I've put together a Secular Humanist Meeting as an alternative Sunday activity for atheists/Secular Humanists. Directly below are updates to the activity. And below that is a full description of the activity (APPENDIX A, below).
1. With no Chaplain Support, I put out a listing of the local services and scheduled myself for one. The local commander was hesitant, but allowed me to do so after a short explanation. Unfortunately, the word didn't get out until late because of 1) my commander's hesitancy, and 2) the nature of the operation resulted in everyone just going separate directions on Saturday before I could get the word out. So, in the morning, no takers for the Secular Humanist Meeting. But, interestingly enough, out of 50 people, fewer than 5 takers for any services, with Catholic, Protestant, LDS, and Gospel available.
2. By the end of the day, I had several people ask me what exactly the Secular Humanist Meeting was all about. They didn't even know what it was. Including one person who said they were atheist, but had never heard of Secular Humanism. I explained in several ways, but basically that it was an Atheist equivalent to a religion. I felt that was the clearest explanation. Most people were surprised, but no one was horror-stricken or anything. So far, not much support, but no real opposition.
3. Given that no one knows what Secular Humanism is, and to attract a larger group, I changed the listing on the flyer from "Secular Humanist Meeting" to "Secular Humanist (Atheist) Meeting." This also falls in line to other listings, like Protestant (Episcopalian).
4. Today, I got a meeting from a very religious senior NCO. To make a long story short, he told me I needed to check with a chaplain before I posted a Sunday schedule. So, I concurred and will do so. I didn't totally overlook this. I conferred with my chain of command, and I had every intention of working totally through the chaplain once the regular exercise started. However, they're not on the ground yet, so I put it off. I also ensure that I checked out all the other Sunday activities and ensured they were listed. So, anyway, a little push has me making a little extra effort to check with the chaplain.
5. Dead End. I've been stonewalled by the Chaplains for my meeting. I can't have a Secular Humanist meeting scheduled through the Chaplains because Secular Humanism is not a recognized religion. I still have the option of posting my own flyers, but I refuse to do that, as it's too much proselytizing. So, the next step is to backtrack and begin paperwork to establish Secular Humanism as an officially recognized religion. And, actually, getting the religion recognized is a much more useful activity than what I was doing. Instead of influencing a couple thousand people, I can influence a few hundred thousand or more. So, we have an indefinite suspension on this project until the official recognition paperwork goes through.
6. I have included a draft of the recognition paperwork below (APPENDIX B, below). I will of course attach the appropriate headers as necessary. One thing I expected was a lot of support from the Humanist community for this. I haven't gotten it yet and won't continue until I do. I don't claim sole ownership of the title Humanist. I'm not sure how this will turn out right now, but we'll see.
7. I have added a new section based on work to recognize nontheist beliefs. This is an extension of this activity, although a slightly different angle.
Appendix A: SHM OPORD
I need to write this down to explain, and I'm in the middle of an exercise, so my brain is operating in Army mode. So, here is your five-paragraph OPORD format.
OPORD FOR SECULAR HUMANIST MEETING
Appendix A (Reference Materials)
personnel are considered friendly, but one should be cautious.
We must understand that chaplains and the direct chain of command have
possible censure power over the operation.
We have no choice but to face opposition from those personnel directly so
that they understand the operation and give their support.
For other personnel who oppose the operation, for example senior leaders
from participating units, the best action is to avoid contact.
The have no direct authority or control over this type of operation, so
we have no need to deal with them. We
must only ensure that they do not interfere with their soldiers’ free
Awareness and Understanding of Atheism and Secular Humanism.
Basic success is begins with getting a listing for a Secular Humanist
Meeting on local Chaplain flyers. Auxiliary
factors for success include maximizing attendance, presenting informative and
innovative meetings, presenting the Military Association of Atheists and
Freethinkers, setting up future operations in future exercises, developing
contacts and networks within the secular military community, and eliciting
inquiry and support from the religious community. The
operation should be used in a community that has had no recent or
high-visibility secular activities.
b. Concept of Operations: This operation consists of (2) phases.
I. PRE-PLANNING – up to startex – Gather materials and information to pass out and develop curricula from for Secular Humanist Meetings.
II. ADVON – advon arrival to startex – During this time several hundred personnel will be on site, but Chaplain Support will not yet be organized. However, there will be Chaplain support. In order to get the word out, I will gather information about local activities and add a meeting of my own. Hold meetings to present information.
III. MAIN-EVENT – startex to endex – Confer with Chaplains to ensure Secular Humanist Meeting is listed on the flyers for services. Also, ensure they understand the concept to gain their support and enlist their help in spreading the word about the meeting. Hold meetings to present information in an appropriate venue, ensuring we act in accordance with our own beliefs about Separation of Church and State and non-proselytization.
POST-EVENT – endex and later – contact those who wish to be contacted
and send information as requested. Ensure
that we do not overeagerly pursue contacts.
The intent is to inform interested parties, not proselytize. In particular, keep contact with interested chaplains.
Material and services.
(1) Location. The suggested
location will be in a DFAC after lunch on Sunday. This is a common
location for auxiliary religious services.
One should also utilize the Chaplain if they have extra locations.
However, a Chapel would be inappropriate because it would discourage
(2) Transportation. The location should be within walking distances for most. For those outside walking distance, one cane use shuttle buses to other Sunday activities.
(3) Literature. Humanist and Freethought organizations are happy to provide support in many instances, especially for a developed plan; however, for these meetings, we will use personal materials, and prior donations from the American Humanist Association.
5. COMMAND AND SIGNAL.
a. Command. Command Information consists of local representative and Chaplains. Information has been omitted
Location of Website for the
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers:
Location of Reference Activity:
Personal Website of author: http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/1357
A (Reference Materials)
Humanist Manifesto I
Drafted 1933 by Raymond Bragg
following excerpt is precedes HMI, and provides a good introduction for the 3
Manifestos and one declaration that serve as foundational documents for Secular
Humanism. The following documents
show snapshots of the evolution of Secular Humanism.
importance of the document is that more than thirty men have come to general
agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly
representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the
materials of the modern world.”
Humanist Values (1933):
Rational & Scientific Ethics
Obsolescence of Religion
Human living is a secular activity
Living in the present
Comfort through understanding
Encourage human thought
Humanist Manifesto II
Drafted 1973 by Paul Kurtz
Religion: good and bad
points, highlights detrimental effects of a focus on afterlife instead of the
Ethics: Morals arise from
human experience. Reason and
intelligence are means of discovery of ethics.
Individualism: preciousness and dignity of all individuals.
A Secular Humanist Declaration
Drafted 1980 by Paul Kurtz
Declaration is a rewrite of the previous Manifestos. It recognizes the benefits of Secular Humanism, and notes the
good and bad effects of religion. The
Manifesto itself is meant to present an updated list of values of Secular
Humanist Values (1980):
Separation of Church and State
The Ideal of Freedom
Ethics Based on Critical Intelligence
Science and Technology
Drafted 2000 by Paul Kurtz
This is the
most recent snapshot of Humanist Values. It
begins with a review of the prior documents.
Atheists needed an alternative to religion. Focused on social and economic planning.
Focus efforts on a global scale. Protect
minorities. Reevaluate sex rights.
Support euthanasia. Focus on
an optimistic attitude. Eliminated
economic ideas of socialism in favor of general charity towards others.
Humanist Values (2000):
Prospects for the future are bright
Presents a worldview of scientific
Identifies benefits of technology
Presents SH view of Ethics and Reason
Makes a universal commitment to the
whole of humanity
Presents a new global agenda supported
by the following institutions:
Proposes new planetary institutions:
World Parliament, Security Organization, Court, Environmental Oversight
Committee, Tax Service, Corporation Monitor
Optimism about prospects for humanity
Back: A Manual for Freethinkers
Edited by Tim Madigan and Tom Flynn
presents a very colloquial and informal approach to problems for Secular
Humanists and Atheists in today’s society.
It is not meant to serve as a guideline for action.
Rather, it is primarily useful to present topics for discussion.
Responding to Religious Culture:
"God Bless You"
"Did you have a Merry Xmas?"
Religious Charities at Work
Suggestions to say Grace at your home
Suggestions to say Grace at others'
Religious functions at work
Prayers at School Events
Responding to Religious World View:
"What Happens When You Die"
· Personal Revelation
Religion in Politics:
Voting Booths in
Equal Time for
Secular Humanist Living:
By B. C. Johnson
like an adversarial book, but, in fact, it is very fair and informative.
It presents philosophical perspectives on the following topics:
God & --
Laws of Nature
The Problem of Evil
The Meaning of Life
APPENDIX B: RECOGNITION PAPERWORK
Recognition of non-religious belief systems,
including Secular Humanism
purpose of this memorandum is to request that Secular Humanism, a non-religious
system of belief that includes a world view, set of ethics, and way of life be
granted official recognition and support by the Chaplains Corps commensurate
with that support traditionally reserved for religions and religious systems of
Secular Humanism is system of belief that includes an atheistic and
scientific world view with reason-based ethics and a way of life devoted to
promoting human flourishing. Other in-depth explanations are available at the following
Council for Secular Humanism: http://www.secularhumanism.org/intro/what.html
International Humanist and Ethical Union:
Ontario Center for Religious Tolerance:
Virginia University Religious Movements Site:
3. The following people and organizations support this petition.
soliciting Council for Secular Humanism, American Ethical Union, American
Humanist Association, other members of Coalition for the Community of Reason]