Swedish Humanist Association
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|Purpose||Working for a secular society and human rights, promoting a secular humanist lifestance|
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The Swedish Humanist Association (Swedish: Humanisterna, "the Humanists") is the largest humanist/rationalist organisation in Sweden with over 4,000 members. It is a member organisation of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).
The SHA works for a secular life stance founded on reason, compassion and responsibility. Its goals include a completely secular society, free of religious oppression, discrimination and other infringements on human rights. The SHA also promotes science as the primary method for finding answers to empirical questions, staunchly opposing for instance pseudoscience.
The SHA is the fastest growing humanist organisation in the world, having increased its membership by over 150% during 2006.
Organisation and history
The organisation was founded in 1979 and was then called Human-Etiska Förbundet ("Humanist-Ethical Association"). The name was changed into the more international Humanisterna in 1999.
Christer Sturmark has been chairman of the organisation since February 2005.
There are several local groups, situated in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Umeå, Uppsala, Scania, Örebro, and Småland. There is a virtual network for creating debate in media, and members of the SHA have also founded a virtual network for former Christians, "Exkristen". In November 2007, the youth organisation "Unga Humanister" ("young Humanists") was started.
The majority of Sweden's population is not religious and there is an increasing demand for secular alternatives to religious ceremonies. The ceremonies of baptisms, marriages and funerals are still largely carried out in churches, conducted by priests, even though the participants rarely are practicing Christians. The SHA offers help and advice in creating secular ceremonies for those who don't wish to employ the Church of Sweden or other religious institutions. They also organise coming-of-age summer camps for teenagers where the participants get to discuss ethics, philosophy, religion, human rights, discrimination and other important issues. These camps are analogous to Christian confirmation camps, although a person does not need to be a member of the SHA or share the humanistic worldview to participate and no confession of faith is made.
The SHA publishes a bi-monthly magazine called Humanisten ("the Humanist"). Every issue contains an interview with noteworthy people (e.g. Björn Ulvaeus, Nyamko Sabuni, Georg Klein and Dilsa Demirbag-Sten), as well as articles and debate concerning humanism, rationalism, religion, philosophy, science and pseudoscience, culture and politics.
Ingemar Hedenius Award
The yearly award commemorates the Swedish philosopher Ingemar Hedenius, whose views - expressed in his book Tro och vetande ("Belief and knowledge") - were instrumental in starting the cultural debate that eventually led to the separating of the Swedish church and state. Its purpose is to acknowledge and support individuals who have worked, as Hedenius did, for a humanistic life stance, rationalism and critical thinking. The award was founded in 2000.
- 2008: Per Kornhall
- 2007: P. C. Jersild
- 2006: Björn Ulvaeus
- 2005: Lena Andersson
- 2004: Barbro Westerholm
- 2003: Hans Alfredson
- 2002: Georg Klein
- 2001: Sholeh Irani
- 2000: Dan Larhammar
Kristallkulan ("the Crystal ball") is a prize of 100,000 SEK that will be awarded to anyone who can demonstrate beyond doubt that they possess a paranormal or supernatural talent that cannot be explained by conventional science. The award is similar to the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation.