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Introduction

Niels De Nutte & Bert Gasenbeek

 

Introduction: Looking Back to Look Forward. Organised Humanism in the World: Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the United States of America, 1945-20051


 

Secularism and nonreligion

 

International research into secularism and nonreligion has come to the foreground in the last decade, alongside the religious studies with their long tradition.2 This interdisciplinary approach looks, among other things, at the way in which non- religious and unaffiliated religious people organise themselves and engage in meaning- making. The so-called “nones” are today the second largest (life stance) group in North America, Canada and most of Western Europe.3 In a number of European countries, some of these nones have already established a relatively long tradition as a community with associated customs. Examples of this are the non-religious coming of age ceremonies (such as the Belgian feest vrijzinnige jeugd/fête de la jeunesse laïque, the German Jugendweihe and the Norwegian humanistisk konfirmasjon) and there are now, along with civil marriage, also wedding ceremonies for nones.4 In Scotland in 2018, for example, the Humanist Society of Scotland for the first time officiated more marriages than the Church of Scotland.5

An overview of how nones can be approached as a subject in social scientific research is offered by Phil Zuckerman.6 He explains, for example, why ‘nonreligion’ is used as a term and not ‘irreligion’. By doing this, the research field presents its differences with religious studies, without provoking any opposition or disapproval. Nonreligion can thus compare its results with those of religious studies without taking a specific position on the research object from the outset.7 In more recent times, the notion of religion-relatedness – first coined by Johannes Quack – is sometimes also used.8

Langston, Hammer, Cragun and Sikes also adopt this viewpoint with their research into nonreligious typologies. They use nonreligion as an overarching concept for different typologies in the spectrum between atheism and spiritual but non-religious.9 The focus in this book is directed on a subgroup of the non-religious, which falls under the heading of atheism, secularism and humanism. Our subjects within this group are the organised non-believers who identify as humanists or, in the context of the United States, as secular humanists. The need for this prefix stems from the tradition of religious humanism in that country, something that is demonstrated by Stephen Weldon in his contribution.

Books by, for example, Campbell, Budd, Royle, Gasenbeek and Tyssens/ Witte study the secular and freethought movements from the nineteenth century of Europe and the United States.10 These movements are, to a certain degree, the forerunners of today’s secular humanist organisations. David Nash, Callum Brown, Joseph Blankholm, Stefan Schröder, Tina Block, Gasenbeek and many others study the nones for the period after the Second World War from a different angle. Their research devotes specific attention to the 1960s as a transitional decade between the Christian 1950s and the liberal 1970s.

The contributors to this monograph offer an overview of how organised secular humanism has developed in the respective national contexts. Overviews of the evolution of nones in different countries can make a valuable contribution to the research field of secularism and nonreligion. Tina Block, co-director of the International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism, and Humanism, considers the geographical location to be a crucial factor in understanding the nature of nones and their culture.11

Although the location has a strong influence on the nature of the (non-)religious experience of a community and its individuals, this is often forgotten in the approach to the study of (non)religion.12 Each contributor therefore tells the story of organised humanism in their own country, against the background of the social, cultural and world view context, within the scope of the evolutions specific to the time or location. In doing so, the focus is on organised (secular) humanism as a subset of the growing number of nones in the period after the Second World War. Yet the national context alone is not sufficient. In order to understand the broader evolution, these articles are supplemented with a comparative chapter.

In articles on the history of organised (secular) humanism, it is unavoidable to use the term secularisation. Although this concept is still in the eye of an academic storm, mainly due to the question whether or not a relationship exists with the decline of religion, the term has been in common use since 1950.13 This applies not only in the academic world, but also in mainstream newspapers and other media. In the discussion surrounding the meaning of the concept, we adopt the views of Hugh McLeod, Callum Brown and others in seeing the term as a central theme in history, especially in relation to the decline of religion or religious affiliation, without this decline corresponding to a real atheism.14 This view suggests that secularisation is the result of a conflict between different actors such as churches, (humanist) organisations and media.15 In his work, McLeod gives a thorough analysis of the international religious decline in the “long sixties”, a period from 1959 to 1975.16 The decline in Catholic countries generally began about ten years later. A real exception to the model was the United States, where a religious revival took place from the mid-1970s, creating a different context than in Europe.17

