Humanistic Mormonism is a branch of Mormonism and is represented by the religious denomination known as the Society for Humanistic Mormonism. It combines attachment to Mormon identity and culture with a human centered approach to life. It defines Mormonism as the historical and cultural experience of the Mormon people. Humanistic Mormonism affirms that people are independent of supernatural authority and responsible for themselves and their behavior.
Membership in the Mormon people is not a function of belief it is a function of identification, connection, and history.
Mormonism is the evolving culture of the Mormon people. There is no single way to be Mormon. What Mormons do is called Mormonism. What Humanistic Mormons do as Mormons is Mormonism. Pluralism in Mormon life enriches Mormonism and enables a more inclusive and enriched Mormon community.
What distinguishes Humanistic Movements from other movements that identify humanistic themes in Mormonism is our resolve to create a consistency between our philosophy and our liturgy (what we believe and what we say and do). Humanistic Mormon celebrations, ceremonies, and commemorations use human-centered non-theistic language. The words we say and the songs we sing follow this guideline. We call this principle integrity and it is fundamental to our identity as Humanistic Mormons.
According to the dictionary a religion is a set of beliefs to which people hold fast. Humanistic Mormonism is a religion using that definition. Humanistic Mormonism falls into the category of a cultural religion, based on history and evolving values guided by science, reason and compassion. Humanistic Mormonism is also a religion in its structure, its congregational model, and school for children, adult education, and provider of life cycle ceremonies all follow the religious model. However unlike traditional religion, here we have freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Whether one believes in God or no God (or whether one takes an agnostic view point), or whether one sees Humanistic Mormonism as their personal secular view point or whether they see Humanistic Mormonism as their personal religious view point: All groups are welcome and can be in good standing as Humanistic Mormons. That is to say Humanistic Mormonism has no creed other than a commitment to reason, science, compassion, free inquiry, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought.
A Humanistic Mormon Bishop is someone who is knowledgeable about Mormon history and ceremony. A Humanistic Mormon Bishop provides pastoral care based on Humanist principles. The Humanistic Mormon Bishop gives information, advice, and consultation about existential questions. Prophets and Apostles are leaders of the Mormon people, they are knowledgeable about Mormon history and ceremony and help lead the Society for Humanistic Mormonism at its highest levels which makes up The First Presidency and The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Society for Humanistic Mormonism. We choose to be part of the Mormon community and calling our leaders with these traditional titles of "Bishop" or "Apostle" or "Prophet," etc., helps us to participate fully in Mormon communal life as other branches of Mormonism have done and are doing. As Humanistic Mormons we wish to take part in that heritage of which we value.
No one owns “Mormonism” it belongs to all of humanity and to all types of Mormons and even belongs to Post-Mormons or Ex-Mormons who have a right to say what they think Mormonism should become or what they think Mormonism is. There are many ways of interpreting what Mormonism is, no one way is the right way. It belongs to world culture and world society as well as the many differing types of Mormons to decide what “Mormonism” is. One thing we are sure of Mormonism will continue to evolve. Humanistic Mormonism is just one step in that evolution, it is sure to keep evolving in the future.
The foundation of ethics is human dignity, human survival, and human happiness. The foundation of ethics is not God. Ethical behavior consists of relationships between people. Some people behave well without believing in God and some people who believe in God do not behave ethically.
We can use poetry and prose to express that connection. We can sing songs and we can meditate. We use materials that encourage reflection and meditation. And some Humanistic Mormons choose to pray. Worship is an ambiguous and loaded word. What does it mean ‘to worship’ as a Humanistic Mormon? If we do pray, we address ourselves in our uncertainty: ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ So whom or what would we worship? Probably many different things. But perhaps with a shared reverence and gratitude. So we still use the word ‘worship’ as an indication of our wonder and awe; and our recognition of the worth of the world around us, the life we share, and the beauty and mystery of being. For that is what piques our curiosity, inspires our imagination, warms our spirits, shapes our character, and contributes to our belonging and becoming. To worship is to celebrate life, in all its peculiarities.
