Humanist Organizations and Secularization in Germany

Stefan Schröder


Among social scientists, humanist and freethinker organizations
are often described as secularizing agents within society with a critical and
confrontational relation to religions. This article provides a re-evaluation of
this theory with respect to a contemporary example of German freigeistig
organizations, the German Humanist Association (Humanistischer Verband
Deutschlands [HVD]). Through being incorporated into German religiopolitical
arrangements, the author argues, the HVD rather imitates religion,
thereby unfolding secularization-opposing effects. Drawing on a grounded
theory-based analysis of found data as well as interviews and participant
observations, and with reference to the comparative frameworks regarding
‘multiple secularities’ (Burchardt/Wohlrab-Sahr) or ‘different modes of
nonreligion’ (Quack), the article concludes by distinguishing two different
types of freigeistig organizations in contemporary Germany, only one of
which can by described as a secularizing agent.


Freethought, Humanism, Non-religion, Religio-politics, Secularization

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