Humanist Declaration on the Preservation of Families

A Vision of Families for the Twenty-First Century

Family is at the heart of human life. Our family experiences - as children, parents, partners, or relatives - shape our own lives, and enable us to give meaning and love to the lives of others. In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State." (Article 16, paragraph 3).

All societies have long recognized that the family commitment is not merely biological, but rests on a complex foundation of contract, custom, and emotional commitment. Families have taken many forms - some, we have outgrown. The core of the modern family is two or more individuals who see themselves as a family, and who accept long-term responsibility for one another's health, security, independence, and happiness.

Today, sweeping economic, technological, and cultural changes present new challenges and opportunities to families across the globe. Many groups have reacted to these changes by calling for "a return to traditional family values." The authoritarian measures demanded by these groups undermine the rights of family members and keep families from adapting to their changing needs.

It is time to rescue "family values" from those who would use them to impose personal or state power over others. We, the undersigned, value all families that provide love, fulfillment, and empowerment to their members. To support the families of today and tomorrow, we affirm these principles:

These principles represent the only workable approach to sustaining families in a changing world: we must liberate individuals to create genuinely loving and lasting relationships. When families can provide love and support, they are a fundamental source of happiness for their members, and of values for all of society.

Permission to reprint this article granted to NJHN by the Council for Secular Humanism