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From the American Humanist Association, at this link on their official website:
Although many humanists throughout the world do not belong to any organization with the humanist name, groups have formed on six continents. The International Humanist and Ethical Union moved its headquarters to London from Holland in 1997 and named Babu Gogineni as executive director. The IHEU represents upwards of four million humanists organized in over 100 national organizations. It has consultative status at the United Nations, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the U.N. International Children's Educational Fund (UNICEF), the Council of Europe, and the European Union. In November 1996, this organization held its thirteenth Humanist World Congress in Mexico City.
Forerunners of Modern Humanist Organizations
Auguste Comte, a pioneer French sociologist, formulated around 1850 a "religion of humanity" based on his intellectual philosophy of Positivism. He wrote: "Every subversive scheme now afloat has either originated in Monotheism or has received its sanction" and "there are now but two camps: the camp of reaction and anarchy, which acknowledges more or less distinctly the direction of God; the camp of construction and progress, which is wholly devoted to Humanity." Positivist clubs and congregations were formed in Europe and the Americas. In 1881 the Church of Positivism was established in Brazil. It continues to this day and Comteís slogan, "Order and Progress," is part of the Brazilian national flag. Comteís humanistic religion was warmly regarded by William James and F.C.S. Schiller.
Apparently independent of Comte, in London, England, the Humanistic Religious Association was formed in 1853. Declaring, "We have emancipated ourselves from the ancient compulsory dogmas, myths and ceremonies borrowed of old from Asia and still pervading the ruling churches of our age," these early religious humanists gathered democratically for cultural and social meetings and provided for the education of their children and assistance to members in need. Then, more than a decade later, in 1866, freethinking social reformers united under the leadership of Charles Bradlaugh to form the National Secular Society, a more activist organization that would, within a century, become fully identified with humanism. Meanwhile, in Germany in 1859, a new liberal Christian denomination, the Bund Freireligioser Gemeinden Deutschlands (Federation of Free Religious Congregations of Germany) was established. It, too, would become humanist a century later.
In 1867, in response to a temporary turn toward Christian creedalism in the American Unitarian Association, dissenters founded the Free Religious Association. Organized in Boston, Massachusetts, under the leadership of Ralph Waldo Emerson, it appealed not only to theological radicals among Unitarians, but also to non-Christian religious liberals. Among its later luminaries were Rabbi Isaac M. Wise, organizer of Reform Judaism, and Felix Adler, founder of Ethical Culture. The association, however, never moved beyond what it would eventually call humanistic theism, and it ceased to exist by the outbreak of World War I.
During the last century the
brilliant works of Robert Ingersoll and Mark Twain loosened the hold of religion
for millions of people.
In 1876, Felix Adler established the New York Society for Ethical Culture as an organization devoted to ethical behavior of individuals, rather than to creedal statements. Both ritual and prayer were excluded from meetings and social service became a central focus. Its underlying philosophy was a neo-Kantian, transcendental idealism. Soon other ethical societies were set up in Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Together with Unitarians, settlement houses were established. Such activities gave emphasis to the development of social work as a profession. The movement later inspired the development of the Legal Aid Society, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and other major American reform efforts.
Influenced by Ethical Culture, Moncure Conway, an American minister of a Unitarian chapel in London, England, began guiding his congregation in a specifically ethical direction until, in 1887, his church became the South Place Ethical Society. In 1896, the International Ethical Union was established and, for over four decades, it united Ethical Culturists in the U.S. with those in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and New Zealand.
Though Ethical Culture did not fully identify itself with a non-transcendental humanism until the 1950s, it was indirectly involved in the adoption of humanism as a modern term. Simultaneously, literary humanism, with a different emphasis as featured by Paul Elmer Moore and Irving Babbitt, was widely discussed early in this century.
In 1915, a Positivist, Frederick James Gould, writing in a magazine published by the British Ethical Societies, used the word to denote a belief and trust in human effort. Reading the article, John H. Dietrich, a Unitarian minister in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was influenced to view humanism as the best name for his new, fully naturalistic, religious outlook.
