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The Society for Humanistic Mormonism Answers​

 

16 Tough Questions about Humanistic Mormonism

1. What is Humanistic Mormonism?

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.

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2. How can you be Mormon if you don’t believe in God?

 

Membership in the Mormon people is not a function of belief it is a function of identification, connection, and history.

3. Why call what you do Mormonism?

Mormonism is the evolving culture of the Mormon people. There is no single way to be Mormon. What Mormons do is called Mormonism. What Humanistic Mormons do as Mormons is Mormonism. Pluralism in Mormon life enriches Mormonism and enables a more inclusive and enriched Mormon community.

4. Why are you a separate movement in Mormonism?

What distinguishes Humanistic Movements from other movements that identify humanistic themes in Mormonism is our resolve to create a consistency between our philosophy and our liturgy (what we believe and what we say and do). Humanistic Mormon celebrations, ceremonies, and commemorations use human-centered non-theistic language. The words we say and the songs we sing follow this guideline. We call this principle integrity and it is fundamental to our identity as Humanistic Mormons.

5. Is Humanistic Mormonism a religion?

According to the dictionary a religion is a set of beliefs to which people hold fast. Humanistic 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.

6. If you are not religious in a traditional sense, why have the offices of a "Bishop," an "Apostle," or a "Prophet," etc.?

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.



7. Isn’t the Mormon religion (orthodoxy)/Prophets responsible for what Mormonism is?

No one owns “Mormonism” it belongs to all of humanity and to all types of Mormons and even belongs to Post-Mormons or Ex-Mormons who have a right to say what they think Mormonism should become or what they think Mormonism is. There are many ways of interpreting what Mormonism is, no one way is the right way. It belongs to world culture and world society as well as the many differing types of Mormons to decide what “Mormonism” is. One thing we are sure of Mormonism will continue to evolve. Humanistic Mormonism is just one step in that evolution, it is sure to keep evolving in the future.

 

8. Without God how can there be ethics?

The foundation of ethics is human dignity, human survival, and human happiness. The foundation of ethics is not God. Ethical behavior consists of relationships between people. Some people behave well without believing in God and some people who believe in God do not behave ethically.

9. If you don’t pray, what do you do and who do you worship?

We can use poetry and prose to express that connection. We can sing songs and we can meditate. We use materials that encourage reflection and meditation. And some Humanistic Mormons choose to pray. Worship is an ambiguous and loaded word. What does it mean ‘to worship’ as a Humanistic Mormon? If we do pray, we address ourselves in our uncertainty: ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ So whom or what would we worship? Probably many different things. But perhaps with a shared reverence and gratitude. So we still use the word ‘worship’ as an indication of our wonder and awe; and our recognition of the worth of the world around us, the life we share, and the beauty and mystery of being. For that is what piques our curiosity, inspires our imagination, warms our spirits, shapes our character, and contributes to our belonging and becoming. To worship is to celebrate life, in all its peculiarities.

 

10. Can someone convert to Humanistic Mormonism?

We define a Mormon as someone who identifies with the history, culture and fate of the Mormon people. If a person would like to participate in the Mormon experience, they can adopt Mormonism and a Humanistic Mormon community or the Society for Humanistic Mormonism can adopt the person wanting to be part of the Humanistic Mormon family. It’s a mutual experience. Because being Mormon is defined as the historical and cultural experience of the Mormon people an individual does not have to “give up” who they are to add Mormon identity to their self-definition.  For membership requirements in the Society we do ask that members not belong to other Mormon denominations as total loyalty towards Humanistic Mormonism as a more rational and enlightened Mormonism must be shown.  This does not mean of course we would exclude you from our services but if one was to seek baptism into the Society for Humanistic Mormonism one may not be associated with another denomination or church.  We also ask that members be interviewed and be in good standing by answering the following questions in good conscience for baptism/temple recommendation/keeping membership active:  1). Do you allow Reason, Compassion, and Love to guide your daily actions? 2). Do you allow the light of Philosophy and Science to inform your ethics, beliefs, and actions in life?  A Humanistic Mormon who fails to meet these basic requirements for membership can be removed as a member if the behavior is deemed to be significant and all other means of reconciliation are made.    

