Humanistic Mormonism is a religious branch of Mormonism and is represented by the Mormon denomination known as the Society for Humanistic Mormonism. Humanistic Mormons may identity themselves as Mormon Non-Theists, Mormon Freethinkers, Humanistic Mormons, Cultural Mormons, Mormon Humanists, Mormon Transhumanists, Mormon Atheists, Mormon Agnostics, Secular Mormons, or other, and/or may wish to have no self-identifying theological labels to their unique beliefs or non-beliefs; but who all share and wish to keep their religious connection and religious community with Mormon culture, Mormon identity, and/or Mormon personal family history, but do not demand belief in a supernatural god, or the historicity of the Bible or the Book of Mormon. Those who practice and follow the religious philosophy of Humanistic Mormonism are known as "Humanistic Mormons" and can be baptized as members of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism showing forth their commitment to our code and mode of doctrine. Humanistic Mormonism can be summarized in some points:
A Humanistic Mormon is someone who identifies with the history, culture, and future of the Mormon people;
Mormonism is the historic culture of the Mormon people, and religion is only one part of that culture;
People possess the power and responsibility to shape their own lives independent of supernatural authority;
Ethics and morality should serve human needs, and choices should be based upon consideration of the consequences of actions rather than pre-ordained rules or commandments;
The Bible, Book of Mormon or other religious texts are purely human and natural phenomena. Biblical and other traditional texts are the products of human activity and are best understood by scientific analysis;
Reason, science, philosophy and compassion are the key guides to living the good life as Humanistic Mormons;
Humanistic Mormonism teaches that the virtues and the way of life that lead to a good life include: wisdom, courage, meditation, mindfulness, love, reason, compassion, humility, justice, moderation, joy, pleasure, happiness, tranquility, non-attachment over things outside human control and acceptance of things that are and will be.
Humanistic Mormonism seeks the alleviation of all suffering for both humans and animals.
Humanistic Mormonism teaches that humans must protect the earth’s environment from destruction which all livings things (including human beings) are dependent on;
Humanistic Mormonism teaches that if there is anything leading to human transcendence and human enhancement Humanistic Mormons ought to seek after these things;
Humanistic Mormonism is inclusive of all people and allows regardless of a human being's sexual orientation, gender, or race to serve in the highest positions of leadership within the Humanistic Mormon Priesthood;
Humanistic Mormonism teaches that it is the ethical duty of all of society and Humanistic Mormons in particular to care for the poor, the sick, and those left behind in general in society; and proclaims this ethical duty as the very foundation of true humanism;
Humanistic Mormonism teaches that the democratic ideal of governance is best where all people have an opportunity to engage in a democratic vote and where universal human rights are protected and guaranteed.
Humanistic Mormon scriptures are used as religious guides, codes of doctrine, and belief, they include: The Book of Reason: Another Testament of Science and The 13 Articles of Reason of Humanistic Mormonism, as well as continuing proclamations that are canonized and published by the Society for Humanistic Mormonism.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism has a distinct religious history and is the first official religious institution of its kind and is organized as a world religion separate from any other Mormon denomination and represents the philosophy and teachings of Humanistic Mormonism. Seeing that there was no such religion or institution to meet the needs of Humanistic Mormons the Society was founded on September 15, 2010 by a small group of Mormon atheists and Mormon agnostics and was officially incorporated on February 08, 2013 as a Mormon denomination with 501(c)(3) non-profit status listed as a public charity with 170 (B)(1)(a)(i) status from the IRS. Our religious literature known as "the scriptures" include such words of wisdom from The Book of Reason: Another Testament of Science and The 13 Articles of Reason of Humanistic Mormonism which guide Humanistic Mormons in their walk after peace, reason, and compassion in a troubled and superstitious world.
Our Form of Worship includes meeting each week in members' homes, or other buildings, as well as online services, for the purpose of taking part in our weekly religious service of partaking of The Sacrament of Reason (by taking bread and water), where we remember and renew our covenant (which we made at our Baptism of Reason) 'to always live lives of reason and compassion in all that we do' (which is called The Covenant of Reason). We meditate daily as a religious practice via mindfulness and compassion meditation as we build our lives on the core value and principles of reason and compassion. When we take part in our weekly ritual it is a sacred moment and space to hear the words of The Meditation of Reason over The Sacrament of Reason, which we say the following words in deep heartfelt meditation:
1st Sacramental Meditation on the bread:
O Science, bless us as we eat this bread to remember our promise to abide by Reason, Compassion, and Love. We witness our willingness to learn from Science, listen to Reason, and always live true to our Philosophy. Amen.
