List zaslaný brajtom do ústredia v USA.
Slovakia is by its extent a small country in the middle of Europe (We tell sometimes: it lies in the heart of Europe). Its neighbours are Poland on the North, on the West the Czech republic and Austria, on the South Hungary and it’s bordered by Ukraine on the East. Capital city is Bratislava.
According to the last census, there are approximately 16 % of citizens in Slovakia, who do not claim allegiance to any of the traditional religions. In 2011 a new census is going to be held and therefore all of us (atheists, brights, humanists, naturalists, rationalists) wonder how many citizens will mark this time the column “without religious affiliation”.
In the Population and Housing Census 2001, out of the total number of 5 379 455 citizens, the following figures were noted:
- Without religious affiliation: 697 308 citizens (which means 13 %),
- Not assessed: 160 598 (which means 3 %),
- Others: 6 294 citizens.
Non-believers are the second largest group of citizens in Slovakia, with first being the Roman Catholic Church with 3 708 120 members. The third in succession are members of the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession, altogether 372 858 in number.
Humanists in Slovakia are nowadays in a difficult situation, which is similar to the past. It is so probably, because they are few in numbers. The hard core of humanists are usually scientists, professionals, university graduates, but it has been not successful to approach the common people yet. Their values and beliefs are still heavily influenced by religions, and they regularly claim to these at the census, X-mass or Easter holidays. It follows that the majority of citizens belongs to Christian denominations.
It could seem at the first sight, that humanism is too much demanding for ordinary citizens. Therefore many of them after realizing what humanism is about, prefer to stay in the power of well-known Churches, which abound in the territory of Slovakia. Partially it is due to fact, that there is a lack of humanistic tradition in Slovakia, while religious traditions reach back to the reign of Great Moravia in the 9th century AD.
The best known organisation of humanists in Slovakia is Prometheus Society (english version). It was founded in 1990 and it’s seated in the town of Banská Bystrica today. Another civic association, registered from the 7th July 2006, is the National Institute of Francois Marie Voltaire (english version, in Slovak: Národný Inštitút Francois Marie Voltaire) with headquartes in Košice. On December 3rd, 2008, the civic association Humanists of Slovakia, which is an association of rationalists, skeptics and secular humanists (in Slovak: Humanisti Slovenska – spolok racionalistov, skeptikov a svetských humanistov) with headquarters in Bratislava.
Prometheus Society celebrated this year its 20th anniversary. For the third time took place annual festivity of nominating receivers of Humanists Awards, which organises Prometheus Society. This event is done at the occasion of the World Humanist Day, at the time of Summer Solstice at the Northern Hemisphere. Two awards are granted: The Ambassador of humanism and the Humanist of the year.
Prometheus Society associates citizens of Slovakia with the aim of building up an open society with promoting and implementing human rights and fundamental freedoms in general, with respect to freedom of thought, conscience and manifestations of secular humanism, as well as the progress in humanist ethical education. The organisation is a member of The European Humanist Federation (EHF) and International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU; Humanists International).
Since 1998 our co-operator Rastislav Škoda publishes a bimonthly The Newsletters of Humanists (in Slovak: Zošity humanistov). Besides other activities he translates books by renowned humanists, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Ellen Key, Paul Kurtz, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, Fernando Savater, Stephen Law, Albert Jacquard, Jacques Carrière, Tryntsje de Groot, Emma Klaarenbeek and many others.
Thanks to his generous effort of translation, readers had the opportunity to read world renowned work of Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion – in Slovak language as soon as in 2007.
Among the popular activists we can mention also the scientist-physicist, well-known as Adam Roman. Some of his essays are accessible in English and readers can see them at: Aims of this site, God’s existence and Remarkable attitude of Max Planck to religion.
About our web domain Humanisti.sk:
It is an internet community portal, which arose in 2006 as a response to demands of enthusiasts from message board Dispute about Religion, whose administrator was among others the already mentioned Adam Roman. Some discussants objected to advertisements and suggested launching new server for all the humanists without advertising banners.
In Slovakia there is a possibility to get acquainted with the notion of brights, thanks to the slovak translation of the book The mystery of consciousness by [Enthusiastic Bright] Daniel C. Dennett (in Slovak: Brajti). An extract of it was published in The New York Times (The Bright Stuff, By Daniel C. Dennett; July 12, 2003).
In Slovak language pronunciation of bright [brajt] sounds a lot like brother [brat]. Christians call each other brothers [bratia], so we could contradict with expression brights [brajti].
The Brights‘ Bulletin Issue #87.
Originally published July 4, 2010.