11. If you are Humanists why bother with Mormonism at all?

Being Mormon is part of our identity. Indeed this is true of most traditional religions we are typically born into a faith that we had little choice or no choice in being part of. Indeed we were born into a faith and a culture and this becomes part of our identity. For those that converted to Mormonism later in life this also becomes part of our identity. When we added Humanism on to our identity we took up that identity as well. Thus the combination of Mormonism and Humanism as our identities is the natural course and evolution of our Humanistic Mormon identities. We are all curious to know who we are, to discover our roots and establish connections, to learn and to celebrate. Culture adds interest to our lives, whether it be music, literature, art, dance, or food.

12. Isn’t all Mormonism humanistic?

Some of Mormonism is humanistic, although not all of it is. The confusion is usually around the differences between humanitarianism and humanism. Humanism is the reliance on people to solve human problems. Humanism includes humanitarianism, which is the act of promoting human welfare and social reform.

13. While Humanistic Mormonism is compatible with Humanism what are its views on Transhumanism?

The Society for Humanistic Mormonism endorses the Transhumanist Declaration of Humanity + (http://humanityplus.org/philosophy/transhumanist-declaration/). Indeed we consider responsible Transhumanist philosophy to be supportive of Humanism. 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.  Having said that we believe that any transhumanist future must make sure to recognize the importance of this life and the inherent worth and dignity of being human.  The universal human rights of human beings therefore must always be protected, regardless of any technological or biological advances.  Further any transhumanist beliefs (as with any beliefs one may have) must be guided by reason, science, and compassion before they are taken up as beliefs by individual members of the Society.   

14. The Society for Humanistic Mormonism sounds rather accepting as a religion does it like Unitarian Universalism accept other religious/philosophical beliefs along with a Mormon Humanist identity or Mormon background in its membership?

Unlike Unitarian Universalism, Humanistic Mormonism teaches that any belief that one has must be guided by reason and science within the Society for Humanistic Mormonism.  Therefore only those beliefs from other belief systems that conform to reason and science will be accepted in the Society and all others not conforming themselves must be rejected.  Therefore each belief must be tested against what reason and science is telling us.  Humanistic Mormonism accepts Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, natural theist, atheist, agnostic, absurdist, deist, pandeist, pantheist, pagan, transhumanist, Taoist, and other beliefs as long as they conform to reason and science. Or no particular theological label to their beliefs as long as these beliefs conform to reason and science. Individuals within Humanistic Mormonism must search for themselves as individuals what to believe and this Society will not enforce any theological beliefs or creeds except for the Covenant of Reason (which is we commit to following the Dictates of Reason and Science in our daily actions with others and ourselves throughout our lives) which is the Covenant or promise one makes at baptism when one becomes a Humanistic Mormon to take upon ourselves the name of Reason throughout their lives as the ultimate guide. Thus certain traditions and spiritual practices of the Native Americans, Neopaganism, Christianity, Zen Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Pantheism, Unitarian Universalism, Pandeism, and Deism are all welcome here as long as they conform to reason and science.  Any supernatural elements of these beliefs or traditions must be abandoned by the Humanistic Mormon.  However any beliefs that conform to reason and science can be kept as a Humanistic Mormon. Whether the Humanistic Mormon decides to take certain elements from the path that is earth-centered, agnostic, theistic, secular humanist, humanist, transhumanist, atheistic, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian all are welcome in this Society: As long as each belief taken up conforms itself to reason and science and does not contradict the Covenant of Reason.  Thus Humanistic Mormonism not only accepts any "Mormon" identity (that conforms itself to reason and science) we are open to any religious or non-religious truths or philosophies (that do not contradict reason and science) for 'Humanistic Mormonism' accepts truth and the search for meaning wherever it may be found among humanity.  

15. What is your position on gay or lesbian marriages or women in leadership positions in the Society?

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.

16. Are there are other Humanist manifestos/documents either religious or secular that the Society for Humanistic Mormonism endorses and if so what are they?

Our Humanist Endorsements:

A Humanist Manifesto (1933)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
The Amsterdam Declaration (1952)

Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
A Secular Humanist Declaration (1980)

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)

Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III (2003)
Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values (2010) 
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (2012) 

Our Religious Humanist Endorsements:

Seven Elements of Religious Humanism (Humanist Foundation)

Unitarian Universalist Seven Principles and Purposes 
Statement on Ethical Culture/Ethical Humanism (2008) 

 

 

 

 

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