The long sixties are seen as a period during which a strong acceleration takes place after a long period of gradual alienation from churches that a large part of the population go through from the eighteenth century onwards.18 In addition to the process of secularisation, different countries often have other relationships between the state and existing life stance groups. These ‘secularisms’, the result of the sometimes great differences in chronology and cause of secularisation, are the topic of many literary works.19 In 2017, Andrew Copson gave an accessible overview of several different forms, such as the French “laicité”, the American “Freedom of Religion” and the Turkish “laiklik”.20

 

Four generations of organised freethinking

 

Just as within organised religion, people who identify as nones differ greatly from one another. There exists no general typology, but nones can broadly be viewed from the perspective of their negative or positive self-definition.21 Negative in the sense of a non-churchgoer, non-religious, non-participant in rituals or ceremonies, or religiously uninterested. Positive as in those who form their political, moral or personal identity through their profession or professional role (primarily ideological in, for example, gender- or bioethics), or through the structure of their family, walk of life or activities, or by presenting themselves as intellectual representatives of atheism, agnosticism, secularism, humanism, scepticism and others.

Based on that perspective, this introduction includes a brief summary of groups that have fought for progressive rights, universal morality and rationalisation of society over the past 170 years. The overarching term we use for this is freethought. Not all countries use this term, but here we take it as a collective term for groups of nones from 1850 onwards, a period in Europe characterised by a strong antagonism between secular and ecclesiastical groups.22 Humanism is the last of four generations in that context. Humanists as such were already present in a number of countries before the Second World War, but the life stance it is linked to today only dates from the post-war period.

There are four distinguishable so-called ‘generations’ of organised freethought that emerge around 1850, 1890, 1918 and 1945 respectively, the three most recent of which come together in 1952 in the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), today Humanist International.23 Although we speak of four generations, there are only ‘soft borders’ between them. The generations are manifestations that are not present in all countries and are not always duty-bound to one another. Freethinkers themselves have undertaken attempts to link themselves to their predecessors, whether perceived or not, but often, as David Nash argues, with the aim of giving their movement or their ideas more historical clout.24 We should also note that this concerns an overview of freethought generations and that it is not a history of atheism.

The oldest generation of organised freethought attacks theological dogmas from a viewpoint of discontentment with the churches and organised religion, which they consider hypocritical.25 The first freethought movements emerge in Western Europe and the United States in the 1850s,26 for example in 1854 (l’Affranchissement in Belgium) and 1856 (De Dageraad in the Netherlands). In 1857, a clergyman from Connecticut admitted that: ‘There is a great intellectual movement going on in Europe, of which scarcely anything is known or even suspected in this country’.27 These freethought movements, with deists, agnostics and atheists, rationalists and secularists as their members, represent different social layers and political formations. They often fight for political or social issues. A common characteristic is that, for that era, they all hold non-traditional social views and ideologies.

As a second generation, which emerges at the end of the nineteenth century, we find the pantheistic movement that becomes known as the Ethical Culture. It is characterised as a non-dogmatic movement that is not necessarily anti-religious. In the United States, Felix Adler (1851-1933), a Jewish secular, will go on to play a major role.28 He founds the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 1867. Adler himself would summarise his vision in the slogan “deed not creed”. Morality should not be linked to a religion, but moral thinking can stand alone. The British Ethical Societies are an important predecessor of the current British Humanist Association, now Humanists UK.

The third generation of organised humanism originates in the United States and Great Britain after the First World War, in a period known as that of “Natural Religion”. Representatives do not adhere to dogmas or systems from holy books but, as religious unitarists, they see the Judeo-Christian movement as a summary of universal truths. Every human being who uses reason, in their opinion, automatically comes to the same conclusion, namely a world that is based on human dignity and democratic principles. The reason for this new development was the conviction that the decline of traditional religions leads to a vacuum in personal meaning making. In Great Britain, a less religious variant gains momentum.29

After the Second World War, the fourth generation finally emerges with the foundation of, among others, the Belgian and Dutch Humanistisch Verbond (Humanist Association). Organised humanism now surfaces for the first time in the variant we know today, as the secular humanist philosophy of life and community with its own counsellors and ceremonies.

