Frequently Asked Questions
When are the services?
The Humanist Assembly of Washington State (THAoWA) has services on the third Wednesday of each month. They are currently located in the Meeting Room of the
Seattle Mennonite Church located at 3120 NE 125th in Seattle. We are
not associated with the Mennonite Church except as (grateful) tenants. You can also watch our services live through Livestream.com and view past services on Youtube.com
Do you offer Humanist weddings and other ceremonies?
Yes, Pastor Dave performs all traditional officiant and clerical services. More details are available at his personal website: www.pastor-dave.org
What is Humanism?
Humanism is a belief that we live in a logical and scientific universe and that there is no evidence of supernatural beings. That we must rely on ourselves and each other for strength, wisdom, and support. Humanism teaches that kindness, generosity, and responsibility can be learned and developed by us and our children.
What do Humanists believe?
We believe that it is the right and the responsibility of each one of us to make sense of our experiences and of our part in the human condition. We believe that we have an obligation to do this in ways that are fulfilling and meaningful for ourselves and that do not prevent others from doing the same for themselves. We believe that it is valuable for each of us, our families, and society as a whole, to create and maintain communities of fellowship. These communities should cooperatively discuss, explore, and practice these shared values. We believe that this helps all of humanity to become more responsible, more effective, and happier in our lives.
Do Humanists believe in God?
Humanism is agnostic on the question of the existence of God. There is no scientific evidence of the existence of god. If some comes along, great. In the meantime we work to improve humanity, and celebrate the progress that humans have made. Some THAoWA members may have a general belief in a god, a "higher power" that created the universe, or an energy that connects all living things. Humanists generally don't believe in a god that interacts directly and personally with people. Other THAoWA members may be atheists.
Do Humanists pray?
Yes, many choose to pray. A prayer can be an invocation of inner strength and a uniting of a support group. No deity involved. Humanists can pray for themselves or others in the hope that they find it within themselves to stay strong in front of their adversity. That they put forth extra effort to support those in need physically and emotionally to cope with the challenges they face.
It is a conversation with yourself. A search for greater will, calm and focus. It is also a conversation with others in the room, to come together to support a common goal or meet a common challenge. It's just not a conversation with an imaginary friend.
What is the difference between an atheist, an agnostic, and a deist?
An atheist believes that there is no god. An agnostic believes that there is no proof that god exists, but that it is possible that god may exist. A deist may believe in a purposeful creation of the universe by a single intelligence and/or a currently not understood spiritual connection between all living things.
Is Humanism a religion?
Yes, the functional definition of religion on which Humanism is predicated clearly includes THAoWA. But it's important to realize that this position incorporates the idea that "religion" is simply what people believe and think about questions that are generally understood to be "religious." These questions have to do with the ultimate nature of reality, the meaning and purpose of the human condition, good and evil, and other matters. It is not necessary for people to believe in the supernatural, to suppress their doubts and questions, or to "have faith" in doctrines and dogmas for their ideas to count as legitimate religious opinion or "religion." Even the courts have admitted this.
Isn't Humanism just making a religion out of science?
Absolutely not. THAoWA is based on reason and science, but it does not worship science, or take scientific conclusions on faith. Science has determined, through reproduceable experiments, the basic structure of the universe. From gravity, to the speed of light, to the cause of lightning, to the existence of atoms and molecules, science is a measure of provable reality. We know that each time a ball is dropped it will fall to the floor. There has never been any reproducable scientific evidence of any supernatural being or power, so these things are not a part of Humanism. This is not a question of faith, it is a question of knowledge and proof.
Is The Humanist Assembly of Washington State a church?
The word "church" describes perfectly what THAoWA is and what it does. THAoWA's members are drawn together on the basis of their shared values and approach to questions and problems that are generally considered to be religious. THAoWA sponsors regular meetings that are free and open to the public as well as other activities for its members. Marriages are celebrated, newborns are welcomed, children are instructed, personal crises are addressed, and the sick and dying are supported, all within the context of these same values.
How are you different from the Unitarians?
THAoWA applauds the Unitarian-Universalist (UU) churches for their toleration of minority and unpopular religious views, including atheism and agnosticism. But in doing this they elevate tolerance of all opinions to the level of dogma. The result is that mysticism and superstition of all kinds is common in UU churches and it is considered impolite to seriously question them. THAoWA, by contrast, rejects religious opinions that are at odds with facts and reason. We respect all people, but not all beliefs.
Are gays and lesbians welcome in The Humanist Assembly of Washington State?
Absolutely! Nor do we discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, disability, or any other extraneous factors. Anyone who is committed to honest thought and inquiry is welcome at THAoWA.
What is The Humanist Assembly of Washington State's position on State-Church separation issues?
THAoWA supports the Constitutional separation of state and church.
The First Amendment begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In concert with the 14th Amendment, it forbids the government from interfering in any way into matters of religious conscience. It may not support or hinder one point of view over another. Thus, anyone's freedom of religion necessarily means everyone's freedom from other people's religions.
Likewise, Jefferson's Wall of Separation Between Church and State means that no government authority is entitled to determine which beliefs qualify as "religion" or who may form a "church." Every American's religious liberties depend on these principles.
What is The Humanist Assembly of Washington State's position on abortion, gun control, welfare, the environment, and other political issues?
THAoWA takes no position on such issues. THAoWA is not a political organization. Humanists are of many different political persuasions. THAoWA trusts its members to make their own decisions on these subjects and that they will do so with due regard to relevant facts and the principles of reason. And to recognize that people of good will can come to different conclusions in political matters.
Is The Humanist Assembly of Washington State tax exempt?
THAoWA is non-profit corporation in Washington State. We are not registered as a charity at this time, and are not engaged in fundraising activities. This may change when we grow larger and acquire more members.
According to the IRS's Form 1023, Application for Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, churches "may be considered tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) even if they do not file Form 1023. Accordingly, we, like many other churches, have not sought - and under the law do not need to seek - formal IRS approval of our status as a tax-exempt organization.
Moreover, THAoWA meets, without question, the IRS criteria of a church as outlined in their Form 1023. On page 23 of Form 1023, it is stated that: "The IRS maintains two basic guidelines in determining that an organization meets the religious purposes test: 1) That the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held, and 2) That the practices and rituals associated with the organization's religious beliefs or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy." In addition, "1) The organization's activities in furtherance of its beliefs must be exclusively religious, and 2) An organization will not qualify for exemption if it has a substantial nonexempt purpose of serving the private interests of its founder or the founder's family." THAoWA easily meets all of these criteria.
Tip of the hat to the North Texas Church of Freethought. We borrowed heavily from their outstanding FAQ.