The Norwegian Humanist Association (Human-Etisk Forbund in Norwegian) was founded in 1956. At the time, a journalist commenting on the establishment of the organization expressed the view that humanism was only “a passing phenomenon bound to soon disappear’.
65 years later, and it is clear that the journalist could not have been more mistaken. The Norwegian Humanist Association is now the largest humanist organization in the world, with 100,000 individual members, 110 local groups spread across the country and thousands of humanist ceremonies celebrated every year (including naming ceremonies, confirmations, marriages and funerals).
As fewer people now believe in God in Norway, more have come to openly identify with the humanist lifestance represented by the Norwegian Humanist Association. A recent survey by the Norsk Monitor showed that as many as 10% of the Norwegian population identify with the association.
Tom Hedalen, President of the Norwegian Humanist Association, said:
“This achievement makes me proud! Many people in Norway feel that our organization represents and promotes their core life values. Our organization provides them with a humanist sense of belonging, meaning and anchoring.
“Religious people find this sense of community in their respective religious groups. As humanists, we do not share their belief, but we feel the same need to belong to an organised lifestance community.
“Humanists all around the world have the same need, but in several countries they are persecuted and discriminated against by religious fundamentalists and nationalist politicians. We are working closely with Humanists International to protect these humanists and to spread the humanist message all around the globe.”
Trond Enger, Chief Executive of the Norwegian Humanist Association, said:
“We have worked hard in the last few years to expressly get more humanists to become members of our organization. I believe that this membership increase reflects a general and wider development of Norwegian society.
“We are happy to be an even stronger voice for humanists in Norway. But we won’t stop here.
“In the next few years we are going to invest more resources to develop new humanist services for our community: humanist chaplaincy, meeting places and easily accessible digital content.”
Gary McLelland, Chief Executive of Humanists International, commented on the news:
“The growth in membership of the Norwegian Humanist Association over 65 years is astonishing and constitutes an inspiration for all humanist organizations around the world.
“This shows what humanists can achieve when they are able to organise themselves freely and it is a reflection of the fact that humanism now shapes the lives of a great number of people all around the world.
“Humanists International is proud to have the Norwegian Humanist Association as one of its members and we want to keep working with it to foster the advancement of humanist values around the world.”
If you wish to get in touch with the Norwegian Humanist Association for more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Thea Skyvulstad: [email protected]