We define a Mormon as someone who identifies with the history, culture and fate of the Mormon people. If a person would like to participate in the Mormon experience, they can adopt Mormonism and a Humanistic Mormon community or the Society for Humanistic Mormonism can adopt the person wanting to be part of the Humanistic Mormon family. It’s a mutual experience. Because being Mormon is defined as the historical and cultural experience of the Mormon people an individual does not have to “give up” who they are to add Mormon identity to their self-definition. Thus one can choose to remain a member of another religion and still join Humanistic Mormonism or hold secular, agnostic, or atheist views and still join Humanistic Mormonism. Whether one considers themselves a Post-Mormon, a Liberal Mormon, an Orthodox Mormon, or even an Ex-Mormon, all are welcome in Humanistic Mormonism and perhaps especially Ex-Mormons or Post-Mormons. We mean not to place any limits on how one’s identity as a “Mormon” is defined but nor do we mean to exclude you regardless of where you define yourself. Indeed Humanistic Mormonism is a big tent and we mean to keep it that way so we can all learn and grow together in happiness, peace, love and understanding with our various backgrounds. Expanding what it means to be a “Mormon” allows us to advance one of the core principles of Humanistic Mormonism: freedom of thought and freedom of belief or disbelief. No one will be excommunicated in this Society on the basis of belief or non-belief and all are welcome to take part in the joys of Humanistic Mormonism.
Being Mormon is part of our identity. Indeed this is true of most traditional religions we are typically born into a faith that we had little choice or no choice in being part of. Indeed we were born into a faith and a culture and this becomes part of our identity. For those that converted to Mormonism later in life this also becomes part of our identity. When we added Humanism on to our identity we took up that identity as well. Thus the combination of Mormonism and Humanism as our identities is the natural course and evolution of our Humanistic Mormon identities. We are all curious to know who we are, to discover our roots and establish connections, to learn and to celebrate. Culture adds interest to our lives, whether it be music, literature, art, dance, or food.
Some of Mormonism is humanistic, although not all of it is. The confusion is usually around the differences between humanitarianism and humanism. Humanism is the reliance on people to solve human problems. Humanism includes humanitarianism, which is the act of promoting human welfare and social reform.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism endorses the Transhumanist Declaration of Humanity + (http://humanityplus.org/philosophy/transhumanist-declaration/). Indeed we consider Transhumanist philosophy to be the most advanced and progressive form of Humanism that can be expressed. We therefore support and advance both Humanism and Transhumanism philosophy within this Society as the core principles of belief. Of course members are free to either call themselves Humanists or Transhumanists as our tent is big enough and accommodating to both identities.
Humanistic Mormonism accepts Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, natural theist, atheist, agnostic, absurdist, deist, pandeist, pantheist, pagan, transhumanist, Taoist, and other beliefs. Or no particular theological label to their beliefs. Individuals within Humanistic Mormonism must search for themselves as individuals what to believe and this Society will not enforce any theological beliefs or creeds. Thus the traditions and spiritual practices of the Native Americans, Neopaganism, Christianity, Zen Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Pantheism, Unitarian Universalism, Pandeism, and Deism are all welcome here. Whether the Humanistic Mormon decides the path that is earth-centered, agnostic, theistic, secular humanist, humanist, transhumanist, atheistic, Buddhist, or Christian all are welcome in this Society. Thus Humanistic Mormonism not only accepts any "Mormon" identity we are open to any religious or non-religious identity for 'Mormonism' accepts truth and the search for meaning wherever it may be found among humanity.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism accepts full marriage equality between LGBTQI couples and does not consider LGBTQI sexual practices to be wrong. Women likewise have full equality in the Society to serve in the highest leadership positions as with the men.
Yes we have endorsed the following statements and manifestos:
We acknowledge the richness of Mormon heritage, teachings, and community in all of its diversity.
We believe that one can self-identify as Mormon based on one’s genealogy, upbringing, beliefs, relationships, and other life experiences, regardless of one’s adherence or non-adherence to the teachings or doctrines of any religious organization.
We seek spaces where we as Mormons can live lives of intellectual and spiritual integrity, individual conscience, and personal dignity.
We acknowledge and honor different spiritual paths and modes of religious or non-religious truth-seeking. We respect the convictions of those who subscribe to ideas and beliefs that differ from our own.
We recognize the confusion, distress, emotional trauma, and social ostracism that people on faith journeys often experience. We seek constructive ways of helping and supporting people, regardless of their ultimate decisions regarding church affiliation or activity.
We affirm the inherent and equal worth of all human beings. We seek spaces where Mormons (and all people) can interact as equals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. In this spirit of egalitarianism, we prefer non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical means of organization and affiliation.
The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles (1980s)
Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics (1988)
IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism (1996)
The Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Ethics (2000)
Amsterdam Declaration (2002)
We see enough significant overlap between Humanistic Mormonism and Transhumanism to warrant our endorsement of the following documents:
Transhumanist Arts Statement (1982)
Transhuman Manifesto (1983)
Transhumanist Declaration (1998)
Mormon Transhumanist Affirmation (Mormon Transhumanist Association) (2006)
Transhumanist Declaration of Humanity + (2009)
International Manifesto of the "2045" Strategic Social Initiative (2011)