Giordano Bruno Foundation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Giordano Bruno Foundation
Formation30 March 2004; 20 years ago (30 March 2004)
TypeNonprofit organisation
PurposeSupporting evolutionary humanism
Executive Board
Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Ulla Wessels

The Giordano Bruno Foundation (German: Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung, abbreviated: gbs) is a Germany-based non-profit foundation under public law that promotes evolutionary humanism and the enlightenment. It was founded by entrepreneur Herbert Steffen in 2004 and was named after Giordano Bruno. Cofounder and spokesperson is Michael Schmidt-Salomon. He has formed the Executive Board with Ulla Wessels since 2022. The foundation has more than 10,000 supporting members and 50 regional and university groups.


The Giordano Bruno Foundation advocates the position of Evolutionary Humanism, as formulated in the Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism (German: Manifest des Evolutionären Humanismus), which was published by Michael Schmidt-Salomon in 2005 and sold around 50,000 copies. In the manifesto, Schmidt-Salomon pleads for a naturalistic philosophy. He starts from a naturalistic concept of the cosmos in which there are no interventions of supernatural creatures (e. g. gods, demons, witches or goblins) in world events by way of miracles. The manifesto outlines, that humanity will be able to create more life-friendly, free, and just conditions than can be found today. The concept can be traced to the work of Julian Huxley, the first UNESCO Director General and a major contributor to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[1]


Starting with the 2005 series of events “Heathen fun rather than Hell’s torture” (“Heidenspaß statt Höllenqual”) on the occasion of the Catholic World Youth Day in Cologne,[2] the gbs has been addressing a wide range of topics around humanism, enlightenment and the principles of a scientific world view in many highly publicized campaigns and events. A chronology[3] and the documentary "In Humanity We Trust – The story of evolutionary humanism"[4] provide information on the most important events in the history of the foundation. The gbs und its regional and university groups organize about 150 events per year throughout Germany.[5]

In 2007, the gbs supported the founding of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims (German: Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime), which inspired similar movements in other countries;[6][7] in 2012, the campaign “Against Religious Discrimination at the Workplace” (German: Gegen religiöse Diskriminierung am Arbeitsplatz, GerDiA);[8] in 2013, the project Evokids - Evolution in Primary School;[9] in 2017, the founding of the Institute for Secular Law (German: Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht, ifw);[10] and in 2017, the founding of the Atheist Refugee Relief (German: Säkulare Flüchtlingshilfe).[11][12]


The gbs is funded by private donors and publishes information on its annual financial data and its assets. In 2018, the total assets were around 4,000,000 euros. The expenditure in 2018 was 628,000 euros, mainly for events and projects.[13]

Board of directors[edit]

The board of directors consists of Michael Schmidt-Salomon (since 2004) and Ulla Wessels (since 2022). Founder Herbert Steffen (1934 - 2022) was board director until 2022. Managing director is Elke Held and the foundation has 14 employees and scholars. The board of trustees consists of Thorsten Barnickel, Jacqueline Neumann, Christian Pawlu, Rainer Rosenzweig and Assunta Tammelleo.[14]

Advisory board[edit]

The advisory board is composed by around 30 scientists, philosophers and artists,[15] including:

"Haus Weitblick", home of Giordano Bruno Foundation in Oberwesel.
Hamed Abdel-Samad Reinhard Merkel Esther Vilar
Hans Albert Axel Meyer Gerhard Vollmer
Michael Braungart Ludwig A. Minelli Ulrich Walter
Karen Duve Holm Putzke Ulla Wessels
Monika Griefahn Rolf Schwanitz Franz Wuketits
Eric Hilgendorf Volker Sommer Jacques Tilly
Janosch Gerhard Streminger

Deschner Prize[edit]

From its beginnings the foundation has been particularly committed to the work of Karlheinz Deschner. It awards the "Deschner Prize” at the sum of 10,000 euros for outstanding achievements relating to the criticism of religion and ideology. The prize was awarded to Richard Dawkins (2007)[16] and to Raif Badawi and his wife Ensaf Haidar (2016).[17]


  1. ^ "Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  2. ^ SPIEGEL, DER. "Protest gegen Weltjugendtag: Heidenspaß statt Frömmelei - DER SPIEGEL - Panorama". (in German). Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  3. ^ "Chronology of the Main Events". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  4. ^ "gbs Documentary "In Humanity We Trust – The story of evolutionary humanism"". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  5. ^ "Dates". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  6. ^ "The Founding of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims: Mission of the Reformed -". - Dialogue with the Islamic World. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  7. ^ "10 Years of Ex-Muslims - The Story of an International Human Rights Movement". gbs, YouTube. 2018.
  8. ^ "Campaign Against Religious Discrimination in the Workplace". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  9. ^ "Evokids". (in German). Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  10. ^ "Institut für Weltanschauungsrecht". (in German). Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  11. ^ "The story of our foundation: Rana's escape – Atheist Refugee Relief". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  12. ^ Jacobsen, Scott Douglas (2019-11-20). "Interview with Stefan Paintner of Atheist Refugee Relief". Canadian Atheist. Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  13. ^ "The gbs Activity Reports". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  14. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2020-08-29.
  15. ^ "Advisory Board". Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  16. ^ "Richard Dawkins receives the Deschner Prize". 2007-10-14. Archived from the original on 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  17. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung zeichnet Badawi und Haidar aus | DW | 24.04.2016". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 2020-08-30.

External links[edit]