Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association

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The logo of IEHA

The Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association (Icelandic: Siðmennt, félag siðrænna húmanista á Íslandi) is closely tied with the Norwegian Human-Etisk Forbund (HEF) and is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).

After the first civil confirmation in Iceland in 1989, the society was founded in February 1990. Since then it directs civil confirmations every year. Until 2008 it gave information about organising secular funerals and name-giving ceremonies. IEHA holds annually lectures and meetings about life stance issues. From May 29, 2008 IEHA has offered the services of trained celebrants to conduct secular or humanistic ceremonies, including name-givings, weddings and funerals. IEHA is active in the movement for separation of church and state in Iceland. Chairman and a founder of the society is Hope Knutsson.

Its name, Siðmennt is derived from the Icelandic words "sið" meaning "ethical" and "mennt" for "education". This is appropriate since as a life stance organization its primary subject is ethics and education on how to lead an ethical life or develop mature ethical practices and theory further.

IEHA has three main areas of concern

  1. Ethics - mostly practical ethics and human rights issues. Promotion of humanistic values.
  2. Epistemology - Its approach is naturalistic and rejects supernaturalism.
  3. Family ceremonies – Secular baby-naming, confirmation, weddings (and vows) and funeral ceremonies conducted by trained celebrants.

As with IHEU the association has the "happy human" as its logo but has adopted its own version of it that was designed in 2008 by one of its board member, Svanur Sigurbjörnsson.

From 2005 IEHA has awarded annually an individual or organization the "Siðmennt award of Humanism" for outstanding work on improving human rights in Iceland. From 2008 IEHA has awarded at the same ceremony the "Siðmennt award for Education and Science".

Secular life stance organisations that were not categorised as religious (like IEHA) were not entitled to receive "parish member fees" (sóknargjöld) through the state the way registered religious groups could until early 2013. Furthermore, secular organisations could not take care of the legal aspect of marriage ceremonies. Instead, these church taxes were collected from people who are not members of any registered religious group and given to the University of Iceland. After 2009 it was not given to any particular party. This was changed in 2013 after over 7 years of IEHA fighting for a legal change to give secular life stance organisations equal legal status and funding to the religious organisations it finally was accepted and a new law was passed on January 30, 2013.

Membership[edit]

IEHA membership (1 January)[1]
Year Population Members % ±
2014 325,671 612 0.19 0.00 Steady
2015 329,100 1,020 0.31 0.12 Increase

External links[edit]

References[edit]