1920s only three centers remained: Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. The St. Louis group finally closed in 1970 and deeded its assets to the St. Louis Ethical Society.

Sources:

Hempel, Max. Was sind die Freien Gemeinde? St. Louis, MO: 1902.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 2 vols. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1985.

1281

Canadian Atheist Society

PO Box 41613
923 12th St.
New Westminster, BC, Canada V3M 6L1

The Canadian Atheist Society is a small atheist organization formed in the mid-1990s in British Columbia under the leadership of Ray Blessin and Fern Wayman. In 1994 they launched The Canadian Atheist as a quarterly magazine and moved to incorporate as an educational organization. Though based on the Canadian West Coast, they quickly gained a following across the country. The also launched an effort urging the removal of the god references from the preamble of the Canadian Constitution and the National Anthem. They feel that these national symbols should unite all Canadians, not just religious Canadians.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The Canadian Atheist.

1282

Canadian Secular Union

(Defunct)

The Canadian Secular Union emerged from the Toronto Free-thought Association, the earliest organized expression of free-thought in Canada. It was formed in 1873 by a small group of rationalists, secularists, and atheists who dedicated themselves to challenging Christian beliefs, removing sabbath laws, and promoting evolution. In 1877 the association was reorganized under the leadership of Ick Evans and a periodical, the Freethought Journal, was launched though it folded after only a few issues. The organization's name was changed in 1881 to Toronto Secular Society. Some have argued that the name change suggested an emphasis on sabbath laws might serve to mobilize members from the public who had shown some lack of interest in freethought philosophy.

In 1884 the society's president, Alfred Piddington, invited free-thought lecturer Charles Watts, newly arrived from England, to address the citizens of Toronto. Watts had been one of the founders of the National Secular Society in England in 1866. The lectures were a great success, and eventually Watts settled in the city. In 1885 the society was again reorganized, this time by William Algie, and emerged as the Canadian Secular Union, following the English model. The growth in the society allowed branches to form in neighboring towns and the revival of a periodical, Secular Thought (which ran through some 30 volumes).

The union, according to its prospectus of 1887, affirmed a "constructive Secularism," which found expression in agnosticism, the destruction of the influence of the errors "born of priest-craft, dogmatism, and perpetuated prejudice," and the championing of free speech and inquiry.

The union seems to have run out of steam around the beginning of World War I.

Sources:

Putnam, Samuel P. 400 Years of Freethought. New York: The Truth Seeker, 1894.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 2 vols. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1985.

1283

Christian Universalist Church of America

(Defunct)

The Christian Universalist Church of America was founded in 1964 by Universalists with a Christian emphasis. Headquarters of this small organization was in Deerfield Beach, Florida. In 1967 there were reported an estimated 200 churches and missions (some of which were also affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association) located in 21 states with more than 15,000 members. The subsequent disappearance of the Church has cast some doubts on the reported figures.

1284

Church of Eternal Life and Liberty

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of Eternal Life and Liberty is a libertarian church founded on June 2, 1974, by Patrick A. Heller, Anna Bowling, and James Hudler. It has no creed but espouses a noncoercive libertarian philosophy. Confirming its strong belief in individual freedom, the church has offered support for tax protesters, draft resistance, and alternative schooling for children in the home. The church also has a strong interest in cryogenics, the practice of freezing the body at death in hopes of its being brought back to life at a future point in time when science has conquered physical death and disease.

The church cooperates with other libertarian churches, particularly the Church of Nature, with whom it holds regular joint meetings. Since the early 1980s, the church has engaged in a constant battle with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which has questioned the group's legitimacy as a church body and has moved to deny it tax-exempt status.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Live and Let Live.

Sources:

Heller, Patrick A. As My Spirit Beckons. Pontiac, MI: Church of Eternal Life and Liberty, 1974.

——. Because I Am. Oak Park, MI: Church of Eternal Life and Liberty, 1981.

1285

Church of Nature

(Defunct)

The Church of Nature was founded in 1979 in Dryden, Michigan, by Rev. Christopher L. Brockman. It was a libertarian humanist church that espoused a naturalistic philosophy. The church placed a high value upon individual freedom and believed that "living up to one's best nature as a human being is the standard of goodness." Freedom was seen as essential to goodness. The church established two sacraments: marriage and affirmation. The latter consisted of providing a ceremonial context in which an individual (or group of individuals) could offer an affirmative statement of some truth or concern to members of the church.

The church attempted to provide an ethical and religious context within the larger Libertarian Movement and cooperated with organizations such as the now disbanded United Libertarian Fellowship and the American Humanist Association to encompass libertarianism and humanism under a single, consistent ethical philosophy. In 1988, the church reported 150 members in two congregations (Michigan and Virginia) served by two ministers.

Periodicals: Exegesis.

1286

Church of Reason

3359 W. 58th St.
Cleveland, OH 44102-5670

The Church of Reason was founded in the early 1970s by Robert M. Dunn and other reason devotees in northern Ohio, with associates then in Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee. It is dedicated to several basic principles that appear in its creed. Members seek knowledge; see reason as the faculty that identifies and integrates the materials provided by the senses; and as only means to knowledge; and agree to attempt to act on that knowledge. They also pledge to initiate neither force nor fraud, and understand that their right to life depends upon their recognition of the same right in others.

Unlike many rationalists and atheists, members of the Church of Reason are not inimical to religion. Rather, they view religion, as quoted by a character in Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, as "the great aspiration of the human spirit toward the highest, the noblest, the best. The human spirit as the creator and the conqueror of the ideal." As such, by reason of the volitional and conceptual nature of human consciousness, religion is inherent in human nature. Organized religion assists individuals in forging a world-view and helps them to act accordingly. The Church of Reason promotes the discovery and dissemination of information concerning ultimate and ulterior issues by providing a forum for the study and sharing of fundamental ideas. It also provides a forum for the celebration of life cycle events, a place to meet and share life with like-minded people, and an efficient means of accomplishing goals.

