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IHEU member organization Norwegian Humanist Association had a net increase of 2,043 members in 2006, after allowing for deaths and withdrawals. In total, over 4,000 people joined the association during its 50th anniversary year. At the start of 2007, the total membership stands at 69,640. The 2006 achievement is the largest increase since 1998.

Explosion in the eighties

NHA has increased its membership steadily since its foundation in 1956. During this period, there were only two years in which membership decreased. In both of those years, however, NHA had less than a thousand members and was insignificant compared to today´s organization of nearly 70,000 members and 60 employees.

After a slow but steady increase during the seventies, in about 1980 membership in the NHA really picked up speed. As the eighties began, the association had 4,448 members. Ten years later, it had increased to 35,954, and the increase continued throughout the 1990s. By the year 2000, membership stood at 60,917. Now, six years later, NHA is approaching 70,000.

Large recruiting potential

The Norwegian Humanist Association is, decidedly, the world´s largest Humanist organization. NHA´s sister organizations in Denmark, Sweden and other countries are small in comparison. The Swedish Humanist Association has approximately 3,500 members with fairly strong growth.

Understandably, Kristin Mile, NHA´s General Secretary is satisfied that the growth in membership has increased momentum. She believes this is due largely to the extra attention being given to the association´s most important issues the past year:

There is an ongoing and intense debate in Norway about separation of State and Church. The country still has a state church, but a government-appointed committee has recommended a partial separation, and this is now being debated in the political parties, churches and the media. There is also a struggle about mandatory religious education in the Norwegian school system, “Christian Knowledge and Religious and Ethical Education” (KRL). The European Court of Human Rights held a Grand Chamber hearing on this point in December 2006. The Court’s decision is expected in four to eight months’ time. And finally there is renewed attention around the so-called “Christian object clause” of the Education Act – which states that children are to be given a Christian education. A government-appointed committee – of which Mile is a member – will come up with a proposal for a new object clause for education.

Mile is optimistic and believes that this positive development for NHA will continue.

”When a series of studies shows that around 70 percent of the Norwegian population do not believe that a god exists,” she emphasizes, ”it says something about the potential recruiting base we have.”

Membership growth in NHA:
Date —- Members – Net increase
09.04.1956 256 256
01.01.1957 420 164
01.01.1958 560 140
07.03.1959 580 20
22.04.1960 610 30
01.01.1961 599 -11
25.05.1962 541 -58
26.05.1963 570 29
28.05.1964 596 26
01.02.1965 638 42
21.04.1966 750 112
03.04.1967 1967 1217
15.05.1968 863 -1104
30.04.1969 905 42
30.04.1970 1029 124
31.03.1971 1144 115
31.03.1972 1207 63
31.03.1973 1315 108
31.03.1974 1398 83
01.01.1975 1482 84
01.01.1976 1584 102
01.01.1977 1768 184
01.01.1978 2493 725
01.01.1979 4488 1995
01.01.1980 5737 1249
01.01.1981 8200 2463
01.01.1982 10903 2703
01.01.1983 13386 2483
01.01.1984 20317 6931
01.01.1985 24308 3991
01.01.1986 26708 2400
01.01.1987 30200 3492
01.01.1988 32771 2571
01.01.1989 35954 3183
01.01.1990 39188 3234
01.01.1991 42258 3070
01.01.1992 45088 2830
01.01.1993 47950 2862
01.01.1994 50595 2645
01.01.1995 52501 1906
01.01.1996 55133 2632
01.01.1997 57554 2421
01.01.1998 59728 2174
01.01.1999 60917 1189
01.01.2000 61733 816
01.01.2001 62833 1100
01.01.2002 63267 434
01.01.2003 63800 533
01.01.2004 64310 510
01.01.2005 65643 1333
01.01.2006 67597 1954
01.01.2007 69640 2043

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