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Opening (10 minutes), Workshop 18: Humanism — Just Us... And Everything Else

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Chalice, candle, lighter or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Post a sheet of newsprint. Title it "Humanism."
  • Post another sheet of newsprint. Title it "Religion."

Description of Activity

Answer any questions you could not answer from the last workshop.

Invite youth to sit in a circle. Light the chalice with these words:

We light this chalice in celebration of Unitarian Universalism and the sustaining faiths of all people of the world. May the flame represent the fire of our commitment to understand all faithful people and build bridges that connect us as one human family.

Ask if the youth are familiar with the terms "Humanism" or "humanist." Ask:

  • What do these terms mean?
  • Where and how have you heard them used?
  • What questions do you have about Humanism?

Briefly note responses on the newsprint titled "Humanism."

Now tell the group that Humanism as a religion is today's topic. Tell them that, like Buddhism or Confucianism, Humanism can be a philosophy or a religion, depending on how an individual uses it.

Invite the youth to recall the functions that religions serve. Write their contributions on the newsprint titled "Religion." Make sure these are included:

  • making/finding meaning
  • understanding one's purpose/the purpose of humankind
  • moral guidance/knowing right from wrong
  • sense of belonging/faith community

Conclude by affirming that a belief system that addresses these needs for someone can be their religion. Share that the philosophy of Humanism trusts human beings to assess what is best for them and make their own decisions, without guidance or consequence from a deity or supernatural being. Ask:

  • Does a belief system need a deity, or an authority higher than humankind, to be a religion?

After some thoughts are shared, say, "Today we will examine how Humanism works as a religion."

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Last updated on Monday, September 16, 2013.

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