oh, you humanist, you!

Some time ago, I was talking to a friend of mine. She’s a devout believer – and i’m not just talking ‘devout’ – i’m talking pentecostal. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but suddenly tempers flared, and she yelled at me ‘oh, you and your humanistic ideals!’ What really got to me was the obvious contempt and derision when she spat out the word ‘humanistic’.

It was the first time someone I care about was openly contemptuous of humanism.

Why is that? The minimal definition of humanism is:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities.

How can someone be repulsed by that? Which part of the definition irked her? Perhaps it was the last sentence that I left out:

It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Indeed it was. She could quote that line from memory.

She didn’t know about the preceding sentence, though.

Technically, her priest didn’t lie to her. That’s why as witnesses we usually swear to tell ‘the truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth’.

Silly humanists.