Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda

Fellowship Of Humanity V. County Of Alameda

Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda

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Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda was a 1957 California Courts of Appeal case in the Fellowship of Humanity, an organization of humanists, sought a tax exemption from Alameda County, California on the ground that they used their property "solely and exclusively for religious worship." Despite the group's nontheistic beliefs, the court determined that the activities of the Fellowship of Humanity, which included weekly Sunday meetings, were analogous to the activities of theistic churches and thus entitled to an exemption.

Significance

Along with Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, this was one of the earliest cases establishing the right in the U.S. of nontheistic institutions that function like traditional theistic religious institutions to be treated similarly to theistic religious institutions under the law.

This case was cited by Justice Hugo Black in the decision for Torcaso v. Watkins, in an obiter dictum listing "secular humanism" as being among "religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God."

Black's statement was somewhat misleading in that Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda did not address the question of whether the secular humanist ideas of the Fellowship of Humanity were religious; it merely determined that Fellowship of Humanity functioned like a church and so was entitled to similar protections. Subsequent cases such as Peloza v....... ...
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