IHEYO member: HEF Norway

  • post Type / Young Humanists International
  • Date / 22 October 2008

Human-Etisk Forbund (HEF)

HEF, the Norwegian Humanist Association, is currently one of the largest Humanist associations in the world, with 72,000 members. In relation to the size of the national population (Norway has around 4.5 million inhabitants), it is by far the largest such association per capita and the largest group outside the State Church. The majority of the members are students, teachers, health and social workers and university teachers. But according to a questionnaire there are members from all groups in society – farmers and factory workers as well as bankers and politicians.  

Founded in 1956, the HEF is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). According to its bylaws, the organisation works for a separation of church and state (Norway has a Protestant Lutheran Christian state church), ensuring access to humanist ceremonies, and spreading knowledge of humanism. A civil confirmation organised by HEF has gained popularity among the Norwegian young during the last years. About 17 percent of Norwegian 15-year-olds are now taking part in HEF’s civil confirmation.   

The Humanist Youth

The Norwegian Humanist Association decided in 2005 to establish a separate youth organisation as they have around 13 000 members below the age of 35. This organisation was founded in August 2007, and it is named “Humanist Youth” (Humanistisk Ungdom). Currently Mr. Lars-Petter Helgestad is President of the Board. The Norwegian Humanist Association is a member of IHEYO since the beginning.  Other Activities: The Norwegian Humanist Association

  • is a forum for discussions about ethical and philosophical subjects
  • acts as officiates at ceremonies, celebrating the rites-of-passage
  • acts as lobbyists in national and local politics against religious and philosophical discrimination
  • acts as critics against superstition and bigotry
  • arranges meetings for our members

Humanist Action for Human Rights  HAMU (Humanist Action for Human Rights) is a small non-governmental organisation, which operates on the basis of humanist values. HAMU is part of the Norwegian Humanist Association and has been active for more than 10 years in India.

HAMU aims to promote human rights for the oppressed and to aid fellow humans to a dignified life. HAMU’s main priority is to secure rights and expand capacities for women and children who suffer abuse or oppression due to religion or tradition. HAMU also targets social degradation resulting from cultural prejudice, lack of education or superstition.

HAMU operates by supporting local secular, non-profit and non-governmental organisations in the South. Local aid organisations work to help the abused or the oppressed by providing protection, education or vocational training as well as influencing attitudes in local societies.Human dignity, diversity of visions, pluralism and democracy are values guiding this work.


The Norwegian Humanist Association publishes a journal called HUMANIST and a quarterly free charged magazine called FRI TANKE (“Free Thought”). FRI TANKE is sent to all members. The association also publishes a wide variety of brochures, leaflets and posters. Over the years a number of books have been published by the association, and in 1995 the association established the publishing firm “Humanist Forlag”.  

Political Actions

On July 9, 2006 a prominent member of HEF, Jens Brun-Pedersen, called for the Prime Minister to advocate the separation of church and state. He argues that the 2nd article of the constitution which defines the “Evangelical-Lutheran Religion” as “the official religion of the State” and the 12th article of the constitution which requires half of the ministers of the cabinet to be members of the State church is discriminatory, and that Norway can’t criticise countries advocating sharia law when the constitution favours Lutheran members of society.

Contact and Information http://www.human.no/templates/Page____2067.aspx  

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