Our History

In July 1939 a group of Quakers decided to form a nontheistic society based on similar goals and beliefs. In humanism’s tenets, they saw the promise of a genuine union between science and ethics. It was therefore with this union in mind that this small band of former Quakers incorporated, in December 1939, under the state laws of California the Humanist Society of Friends as a religious, educational, and charitable nonprofit organization authorized to issue charters anywhere in the world and to train and certify people, who upon endorsement would be accorded the same rights and privileges granted by law to priests, ministers, and rabbis of traditional theistic religions.

This group attracted a range of leadership well beyond their Quaker and humanist roots. Educators, scholars, business and labor professionals, scientists, artists, and others contributed to The Humanist Society’s rich history of conducting meetings, ceremonies, and various rites of passage.

The Society is Founded
1908 Orange Grove Friends Meeting House Pasadena California

In 1939, a group of former Quakers in California formed a non-theistic society based on humanist beliefs: the Humanist Society of Friends. In addition to pursuing a reason-based agenda, they were authorized to train and certify individuals who would be accorded the same rights as theistic ministers.

The Society was first recognized in 1939 by the IRS as a nonprofit under section 501(c)(3); and as a church under section (i) of section 170(b)(1)(A) for our religious purposes.

Adjunct Organization

Since 1991 the organization has worked as an adjunct to the American Humanist Association.

"The Humanist Society"

In 2003, the organization’s board voted to remove the “of Friends” portion of the name in line with its expanded constituency.

BCCI Endorsement
Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc.

In November 2014, The Humanist Society was endorsed by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc, an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains.