Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.
This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.
Life's fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.
The Free Inquiry Group of Southwest Florida
Article I - Name and Purpose
Section1. Name and Form of Group. The name of this group is Free Inquiry Group of Southwest Florida (FIGSWF). FIGSWF is an unincorporated, nonprofit, tax-free, private social group, which strives to govern itself in an open and democratic manner.
Section 2. Purpose. FIGSWF is a social, philosophical and educational group, which advocates the use of critical thinking and skepticism in the analysis of purported facts about the universe. FIGSWF is committed to the progressive philosophy of Humanism with its ethical principles and moral standards, leading to the success of humanity and the self-realization of every person. The main purpose of the group is for the enjoyment and education of its members.
Section 3. Affiliations. FIGSWF is a chartered chapter of the American Humanist Association and an affiliate of the Humanists of Florida Association and of the Council for Secular Humanism.
Article II - Requirements for Membership
Section 1. Agreement. Any individual who agrees with Article I, Section 2, and has met the dues requirement of Article II, Section 2, is a member of FIGSWF. Membership confers the right to attend meetings and other events, to vote, and to serve on the Board. Since the main purpose of the group is for the enjoyment of its members, all members agree to hold harmless from civil liability the officers and Board Members for actions or inactions while performing the duties of office.
Section 2. Dues. Basic individual dues shall be set by the Board each calendar year for the following year. For payments received after September 30 of each year, membership shall be effective immediately and include the following calendar year. Dues may be reduced by half for members in good standing of the Humanists of Florida Association or Center For Inquiry. The normal dues may be reduced for spouses or domestic partners or individuals with limited income. A life membership may be offered for a sum to be determined by the Board.
Article III – Meetings
Section 1. Membership Meetings. Annual and special business meetings shall be held at the discretion of the Board, with notice sent at least five (5) days before the meeting. For such meetings, the Board shall post notice and a proposed agenda at least three days before the meeting. The Group’s website, Facebook, and email shall be the media through which such notices are delivered. US mail shall be used for those Members lacking Internet access. All members shall be eligible to vote. An annual business meeting shall be held each October.
Section 2. Elections. All members shall be eligible to hold any office. Directors shall be elected by simple majority of members present at the Annual Business Meeting. Signed proxy votes will be accepted.
Section 3. Member Initiatives. Members are encouraged to submit to the Board proposals for activities, events, and community service projects. Members shall have the right to annually review any of FIGSWF’s records by appointment with the President or his/her designee. If a member has a concern about management or control of FIGSWF, the Member is encouraged to bring such concerns to the Board.
Section 4. Disciplinary Action. At the request of any member of FIGSWF, or on the Board’s own initiative, with appropriate due process and conflict-of-interest procedures, the Board shall investigate allegations of misconduct, including but not limited to conduct injurious to FIGSWF. The Board may vote to hold any Officer or Board member harmless from liability for action or inaction while performing the duties of his or her office. If the Board recommends removal of a Director from office, or a member from membership, the Board shall call a Special Membership meeting to decide on the action. Removal of a Director from office or a Member from membership shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of members present and voting. Signed proxy votes will be accepted.
Article IV - Governance
Section 1. Board. The business and affairs of FIGSWF shall be managed and controlled by a Board of Directors. The Board shall consist of five (5) elected Directors, who shall serve with no financial compensation except for reimbursement of documented expenses approved by the Board. Once the five-member Board has been elected, the Board members shall choose four Officers – a Chair, a Vice Chair, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The other Board Member will be designated Director-At-Large. All Members of the Board shall carry out the policies of the Board and will delegate specific responsibilities to the Director-At-Large and may ask Members to perform certain tasks.
Section 2. Board Responsibilities. The Board shall call all Group meetings. The Board shall meet at the request of the President or as agreed upon by a majority of the Board. A quorum for the Board shall consist of a majority of its members. Board decisions shall require a minimum of four (4) positive votes. The Board shall approve all contracts, including acceptance of conditional gifts. The Board shall designate a member who does not have responsibility for handling funds to review financial records and report at the Annual Business Meeting. If there is a vacancy on the Board, the remaining Directors may appoint a Director to serve until the next election.
Section 3. Terms of Service. The Term of Office of Directors and Officers shall be one (1) year. Board members may serve as many as three (3) consecutive terms.
Section 4. The Chairperson may call and shall preside at Board meetings, prepare agendas, make appointments, and perform such other tasks as may reasonably be requested by the Board.
Section 5. The Assistant Chairperson shall preside in the absence of the President and perform such other duties as the Board or President may request.
Section 6. The Secretary/Treasurer shall keep minutes of Board and Annual Business Meetings and shall oversee all financial transactions, maintain the records thereof, submit such reports as may be requested by the board, and perform such other duties as may be requested by the Board.
Section 7. The two Directors-At-Large shall perform such duties as may reasonably be requested by the Board.
Article V – Amendments and limitations
Section 1. Amendments to Bylaws. From time to time or at the request of a Member, the Board shall review the bylaws and determine whether they warrant revision. If the Board decides to propose a bylaw revision, the Board shall propose the revision at a duly-called Special Membership Meeting. If a bylaw amendment is approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of Members present and voting or voting by proxy, the bylaw amendment shall be passed and take effect at the beginning of the next calendar year unless another effective date is stated in the amendment.
Section 2. Limitations. No part of the Group’s resources shall be devoted to influencing the election of anyone to public office or to benefit individual members. No action shall be undertaken that is in conflict with those laws and regulations ensuring the tax-exempt, non-profit status of the organization.
Section 3. Termination. If and when this group is dissolved or otherwise terminated, its assets shall be distributed to the Humanists of Florida Association or other non-profit organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.