Members of the Church of Reason see the faculty of reason, operating on the evidence of the senses, as the basic tool of human survival, and thus see it as the cardinal virtue; rationality implying productivity, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, and earned pride as correlative virtues.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Welcome to a Good Look at the Religion of Reason. Cleveland, OH: Church of Reason, 1989. 19 pp.

1287

Church of the Creator

PO Box 2002
East Peoria, IL 61611

The Church of the Creator (also called World Church of the Creator) was founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen. In that same year, his book, Nature's Eternal Religion, which contained the principles of the laws of nature, was published. While accepting the idea that religion is necessary and beneficial, all belief in deities, heaven and hell, and worship as such are rejected, as is atheism, which is considered purely negative. Instead, these ideas are replaced by a positive belief in the Eternal Laws of Nature, in the Lessons of History, and in Logic and Common Sense. According to the church, the objective of creativity–the religion espoused by the church–is the survival, expansion and advancement of the white race. The church believes that nature teaches each species to expand and upgrade itself according to its abilities. The white race is considerd by the church to be nature's finest achievement while nonwhites and Jews are considered biological enemies. Members are urged to commit themselves to making a lasting contribution to their race as well as making it their first priority. Members oppose miscegenation.

The groups Internet site is at http://www.creator.org.

Membership: The church has members throughout the United States and Europe as well as members in South America, South Africa, Canada, and Australia. Membership is restricted to those of good moral character and idealistic sense of purpose. While the church does not provide its membership numbers, it has many more supporters than actual members and it is estimated that there are between 40,000 and 60,000 adherents of creativity worldwide.

Periodicals: The Struggle.

Sources:

Klassen, Ben. Building a Whiter and Brighter World Otto, NC: Church of the Creator, 1986.

——. Nature's Eternal Religion. Lighthouse Point, FL: Church of the Creator, 1973.

——. The White Man's Bible. Lighthouse Point, FL: Church of the Creator, 1981.

1288

Church of the Humanitarian God

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of the Humanitarian God was founded in 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida, as an alternative to yielding to the prevailing military-industrial complex. The church teaches that it is man's purpose in this life to aid his fellow man as best as he can. Such service to others establishes man's status in the life hereafter. Sustaining life is the natural law of God. Therefore, only self-defensive aggression can be participated in by members of the church. Non-violent change is part of the new direction in which the church wishes to lead people.

The church says introspection is man's means of facing himself and allowing his conscience to guide him. Thus, questions of sex, nudity, divorce, drinking, and smoking are largely left to individuals. Drug use is disapproved. Ministers must be 18 years old, but there are no other restrictions because of age, sex, or marital status.

Membership: Not reported.

1289

Confraternity of Deists, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Confraternity of Deists was begun in 1967 in St. Petersburg by Paul Englert, a former Roman Catholic. Deism is belief in one God, the supreme intelligence, as contrasted with belief in Scripture or atheism. Without God, believes the Deist, man is defenseless against himself. The Creed of Confraternity includes the beliefs that the constructive exercise of human intelligence contributes to the glorification of God; that all man-made Scriptures are mere literary works, without religious, historical or chronological value; that the church of the Deist should constitute the free university, disseminating scientific knowledge and nurturing the arts; and that the social duty of the Deist is to work for the spiritual and temporal elevation of the people.

Membership: Not reported. In 1969 there were 3 centers of the Confraternity, one at the headquarters and two at universities.

1290

Council for Secular Humanism

Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664

At the end of the 1970s, Paul Kurtz, an outstanding humanist intellectual and controversialist, and the American Humanist Association, parted company. At that time Kurtz was head of Prometheus Books, a prominent humanist/atheist publishing concern, and the driving force behind the Committee for the Scientific Examination of the Paranormal, a skeptical watchdog group dedicated to debunking unfounded claims of psychic, occult, and ufological phenomena. With supporters, he led in the establishment of the Council for a Democratic and Secular Humanism now known as the Council for Secular Humanism. Whereas the American Humanist Association is representative of the broad range of humanist thought, the council emphasizes the most secular aspect of humanism, and is explicitly not a religious organization.

Kurtz had been prominent in the execution and circulation of "Humanist Manifesto II" in 1973. In 1980 he wrote and circulated "A Secular Humanist Declaration," which outlined the position of secular humanism and to which a number of prominent liberal thinkers appended their signatures. According to Kurtz, secular humanism is committed (1) to the application of reason and science in the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems and to stand against perceived efforts to denigrate human intelligence, (2) to seek to understand the world in supernatural terms, and (3) to look outside of nature for salvation. It is committed to the scientific nature of inquiry, a belief that nature is intelligible to human reason and explainable by means of causal hypotheses, and a naturalistic ethics that exists quite apart from any theological or metaphysical base. It differs from other forms of humanism in its confidence in humanity's ability to apply science and technology for the betterment of human life. Like atheism it rejects the supernatural but also offers a positive program for constructing an ethical value system.

The council sponsors the Academy of Humanism to recognize distinguished humanists and disseminate humanist ideals and beliefs. The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion attempts to examine critically the claims of religion, both East and West, in the light of scientific inquiry. The Biblical Criticism Research Project was founded to disseminate the results of biblical scholarship, which it believes undercuts many of the claims of both the Jewish and Christian faiths.

The council founded Free Inquiry magazine, a network for mutual support that assists the organization of local and regional societies of secular humanists. Such groups are now found across the United States. Also related is Secular Organizations for Sobriety, a humanist alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous.

The council is a full member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: Center for Inquiry Institute, Amherst, NY.

Periodicals: Free Inquiry. • Secular Humanist Bulletin. • AAH Examiner (African Americans for Humanism).

Sources:

Kurtz, Paul. Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988.

——, ed. The Humanist Alternative: Some Definitions of Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973.

——. In Defense of Secular Humanism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1983.

—— et al. A Secular Humanist Declaration. Privately printed, 1980.

——. Transcendental Temptation: A Critique of Religion and the Paranormal. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986. 500 pp.

1291

Deistical Society of New York

(Defunct)

The Deistical Society of New York was the first expression, other than the very ephemeral Universal Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of what was to become a tradition of organized freethought in the United States. It was formed in 1794 by a group of liberal thinkers who responded to a lecture given by Elihu Palmer. Palmer, a former Presbyterian and Baptist minister, had become a deist, a fact he announced publicly in Philadelphia in 1791 with a lecture attacking the divinity of Jesus Christ. That very lecture sealed the fate of the newly formed Universal Society, before which it was given. Palmer was forced out of the city, and he left the ministry and read law for several years and traveled about. He was on his way to Connecticut when prevailed upon to lecture in New York.

The Deistical Society of New York espoused the religion of nature and opposed all forms of what it termed fanaticism and superstition. It affirmed the existence of One God, worthy of adoration, and believed that humans possess the necessary moral and intellectual faculties sufficient for the improvement of life. It also believed that the religion of nature emerges out of the moral relationships in society and is aligned with progressive improvement and the common welfare. The society opposed religious persecution and championed civil and religious liberty.

The society barely survived for the next few years, but found new life with the election of Thomas Jefferson, himself a deist, to the presidency of the United States. It launched a periodical, The Temple of Reason. By this time, Palmer was lecturing every Sunday evening at a hall on Broadway. The society became Palmer's headquarters for the rest of his life, but he also traveled south to Philadelphia and Baltimore to lecture and raise funds. The Society died soon after Palmer passed away in 1806.

Sources:

Gay, Peter. Deism: An Anthology. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1968.

Koch, G. Adolf. Republican Religion. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1933. Reprinted as Religion of the American Enlightenment. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968.

1292

Free Religious Association

(Defunct)

The Free Religious Association (FRA) emerged at the end of the Civil War in reaction to the solidifying of Unitarianism into a denomination as the American Unitarian Association and its affirmation of the supernatural lordship of Jesus (though the association had repudiated the doctrine of the trinity and the deity of Jesus). The more radical elements among the Unitarians looked for an alternative to denominationalism and the theological boundaries such an organized life represented. Thus it was in October 1866 that eight Unitarian leaders gathered in the home of Charles A. Bartol in Boston, Massachusetts, to discuss the situation. At a second gathering a few weeks later, William Potter, Francis Elling-wood Abbot, and Edward C. Towne presented a draft constitution for a Free Religious Association. A public meeting was held on May 30, 1867, at which a constitution was presented and accepted. Octavius Brooks Frothingham was elected president and Potter, secretary. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the first member enrolled. Other officers included Robert Dale Owen and liberal Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise.

The Free Religious Association was designed as a home of theistic radicals, people who believed in God but who held opinions that often put them at odds with other institutions with which they were in association. It was designed especially to assist the more left-wing Unitarians who did not want to break with the FRA but found it impossible to accept its doctrinal guidance. Initially, the organization affirmed its allegiance to what was termed "pure religion," defined as the worship of God. This definition of pure religion was challenged in 1872 and theism dropped as a core idea. At this time Felix Adler (who later left to form the American Ethical Union) and Benjamin Franklin Underwood joined the FRA. Underwood led in 1885 to the organization's dropping any reference to pure religion. As such, the FRA was committed to "… the scientific study of religion and ethics, to advocate freedom in religion, to increase fellowship in the spirit, and to emphasize the supremacy of practical morality in all of the relations of life." The change, representing a resolution between the contradictory goals of defining a rationalistic religion and the infinite divergences among radical free speculative theologians, was in the latter's favor.

The FRA was continually threatened with dissolution from the very different souls who constituted its membership. Its survival through the nineteenth century was largely credited to the organizational zeal of William Potter. Potter died in 1894, by which time the FRA had seemingly run its course and been left behind by developments in the larger religious community. It continued to operate into the twentieth century but slowly dwindled into nonexistence.

Sources:

Persons, Stow. Free Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1947. Reprint, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.

1293

Freedom from Religion Foundation

Box 750
Madison, WI 53701

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, incorporated in 1978, is a North American association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, and skeptics of various pedigrees). Many of the founders had formerly been members of American Atheists, Inc. who had left in protest of what they saw as undemocratic policies. It has among its priority goals the education of the public on matters of nontheism and the promotion of the principle of church/state separation which is interpreted as disavowing any religious participation in government matters and government expressions of favorable attitudes toward religion, even in a nonsectarian fashion. Since its founding, the foundation has been under the leadership of Anne Nicole Gaylor and has grown into the largest Freethought group on the continent.

The foundation acts on what it sees as violations of the separation of church and state and in recent years has intervened in situations involving prayers in public schools, payment of public funds for religious purposes, government favoritism toward religious institutions, illegal activities conducted in the name of religious charities, and religious efforts to deny civil rights to women, gays, and lesbians.

