A couple of weeks ago, I gave the Sunday "sermon" for the Humanists of the Treasure Coast. My talk was on the True Holy Trinity for Humanists.
In the Q&A afterwards, the topic came to how to best market humanism and specifically to language we use to do our marketing.
The problem with Secularism:
A big part of the problem movement Humanists have is we focus so much on secularism that we forget to promote the other aspects of the philosophy.
Secularism is important to Humanists, but our secularism is in service to our morality and ethics. The ethics come first and should be central to our outreach.
There are several reasons for this. One is that while secular is a great word, it's not well understood. When I was the executive director for the Humanists of Florida Association, I did some market testing on promotional materials. What we found about the word secular made me shy away from it as a marketing term.
Here is the problem in a nutshell. Most people don't know what it means, so they guess. They pull apart the word and end up with secular - must have something to do with sect. Our audience doesn't want to have anything to do with a sect, so they immediately lose interest. The very people who would normally be drawn to Humanism, are repulsed by the word secular, even though they are technically secular. They just don't know it. In marketing, it's best to meet people where they are at their level of knowledge and introduce them to something and make a good impression. The word secular creates a bad impression. It's best to avoid it.
This led to another question: what other words do I avoid.
I don’t avoid words as much as I choose to use the language of my listener or audience. How do they talk about morality? That is the language I use.
There are no concepts I avoid. Rather – I attempt to speak the language of my audience so they can understand the concepts fully – in a way that makes sense to them.