The first decade after the Second World War is the starting point for this book. Belgium is not the only country to spawn a generation of young humanists. Elsewhere, too, people like Harold J Blackham (1903-2009), Hutton Hynd (1873- 1970) and Jaap van Praag (1911-1981) come into view with post-war humanist projects.30 They are part of a generation that is completely dissociated from religion.31 Karel Cuypers (1902-1986), who chaired the second IHEU conference in Antwerp in 1955, shows in one sentence what ‘modern’ humanism should mean for them: “Modern Humanism is a young and vigorous phenomenon all over the world. It is a reaction of free mankind against the grip of totalitarianism.”32 Jaap van Praag, the later chairman of the IHEU, also gives an unambiguous message in 1946: “It is clear that humanism must use this time to become organised so it can fully address the task we are facing. In the first instance, this task is to offer the large non-religious population a spiritually knowledgeable and morally responsible world view... In this era, there was clearly need to protect humanism against unsubstantiated attacks and even more so against thoughtless disregard.”33

What unites them is their will to propagate a modern form of humanism that can offer an alternative to both abrahamatic religions and totalitarian social visions.34 In 1952, this project for internationally organised humanism results in the establishment of the IHEU. This organisation illustrates the need for national associations to work together in promoting organised humanism worldwide. The American Humanist Association is so enthusiastic that it calls the IHEU “the focal point and nerve centre for Humanist activity all over the world”.35 The Belgians call it a “world movement” that “groups most humanist associations”.36 The fact that the French refrain from participating in this new global movement for a long time may seem strange, given their history as pioneers of Enlightenment thinking and pure separation of church and state, but it is proof of the changing relationships in the immediate post-war period.

At the time of the IHEU’s foundation, the Latin European countries, including France, are not yet interested in a humanism that seeks to stand alongside other world views, enforce rights and exude pluralism. The relationship with church and faith is, in their view at the time, a battle still to be fought.37 They remained strongly anticlerical, a trait that also remains present in Belgium for many years. However, a delegation from France is present at the foundation meeting. It supports the proposed objectives, such as freedom of the individual and social equality, but not an organisation that explicitly calls itself humanist.38 Nomenclature was an issue there, in any case. The name International Humanist and Ethical Union stems from a consensus vote. The large American delegation wanted ‘Ethical’ in the name, the Europeans had a predilection for ‘Humanist’.39

Modern humanism has a less intellectual impact due to organisations and departments being set up more practically and profiling themselves as a non- confessional life stance alongside already existing religions.40 Associations in a number of countries concentrate on setting up structures and organisations. In several countries, more room is being created for non-religious life stance education. In order to provide moral and spiritual support for adherents, organisations seek to appoint consultants and, in some cases, entire networks of consultants are being established. Today, non-confessional communities are present in a number of countries and Humanists International has more than 160 organisations in over 70 countries.

 

Bundle and authors

 

This book is the result of an ‘International Humanism’ project that was started in 2017 at the Centrum voor Academische en Vrijzinnige Archieven (Center for Academic and Secular Humanist Archives). Following the publication Op zoek... De evolutie van het vrijzinnig humanisme in Vlaanderen sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog41 that deals with the history of the secular movement in Flanders – Dutch-speaking Belgium – the institution wanted to create a monograph that brought together the history of post-war humanism in a number of the countries that formed the basis of the establishment of the IHEU/HI.

Already in the early stages of work on the project, a partner was found in the Humanistisch Historisch Centrum (Humanist Historical Centre). This meant that two archival institutions that jointly manage the collections of the Dutch, Flemish and international (IHEU/HI) humanist movements cooperated closely to realise the publication of this book. After a preparatory conference at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in September 2018, we were fortunate to get contributors David Nash, Caroline Sägesser, Stephen Weldon and Jeffrey Tyssens on board, who specialise in the history of atheism, humanism and secularism and without whom the creation of this collection would not have been possible.42 We invited each of them to reflect on the rise of post-war humanism in their respective countries (Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Great Britain, the Netherlands and the United States) and also to describe the character of that humanism in relation to broader social and international evolutions. Five interesting contributions have emerged from this question, which make up the bulk of the book. This volume concludes with a chapter that compares humanism from the four countries with one another.

The first section starts with two parts on humanism in Belgium, a country in which the Catholic Church has a historically strong presence. Niels De Nutte and Caroline Sägesser each deal separately with the evolutions of “vrijzinnigheid”, the manifestation of humanism in Flanders, and “laicité”, its counterpart in Brussels and Wallonia. These contexts, which are respectively Dutch- and French-speaking, differ greatly, both in terms of the chronological roll-out of organised humanism and in terms of its substantive significance. Humanism in French-speaking Belgium is rooted in the French tradition and continues to hold tightly to the connotation of a pure separation of church and state and anticlerical sentiments. Flanders, on the other hand, has been part of the post-war humanist story from the outset. Niels De Nutte describes the transition that “vrijzinnigheid” is going through in Flanders from a strong anticlerical movement to a group that strives for equal rights and official recognition as a life stance in a pillarised context in which the Catholic family has a predominance that is not to be underestimated.