In 1983, it filed a suit challenging President Ronald Reagan's declaration of that year as the "Year of the Bible". It has gone to court to halt the U.S. Postal Service's practice of giving cancellations to a Roman Catholic group, ended commencement prayers at a major university, stopped federal subsidy to the "Virgin of the Rockies" chapel, and in 1996 won a court decision overturning a Wisconsin law declaring Good Friday to be a state holiday. The federation also succeeded in posting the first atheist placard to be displayed in a state capitol over the Christmas holidays, in protest of religious activities hosted there. One of its more active chapters, the Alabama Freethought Association, has moved to stop religion in the state's parks and has become a plaintiff in the case against Judge Roy Moore, who has allowed questionable religious practices in his courtroom.

At its annual convention, the federation awards a "Freethinker of the Year" to a successful litigant working for church/state separation, and an annual "Freethought Heroine", presented to Ann Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan in 1997. Additionally, for two decades it has sponsored an annual essay competition for students, awarding cash grants, and now offers a similar scholarship program for college-bound high school seniors. The federation publishes a variety of books in the Freethought tradition.

Membership: In 1997 the federation reported more than 3,800 members and subscribers throughout the United States and Canada.

Periodicals: Freethought Today.

Sources:

Gaylor, Annie Laurie. Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1988.

Gaylor, Annie Laurie, ed. Women without Superstition: No Gods–No Masters. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1997. 696 pp.

——. Woe to Women–the Bible Tells Me So. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1981.

Green, Ruth. Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1979.

Hurmence, Ruth. The Book of Ruth. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1982.

Rejecting Religion. Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1982.

Stein, Gordon. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism. New York: Prometheus Books, 1980.

1294

Freethinkers of America

(Defunct)

The Freethinkers of America was a small freethought group founded in New York in 1915. Around 1920 Joseph Lewis (1889-1968), destined to become one of the leading exponents and popularizers of atheism in the United States, moved from his home in Alabama to New York. Already an atheist, he joined the group and became its leader. During the next decade he wrote several classic statements of the atheist position, all published by the Freethought Press Association which he had founded: The Tyranny of God(1920); The Bible Unmasked (1926) and Atheism and Other Addresses (1930). During this period he also became interested in the study of sexuality, and in the early 1930s he initiated a second publishing concern, Eugenics Publishing Company, which published low-cost books on sexology written by specialists.

Lewis's books addressed a host of major atheist concerns. He attacked religion, particularly the Judaism he had forsaken early in life. He denied the necessity of religion as a basis for either the individual moral life or social order. He argued for the separation of church and state. He publicized the life of America's founding fathers as a means of arguing for the patriotic role of freethought.

Lewis continued to write into the 1950s. Possibly his two most important books appeared after World War II, The Ten Commandments (1946) and An Atheist Manifesto (1954). The Freethinkers of America were headquartered in New York, though Lewis lived in Miami for a brief period (and frequently appeared on local radio programs to speak on atheist themes). In the 1960s there were branches in San Diego and Milwaukee and as many as several thousand members. The size of the group had shrunk significantly after the exclusion of the Communists, rejected because they tended to dominate meetings with their own brand of atheism. The Freethinkers had close relations with the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism for many years, but differed in that it did not demand members to be atheists. The Freethinkers published a periodical, Age of Reason, which ceased publication after Lewis's death in 1968. The organization survived Lewis's death only a few years.

Sources:

Howland, Arthur H. Jeseph Lewis–Enemy of God. Boston: Stratford, 1932.

Lewis, Joseph. An Atheist Manifesto. New York: Freethought Press Association, 1954.

——. The Bible Unmasked. New York: Freethought Press Association, 1926.

——. The Ten Commandments. New York: Freethought Press Association, 1926.

——. The Tyranny of God. New York: Freethought Press Association, 1921.

1295

Goddian Organization

(Defunct)

The Goddian Organization was formed in 1965 by Lawrence A. Whitten of Portland, Maine. It was begun as a back-to-God movement, started because other religious organizations were not doing their work of bringing people back to God. Whitten consolidated all religious belief into one affirmation–God as the creator. He sought the union of all people in one brotherhood of man. That union could be achieved if each person will stop insisting that those who differ from him must believe as he does.

There were no ministers or churches. Whitten attempted to unite all Goddians through the headquarters in Portland around a mutual allegiance to the program of good works. In the monthly periodical, The Goddian Message, an attack upon Christianity and the Bible followed traditional free thought ideas. While people from around the country responded to ads about the organization, it never received enough support to make it a viable concern. After a few years, it was discontinued.

1296

Humanist Association of Canada

PO Box 8752, Station T
Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 3J1

Humanism and people identifying themselves as humanists emerged in the early twentieth century amid the larger freethought movement in Canada. Among the earliest groups to take the name was the Winnipeg Rationalist Society, which in the 1930s changed its name to the Winnipeg Humanist Society. That group dwindled following the death of its long-time leader Marshall Jerome Gauvin (1881-1978), but other groups, primarily in Victoria, British Columbia, and Montreal, emerged. In 1967, the Victoria and Montreal groups formed the Humanist Association of Canada. At that time they also combined their two periodicals, the Victorian Humanist and the Montreal Humanist, into Humanism in Canada.

The association provides a focus and forum for the broad range of humanist thought in Canada and is similar in beliefs and practice to the American Humanist Association. It is also a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Membership: Membership reported at 800. There are chapters in Ottawa, Montreal, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskat chewan, and Alberta.

Periodicals: Canadian Humanist News in Canada, PO Box 3769 Station C, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Y 4J8.

Sources:

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 2 vols. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1985.

