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'Humanism as Religion'

March 15, 1987

Judge Hand, in his Alabama court decision declaring "secular humanism" to be a religion, has missed the point. Although religious humanism does exist, neither religious nor secular humanism is in the textbooks of Alabama public schools. If it were, we Humanists would be as much against it as Judge Hand is!

We are strong supporters of church-state separation and uphold the idea that, in a pluralistic society, schools must remain religiously neutral. We simply reject the absurd charge that a state-of-the-art education in science, social studies, sex education, and other subjects involves "brainwashing" children with Humanist ideas.

We challenge Judge Hand or anyone else to produce quotes from public school textbooks that present the ideas unique to Humanist philosophy. For example, I have never seen a textbook that says humanity is the sole source of human values, that there exists no "higher" authority for resolving moral dilemmas. Some textbooks may speak of self-reliance or may explore alternative value systems, but that isn't enough to constitute humanism, no matter what Judge Hand and the Religious Right may imagine.

FREDERICK EDWORDS

Amherst, N.Y.

Edwords is executive director of the American Humanist Assn.

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