The third and fourth contributions discuss the evolution of post-war humanism from an Anglo-American perspective. Although there are some contacts between post-war humanism and its forerunners in Great Britain and the United States – for example between the Ethical Culture Societies and at the founding of the American Humanist Association (AHA) – David Nash and Stephen Weldon manage to convincingly show the differences between two divergent traditions. In the United States, modern humanism has its origins in freethought movements and liberal Protestant circles. The road taken by Unitarian Churches and Ethical Culture Societies results in a humanism that is strongly inspired by religion. However, in response to Christian fundamentalism, American humanism is increasingly shifting towards a scientific humanism that, through the person of Paul Kurtz, takes on the nickname of secular humanism. To this day, both secular and religious humanism exist in the United States.

David Nash shows in his chapter that British modern humanism is rooted in British liberal philosophy and the Ethical Culture Associations. The focus in the UK was on creating an “enabling society” and forming a humanist community with its own ceremonies and services. British humanism has been more successful in presenting itself as a philosophical alternative than its historical predecessors, assuming a position that was no longer directed against God or an organised religion. That role is still assumed by the National Secular Society. New communication methods and a stronger connection with public figures have made the new humanist group less isolated.

In the historically Protestant Netherlands, humanism has grown over the past 75 years from a small minority to in fact the ‘mainstream’ (the relatively timeless humanist-labelled ideas and practices) within the life stance arena. Humanist values, for instance, are a natural component of everyday culture for a large part of society. Bert Gasenbeek attributes this success to three things. The first is the strong secularisation that took place in the Netherlands. Secondly, a small group of determined and hard-working citizens managed to give non-religious humanism a permanent place as a respected world view in the increasingly secular society of the Netherlands. Thirdly, thanks to the pillarised Dutch context, the humanist movement was able to avail itself of their equal rights by, similar to the Belgian case, making use of state-funded facilities provided by philosophical organisations.

In the last contribution, Jeffrey Tyssens and Niels De Nutte discuss the backgrounds and facets of the different humanisms that have been discussed in the bundle. There is talk at international level after 1945 of what might be regarded as a “humanist turn” in the international secular movement. Organised freethinking was marginalised and with the rise of the IHEU/HI and the institutional structure linked to the humanist atmosphere at national and international level, the focus shifted to a region in the North-West with a stronger influence of the Anglo-American sphere. Dutch humanists, financially supported by American organisations, took the lead, while Belgians and British also play a significant role. Although the IHEU/HI was – and still is – an organisation of like-minded people, the two contributors place the differences of national movements side by side. The question of which choices are made under different circumstances and to what extent these evolutions have shaped the path taken is at the heart of this article. By looking at the engagements of humanisms in, for example, the media landscape and the political world, without ignoring the rising problems of identity in relation to the secular sphere, Tyssens and De Nutte look for the place of these humanisms in the “public sphere”. They do so within the conceptual framework of sociologist Manuel Castells’ legitimisation, resistance and project identities.

 

Footnotes

 