1297

Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society (ISIS)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society (ISIS) was formed to promote the ideas of rationalism, secularism, democracy and human rights within Islamic society. Its program has been based upon the belief that Islamic culture has become backward due to its slowness to allow it beliefs, laws, and practices to come under the scrutiny of modern critical perspectives. This unwillingness is attributed to an intolerance of alternative beliefs and a timidity about participating in fruitful dialogues. ISIS promotes the freedom of intellectual and scientific inquiry and the freedom of conscience as regards religion. They value the ability of individual's to change religion or belief and the right to unbelief.

ISIS supports the emergence of modern form of Islam and of unbelief in societies now dominated by Islam. It works for the separation of religion and state in Islamic countries in the understanding that such separation is necessary to have a viable modern secular society. It advocates the rights of women and of those who hold with minority beliefs, both they believe to be under attack in Muslim dominated societies. It also demands the right to examine the historical foundations of Islam (at which many Muslim religious leaders have balked), and to explain the rise and fall of Islam by the normal mechanisms of human history.

ISIS has moved to create a network of secularists and freethinkers in Islamic countries, to establish a women's network in those same areas, and to report on recent research findings on the origins of Islam and the Qur'an. It also has begun to publicize alternative reading of Islamic history, especially those that record significant dissent. It publicizes critical finding on basic Muslim documents and attacks their sanctity.

Operating primarily in cyberspace, ISIS is best contacted through its website http://www.SecularIslam.org.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society. http://www.secularislam.org/. 23 April 2002.

Warraq, Ibn, ed. The Origins of the Koran, Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.

——. The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000.

1298

National Alliance of Pantheists

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Founded in the mid-1980s, the National Alliance of Pantheists is a network of individuals who hold pantheistic beliefs. Pantheism is a belief that god is everything and everything is God. It stands in contrast to the idea of theism that God is the transcendent Creator who stands over and apart from creation. Pantheism assumes that the world, nature, and humanity are all an intimate part of the Divine being. Most pantheists recognize philosopher Baruch Spinoza as the grandfather of their perspective, but claim such diverse thinkers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Mahatma Ghandi as fellow pantheists.

While pantheism is an ancient belief, no attempt to organize its believers as a religious group has previously occurred. Pantheism tends to be a very individualistic philosophy; it has no dogma and is not immediately suggestive of corporate worship or united action. However, the Alliance was founded as a religion especially suitable for the modern world, i.e., the New Age. It works to end bigotry and religious discrimination through its belief that ultimately all people are involved in the Divine Essence. Thus, no one religion can be the "true faith" as all religious expressions exist within the one consciousness of the Divine.

The Alliance has established itself as a place where pantheists can discover each other, thus leading to the formation of local groups and churches. It ordains clergy and charters churches, but has no hierarchy. While it encourages the individual expression of the member's relationship to God, the Alliance notes that many Pantheists keep the ancient agricultural festivals at the solstices and equinoxes (and halfway between them) as a means of calling attention to the intimate connection between God and nature. They also tend to be environmentalists. The Alliance holds an annual celebration of Lammas in August.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Nap Time.

1299

Northeast Atheist Association (NAA)

Box 63
Simsbury, CT 06070

The Northeast Atheist Association (NAA) was founded in 1992 to promote atheism in the Northeast United States. It is headed by Franklin Marshall (president) and Howard Palmer (vice-president) and publishes a newsletter.

The association's Internet site is at http://www.northeastatheistassoc.org.

Membership: In 2002, the association reported approximately 150 members.

Educational Facilities: The association supports the Center for Inquiry Institute, PO Box 703, Amherst, NY 14226-0703.

Periodicals: The Northeast Atheist.

1300

Restored Church of the Star Goat

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Restored Church of the Star Goat, which in spite of its name wants to be considered a serious atheist religion, was founded in 1989 grew out and earlier project, the Skeptic Tank. Founder Fredric Rose, had been archiving material that debunked what he considered unscientific claims for the paranormal and details of crimes against humanity perpetrated by religion in the name of a deity. In his opinion, both were a result of ignorance and superstition, which he hoped to replace by critical thinking–scientific method, logic, and reason. Discussion with people through the electronic media in the 1980s led to the emergence of the Restored Church as a logical next step, given the need of a religion to replace the deity-oriented faiths. The Skeptic Tank has become a department of the church continuing the emphasis on opposing pseudoscience.

Rice created an interesting myth for the church that suggests that five million years ago, humanity fled to Earth to escape the anger of the Mutant Cosmic Star Goat, which threatened life on their previous home planet due to their inhumane ways. The Star goat was appeased by their fearful flight. He sent a prophet to Earth named Douglas Adams who showed those with intelligence his ways. Thus Goatee (followers of the Star Goat) came to know of Billy Goat, Star Goat's son who was sent to Earth to save humanity but was killed in a torturous death. After learning of Star Goat's way, believers were amazed at humans creating deity religions and acted most inhumanly.

To address humanity's disgraceful condition, the Restored Church of the Star Goat, where The Ways could be learned, was founded. Rice is also attempting to compile The Ways into a written document to be made generally available as a book, The Star Goat Mysteries.

It is the belief of the founder that there are many people who are goattees at heart and some who wish to be minister in the church. Those people should contact him. The church's community currently exists primarily in cyberspace.

Membership: Not reported. Members are reported in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Holland.

Periodicals: Fields of Green.

Sources:

Restored Church of the Star Goat. http://www.holysmoke.org/sdhok/stargoat.htm. 23 April 2002.

1301

Society of Evangelical Agnostics

(Defunct)

The Society of Evangelical Agnostics was founded in 1975 by William Henry Young. Young had called himself an agnostic for several years and had harbored a hope that an agnostic organization would emerge. After developing the idea of the society, he placed ads in a number of liberal, religious journals such as The Humanist and mass circulation periodicals such as Nation and the Saturday Review. He also began to champion the cause of agnosticism, frequently speaking to audiences on the subject and writing letters to periodicals whenever he thought agnosticism had been misrepresented. He also began a newsletter, The SEA Journal.