2nd Sacramental Meditation on the water:
O Science, bless us as we drink this water to remember our promise to abide by Reason, Compassion, and Love. We witness our willingness to learn from Science, listen to Reason, and always live true to our Philosophy. Amen.
Our Formal Code of Doctrine and Discipline is simple and can be asked and answered in the following two questions (which also serve as the Humanistic Mormon Baptismal Questions and the Humanistic Mormon Temple Recommend Questions. These two questions include the following questions: 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? If a Humanistic Mormon can answer honestly and in good conscience to these two core questions after being properly recommended and interviewed by Humanistic Mormon religious hierarchy and ecclesiastical officials; this person can be in good standing in the Society for Humanistic Mormonism and is on the path to spiritual enlightenment. As we are all humans we make mistakes from time to time in this area and one can be forgiven as one tries to stay on The Path of Reason and Enlightenment for the Gospel of Reason is also a Gospel of Compassion and Forgiveness. Baptism of Humanistic Mormons can be performed via full body immersion or with light affusion (pouring) and by aspersion (sprinkling) depending on the request of the person being baptized. Members in good standing have voting rights and can elect the General Authorities of the Society which include members of: The First Presidency and The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; as well as other General Authority offices.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism's form of religious hierarchy and ecclesiastical government can be described in the following way:
The First Presidency of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism serves as the highest ranking authority in this worldwide religion of Humanistic Mormonism, a body typically consistently of three members (although additional counselors can be called when needed). The President of the First Presidency is called "A Prophet and Philosopher of Reason To All The World" and guides The First Presidency. The President (also called "A Prophet of Reason, A Seer of Science, A Revelator of Philosophy") of the First Presidency of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism serves religious leader for the entire world over Humanistic Mormons. The President has been ordained, commissioned, and given licensed after the prescribed rational course of study as laid out by the Society for Humanistic Mormonism's guiding religious philosophy and democratic procedures sustained by the members and voted and ratified by the General Authorities of the Society.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Society for Humanistic Mormonism is under the authority of The First Presidency for the Society for Humanistic Mormonism which is the governing body of this religion and institution. Both the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serve as the two leading bodies for the Society for Humanistic Mormonism.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles' Mission is to give advice to the First Presidency on the governing philosophy, beliefs, and rituals of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism who in turn make final decisions on what governing principles or beliefs will be incorporated into the Society. They are called "The Apostles of Reason To All the World."
Below the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serves the Presiding Patriarch and the Presiding Matriarch to the Society for Humanistic Mormonism serve as the head Patriarch and head Matriarch to the Society whose offices are co-equal in authority.
The Office of Presiding Bishop for the Society for Humanistic Mormonism is the Head Bishop of all Humanistic Mormons worldwide and is under the authority of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
On the local congregational level (called a ward or branch) a Bishop or Branch President serves over the Humanistic Mormon congregation or ward, they guide the members in all aspects of their spiritual lives helping them on the Path of Reason and Enlightenment. Humanistic Mormon Bishops and other ecclesiastical leaders may preform and conduct baptisms, weddings, funerals, and temple rites.
Our Society education schools include both a university (religious instruction for adults) and a school for children (religious instruction for the young) that we are currently organizing:
James Nickels University (often referred to as JNU or, colloquially, The N) is a private university with headquarters located in Denver, Colorado, United States. It is owned and operated by Society for Humanistic Mormonism, and is the first Humanistic Mormon religious university in the world. Courses are taught via online instruction and plans are in the making for construction of university buildings. James Nickels University's origin can be traced back to 2013 when the First Presidency of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism realized the need to have a university that was completely humanistic with regard to Mormonism and the religion known as Humanistic Mormonism. It was decided that the university would be named after the Acting President of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism at the time James Edward Nickels, Jr. The JNU wishes to expand its online courses with openings for positions for professors, as well as its current project of seeking university accreditation. Future courses will focus on humanism, the role of science, Humanistic Mormonism, and the place for critical thought and reasoning in this religion. JNU also works with The International Institute for Humanistic Mormonism (IIHM) in providing training courses for ordaining religious leaders within the Society for Humanistic Mormonism.
