Faith Tradition

Humanist Chaplaincy

Humanists are increasingly entering chaplaincy positions, bringing their understanding of a moral humanistic good, ranging from atheist and agnostic, to spiritually and culturally religious, to hospitals, universities, and other settings. Humanism has expanded its reach rapidly in the past decade, with humanist chaplains including Greg Epstein, Chris Stedman and others paving the way. One good description of what it means to be a humanist chaplain is on the Tufts Humanist webpage.

There are few clear-cut ways to become a humanist chaplain in the U.S., although this is changing. The American Humanist Association’s Center for Education partners with United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities to provide a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Humanism and a Masters of Arts in Leadership with a concentration in Humanism. Both these degrees meet the requirement for board certification. Other humanists looking to become board-certified chaplains complete the required training for a sector’s field, meanwhile building a relationship with a congregation that fits your beliefs. Many humanists find this in congregations connected to the Unitarian Universalists or Ethical Culture, or on their campuses. You will need to be endorsed by a spiritual or religious group to become board certified, so this close relationship is key. For more information on how to become a humanist chaplain, visit The Humanist Society.

Despite the independence required to become a humanist chaplain, there are resources for those interested in humanism. The University of Humanistic Studies in the Netherlands is one of the first humanist educations available, offering a masters degree in humanist chaplaincy. They have an exchange program for both undergraduate and graduate students, in which they spend a semester at UVH studying humanist courses in English, as well as summer school for humanist chaplaincy. More resources and information for humanist chaplains are listed below: