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The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity".[1] AHA advocates Humanism as defined by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a multinational coalition of which it is a founding member. The American Humanist Association publishes a bi-monthly magazine called The Humanist.[2]

The AHA was founded in 1941 as a successor to the Humanist Press Association, which was itself successor to the Humanist Fellowship founded in 1928. The official symbol of the AHA is the Happy Human.



The AHA was founded as an educational organization in 1941, was incorporated in Illinois in 1943, and secured an educational tax exemption shortly thereafter. In the late 1960s the AHA also secured a religious tax exemption in support of its celebrant program, allowing Humanist celebrants to legally officiate at weddings, perform chaplaincy functions, and in other ways enjoy the same rights as traditional clergy. In 1991, however, the AHA took control of the Humanist Society, a religious Humanist organization founded in 1939, and moved its celebrant program over to it. After that, the AHA commenced the process of jettisoning its religious tax exemption and resuming its exclusively educational status—a change that finally took effect January 1, 2003. Today, therefore, the AHA is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit, tax exempt, 501 (c)(3), publicly supported educational organization.


The mission of the American Humanist Association is to promote the spread of Humanism, raise public awareness and acceptance of Humanism, and encourage the continued refinement of the Humanist philosophy.

As a member organisation of the IHEU, the AHA fully endorses the Amsterdam Declaration 2002.

Definitions of Humanism


AHA's definition of Humanism

The AHA's definition from its website:

"Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity." —Humanism and Its Aspirations

IHEU's minimum statement on Humanism

All member organisations of the IHEU are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1 to accept [1] the IHEU Minimum statement on Humanism:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality. [2]

Unofficial definitions

  • Kurt Vonnegut, former Honorary President of the AHA, wrote in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead.”

AHA's role in Humanism

The AHA strives to be vocal on issues of major concern to Humanists; reaching out to media and opinion leaders as well as keeping its members informed about the issues of the day. It currently has groups in more than 30 states and publishes the Humanist magazine and the philosophical journal, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism. The AHA is also the publisher of the Humanist Manifestos I, II, and III. The AHA along with the Washington Area Secular Humanists host a website for the National Day of Reason.

AHA's Humanists of the Year

See also

External links



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