American Humanist Association announces new award to fight fundamentalist religion
(Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2015)—The American Humanist Association is proud to announce the establishment of a new award, the Henry Zumach Award for Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion, to recognize individuals and organizations that have taken a stand against religious intolerance and bigotry. The award, generously funded by Henry Zumach of Stoddard, Wisconsin, has pledged $10,000 (€8,467) to its first recipient, Charlie Hebdo, the French satire magazine recently attacked by Islamic extremists for its cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
“The purpose of this award is to fight against religious fundamentalism and promote reason and equality for all people,” said Henry Zumach, who is also the founder of the La Crosse Area Freethought Society. “With its continuing commitment to freedom of expression in the face of extreme religion-based hostility, Charlie Hebdoexemplifies the essence of this award.”
The winner of the Henry Zumach Award for Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion was chosen by Henry Zumach and the American Humanist Association. The criteria for the award recipient, which can be an individual or organization, includes a history of activism and compassion that exposes the threat of fundamentalist religion and a bolstering of secular, progressive alternatives to fundamentalist religion, such as education. Charlie Hebdo was chosen as the recipient of the award for its bold stance against extremist ideologies, even after facing an attack by terrorists on January 7, which left twelve people dead, including the magazine’s editor Stéphane Charbonnier.
“Religion shouldn’t be protected from criticism, and Charlie Hebdo exemplifies the principle of free speech through its poignant satire,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Humanists are proud to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, and we’re grateful to Henry Zumach for working with the American Humanist Association to establish this award.”
A previous statement released by the American Humanist Association on the attacks can be viewed here.
Henry “Hank” Zumach is a longtime freethought activist living in Stoddard, Wisconsin. He is also the founder of the La Crosse Area Freethought Society, which currently has over 150 members. They write monthly for the opinion page of the La Crosse Tribune on topics related to church-state issues.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.