  1. We would like to thank Henk De Smaele and Patrick Loobuyck for their critical revisions to this introduction.
  2. David Nash gave an overview early this year of the research field on atheism, secularism and humanism. See: David Nash, “Secularist History: Past Perspectives and Future Prospects,” Secularism and Nonreligion 8, no. 1 (January 2019): 1-9.
  3. Conrad Hackett and Timmy Huynh, “What is each country’s second-largest religious group,” Pew Research Center, last modified June 22, 2015, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/22/what-is-each-countrys-second-largest- religious-group/
  4. On the history of the German variant, see: Manfred Isemeyer, Jugendweihe und Jugendfeier in Deutschland: Geschichte, Bedeutung, Aktualität (Marburg: Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag, 2014).
  5. For Scottish humanist wedding ceremonies, see: Isabella Kasselstrand, “‘We Still Wanted That Sense of Occasion’: Traditions and Meaning-Making in Scottish Humanist Marriage,” Scottish Affairs 27, no. 3 (July 2018): 273-293.
  6. Phil Zuckerman, Luka W. Galen and Frank L. Pasquale, The Nonreligious. Understanding Secular People & Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
  7. Idem, 17-18.
  8. Johannes Quack, “Outline of a Relational Approach to ‘Nonreligion’,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 26 (2014): 439-469.
  9. Joseph Langston, Joseph Hammer, Ryan Cragun and Mary Ellen Sikes, “Inside the Minds and Movement of America’s Nonbelievers: Organizational Functions, (Non)Participation, and Attitudes Toward Religion,” in Organized Secularism in the United States. New Directions in Research, ed. Ryan Cragun, Christel Manning and Lori L. Fazzino (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017), 197-198.
  10. Colin Campbell, Towards a Sociology of Irreligion (Oxford: Alcuin Academics, 1971); Susan Budd, Varieties of Unbelief: Atheists and Agnostics in English Society, 1850–1960 (New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1977); Edward Royle, Radicals, Secularists, and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866-1915 (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980); Jeffrey Tyssens and Els Witte, De vrijzinnige traditie in België (Brussels: VUBPRESS, 1996); Bert Gasenbeek e.a., God noch autoriteit: geschiedenis van de Vrijdenkersbeweging in Nederland (Amsterdam: Boom, 2006).
  11. Tina Block, The Secular North-West: Religion and Irreligion in Everyday Postwar Life (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2016).
  12. Idem, 9.
  13. This often happens in the form of the so-called secularisation thesis. As a teleological concept, it was assumed that religion would eventually only be left with a marginal place in an otherwise completely secular world. A state of affairs was made in: Michael Rectenwald, Nineteenth-century British secularism (Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).
  14. Hugh McLeod, Secularisation in Western Europe, 1848-1914 (Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan, 2000), 4-8. Tyssens also warns not to be too hasty in linking the two. See: Jeffrey Tyssens, “The Road from Enlightenment to Indifference. Unbelief in Flanders,” Stichting ons Erfdeel, the Low Countries: Arts and Society in Flanders and the Netherlands, no. 10 (2002): 42.
  15. Uta Karstein, Thomas Schmidt-Lux and Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, “Secularisation as Conflict,” Social Compass 55, no. 2 (2008): 127-139.
  16. Secularisation as a rapid decline in organised Christianity was most prevalent in Europe, Canada and Australasia. In North America, the 1960s also saw a brief crisis, but the consequences were less far-reaching than in Europe. See: Callum Brown, Religion and the Demographic Revolution. Women and Secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012): 27-28; Hugh McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  17. Callum Brown, “What was the Religious Crisis of the 1960s?” Journal of Religious History 34, no. 4 (December 2010): 468-479.
  18. Idem. This emerging anticlericalism, and sometimes individual atheism, is also characteristic of the Belgian context, in which private book ownership was typified by a wide range of enlightened works. See: Luc Dhondt, “Oost-Vlaanderen,” Het culturele leven in onze provincies in de 18e eeuw, ed. Hervé Hasquin (Brussels: Gemeentekrediet, 1983), 133.
  19. See: Christoph De Spiegeleer, “Introduction. Conflicts around Death and Burial in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Europe,” Revue Belge de Philologie et d’histoire/Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Filologie en Geschiedenis, no. 4 (2017): 835. Likewise, the European Liberal Forum (ELF) defines secularism as the relationship between religious organisations and the state, consisting of its political institutions, in a given national context. This definition forms the basis of the work: Fleur de Beaufort and Patrick van Schie, ed. Separation of church and state in Europe. With views on Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom & Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Italy and Slovenia (The Hague: European Liberal Platform, 2012).
  20. Andrew Copson, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). Another interesting contribution in this regard is: Marion Eggert and Lucian Hölscher, ed. Religion and Secularity: Transformations and Transfers of Religious Discourses in Europe and Asia (Leiden: Brill, 2013). To understand the origin and nature of laiklik see: Nevzet Celik, “From Secularism to Laïcité and Analyzing Turkish Authoritarian Laiklik,” Insight Turkey 20, no. 1 (2018): 189-208.
