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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses secular humanism in Europe and the way it is “lived” by and within its major institutions and organizations. It examines how national and international secular humanist bodies founded after World War II took up, cultivated, and transformed free-religious, free-thought, ethical, atheist, and rationalist roots from nineteenth century Europe and adjusted them to changing social, cultural, and political environments. Giving examples from some selected national contexts, the development of a nonreligious Humanism in Europe exemplifies what Wohlrab-Sahr and Burchardt call “Multiple Secularities”: different local or national trajectories produced a variety of cultures of secularity and, thus, different understandings of secular humanism. Apart from this cultural historization, the chapter reconstructs two transnational, ideal types of secular humanism, the social practice type, and the secularist pressure group type. These types share similar worldviews and values, but have to be distinguished in terms of organizational forms, practices, and especially policy.

Keywords: atheism, ethicism, free-religion, free-thought, nonreligion, organization, rationalism, secular humanism, secularity, worldview

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