Contact: Sam Gerard,

(April 29, 2020, Washington, DC)—Humanists achieved a milestone victory for the rights and dignity of nontheistic incarcerated people. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) recently notified The Humanist Society, an adjunct of the American Humanist Association (AHA), that the bureau can now endorse humanist chaplains.

Despite previous victories for incarcerated humanists to meet in humanist study groups on the same terms authorized for theistic faith groups, the battle continues for equal treatment and access to resources. The addition of humanist chaplains will expand the support opportunities available for individuals, groups, and connections to the wider humanist movement.

“This is an enormous victory, not only for humanism but for all who are working toward a more inclusive and equal society,” commented Samuel Mason, who is a celebrant and chaplain endorsed by The Humanist Society that the AHA had endorsed to the FBOP.

“As chaplaincy evolves to become more inclusive and evidence-based, there are an increasing number of opportunities for humanists to live out their values by serving as professional chaplains,” added Mason. “This is one of those opportunities that we, as a community, simply must work to realize.”

The Humanist Society claims over 300 endorsed chaplains and celebrants throughout the United States. Along with endorsement, it provides ongoing training, resources, and connection to an international network of humanist professionals. Humanists who are compassionate listeners, find meaning in supporting others and are excited by psychology, sociology, philosophy, interreligious engagement, and the counseling sciences may find satisfaction supporting human beings in times of crisis and need by considering chaplaincy as a profession. People who are interested can learn more here.

The approval letter can be viewed here.

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The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.