U.S. Court Rules that Secular Humanism Deserves to Be Treated as a Religion
- By Emily Murdoch --
- 10 Nov 2014 --
A federal district court in Oregon has declared Secular Humanism a religion, paving the way for the non-theistic community to obtain the same legal rights as groups such as Christianity.
A court in the United States of America has ruled that the belief in secular humanism should be considered to be a religion which means that people who consider themselves to be secular humanists as their religious choice will be permitted to create humanist groups.
“The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
This entire court case came about because a prisoner filed a suit challenging the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He did this because he argued that it was completely unfair that he was not permitted to create a humanist study group in his prison. His request was forbidden because secular humanism was not previously considered to be a religion.
Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty concluded after the court case that by refusing to allow the prisoner the right to create a secular humanism group, the prison was in effect, violating the rights that were created for him and enshrined in the First and Fifth Amendments. The prisoner was supported throughout the proceedings by the American Humanist Association who have been pushing for secular humanism to be recognised as a religious view point for many years. From now onwards the same legal rights that people of faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, will be accorded to those that follow secular humanism.
Prisons will only permit prisoners to meet together for religious reasons, which means that only the religions that are on the permitted list can come together and worship and study together. Now that secular humanism has been added to this permitted list, it is expected that in prisons across America, prisoners will start to file requests to have their own secular humanism groups established so that they can study and discuss ideas together.