American Humanist Association




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $2,370,084
Expenses: $2,211,002
Assets: $1,067,039


Atheist/agnostic activism, secular litigation



Executive Director:

Nadya Dutchin

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an organization devoted to promotion of secularism and non-theism in the United States and is well known for its controversial anti-religious litigation and advertising campaigns. AHA also lobbies for left-leaning political issues such as abortion access and environmentalist policy to address climate change.


The American Humanist Association traces its roots back to 1920s, when the secular-humanist ideology began to formally organize in the United States. A group of University of Chicago professors formed the Humanist Fellowship, while a former Unitarian minister formed the First Humanist Society of New York. Early humanist organizations rejected traditional religious beliefs and instead “incorporated various aspects of naturalism, materialism, rationalism, and socialism” to establish a non-theist religious organization. 1

After the publishing of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933, the American Humanist Association (AHA) was formed in 1941. AHA pivoted to the political and cultural issues of church-state separation, abortion access, and feminism. 2

AHA gained significant media attention in the 1970s after the publication of Humanist Manifesto II was featured in a front-page New York Times article. 3 4 In the following decades, AHA launched a campaign of media appearances and began to devote resources to political lobbying and litigation against perceived violations of church-state separation. AHA also expanded its Humanist magazine and launched large-scale advertising campaigns. 5

AHA has a network of over 200 local chapters and affiliates in the United States. 6



AHA has maintained a pro-abortion platform since its founding, claiming to have been instrumental in the formation of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and having named Margaret Sanger its Humanist of the Year in 1957. AHA signed onto a pro-abortion amicus brief for the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 7 8

Race and Gender Issues

AHA advocates for critical race theory-aligned notions of equity, describing its efforts as “liberation of marginalized communities” and “disrupting various oppressive systems like cis-heteronormativity, white supremacy, and patriarchy.” AHA includes its advocacy against capital punishment in its “social justice” efforts. 9

Separation of Government and Religion

AHA opposes any involvement of religion in government-associated activities, campaigning to eliminate the National Prayer Breakfast, boycott the Pledge of Allegiance, and remove religious monuments from public property. 10

Promotion of Non-Theists

AHA claims that non-theists are regularly discriminated against and that promotion of humanist values and litigation are necessary to achieve “full equality.” AHA utilizes its sister organization, the Center for Freethought Equality, to help elect politicians who will eliminate what it calls “Christian privilege” in society. 11

Climate Change

AHA asserts that conventional fuel usage has caused a destabilizing climate crisis, advocating for the expansion of weather-dependent energy sources, the elimination of meat consumption, and a carbon tax. 12

Sex Education

AHA opposes abstinence-based sex education, advocating for LGBT-inclusive sex education that includes contraception use and gender equity promotion in schools. 13

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

AHA advocates for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. In response to a 2010 injunction against then-President Barack Obama’s repeal of a George W. Bush administration ban on the funding, then-AHA-president David Niose stated, “this is just another example of how the obstructionist agenda of the religious right has real social consequences.” 14


AHA carries out its activities through several programs and fiscally sponsored projects. Each program has a dedicated purpose, but the efforts often overlap.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC) was founded in 2006 by Florida businessman Louis Appignani, who compared religion to cancer and claimed that the downfall of the country began with the election of President Ronald Reagan. 15 16

AHLC attempted to force the removal of the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, a World War I monument erected in 1925, eventually losing the case in the Supreme Court. 17 18 AHLC also lost a lawsuit against Pensacola, Florida which demanded the removal of a cross erected in 1941. 19

In 2014, AHLC sued the city of Ocala for holding a prayer vigil after a mass shooting, winning $3 million in damages for the plaintiffs. 20 21 In 2018, AHLC joined a lawsuit to remove a Ten Commandments monument in Little Rock, Arkansas. 22

Humanist Environmental Response Effort (HERE) for Climate

HERE encourages non-theists to support left-leaning policies to increase reliance on weather-dependent energy sources, enact “net-zero” emissions policies, and address “structural inequities” in climate action plans. 23

HERE organizes “Climate Action Events” and provides an “activism and allyship guide” on how to engage in climate change activism. 24 25

AHA Center for Education

The AHA Center for Education offers “humanist studies” programs in partnership with the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. The programs include a 15 credit-hour Humanist Studies Certificate program, a 72-credit hour Master of Divinity in Humanist Studies program, and a 48 credit-hour Master of Arts in Leadership in Humanist Studies program. For the 2022-2023 period, tuition fees were $665 per credit hour. 26

Boycott the Pledge Campaign

AHA operates a nationwide campaign encouraging Americans to boycott the Pledge of Allegiance, arguing that the words “under God” are discriminatory against non-theists. AHA provides resources such as “student boycott cards” and AHA boycott posters to be used in schools. 27

Humanism For All Project

The Humanism for All Project offers discounted AHA membership to prisoners and assists in the formation of prison chapters. AHA also publishes a column written by incarcerated humanists in Humanist magazine. 28

National Day of Reason

National Day of Reason is AHA’s campaign oppositing the National Day of Prayer. AHA argues that the National Day of Prayer is a violation of the First Amendment that makes people who do not pray feel like second-class citizens. AHA encourages federal and state/local governments to officially commemorate the National Day of Reason and urges people to pressure their elected representatives to do so. AHA claims these efforts are necessary to counter the “religious right’s influence in Congress.” 29

Several state and local governments have issued proclamations to recognize the National Day of Reason, including Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Two resolutions in Congress to recognize the day have been introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). 30

Humanist Chaplaincies

Humanist Chaplaincies offers non-theistic “pastoral care”, including advice and emotional support. As of 2023, the AHA maintains Humanist Chaplaincies at the University of Central Florida, New York University, Yale University, Stanford University, Rutgers University, American University, and Harvard University. Humanist Chaplaincies also has an organization in San Diego. 31


AHA reported $342,071 in revenue from membership dues in 2021 and $299,128 from related organizations. AHA also reported $187,000 in revenue from legal settlements, $77,400 from professional fees, and $23,993 in revenue from its magazine. Most of its 2021 funding came from other contributions ($1.54 million) from undisclosed donors. 32 33

AHA reported total expenses of $2.1 million in 2021. Over half ($1.3 million) were used to “increase public awareness and acceptance of humanism” through advertising, direct mail, and the AHA website. AHA also spent $278,125 on “education of the public and members regarding humanism” and $53,536 on annual conference expenses. 34

AHA reported paying $97,997 to the Center for Freethought Equality for lobbying purposes in 2021 and $74,487 the previous year. 35 36


Several AHA advertising campaigns have generated controversy and pushback from religious groups. During Christmas in 2008, the organization placed ads on District of Columbia buses saying, “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” 37

In 2010, AHA ran a $200,000 national ad campaign with billboard messages such as “Yes, Virginia, there is no God.” 38 In 2012, AHA launched another national ad campaign to promote their “Kids Without God” website, featuring messaging such as “I’m getting a bit old for imaginary friends.” 39

In 2021, AHA revoked a 1995 Humanist of the Year award from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins over remarks the organization deemed “transphobic.” 40

In December 2022, AHA board member Mandisa Thomas took a leave of absence from AHA after an investigation into allegations of personal misconduct on an annual cruise for Black Nonbelievers Inc. Thomas claimed that she “mishandled a personal situation” during the cruise. 41 42


  1. “Our History.” American Humanist Association. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  2. “Our History.” American Humanist Association. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  3. “Our History.” American Humanist Association. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  4. Blau, Eleanor. “Humanist Manifesto II Offers a ‘Survival’ Philosophy.” The New York Times, August 26, 1973.
  5. “Our History.” American Humanist Association, August 26, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  6. “Find or Start a Local AHA Group.” American Humanist Association. Accessed February 9.2022.
  7. Carr, Nicole. “AHA Weighs in on Abortion Rights and Capital Punishment.”, September 29, 2021. Accessed February 4, 2023.
  8. “Our History.” American Humanist Association. Accessed January 25, 2023.
  9. “Social Justice.” American Humanist Association. Accessed February 4, 2023.
  10. “Religion and Government Separation.” American Humanist Association, August 9, 2018. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  11. “Defending Nontheists and Promoting Humanism.” American Humanist Association, August 9, 2018. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  12. “Resolution on Climate Change.” American Humanist Association, August 9, 2018. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  13. “Congress Must Support Sexual Health Education.” American Humanist Association, October 31, 2014. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  14. “Humanists Decry Stem Cell Research Ruling.” American Humanist Association, August 24, 2010. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  15. “AHLC: About Us.” AHLC – About Us. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  16. Nardi, William. “Donor behind UMiami’s New Atheism Chair: Reagan ‘Downfall’ of Country, Religion ‘Cancer’.” The College Fix, June 15, 2016. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  17. Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Allows 40-Foot Peace Cross on State Property.” The New York Times, June 20, 2019. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  18. “AHLC: Cases: Bladensburg.” AHLC. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  19. Little, Jim. “Pensacola’s Bayview Park Cross Can Stay, Does Not Violate Constitution, Appeals Court Rules.” Pensacola News Journal, February 19, 2020. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  20. “AHLC: Cases: Ocala.” AHLC. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  21. Miller, Austin. “Ocala City Council Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Decide 2014 Downtown Prayer Vigil Lawsuit.” Ocala Star Banner, August 26, 2022. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  22. “Fargo Ten Commandments Monument Case Awaiting Oral Arguments in U.S. Appeals Court.” Grand Forks Herald, October 2, 2019. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  23. “Humanist Guide to Decoding Climate Policy.” Humanist Environmental Response Effort. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  24. “Climate Action Events.” Humanist Environmental Response Effort. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  25. “How to Be an Effective Advocate or Ally.” Humanist Environmental Response Effort. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  26. “Overview.” AHA Center for Education. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  27. “For Students.” Boycott The Pledge. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  28. “Humanism for All: Supporting Incarcerated Humanists.” American Humanist Association. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  29. “About.” National Day of Reason. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  30. “Proclamations.” National Day of Reason. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  31. “About Us.” Humanist Chaplaincies. Accessed February 5, 2023.
  32. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Humanist Association. 2021
  33. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Humanist Association. 2020
  34. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Humanist Association. 2021
  35. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Humanist Association. 2020
  36. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Humanist Association. 2021
  37. “’Why Believe in a God?’ Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses.” Fox News, November 12, 2008. Accessed February 9, 2023.,2933,450445,00.html.
  38. Dolak, Kevin. “Ad Campaign Promoting Atheism Across U.S. Draws Ire and Protest.” ABC News, December 4, 2010. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  39. “Kids Without a God Ad Campaign.” American Humanist Association. Archived from the original November 16, 2012. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  40. Flood, Alison. “Richard Dawkins Loses ‘Humanist of the Year’ Title over Trans Comments.” The Guardian. Alison, April 20, 2021. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  41. Smietana, Bob, and Alejandra Molina. “Black Atheist Leaders Quit Black Nonbelievers over Alleged Misconduct by President.” Religion News Service, December 20, 2022. Accessed February 9, 2023.
  42. “AHA Board Statement on Mandisa Thomas.” American Humanist Association, December 16, 2022. Accessed February 9, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1980

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $2,370,084 $2,211,002 $1,067,039 $165,449 Y $1,856,157 $490,251 $880 $169,324
    2019 Dec Form 990 $3,004,685 $2,946,062 $988,521 $246,013 Y $2,314,536 $663,790 $2,899 $289,676 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $2,934,950 $2,900,330 $850,001 $166,116 Y $2,315,617 $573,719 $1,066 $160,579 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,723,856 $2,606,571 $764,384 $263,953 Y $2,415,483 $290,765 $14,633 $144,288 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,309,647 $3,569,527 $677,359 $294,213 Y $2,003,422 $274,770 $55,794 $130,891 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,439,764 $2,295,879 $1,817,971 $147,745 Y $2,019,244 $363,891 $51,904 $146,003 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,201,803 $2,062,506 $1,642,455 $101,244 Y $1,933,110 $207,802 $32,201 $126,943 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $2,143,370 $2,136,666 $1,436,512 $78,218 Y $1,708,519 $189,999 $102,869 $124,883 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,761,122 $2,062,114 $4,900,512 $277,241 Y $2,255,747 $186,199 $156,059 $115,372 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,873,818 $2,250,844 $4,748,586 $442,600 Y $1,617,463 $153,144 $97,971 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Humanist Association

    1821 Jefferson Place NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-2504