This came at a time when dissent was strong within American Unitarianismóa struggle between ministers, on one side, who wanted a creed that would exclude both nontheists and other post-Christian dissenters from the denomination and ministers, on the other side, who opposed such creedalism. Among the dissenters were two others who had used the term humanism in a modern sense: Edward Howard Griggs, author of The New Humanism: Studies in Personal and Social Development, published in 1899, and Frank Carleton Doan, author of Religion and the Modern Mind, published in 1909. But it wasnít until Dietrich and another forthright nontheist, Curtis W. Reese, combined their efforts at the Western Unitarian Conference of 1917, that the humanist movement got underway in both name and substance. A year later, academic philosopher Roy Wood Sellars published The Next Step in Religion, a book that added vitality to religious humanism.
As other philosophers (particularly John Dewey, Charles Morris, Oliver L. Reiser, and later Sidney Hook and Corliss Lamont) fed the growing stream of ideas, humanism became more widely accepted as a term in Unitarian, Universalist, Ethical Culture, and Quaker congregations, as well as among freethinkers and thoughtful academics.
Early Humanist Groups
With interest in the philosophy thus aroused, a number of Unitarian professors and seminarians at the University of Chicago and Meadville Seminary came together in 1927 to form the Humanist Fellowship. The next year they launched The New Humanist, the first journal devoted exclusively to serving the young movement. That same year, evolutionary scientist Julian Huxley, in Religion Without Revelation, set forth the principles of humanism in a popular fashion.
In 1929, Charles Francis Potter, a Unitarian minister who had served as Clarence Darrowís biblical expert at the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, left his denomination and founded the First Humanist Society of New York. There he and Sherman Wakefield offered humanism as "a new faith for a new age." This stimulated wide interest.
Also that year, in Bangalore, Indiaóapparently unconnected with similar activity in the Westóa humanist club was established with Colonel Raja Jai Prithvi Bahadur Singh of Nepal as its first president. Rabindranath Tagore was among its members. Elsewhere in India, various rationalist and freethought groups had been functioning since the late 1800s. Out of this diverse effort grew Self-Respect, a highly influential social and political reform movement founded in Madras in 1925 by Periyar. Openly nontheistic, the Self-Respect movement opposed the caste system and Hindu beliefs, supported human rights, and promoted science. Periyar later identified his efforts with humanism.
The depression year 1933 was when thirty-four intellectual leaders formulated and signed a document called "A Humanist Manifesto," which was first published in The New Humanist. Unitarian ministers Raymond B. Bragg and Edwin H. Wilson took the lead in this initiative. Today, that document, though not a creed, is sometimes considered dated, but its basic analysis and aspirations are acknowledged as appropriate for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
In California in 1939, a group of Quaker humanists, led by Lowell H. Coate, broke away from their denomination and, at a meeting of the First Universalist Church of Los Angeles, established the Humanist Society of Friends. Inspired by the "Humanist Manifesto," they offered "a scientific religion for a scientific age and a universal ethics which shall end war." Meanwhile, a similarly inspired intercollegiate science seminar, whose coordinators were H.G. Burns, J.T. Stockdale, Daniel Levinson, and one of the authors (Lloyd), became the Los Angeles Scientific Humanist Group. The writings of George Bernard Shaw had influenced some of the members. During this time humanist Bertrand Russell came to teach at the University of California at Los Angeles. Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley, also from England, as well as German novelist Thomas Mann and philosopher Hans Reichenbach added to the rich humanist presence which is still felt in Southern California today with many notables including Steve Allen.
Following World War II, three prominent humanists became the first directors of major divisions of the United Nations: Julian Huxley of UNESCO, Brock Chisholm of the World Health Organization, and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agricultural Organization.