  21. This description is based on the more detailed version of professor Brown in: Callum Brown, Religion and the Demographic Revolution. Women and Secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012): 27-28.
  22. There was – and still is today – a strong overlap between different names (freethinkers, laicists, secularists, etc.) of groups that oppose the worldly influence of churches. There was certainly no question of an intrinsic link with atheism either. See: Daniel Laqua, The age of Internationalism and Belgium 1880-1930. Peace, Progress and Prestige (Manchester: University Press, 2013), 80-81; Lucian Hölscher, “Semantic structures of religious change in modern Germany,” in The Decline of Christendom in Western Europe, 1750–2000, ed. Hugh McLeod and Werner Ustorf (Cambridge: University Press, 2003), 184-198.
  23. Bert Gasenbeek and Babu Gogineni, ed. International Humanist and Ethical Union, 1952-2002. Past, Present and Future (Utrecht: De Tijdstroom, 2002), 16-18.
  24. David Nash, “Secularist History,” 2.
  25. Stephen Weldon, “Secular Humanism: a Survey,” 42-45.
  26. In other countries, too, organisations were set up. See: Edward Royle, Radicals, Secularists, and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866-1915, 77-88.
  27. J.M. Robertson, A History of Freethought in the Nineteenth Century, vol II (London: Watts & Co, 1920): 321.
  28. The role of Felix Adler is discussed extensively in Shoji Ippei’s paper, “Secularism in America: A Brief History of Non-Religion Movement,” Nanzan Review for American Studies 29 (2007): 97-106.
  29. Stephen Weldon, “Secular Humanism: a Survey”, 45-46.
  30. Harold J. Blackham was one of the leaders of the British Ethical Union during the early 1930s. He would play a major role within the IHEU as secretary, a position he continued to hold until 1967. For example, he represented the IHEU in its contacts with the Vatican Secretariat for Non Believers. Hutton Hynd was a Scotsman who was active in the American Ethical Societies, and chairman of the American Humanist Association in 1947-1948. See: Archives American Ethical Union, The J. Hutton Hynd Papers: 1929–1966, Biographical Information J. Hutton Hynd. Jaap van Praag was one of the founders and great inspirers of both the Humanistisch Verbond in the Netherlands (1946) and the IHEU. He emphasised the importance of creating room for irreligious humanists in society. He was the first Chairman of the IHEU and would not leave that post until 1975. He was also Professor of Humanistic Studies at the University of Leiden. His book Foundations of Humanism: introduction to a humanistic world of living and thinking marks the end of a committed career. See: Bert Gasenbeek and Babu Gogineni, ed., International Humanist and Ethical Union, 18-19; Tom Flynn, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, 797.
  31. Susan Budd, Varieties of Unbelief: Atheists and Agnostics in English Society 1850-1960 (London: Heinemann, 1977), 251.
  32. BE CAVA Lucien De Coninck, Proceedings of the IHEU Conference Antwerp, 27-31 August 1955, LDC4, 3.
  33. Idem.
  34. Tyssens and Witte, De Vrijzinnige Traditie in België, 117-11 .
  35. BE CAVA Collectie Tijdschriften, The Humanist, vol. 2, no. 3, 77-78.
  36. Walter Matthijs, ed. ...Vanzelfsprekend. 35 jaar Humanistisch Verbond (Antwerp: Humanistisch Instituut voor Massamedia, 1988), 41.
  37. Bert Gasenbeek and Babu Gogineni, ed. International Humanist and Ethical Union, 20-21.
  38. Ibidem.
  39. Ibidem.
  40. From the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, a tendency has arisen to place prefixes before humanism. Sometimes these are erroneous etymological or historical connotations, but they also often have polemical intentions. For example, we have secular humanism, Christian humanism, but today also terms such as eco-humanism. A recent standard reference on humanisms is the work edited by Andrew Copson and A.C. Grayling, their Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism.
  41. Gily Coene, Frank Scheelings and Jimmy Koppen, ed., Op zoek. De evolutie van het vrijzinnig humanisme in Vlaanderen sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog (Brussels: Humanistisch Verbond – Centrum voor Academische en Vrijzinnige Archieven, 2017).
  42. The ‘International Humanism: a Postwar Community Historically Recognized’ conference took place on 21 September 2018. Five of the six contributors to this book presented a paper at the conference.
  43. Castells, The Power of Identity (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

 

Bibliography

 

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  • Brown, Callum. “What was the Religious Crisis of the 1960s?” Journal of Religious History 34, no. 4 (2010).
  • Brown, Callum. Religion and the Demographic Revolution. Women and Secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2012).
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  • Copson, Andrew. Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
  • De Beaufort, Fleur, and Patrick van Schie, ed. Separation of church and state in Europe. With views on Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom & Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Italy and Slovenia (The Hague: European Liberal Platform, 2012).

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This text was first published in 2019 as: De Nutte, Niels & Gasenbeek, Bert. “Introduction: Looking Back to Look Forward. Organised Humanism in the World: Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the United States of America, 1945-2005” In Looking Back to Look Forward, edited by Niels De Nutte and Bert Gasenbeek, 11-21. Brussels: VUBPress, 2019.

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