The society defined agnosticism by reference to a tradition of outstanding freethinkers who called themselves by that label, most notably Thomas Henry Huxley (who coined the term), Bertrand Russell, and Robert G. Ingersoll. Its principles consist of three statements: One should approach all questions and issues with an open mind; One should avoid advocating conclusions without adequate or satisfactory evidence; One should accept not having final answers as a fundamental reality in one's life. According to Young, agnosticism is to be distinguished quite strongly from atheism. The latter flatly denies the existence of God while the former affirms God is both unknown and an unknowable factor. Atheism, like Christianity, violates the second principle of agnosticism by advocating conclusions without adequate evidence.

The society was headed by a board of directors and its administrator, William Henry Young. Young was also the librarian of the Cedar Springs Library, in Auberry, California, which had developed a special collection of freethought literature. The library was the official archive of the society and distributed numerous inexpensive items related to the society's concerns. The society reprinted many classic statements of agnosticism as well as original material writtten by its members. Membership was open to all who considered themselves agnostics and who contributed a modest annual membership fee. Members were also encouraged to form chapters and hold meetings in their local neighborhoods. The society was dissolved in 1987 at the request of its founder after enrolling more than 1,150 members.

Sources:

Huxley on Agnosticism. Auberry, CA: Cedar Springs Library, n.d.

Ingersoll, Robert G. Ingersoll's Greatest Lectures. New York: Freethought Press Association, 1944.

Stephens, Leslie. An Agnostic's Apology. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1903.

Young, William Henry. "The Agnostic as Prophet." Faith and Thought 1, no. 2 (Summer 1983): 27-31.

1302

Unitarian Universalist Association

25 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108

Unitarian Universalist Association was formed in 1961 by the merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church in America. The merger represents the coming together of the two oldest and most conservative segments of the liberal tradition. (See introductory material for historical survey). Within that tradition, it is the only body that affirms its base within the Judeo-Christian heritage. Many of its ministers can be found in local ministerial associations.

The basis of modern Unitarian belief is the free search for truth. Truth is found in the universal teachings of the great prophets and teachers of all ages and traditions, but summarized in the Western tradition as love of God and man. Members believe in the worth of every human and in the democratic method in human relationships. A world community based on brotherhood, justice, and peace is the goal of all actions. While varying widely in belief structures, Unitarian Universalists generally believe in God as the source of mind and spirit, Jesus as a great prophet, the Bible as a collection of valuable religious writings, science as a source of knowledge, and prayer as a means to lift the mind beyond the ordinary. There are no sacraments.

Following the pattern of their Congregational parents, the Unitarian Universalists are congregationally governed. A national Association meeting is held annually and each minister and local church is represented. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee was established in 1940 to aid refugees of Nazi persecution and has continued as a means to embody social concerns. Beacon Press is a major publisher of religious books.

During the 19th century, both Universalists and Unitarians engaged in foreign missionary activity, the former most noticeably in Japan and the latter in India and Japan. Ties to liberal religionists in these countries have been retained (long after any understanding of a missionary-mission relationship existed) and fellowship with similar groups in other lands has been established. Currently, there are affiliated congregations of Unitarian-Universalists in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Japan, West Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Membership: In 1991, the association reported 191,317 members, 978 churches, and 1,250 ministers in the United States, and 6,167 members and 42 churches in Canada.

Periodicals: UU World.

Sources:

Ahlstrom, Sydney E., and Jonathan S. Carey. An American Reformation. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1985.

Cheetham, Henry H. Unitarianism and Universalism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1962.

Tapp, Robert B. Religion Among the Unitarian Universalists. New York: Seminar Press, 1973.

Wilbur, Earl Morse. Our Unitarian Heritage. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.

Williams, George Huntston. American Universalism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976.

Wintersteen, Prescott B. Christology in American Unitarianism. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, 1977.

1303

United Libertarian Fellowship

(Defunct)

The United Libertarian Fellowship was incorporated in 1975 in Los Altos, California, by William White, Kathleen J. White, and C. Douglas Hoiles. The fellowship was organized as a religious order enspousing libertarian ideals of individual freedom and responsibility within a religious context. It offered a broad framework within which libertarians could develop religiously following their own initiative and perspectives.

The fellowship had a simple statement of beliefs. God was acknowledged as the fundamental force in the universe. Human beings possessed the capacity to think and act. That capacity placed a duty upon people to search for truth and to act in accord with that truth. Individuals, being capable of influencing their own destiny, also accepted responsibility for their actions and the consequences which flow from them. The guidance of personal conduct began in refraining from the initiation of the use of force or fraud on another person and the general assumption that others are free and should be allowed that freedom to develop their own religious nature.

The fellowship described worship as "focusing the mind in search for truth." Five sacraments were observed as outward manifestations and public observances of the sacred realm in human life. Affirmation, parallel to confirmation in other churches, was a declaration of adulthood and acceptance of adult responsibility. Marriage was contracted to share lives. Consecration was the dedication of a person or property to sacred purposes. The final two sacraments attempted to integrate religious ideals into everyday life by infusing otherwise mundane activity with sacred worth. Transformation was the act of changing physical materials into a new form with more utility and/or value than the original materials possessed. Exchange was the voluntary giving and receiving of objects or labor.

The direction of the fellowship was in the hands of a board, of-ficers, and its ministers. A three-person board of elders manages the fellowship. The board appointed the officers: a president who directed the religious work, a secretary-treasurer who kept the records, and bishops who managed the temporal affairs. The board also appointed and ordained ministers who had sacramental functions and could, if they chose, establish churches. In keeping with libertarian principles, neither bishops nor ministers were assigned tasks; rather, they were encouraged to work in accordance with libertarian beliefs and spread its fellowship as their individual creativity dictates. After functioning for several years, the fellowship ran into problems with the Internal Revenue Service. It was declared non-religious and eventually its elders were tried and convicted of tax evasion.

Sources:

The United Libertarian Fellowship, A Religious Order. Los Altos, CA: United Libertarian Fellowship, 1982.

1304

United Moral and Philosophical Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

(Defunct)

The United Moral and Philosophical Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded in 1836 at Saratoga Springs, New York, as the response of a convention of freethinkers to the call for the establishment of a national organization. Prominent among its supporters were Abner Kneeland and Benjamin Otten. Kneeland (1774-1844) was a former Universalist minister turned atheist and beginning in 1830 the editor of an atheist journal, the Boston Investigator, and lecturer for the First Society of Free Inquirers. The society lasted for five years and held annual conventions. After its demise, a second attempt at a national organization was made with the formation of the Infidel Society for the Promotion of Mental Liberty, which lasted for three years (1845-48).

Sources:

Post, Albert. Popular Freethought in America, 1825-1850. New York: Columbia University Press, 1943. Reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1974.

1305

United Secularists of America

(Defunct)

The United Secularists of America was formed in 1946 as an anti-God, anti-religion organization by William McCarthy. It is the secularists' belief that religion is a great hoax, and the organization opposed the "dangerous" encroachments of religion in education and other areas of life. Among the group's outstanding members was ex-priest Joseph M. McCabe, one of the major popularizers of atheism in the twentieth century. Prior to his death in 1955, he had written more than 200 books against the church and translated 30 others. Titles include The Sources of Morality of the Gospel, Crime and Religion, and A Rationalist Encyclopedia.

The United Secularists of America advocated the complete separation of church and state; the right not to believe as part of freedom of religion; the exclusion of all religion from public schools; and the taxation of church property. Opposing all supernaturalism and superstition, the United Secularists of America believed in the free intellectual growth of man and the advancement of society toward a rational civilized existence.

During its first decade, the United Secularists were among the largest of the rationalist/atheist bodies, drawing support from many independent rationalist and secularists societies. In 1947 they had begun a magazine Progressive World. However, in the early 1950s, protests against secretive financial policies led most of the groups to withdraw and in 1955 form the American Rationalist Federation. After that year, the United Secularists lacked support to even hold an annual meeting. By 1970 there were only three centers, 1,000 active members, and 1,000 at-large members. Over the decade the United Secularists steadily lost their remaining support. In 1981 they finally disbanded and the magazine ceased publication.

1306

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (UCTAA)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic (UCTAA) is put forth as a "combination of total seriousness and sophomoric humor." As with some other religious groups, the church founder and patriarch John Tyrrell uses satire to make serious points, not just against traditional religion but for what is considered a positive alternative view.

The church offers the perspective that agnosticism in itself is a legitimate end position in religious belief. It is summarized in three articles of faith: that "the existence of a Supreme Being is un-known and unknowable; that if there is a Supreme Being, then that being appears to act as if entirely apathetic to events in our universe; and that we are apathetic to the existence or non-existence of a Supreme Being." Since the question of God is unanswerable, the church believes that humans can abandon what is a fruitless search and no longer care about the question, i.e., apathy toward theology. While apathetic about the question of God's existence, church members are not apathetic about its agnostic position, which its seeks to propagate widely.

UCTAA began in 1996 as a one-page personal website. Initially it was a light-hearted presentation of the personal religious beliefs on the founder's personal website. As early as 1965, Tyrrell had thought of apathetic agnosticism as a label to describe his belief about God, "I don't know and I don't care." The satirical language used to describe the serious viewpoints has been retained as an equally serious reminder to laugh at oneself as well as others.

In 1996, the website began to attract notice from Internet surfers. In response the site was expanded, including a page of opposing views. Membership was opened in 1997, and the next year clerics and a hierarchy appeared. Ordination was offered through the International University of Nescience. A transient membership was replaced around 2000 with a group of correspondents who voiced a desire to be active participants and even offer their energy and guidance to the church. The site expanded further to accommodate this core membership/leadership. Additional websites were created.

Tyrrell, as patriarch of the church, ordains clergy who many individually assume one of a number of titles-minister, rabbi, pastor, priest, priestess, etc. Clergy may apply to become a bishop of a specific territory. Their responsibilities include the further ordination of clergy in their diocese and the guidance of any clergy who seek it. Clergy may seek the still higher office of patriarch or matriarch of a See (which includes multiple diocese), A patriarch/ matriarchs may ordain new Bishops and appoint them to new dioceses within their See. Tyrell is responsible for appointing patriarchs and matriarchs, and providing general guidance through the church's website. All the patriarchs and matriarchs in the church constitute its Council of Elders.

The church is organized as a loose hierarchy, meaning that clergy are not required to take direction from senior clergy, rather they may conduct their ministries as they find suitable. Tyrrell emphasizes, to those who might have contact with one of the church's ministers, that "ordination does not guarantee the good character of any clergy person."

International University of Nescience is the educational arm of the Apathetic Agnostic Church. It is an unaccredited institution, and advises those who attempt to relate to it that its degrees are worth at least the paper they are printed on. It offers a spectrum of masters degrees for clergy and doctoral degrees for senior clergy (bishops and above).

As the church exists primarily in cyberspace, it is best contacted through its Internet sites at http://www.apatheticagnostic.com/ or http://www.uctaa.org/.

Membership: In 2002 the church reported approximately 5,000 members scattered in more than 30 coutries.