Huxley, in particular, called for a global humanist vision. In his monograph, UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy, he pointed out the necessity of transcending traditional philosophies, theologies, and political-economic doctrines and the importance of recognizing the evolutionary basis of culture. Science, he said, needs to be integrated with other human activities, and the general philosophy of UNESCO should be a scientific humanism, global in extent and evolutionary in background. But Huxleyís effort was only partially successful; representatives holding onto nationalistic and traditional views blocked and jettisoned the forthrightly humanist aspects of his proposal. [bold emphasis EA]
In postwar Europe, humanist secular organizations sprang up in a number of countries, particularly Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. In India, M.N. Roy launched the politically focused Radical Humanist Movement, which for some years had a large impact; and Gora, an associate of Mohandas Gandhi, expanded the Atheist Centre, a humanistic social service institution he had established in 1940. Shortly thereafter Jawaharlal Nehru, a thorough-going humanist, became Indiaís leader.
Around this time a number of small beginnings were forming in Africa. The authors visited population workers and humanists in 1959 in Nigeria including Samuel Etu, an educator whose school library had a complete set of the published writings of Robert Ingersoll. One of the authors (Mary) was scheduled to speak to the humanist group in Lagos. Our automobile broke down in central Nigeria and we hitchhiked, arriving with only an hour to spare. To Maryís surprise only three current members showed up with the explanation given that the majority of the members were in prison for advocating social changes.
In the United Kingdom, Harold Blackham of the British Ethical Union began discussing with humanists throughout the world the desirability of establishing closer international cooperation. Together with Professor Jaap van Praag of the Netherlands and others, meetings were held at the Municipal University of Amsterdam in August 1952. Chaired by Julian Huxley, it hosted over two hundred humanists from around the world, including Gilbert Murray of the U.K., Jerome Nathanson from the United States, and V.M. Tarkunde of India. Jeff Hornback and the authors were present and one (Mary) became a member of the board of directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the organization that emerged from the gathering.
Among the first actions of the IHEU were decisions to support the World Federation of Mental Health, meeting in Brussels, Belgium, and the World Conference on Planned Parenthood, meeting in Bombay, India. After considerable thoughtful discussion, a declaration setting forth the fundamentals of modern ethical humanism was adopted.
This declaration offers humanism as
"a third way out of the present crisis of civilization," being an alternative to
revealed religion on the one hand and totalitarian systems on the other.
Humanism supports democracy, not only in the political realm but in "all human
relationships." It "seeks to use science creatively, not destructively". Science
gives the means but science itself does not propose ends...Humanism is ethical,"
affirming human dignity and "the right of the individual to the greatest
possible freedom of development compatible with the rights of others." In so
doing, humanism "rejects totalitarian attempts to perfect the machine in order
to obtain immediate gains at the cost of human values." It "insists that
personal liberty is an end that must be combined with social responsibility in
order that it shall not be sacrificed to the improvement of material
conditions." And it is "a way of life, aiming at the maximum possible
fulfillment, through the cultivation of ethical and creative living."
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American Humanist Association - http://www.americanhumanist.org/
UNESCO - http://www.unesco.org/
UNESCO at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO
From that link:
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945. Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.
UNESCO has 192 Member States and 6 Associate Members. The organization is based in Paris, with over 50 field offices and several institutes and offices throughout the world. Most of the field offices are "cluster" offices covering three or more countries; there are also national and regional offices. UNESCO pursues its action through five major programmes: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes; international science programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects, the promotion of cultural diversity; international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage and to preserve human rights; and attempts to bridge the world-wide digital divide.
UNICEF - http://www.unicef.org/
World Federation For Mental Health - http://www.wfmh.com/
WFMH synopsis by Eugene B. Brody, M.D. for Psychiatric News - http://www.psych.org/pnews/98-01-19/hx.html
From that link:
Origins of the
World Federation for Mental Health
Psychiatry gained its legitimate status as a medical specialty in the post-World War II years. In the place of the alienist of an earlier era, now stood the psychiatrist as a world citizen with a role to play in mending a fractured world. The World Federation for Mental Health was formed 50 years ago to help psychiatrists achieve that role.
