Humanist Org Wants Corrections Facility to Permit Inmate to Form Humanist Study Group

RALEIGH, N.C. — A prominent humanist organization is asking a federal court to require the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the Lanesboro Correctional Institution to grant an inmate’s desire to form a humanist study group while incarcerated.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) is representing Kwame Jamal Teague, who has been behind bars since 1996 and wishes to meet with other humanists who share his views. His records currently state that he is Islamic, and he has requested that officials change his religious affiliation to note that he is rather a secular humanist.

However, the Department of Public Safety does not include humanism or atheism in its list of recognized religions, as it does not view adherents as being a part of a religious group.

Reasons for rejecting Teague’s request have included notations that humanism “appears to be a philosophy of life, a free way of thinking” as opposed to a form of religious worship, that it does not draw from a single source for direction, but is rather based on “individual belief” on how one can live for the “greater good” of humanity, and that humanists “do not believe in a deity, but drew from a Christian way of thinking on how to treat their fellow man.”

Teague disagrees that these factors should disqualify humanists from being recognized. He says that while atheism and humanism are not theistic, they are still “equivalent to a religion.”

“Whereas atheism is a religious view that essentially addresses only the specific issue of the existence of a deity, the humanism affirmed by Teague is a broader worldview that includes, in addition to a non-theistic view on the question of deities, an affirmative naturalistic outlook; an acceptance of reason, rational analysis, logic, and empiricism as the primary means of attaining truth; an affirmative recognition of ethical duties; and a strong commitment to human rights,” AHA’s complaint reads.

It also argues that humanism has a similar structure to religion because it utilizes clergy members known as “celebrants” to officiate ceremonies, and observes special days, such as Darwin Day.

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Teague believes that there are at least 20 humanist or atheist inmates at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, some of whom have expressed a desire to form a group, which has not been permitted. AHA says that because the Department recognizes Buddhism, Rastafarianism and Wicca as religions, but not humanism, Teague’s First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights are being violated.

“The Department’s disparate treatment of Humanist inmates violates decades of clearly established legal precedent,” Monica Miller, senior counsel at AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement on Friday. “The Supreme Court has long held that Secular Humanism, and even atheism, must be treated as equivalent to a religion for First Amendment purposes.”

The organization has moved for summary judgment in the case, meaning that it seeks for the judge to rule in its favor at this point without proceeding to a trial, seeing no dispute over the facts.

As previously reported, in 2014, a federal judge in Oregon ruled in favor of a prisoner who likewise wished to form a humanist study group behind bars, but was prohibited from doing so since the prison system did not recognize humanism as a bonafide religion.

“The court finds that secular humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” wrote Judge Ancer Haggerty. “Allowing followers of other faiths to join religious group meetings while denying Holden the same privilege is discrimination on the basis of religion.”

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  • Jonathan Hughes

    A Humanist is how they are. You will know them by their works. There is no deception with a Humanist. God is not a deceiver. Muslims think that there is one deity being evil. Therefore the belief in a deity is not the right criteria. Truth is in me. We are one race. All of us die having blood in us. All of us are seperated from the life giver God killing life. All of us needs God in us to value life. All of us are born nude like any animal going to dust. All is vanity. That is the truth. I am your meeting. Learn from me and live.

    • Ambulance Chaser


      • Amos Moses – He>i

        yup …. that confuses even me ………

      • Jonathan Hughes

        A creationist and a humanist are the same. Both see lies in the churches. God is not in lies. Hell as the churches teach is not a place of torment. The humanist and the atheist both don’t see God as a being who tortures people. That is in the subconscious mind,.Both don’t see God in the churches. There would be no creation had there be no God. Humanist and atheist both don’t see God where people would expect God to be thus say what they say. God is in them seeing that. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Wicked become ashes under the feet of the righteous. God’s light does that after the second resurrection. Muslim who says they are no longtern a Muslim needs to be closely scrutinized to make sure that he is not teach Islam to get people to be a Muslim. The person unwilling to accept that fact that his bowing is not praying. They that have the Holy Spirit in them pray without ceasing no matter what body posture they are in. They have a thankful Spirit in them. Fallen angels are not thankful.

    • zampogna


      • Jonathan Hughes

        A Christian does not have to say they are a Christian to be a Christian. That person would have to be closely scrutinized to see if he teaches anything related to Islam. I can do that. He will be using septifuge when he does that or behaves like a Muslim in any way whatsoever.

        • BenjiMule

          Can’t tell from your context if “septifuge” is bacteria-contaminated chocolate or a seven-sided spinning extractor… or maybe a piece of contrapuntal music in seven voices?

          • Jonathan Hughes

            Septifuge is lying. Septifuge is deceiving.

  • mr goody two shoes

    Jesus of the Bible is the greatest humanist this world will ever have . Romans 5:6-8. We could study these verses for a thousand years or ten thousand and still not understand that love of God for us humans enough.

    • Jonathan Hughes

      It was more than laying his life down for us. It was not using power against us that people would use against their enemy in an heart beat. Jesus set the stars in the universe.

  • mr goody two shoes

    The greatest humanist forever and Ever says. ROMANS :5 vetse 6 For at the appointed time,while we were still helpless,Christ died for the ungodly7 it is rare indeed that some one might die for a righteous person.Perhaps some one might actually go so far as to die for a person who has been good to him .8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:while we were still sinners Christ died for us.9 There fore since we have now been justified by his blood,it is even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him10for while we were enemies,we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,it is even more certain that since we have been reconciled .we will be saved by is life11and not only is this so,but we o on confidently in God through our Lord Jesus Christ ny whom we have perceived reconciliation. HOLY BIBLE Evangelical Heritage Version.

  • Richard Gronostajski

    I suppose since this is in the Christian News Network, I shouldn’t be surprised at the responses. However, Christ (if he actually existed) was not a Humanist by the current definition of Secular Humanist. A Secular Humanist believes in the “Golden Rule” but also believes that one can be good without a God. Many Secular Humanists believe that any Religion is bad in that they promote blind obedience to central authority, rather than a thoughtful analysis of why we should do things for the betterment of Mankind. Indeed, religious belief is one of the biggest impediments to rational consideration of a number of subjects. But since this is “your” magazine I guess I’ve said enough. Best wishes, Rich