Educational Facilities: International University of Nescience.

Sources:

The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic. http://www.apatheticagnostic.com/. 23 April 2002.

1307

Universal Pantheist Society

PO Box 3499
Visalia, CA 93278

Pantheism, while a widely held philosophical position that permeates a variety of religious perspective, has usually not been the focus of new religious communities in itself. For example, different movements like Daoism are usually seen as pantheistic. In America, The Church of Christ, Scientist, in spite of its leadership, is frequently cited as pantheistic. In the contrary, many contemporary Neo-Pagan groups often identify themselves as Pantheists.

Pantheism may be defined as the view that the universe is identical with God, and God identical with the universe. There is also a similar but variant position, panentheism, that identifies the universe as divine (part of God), but asserts that God is far more than the universe. In the panentheist view, God is still an object of worship. The first person of note to be identified primarily as a pantheist is Jewish/Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). However, it was British freethinker John Toland who appears to have coined the term Pantheist. He used it as synonymous with Spinozist. This modern rebirth of pantheism does not take away from the use of the new word to describe a host of historical thinkers from Plato and Plotinus to D. H. Lawrence, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The Universal Pantheist Society is one of the few groups that have focused upon pantheist metaphysics as the center of their belief. Founded in 1975, it asserts that "the cosmos, taken or conceived of as a whole, is synonymous with the theological principle of God. The cosmos is divine, and the earth sacred. Pantheists do not propose belief in a deity; rather, they hold nature itself as a creative presence. Pantheism reconciles science and religion through ecology leading to strong environmental awareness."

The society offers no creed nor does it require any particular behavior pattern of members. It sees its task as promoting individual spiritual growth and providing pantheists around the world with a unified "worldwide presence." It also seeks to be a resource for people inquiring about pantheism. It suggests that the natural focus of a pantheist lifestyle would include attention to conservation, developing sustainable lifestyles, ending consumerism, celebrating nature's cycles, utilizing home schooling, and family life.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Pantheist Vision.

Sources:

Garrett, Jan. "An Introduction to Pantheism." http://www.wku.edu/~garreje/pantheism.htm. 1 December 2001.

Harrison, Paul. Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe. London: Element Books, 1999.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. "Pantheism." In Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1967.

Universal Pantheist Society. at http://www.pantheist.net/. 7 May 2002.

1308

Universal Society

(Defunct)

The Universal Society was the first organization in America to give expression to the deist/freethought religiousphilosophical perspective. It was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1791. Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin was a deist theologically, but his prominence did little to assist the young society.

Elihu Palmer, a blind Baptist minister in the city, was fired from his position, not for his disability, but for holding and preaching heretical views. At about that same time, John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, had organized the Universal Society to which Palmer and his few supporters adhered. Palmer became the minister of the society and in one of his first discourses broached the subject of the divinity of Jesus, which he proceeded to deny. Bp. William White, the Episcopal Church authority in the city, then applied pressure to the society's landlord to refuse to rent to the group and mobilized public hostility against Palmer. Palmer left town and the society collapsed.

Thus the first freethought organization in the United States came to an end in a matter of weeks. It became the foundation, however, upon which a more successful organization, the Deistical Society of New York, would be built in the early years of the new century.

Sources:

Koch, G. Adolf. Republican Religion. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1933. Reprinted as Religion of the American Enlightenment. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968.

1309

World Pantheist Movement

PO Box 12056
La Jolla, CA 92039-2056

The World Pantheist Movement was founded in Lakewood, Colorado in 1997 by a small group of self-identified pantheists including Paul Harrison, the future author of Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe (1999). Harrison had come to his position from his attempt to reach a solution to world problems that he highlights in his two books: Inside the Third World (1992) and The Third Revolution (1994).

The new organization was designed to inform people about the principles and practice of scientific pantheism, viewed as an earth-honoring religion, in which the universe becomes the supreme object of reverence. Pantheists affirm that there is only one type of substance in the universe, energy/matter. The organization facilitates the education and subsequent licensing of pantheist ministers, who officiate on various occasions, including pantheists funerals and weddings.

The World Pantheists Movement supports a scientific pantheism, which seeks to find a scientifically sound perspective that is socially aware on a wide variety of subjects. In this regard, a nine-paragraph "Credo," or statement of agreed belief, was adopted. The movement sees the universe, the sum total of that which is, as a self-organizing, ever-evolving, and inexhaustibly diverse reality that compels reverence. Human beings are connected to everything, and should reverence and cherish Nature, and strive to live in harmony with it. All human beings, as equal centers of awareness, deserve a life of dignity and mutual respect. Within some broad principles, the movement has initiated a discussion of appropriate ethics for one who subscribes to the pantheist position.

Pantheism implies that every individual has a direct access to ultimate reality, i.e., the universe and nature, thus there is no need for religious functionaries whose task is to mediate between the human and divine. Pantheism also implies the separation of religion and state, and freedom of religion for all.

The movement is headed by a self-perpetuating board of directors. Directors must agree to sign the Credo as it exists at the time of their joining the board. Members do not have to sign the Credo, but are asked to consider their agreement with it before joining. The board may, by a 75 percent majority, change the Credo.

In any country where at least five members reside, members may choose to form a national chapter of the World Pantheist Movement.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Pan.

Sources:

Harrison, Paul. Elements of Pantheism: Understanding the Divinity in Nature and the Universe. London: Element Books, 1999.

——. Inside the Third World. London: Penguin Books, 1992.

——. The Third Revolution. London: Penguin Books, 1994.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. "Pantheism." In Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1967.

World Pantheist Movement. http://www.pantheism.net/. 7 May 2002.

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.