Dilip Ramchandani, M.D.
History Notes Editor
By Eugene B. Brody, M.D.
The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) celebrates its 50th birthday in 1998, but its origins go back to 1909. In that year Clifford Beers, a recent mental hospital patient, formed the U.S. National Committee for Mental Hygiene and called for a network of mental hygiene societies throughout the world. The first step came in 1919 when he formed the predecessor of WFMH, the International Committee for Mental Hygiene (ICMH), along with Clarence Hincks, M.D., of the Canadian Medical Association, and the support of a number of well-known Americans, including Arthur Ruggles, M.D., superintendent of Butler Hospital; Adolph Meyer, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Hospital; and psychologist William James of Harvard.
In addition to the United States and Canada, the new organization’s first members were the mental hygiene societies of Finland and South Africa. In 1930 the ICMH’s first International Congress of Mental Hygiene attracted more than 4,000 participants to Washington, D.C. A second congress was held in Paris in 1937, but further international contact was halted by World War II.
The resurgence of an international mental hygiene movement was foreshadowed by the Canadian army’s creation, in autumn 1941, of the Directorate of Personnel Selection, led by psychiatrist George Brock Chisholm, M.D. In that role he became a friend and confidant of American psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan, M.D., then a consultant to the U.S. Selective Service. Both were concerned with how to select a civilian army and what public mental health resources would be necessary after the war.
Immediately after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, Sullivan invited Chisholm, then director of medical services for the Canadian army, to lecture at the William Alanson White Foundation. In two addresses, titled "The Psychiatry of Enduring Peace and Social Progress," he articulated his view of psychiatry and psychology as the disciplines that could make it possible for human beings to abandon war and become "citizens of the world." He and Sullivan were already thinking in terms of "a psychiatry of peoples."
Not long thereafter a number of international organizations asked the National Association for Mental Health of England and Wales to organize a third international mental hygiene congress. John R. Rees, M.D., who had been a distinguished senior consultant in psychiatry to the British Army, accepted the tasks of organizing the congress and serving as its president. In 1946 his first move was to go to New York, where he obtained ICMH’s agreement (through its president, Frank Fremont-Smith, M.D., of the Macy Foundation) to sponsor the projected congress and recruited the North American psychiatric leadership who he considered were essential to its success. In the small office of George Stevenson, M.D., medical director of the U.S. Committee for Mental Hygiene and APA president-elect, he met with Hincks, Ruggles, and Chisholm, now slated to be the first director general of the U.N.’s new World Health Organization (W.H.O.).
Chisholm, according to Rees, was "the person primarily responsible" for suggesting a new organization to be called the World Federation for Mental Health. The idea was immediately accepted by his four colleagues, and its Articles of Association were produced in 1947. Meanwhile, Rees had initiated preparatory groups in many countries. In the United States participants included members of the infant Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), led by recent Brigadier General William Menninger. They were sensitive to the new organization’s definition of purpose: "To promote among all peoples and nations the highest possible level of mental health. . .in its broadest biological, medical, educational, and social aspects." But many in APA were critical of colleagues who, in their view, had no business dabbling in social concerns.
Meanwhile, Sullivan, Canadian social psychologist Otto Klineberg, M.D., Ph.D., and others had been further stimulated by participation in UNESCO’s project on reducing international tensions. In the last week of July and the first week of August 1948, they were joined by Chisholm, social scientists such as Margaret Mead (the federation’s second U.S. president), and others in an international commission convened at Sullivan’s suggestion. It produced the new federation’s founding document, Mental Health and World Citizenship, which was adopted during the Third International Congress on Mental Hygiene in London on August 21. John Rees was the organization’s first president (1948-49) and its first director (1949-61). According to Rees’s reminiscences, sensitivities about U.S. dominance delayed the election of a U.S. president until the election of Frank Fremon-Smith, M.D., for the 1954-55 term.
Dr. Brody has been the secretary general of the World Federation for Mental Health since 1983.
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