Steven J. Strang School for Children (SSSC) is an independent, co-educational school for open to Humanistic Mormon children or any faith or no faith where children receive primary or elementary education between the ages of about five to about eleven. It is located in Newark, Delaware and also serves an online community for coursework and home schooling. Courses are taught via online instruction and plans are in the making for construction of school buildings. Steven J. Strang School for Children's origin can be traced back to 2014 when the First Presidency of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism realized the need to have a elementary school for children that was completely humanistic with regard to Mormonism and the religion known as Humanistic Mormonism. It was decided that the school would be named in honor of President Steven J. Strang, who currently serves as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Society for Humanistic Mormonism. President Strang has worked tirelessly towards developing a rationalistic-humanistic framework for primary aged children and their need to develop their critical and reasoning abilities, which he has supported and advanced. President Strang also serves as SSSC's first Dean for the school. SSSC wishes to expand its online courses with openings for positions for teachers, as well as its current project of seeking school accreditation. Future courses will focus on humanism, the role of science, Humanistic Mormonism, and the place for critical thought and reasoning for primary aged children.
The International Institute for Humanistic Mormonism (IIHM) was established in 2012 to serve the needs of the growing movement of Humanistic Mormonism. Its three primary purposes are to train leaders, educators, and spokespersons, to commission and publish materials for the movement and to offer public seminars and Colloquia for education and inspiration. The IIHM is the academic and intellectual center for Humanistic Mormonism and The Society for Humanistic Mormonism. The IIHM is under the authority of The Society for Humanistic Mormonism and produces materials for their congregations and communities by providing professional training and general adult education, and ordains Humanistic Mormon religious leaders including Chaplains, Bishops, General Authorities, and Missionaries, as well as other ordained religious leaders in the Society. Its educational materials are the defining materials for Humanistic Mormonism. All of our religious leaders receive a license. The requirements for ordination to any office in the Society is good standing as a member of the Society. The Society has a general lay leadership organization, courses can be taken at IIHM or JNU, for additional training as a religious leader (in any calling or role), but religious leaders are not required to take these courses for ordination to any office in the Humanistic Mormon Priesthood or any of the leadership positions; other than one's membership is good standing by answering Humanistic Mormon Baptismal Questions/ Humanistic Mormon Temple Recommend Questions in an interview with ecclesiastical officials, which are: 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?
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism mobilizes people to celebrate Mormon identity and culture consistent with a humanistic philosophy of life independent of a supernatural authority. As the central body for the Humanistic Mormon Movement in the world, the Society assists in organizing and supporting congregations and in providing a worldwide voice for its members. Humanistic Mormonism can be classified as a religion, both as a form of religious humanism, as well as being classified as a form of religious transhumanism; which maintains its cultural Mormon identity.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is similar to Unitarian Universalism (as a form of religious humanism) and The Society for Humanistic Judaism (which sees religion as something more than a belief in the supernatural but a tie to a person's history, culture, and the future of a group of people as its core identity). So it is with The Society for Humanistic Mormonism as it is tied to a culture, a history, and a connection to the Mormon people. Humanistic Mormonism also shares many similarities with Buddhist humanism, especially with regard to its free-thought position as well as its focus on ending human suffering, engaging in daily meditation services, and developing mindfulness and compassion for all beings. Humanistic Mormonism is a religion but as far as personal interpretations go it is similar to Ethical Culture which can be "religious to those who are religiously minded, and merely ethical to those who are not so minded." Humanistic Mormonism also shares similarities with both Humanistic Stoicism with its focus on reason and overcoming destructive emotions and Humanistic Epicureanism with its focus on the pursuit of happiness, freedom from pain, and developing friendships.
The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is officially incorporated as a world religion which welcomes both religious and secular Mormons or Ex-Mormon humanists (of the Mormon theological diaspora who have been excluded from Mormonism unjustly by less enlightened Mormon denominations who teach irrationalism, censorship of history, and superstition). All rational beings are welcome including other faiths and secular beliefs who wish to worship with us; as the foundation of this Society is built upon religious pluralism and freedom of belief and freedom of disbelief.
We believe that the words of Carl Sagan apply to the Society for Humanistic Mormonism as well as the following quote from Humanist I:
"A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."
Humanist Manifesto I
"Today man's larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation..."