The following letter is a membership invitation from the AHA, written by AHA President Isa
The following letter is a membership invitation from the AHA, written by
AHA President Isaac Asimov. It contains a definition of Humanism, a
rundown of some of the activities of the Association, and an invitation
to join. I'm posting it for the information of those in this group who
are interested in Humanism.
When you pick up the newspaper and read of the radical right's latest
attacks on arts and culture in our country . . .
When you turn on your TV and see a videotape of Los Angeles police
officers brutally beating a defenseless black man arrested for
speeding . . .
When you switch on the radio and hear the news that the Supreme
Court -- now thoroughly "Reaganized" and "Busherated" -- may soon
overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees a woman's right
to reproductive freedom . . .
Do you feel that you're all alone in thinking that something is not
right with the state of our nation -- and indeed, our world? Do you
sometimes wonder if there's anyone else out there who feels the same
way you do?
Well, you are not alone. I'm with you, and I estimate that there are
7.3 million other people like us here in America -- people who share a
concern for the world, people who have a vision of a better tomorrow,
people who live by a philosophy of liberty and humaneness. Just imagine
the impact we could have if we all pulled together to work for a change.
That's why I joined the American Humanist Association.
Let me explain what Humanism means (the same thing I told Bill Moyers on
national TV). Being a Humanist means you place your confidence in the
power of reason and compassion, as opposed to the empty promises of
unquestioned authority -- either the still-powerful superstitions of
ancient religion or the self-serving propaganda of many modern
It means you believe that human beings have the intelligence and the
creativity to conquer the dilemmas facing our world today. It means
your efforts are invested in the here and now, not in the past or the
hereafter. It means you want to leave the world a better place because
you were here.
If you share this view, then you understand that we must regain control
of our lives and our precious planet. We must apply the best of our
thinking ad ability to the challenge of making things better for all.
By uniting with others to share in this tremendous enterprise, we can
create an unparalleled opportunity to make a difference in our world and
The American Humanist Association is made up of people who think like
you, and who act on what they think.
Since 1985, I have been president of the AHA -- a post once held by
Nobel laureate Hermann J. Muller. The AHA includes in its membership
many noted thinkers and doers: cable TV mogul Ted Turner, Star Trek
creator Gene Roddenberry, Worldwatch Institute founder Lester R. Brown,
novelist Margaret Atwood, astronomer Carl Sagan, anthropologist Stephen
Gould, Planned Parenthood president Faye Wattleton, and sociologist E.
O. Wilson are just a few.
Why do people support the American Humanist Association? Because the
AHA does things!
The AHA is known for its uncompromising stand in support of women's
rights and reproductive freedom. This year it has taken action in the
infamous abortion counseling case Rust v. Sullivan, in which the
Reaganized and Busherated Supreme Court attempted to impose a "gag rule"
on federally funded health-care workers to keep them from mentioning
Maintaining the wall of separation between church and state is also high
on the AHA's agenda. The AHA helped bring about a legal defeat for the
claim that the "religion" of secular Humanism is being taught in
America's public schools. Televangelist Pat Robertson had backed 624
fundamentalist parents who sought to ban 44 textbooks used in Alabama.
But a handful of Humanist attorneys brought facts to bear in the Federal
Court of Appeals that stopped Robertson's drive cold.
The AHA was also one of the first organizations to warn the public about
the dangers posed by the creationist movement. This warning proved
prophetic when studies revealed that American secondary students score
in biology below their counterparts in all other industrialized nations!
In 1980, the AHA founded Creation/Evolution, a journal dedicated to
meeting the creationists' challenge with the one response they most
fear: clear, concise, scientific evidence refuting their claims. The
AHA was also a plaintiff in the Louisiana creationism case that was
heard by the Supreme Court. The 7-2 decision made it clear that state-
mandated "equal-time" for creation "science" is a violation of the First
And now the AHA has a "friend-of-the-court" brief filed in Lee v.
Weisman, a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court which addresses
the question of prayers during high-school graduation ceremonies.
Standing firm against the spread of violence in our society is another
of the AHA's long-standing concerns. That's why, every year, the AHA
cosponsors the National Conference to Abolish Corporal Punishment in
Schools. From the AHA's initial involvement in 1988, when it published
a special issue of The Humanist on the subject, to the present, the use
of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools has rapidly declined.
State after state has acted to outlaw this institutionalized form of
child abuse, and the campaign is rapidly reaching its goal of complete
abolition of the practice. In an era when it is justifiably illegal to
beat soldiers, sailors, prisoners, the aged, mentally ill, and animals,
Humanists ask why it is that children -- our best hope for the future --
have been the last to benefit from social progress.
The AHA has also been active on the grass-roots level. Our extremely
successful Rational Recovery program is the Humanist alternative for
those seeking release from alcohol and drug addiction. Rational
Recovery supplements our Division of Humanist Counseling, which
continues to provide alternative weddings, funerals, and other rites of
passage. Meanwhile, AHA chapters serve as the broadest network for
grass-roots Humanism in the country. Over 70 chapters in 28 states are
bringing the message of Humanism to thousands of people at the local
level. No other Humanist membership organization has such a large and
The AHA also publishes the Humanist, the oldest and most highly regarded
magazine devoted to the philosophy of Humanism. Since 1941, The
Humanist has challenged its readers with the thought and opinion of some
of the best and brightest in America today. Such contributors have
recently included "CBS News" anchorman Dan Rather, political philosopher
Noam Chomsky, constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, documentary
videomaker Barbara Trent, media critic Michael Parenti, foreign-policy
analyst Diana Reynolds, Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, feminist activist
Betty Friedan, and investigative researcher Chip Berlet. This level of
journalism has made The Humanist one of the most powerful sources of
independent thought for over half a century!
The AHA is a membership organization -- the largest such Humanist
institution in North America. Since its inception, the AHA has provided
its members with the full spectrum of privileges and benefits that only
and organization of the AHA's stature can offer. Members receive a one-
year subscription to The Humanist; a one-year subscription to the AHA
news publication Free Mind; discounts on AHA books and tapes; and
voting privileges within the Association. Moreover, annual conferences
bring Humanists from across the country together for an intensive array
of workshops, meetings, and celebrations of the Humanist philosophy.
The AHA's 1991 national conference featured Worldwatch Institute founder
Lester R. Brown and the Population Institute founder Werner Fornos
speaking on the environment and overpopulation and issuing a Humanist
call to action on both of these global problems. Also featured was Gene
Roddenberry, the creator of "Star Trek" and "The Next Generation,"
speaking on the Humanism behind those popular TV series. At the AHA's
1990 conference, cable TV magnate Ted Turner pledged to "take the heat"
and initiate efforts to bring the French abortion pill, RU-486, into the
United States. And in 1989, the AHA cosponsored a national conference
devoted to homelessness in America. Papers from that conference
offering solutions to this growing tragedy were published in the
May/June 1989 issue of The Humanist. Since then, they have proved
instrumental in shaping housing legislation in the state of Washington.
This is just a small sampling of the AHA's activities. With a
professional office staff in Amherst, New York, armed with the public-
relations and communications savvy it takes to get the message of
Humanism out before the public, the AHA has been working tirelessly to
heighten the visibility of your values.
Now its your turn. Only a lack of support from Humanists like you can
bring our growing influence to a halt. But I'm confident you agree with
me that it's high time Humanists were heard on today's critical issues.
Wherever the cause of reason and compassion can make a difference, the
American Humanist Association will be there.
Yours for Humanism,
American Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
7 Harwood Drive
P.O. Box 146
Amherst, NY 14226-0146
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank